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Banking - Thailand

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The Banking Law of Thailand has strict rules regarding the opening of new accounts in Thailand’s banks. The applicant must have a work permit at the time of opening an account. He/She must work for a company which has a certain amount of registered capitalization. Earlier a visitor simply had to present a passport, visa and the address of the hotel where the applicant is staying. The rules were modified to stop any kind of money laundering and frauds.

All the major international banks have their branches in Bangkok and other major cities. www.thailandtourismdirectory.com offers an easy reference for the contact details of the bank in Thailand.

Banks are generally open from 0930 to 1530 hrs everyday except holidays. However, you can get foreign exchange from 8:30 – 22:00 everyday. Bangkok Bank and Krung Thai Bank are open on all days between 07:00 – 21:00. The authorized money exchange counters of banks often change 24 hours a day. Major currency bills and travelers checks can be easily cashed at hotels, shopping malls, provincial banks and tourist shops. It is better to get your travelers checks changed at banks (you will need your passport). Rates of exchange are far better at banks and authorized money exchange bureaus than those at hotels and department stores. Baht (THB) is the Thai unit of currency. A Baht is divided into 100 Satang. Notes are in the denomination of 1000 (brown), 500 (purple), 100 (red), 50 (blue), 20 (green) and 10 (brown). The value of I USD hover around 32 to 34 THB.

Bank staff often speaks English so communication in main branches is seldom a problem. Some of the bank forms are available in both English and Thai.

Travelers’ checks
Rates are much better for travelers’ checks than bank notes but a 23 THB is charged as handling fees and stamp. So it is wise to bring travelers checks of larger denominations.

Exchange Control
Foreign nationals may freely bring in foreign bank notes or other types of foreign exchange. On leaving Thailand also a foreign tourist may freely take out foreign exchange to a maximum equivalent 10,000 USD or the amount declared in writing to the Customs upon arrival. Failure to do may lead to prosecution.

Travelers visiting the neighboring countries can take out a maximum of 50,000 THB per person without authorization. Foreign tourists are also allowed to take out gold ornaments freely.

Credit Cards
Major international credit cards such as American Express, Diner, Carte Blanche and Visa are accepted by major banks, restaurants, hotels and shops. Card holders should take and not sign extra slips prepared by unscrupulous shoppers. An additional 3 to 5 percent might be charged when a client pays with his credit card.

Cash advances of up to 200 USD can be obtained from some branches of Thai Farmers Bank on visa cards. Some credit cards will get advances but only as travelers’ checks.

Remittances from abroad are directly credited to savings account. They can be either telegraphic remittance or SWIFT remittance. Normal postal remittance is not out of favor. There is a nominal charge for the recipients of the telegraphic or SWIFT remittance but the charges can be considerable for the sender. Thai banks process the transfers within 2 days. But it is advisable that remittances be sent only to the head offices of the banks or larger banks which are able in handling these remittances,

If additional cost is not a constraint then the sender can fax the remittance order form to the recipient so that the bank cannot claim that they have not yet received the money. Another option is to telex the information.

The exchange rate is definitely better than the one available for cash. Remittances can also be directly credited to dollar accounts.

Bank Accounts
The banking sector in Thailand is exclusively made up of big Thai banks like Bangkok Bank and Siam Commercial Bank. Foreign banks like Standard Chartered and Citibank are located in the Central Business District.

As per rules, a foreigner cannot open a bank account in Thailand without a wok permit. Generally speaking, banks do allow foreigners to open savings account but checking accounts can only be opened if you have a work permit. Foreigners are free to open foreign currency accounts but are subject to Thailand’s foreign exchange rules.

Automatic Teller Machine (ATM)
As foreign tourists cannot open check accounts, access to the ATMs’ are limited to Thais and foreign residents. These ATMs’ usually work on Delta and Cirrus systems as well.

Safe Deposit Boxes
These are in high demand but short in supply. The rates are often higher than in other countries. Banks generally allot safe deposit boxes to account holders only. Some banks might ask you to keep a positive balance in the account in order to be eligible for a safe deposit box. Safe deposit boxes can be rented for varying lengths.

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