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Money Transfers for Expats in Thailand

Submitted: August 2014

As is generally the case for cross-border transactions, fees may apply. You can of course withdraw cash from an ATM in Singapore with your foreign debit card, but this option is both unfriendly and expensive. It should be viewed as temporary and best avoided.

In practice, the best thing to do in order to save money is to:

  • Plan for the money transfer in advance – otherwise, fees quickly pile up
  • Compare the market and consider using a specialist money transfer company.

In Thailand, you also have to be wary of the exchange controls. Because of the exchange controls, you can’t just transfer money to and from Thailand freely. However, Thailand’s exchange controls still do not amount to full-blown capital controls, at least for now.

 

Money transfer restrictions

Transferring money into Thailand shouldn’t pose any difficulty from a capital controls perspective. If you make an inbound transfer, keep proof of it. You may need it if you then have to transfer money out of Thailand.

As far as outbound international transfers are concerned, a Thai bank would need to verify the following details:

  • For Thai citizens, the purpose of the international transfer (e.g. study abroad)
  • For foreign nationals, proof of where the money comes from (e.g. by furnishing a payslip, or even a work permit).

If you do not fall within one of the above cases, you might wish to check with your Thai bank the best possible course of action.

In any case, be aware that any fund transfer in excess of around USD20,000 must be reported to the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO). Accordingly, the bank may ask some questions for anti-money laundering purposes.

 

Cash control and exchange controls

The maximum amount of Thai Baht banknotes you can take out of Thailand is:

  • THB2m for trips to Vietnam, Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia or the Chinese Yunnan province (this must declared to a customs officer if the amount exceeds THB450,000)
  • THB50,000 for trips to other countries.

If you cross the Thai border with at least USD20,000 worth of foreign currency, you must declare it to a Thai customs officer. There is no limit on the amount of foreign currency you can bring into Thailand. However, you may be required to remit foreign currency you receive from abroad. See Foreign Exchange for Expats in Thailand.

 

Inbound money transfers without an account in Thailand

It is possible to transfer money to a Thailand without having an account there. Thai banks may offer a service whereby they receive the funds directly and are given instructions by the sender to remit the cash to a given receiving party.

In order to identify that receiving party, the sender will need to provide the following details to the Thai bank:

  • Passport number of the receiving party
  • Address of the receiving party in Thailand
  • Telephone number of the receiving party.

Fees apply for this service.

 

Fees

Bank transfers within Thailand are not necessarily free of charge. Typically, fee-free transfers are limited to transfers to an account with the same bank in the same region. Needless to say, higher fees will apply in the case of international money transfers. In such cases, check if you are not in fact paying too much because of the bank’s foreign exchange rate.

Alternatively, you can use the services of a money transfer company. To save money, you can also use a price comparison website specialised in money transfers.

 

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