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Legalisation of Ride-Hailing Services via an Electronic System in Thailand

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1. Background

Despite the emergence of ride-hailing (i.e. ride-hailing refers to an act when a customer orders a customised ride online usually via a smartphone application) activities in Thailand over the last few years, ride-hailing businesses have been operating in the grey area without proper registration or legal status under the law. With the aim to encourage development of the ‘sharing economy’ (i.e. an economic system in which assets or services are shared between private individuals, either free or for a fee, typically by means of the internet) and for the sake of protecting the safety of passengers, the Thai Cabinet approved the Ministerial Regulation re: Ride-Hailing Services via Electronic System B.E. 2564 (2021) (the “Ministerial Regulation”) on 25 May 2021, which was published in the Royal Thai Government Gazette on 23 June 2021; to legalise and regulate ride-hailing businesses in Thailand.

2. Key Takeaways

In principle, the new Ministerial Regulation prescribes the rules on the use of private vehicles carrying no more than seven passengers for ride-hailing services via electronic system (i.e. an electronic system is a physical interconnection of components or parts that gathers various amounts of information together).  Under the Ministerial Regulation, the registration of a personal vehicle as a ride-hailing service vehicle via an electronic system shall be limited to only one vehicle per person, and is divided into the following three categories:

  • Small-sized/compact vehicles with engine power from 50 to 90 kilowatts;
  • Mid-sized vehicles with engine power from 91 to 120 kilowatts; and
  • Full-sized vehicles with engine power over 120 kilowatts.

In the case of electric vehicles, such vehicles will be able to reach a maximum speed of no less than 90 kilometers per hour.

A vehicle that is eligible for the ride-hailing service registration shall be a saloon car (i.e. a passenger car in a two-box or three-box configuration with separate compartments for engine, passenger and cargo) with no less than four doors or other types of vehicles to be announced by the Director-General with approval of the Minister of Transport. All registered vehicles shall have and use communication equipment operated by an internet service provider that has been certified by the Department of Land Transport to receive bookings through an electronic ride-hailing system, which shall contain at least the following:

  • Information regarding the vehicle and driver;
  • Driver authentication system;
  • Pre-calculated fare system;
  • Vehicle tracking system;
  • Time and location verification system; and
  • Complaint or emergency system.

In such regard, a registered vehicle shall affix a sign indicating that it is an online based ride-hailing vehicle, as well as display any other sign prescribed by the Director-General; and shall be in the original colour as registered in the original private vehicle registration. The lifespan of a registered vehicle shall not exceed nine years from the date of its first registration. Additionally, a registered vehicle is also required to be well-maintained - both the interior and exterior - and be subject to an inspection as prescribed in the ministerial regulation issued under Section 15 bis of the Vehicle Act B.E. 2522 (1979), as amended.

As for the fees for ride-hailing services, the Ministerial Regulation empowers the Minister of Transport to prescribe the service rates as follows:

  • In the case of small and medium-sized vehicles:
    • (a) Base fare
      • Not exceeding Baht 50 for the first 2 kilometres;
      • Not exceeding Baht 12 per each subsequent kilometre; and
      • Not exceeding Baht 3 per minute in a case where the vehicle is stationary or not continuing to operate as usual.
    • (b) Additional fees
      • Not exceeding Baht 50 in the case where the bookings were made via an electronic system or a service centre; and
      • Not exceeding Baht 200 for other additional service fees as prescribed by the Minister of Transport.
  • In the case of large-sized vehicles:
    • (a) Base fare
      • Not exceeding Baht 200 for the first 2 kilometres;
      • Not exceeding Baht 30 per each subsequent kilometre; and
      • Not exceeding Baht 10 per minute in the case where the vehicle is stationary or not continuing to operate as usual.
    • (b) Additional fees
      • Not exceeding Baht 100 in the case where the bookings were made via an electronic system or a service centre; and
      • Not exceeding Baht 200 for other additional service fees as prescribed by the Minister of Transport.

Before providing any service, a passenger shall be informed in advance of the rate of fare to be paid, provided that such rate shall be in accordance with the rate displayed on communication equipment via an online system.

The licence plate of a registered vehicle shall have the same size, characteristics and colour as the licence plate for a private vehicle transporting no more than seven passengers, whereby the original licence plate for a private vehicle transporting no more than seven passengers may also be used for ride-hailing services via an electronic system.

Further details of the requirements under the Ministerial Regulation, such as criteria, methods and conditions for accreditation of electronic systems, will be subsequently detailed in subordinate laws.

This is intended merely to provide a regulatory overview. It is not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. Should you have any specific or general  questions on this or on other areas of law, please do not hesitate to contact the following:

Jirapong Sriwat
Partner

Pornnapas Rasameesoraj
Attorney-at-Law

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