The Thailand Land Department is responsible for registering land. Buying Land is not an easy transaction, however. In Thailand, there are more obstacles and hurdles you need to overcome than the property search when buying Thailand real estate. As a foreigner, it is a very complicated and complex process to purchase land in Thailand.
In general, under Thai law, foreigners are not allowed to own land in Thailand. Foreigners cannot directly own land in Thailand as stipulated in Thai Laws, but Juslaws & Consult can present you with three (3) options in order for you to purchase or “own” land in Thailand:
As stipulated under the Land Code Act, B.E. 2497 (1954), foreign ownership of such land is only allowed through a treaty as stated under Section 86: “Foreigners may acquire land by virtue of the provisions of a treaty giving the right to own immovable properties and subject to the provisions of this Code. Subject the Section 84 the aforesaid aliens may acquire land for residence, commerce, industry, agriculture, burial, public charity, or religion under the conditions and procedures prescribed in Ministerial Regulations and with the permission of the Minister.”
Since there are currently no existing treaties between Thailand and other countries, it is virtually impossible for a foreigner to own land in Thailand directly under his or her name, and foreigners may only own condominium units.
You may need to use other methods to indirectly own land or use it as interpreted legally.
Land lease (lease of an immovable property fro residential purpose) is an alternative to purchasing property in Thailand, and a foreigner can lease it for 30 years, with an additional extension of 30 years after the original lease term ends. While this is not outright ownership, this is a very popular and preferred way for owning land as a foreigner in Thailand, as it does not require setting up a company with different shareholders that at some point might have interests that are different from yours.
Another advantage is, that you can transfer the lease contract on the house, private apartment, or condominium unit, or even sell it. The option to renew the contract after 30 years will not be automatic and will depend on the discretion of the Lessor and the legal clauses added on the lease agreement.
Another alternative is to set up a private limited company as this Thai registered company may own the land. If you decide this is the best option for you, be aware that as a foreigner, you generally cannot hold more than 49% of the company's shares. Therefore, the foreign-owned Thai company also has to be at least 51% Thai-owned, and you will need Thai shareholders.
It may seem unsatisfactory for you compared to outright foreign land ownership, but this option is considered to be one of the most useful ways to “purchase” or own land in Thailand as foreign nationals, however, you have to make sure that the Thai person who will hold the 51% of the shares of the company is trustworthy for you.
Foreign corporations may not own land in Thailand.
If you are married to a Thai citizen then you are in a good position since the third option that we want to suggest is to marry a Thai national. A foreign national will be allowed to buy land in Thailand if he or she is married to a Thai citizen. However, there still are some limitations.
We draw your attention to the fact that as the foreign spouse, or non-Thai spouse, you have no rights over the land, effectively waiving your rights to claim the property. The land title deed cannot be in your personal name but has to be in the personal name of your Thai wife or husband, as land can only be legally owned by Thai nationals. The real estate is considered the separate property of the Thai spouse.
Last but not least, problems might still arise during divorce as providing that the land owned is a marital property will be difficult. In general, a skillfully drafted pre-marital or prenuptial agreement may help to minimize your risks as a foreigner. Engagement to or marriage with a Thai national could also assist in a visa application.Keep in mind, also, that while foreigners inheriting land from a Thai spouse is possible, they may only inherit land and will not be allowed to register ownership of the real estate.
Due to the legal restrictions in Thai property law for foreigners looking to purchase property in Thailand, Juslaws & Consult strongly suggests that you acquire the services of a registered lawyer in Thailand. Our lawyers have great experience and expertise in property law and specifically when it comes to matters of buying land in Thailand for residential purposes and we will be happy to assist you in all areas.
There's a lot of information a foreigner needs when it comes to buying land in Thailand, buying a villa in Thailand, buying a condominium in Thailand, buying a house in Thailand, or on real estate due diligence, or any property purchases.
Our service includes a title search and reviews of the Sale and Purchase agreement contract before you sign it. Our lawyers will be happy to guide you through the whole buying process and will make sure that your interests and ownership rights are being taken care of.
For detailed information on leasehold in Thailand, please contact Juslaws & Consult.