A Non-Government Organization (NGO) is a term used internationally for a private sector organization that is involved in charitable or public interest concerns and does not operate for a profit. Bangkok's strategic location at the center of South East Asia and as host of the United Nations Thailand, has made Thailand a popular location for NGOs. However, Thailand law does not provide for the registration of NGOs per se. Rather, NGOs are classified as either Thai registered Foundations or Foreign Private Organizations.
Foreign Private Organizations vs Thailand Foundation
International NGOs are permitted to register their presence in Thailand and apply for work authorization without registering a local entity. In this instance, NGOs are classified to Foreign Private Organizations. However International NGOs seeking to conduct operations in Thailand are normally advised to register a Foundation. This is because there are administrative obstacles to operating an international NGO in Thailand with no local entity registration.
Foreign NGOs seeking to operate as Foreign Private Organizations (FPO) are required to seek approval from the Committee on Consideration of the Entry of FPOs. The Committee will grant a foreign NGO a limited permit to operate in Thailand. The process of arranging for work permits and visas for foreign employees/volunteers to stay in Thailand are separate processes.
However NGOs operating as FPOs will often encounter legal and financial obstacles with regards to every day issues. Therefore in situations where the NGO will be engaged in significant work or financial activity in Thailand, it is generally more advisable to register a local Foundation established under Thai law:
Thailand Registered Foundation
NGOs may register a local juristic entity known as a Foundation to pursue their objectives and conduct operations in Thailand.
Thailand Foundations are non-profit entities registered with the Thai Ministry of Interior for public benefit purposes such as charity, religion, arts, science, literature and education and other activities that may serve the public's interest.
To register a Thailand foundation will require at least 3 board members who manage either Thai or foreign nationals working for the foundation on a voluntary basis and a minimum bank statement of 200,000 Baht acquired donation. Nevertheless it may be sensible, although not a legal requirement for one of the board members to be a Thai national, as the NGO is bound to benefit from a board member who is fluent in Thai and who understands Thai customs and procedures. Additionally, officers of the Foundation are required to obtain a police clearance from the police agency of their country of residence.