If you are a foreigner who is interested in purchasing land in Thailand, it is important that you become thoroughly acquainted with the Thai laws which govern acquisition. As a general rule, foreigners are not allowed to own land in Thailand in their own name, although they may own buildings on the land. In some cases, acquisition of private islands may be possible but only through certain channels.
It is important to seek out reputable and top leading agents with a wealth of experience in the field who will be diligent at pursuing your land acquisition needs. They will be able to apprise you of the best strategies, current market prices and methods to use to go about making your purchase.
They will also be able to give advice on the best locations and opportunities for making joint investments in order for you to be able to afford the land. There are various options which may be used by foreigners to buy land in Thailand. Prior to that however, never omit this essential step.
Ensure Legality of Sale through Title Deed Search and Verification
Whether you opt to use the services of an agent, a lawyer or to do it yourself, the first order of business is a title search on the land you are interested in obtaining. Since there are different types of title deeds for land in Thailand, this will ensure that the land can be legally purchased, that the title holder has full rights to sell the land and also that there are no restrictions or inclusions to prohibit a legal sale.
If the title deed on the land is a freehold or Chanote title deed, this type bears the greatest credibility and is a good indicator of whether the property can be sold without issue. This title deed will need to be physically presented to the Land Department for verification.
Indirect Options for Purchasing Land in Thailand
- Use Your Thai Limited Company of Registered Thai Partnership
One of the most common ways to come into ownership of land in Thailand is through the ownership of a Thai limited company or registered partnership. In this case, the foreigner cannot own more than 49% of the shares in the company or partnership and the remaining percentage must be Thai held. If the company will be used to provide support for work permit applications, it is required that 2 million Thai Baht in capital be earned by the company per work permit.
- By Marriage to a Thai National
In a marital arrangement, the foreign spouse married to a Thai national may come into legal ownership of land, although the land for sale must be registered in the name of the Thai spouse at the Land Department. There are several declarations which must however be made.
- The foreign spouse must declare that the money used to buy the land was the sole property of the Thai spouse whether or not that was the case.
- The foreign spouse must waive all rights to claims on the land.
A well-drawn up prenuptial agreement will help to reduce some of the risk to the foreign spouse in the event of future divorce proceedings.
- Through Board of Investment Grant
The Board of Investment in Thailand may grant discretionary permission to a foreigner to own land based on the following:
- The foreigner has invested up to 1 million Thai Baht in the country, which entitles him to purchase 20 Rai of land for the purpose of providing residence for employees.
- Directors and executives within the company are granted a 10 Rai limit to purchase land.
- The land to be purchased and the company must be situated in the same area.
Permission granted by the Board of Investment is purely discretionary and will also be affected by the size of the company. In cases where the Board of Investment deems that the company will serve the interests of activities which they promote, permission to own land may also be granted. Finally, the Ministry of Interior must grant permission before the Board of Investment does and the company must be foreign owned to be eligible for this consideration. The limitation in this case for the amount of land which can be purchased is 5 Rai.
- Spousal Grant of Right of Superficies
The Right of Superficies, which is the permission to own all buildings constructed on the land, may be granted by a Thai spouse or Thai limited company, to a foreigner for personal ownership. This allows the foreigner to be a registered owner of the house but not the land on which it has been built. This remains in effect for 30 years but must be renewed at the end of the period. The re-registration for extension is at the discretion of the Land Officer.
- Through Property Lease
This is the most convenient and common way to come into possession of Thai land. The lease agreement allows a foreigner to gain possession of land and have rights to use it, although not being the named owner of the land. The person who has leased the property may choose to grant a renewal to the foreigner to continue to hold the property and land. This method of acquiring land is the least problematic or complicated and the lease must be registered with the Land Department after being in existence for three years, in order to obtain these legal benefits. This method allows a 30 year holding of the property.