Your local district Office is responsible for taking your Hotel Licence Application and beginning the process. The entire process can take many months with a list of things that must be completed.
Step 1: What is a hotel? An application is only needed if the venture qualifies as a hotel under the regulatory framework. A hotel business is defined under the law as
- the offering of accommodation to the public for a duration below 30 days
- in exchange for payment
In case of condo units, recent court decisions indicate that the whole condo development is relevant for the fulfilment of the last prerequisite, not just the unit that is rented.
Under a ministerial regulation, hotels are classified as follows:
- Type 1: hotels providing accommodation only, the number of rooms does not exceed fifty, the size of each room is not less than eight square meters,
- Type 2: hotels providing accommodation and catering or restaurant services, the size of each room is not less than eight square meters,
- Type 3: hotels giving accommodation, catering or restaurant services, the size of each room is not less than 14 square meters, and which has either conference rooms or entertainment venues which under the Place of Service Act could be a place for dancing, bars, and nightclubs or spa,
- Type 4: hotels providing accommodation, catering or restaurant services, conference rooms, and entertainment venues, the size of each room is not less than 14 square meters.
For Type 3 and 4 hotels, no entertainment venues will be allowed unless these hotels have more than 80 rooms, are located in entertainment areas, or serve food, alcohol or entertainment only, and have opening hours after midnight.
Step 2: The hotel business. An investment promotion by the Board of Investment can be obtained under category 7.4.3 (Hotels). For this, the hotel business must have at least one hundred keys (keys means rooms) or a minimum investment (excluding the cost of land and working capital) of not less than THB 500 million. The BOI promotion requires a new investment and, therefore, an existing project is not easily eligible to be promoted.
The hotel business can be carried out by a company which is set-up under the U.S. Thai Treaty of Amity. However, such treaty company is not allowed to own the hotel premises.
Thailand’s hotel management service businesses are excluded from the restrictions of the Foreign Business Act.
Step 3: Building structure, floor plans, etc. Legal aspects for granting the license are the location of the hotel business, building structures, required facilities, minimum guest room area, health and environmental issues.
The hotel building must fulfill certain safety standards depending on its number of floors. As an example: With no more than two floors and less than ten rooms, the walkway needs to be more than one meter wide and must arrange for fire extinguishers. For buildings having more than two floors, and more rooms, the sidewalk must be even wider. In buildings with more than four stories, emergency escape stairways made of fire resistant material is required. Fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, escape route signage, emergency lighting and other legal requirements have to be fulfilled as well.
Step 4: Licenses and permissions: For a hotel with more than 80 rooms, or depending on its size or location, an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is required. permit, a license from the local administration official must be obtained. If the restaurant has an area less than 200 square meters, the owner must only notify the local authorities for a Certificate of Notification as stated in Public Health Act.
There is no new “small hotel law.” However, to facilitate existing outlawed hotel businesses, a new Ministerial Regulation came into effect on August 19, 2016, which sets for an interim period of five years relaxed requirements for the reclassification of existing buildings to be used as a hotel.
For the building, it is required to obtain a “Permit for Occupation” under the Building Control Law, or, if the building is located outside of the Building Control Zone, a “Certification of Building Inspection” issued by Licensed Civil Engineer under Thailand’s Engineer Law.
To avoid an outlawed hotel, apart from the Building Control Law, the requirements of the Urban Planning Law, the Law regarding Protection and Response of Public Hazard, Law regarding Public Health, and the Law Regarding Promotion and Maintaining the National Environment have to be taken into consideration. Also, the project has to comply with the provisions of the Ministerial Regulations regarding Hotel Business Operations.
Step 5: Contractual arrangements: The hotel needs proper contractual arrangements under a hotel operating model.
Step 6: Qualification of the hotel manager. The hotel needs a dedicated hotel manager with appropriate education or experiences.
Step 7: Application process. Licenses can be applied for hotels, restaurant businesses, seminar room business and additional entertainment businesses with discotheque, bar, nightclub, and spa. The license has a validity of five years and can be renewed.
Additional licenses might be required with respect to food, liquor, entertainment and more.