The Thailand, the Land Department is responsible for registrations related to land. Buying a plot of land is not an easy transaction, however. In Thailand, there are a lot more more obstacles and hurdles you need to overcome than a simple property search you conduct when buying a condominium. As a foreigner, you will face a very complicated and complex process to during your journey designed to purchase land in Thailand.
In general, under the Thai law, foreigners are practically not allowed to own land in Thailand. Nevertheless, Juslaws & Consult can present you with at least three options allowing you to purchase or acquire ownership of land in Thailand:
As stipulated in the Land Code Proclamation Act, B.E. 2497 (1954), foreign ownership of 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 to the Section 84, the aforesaid foreigners 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 their name; still, foreigners may legally own condominium units.
Therefore, you will need to figure out other ways to legally possess the land.
Land lease is an alternative to purchasing property in Thailand, and a foreigner can lease a plot of land for 30 years, with two additional extensions of 30 years each granted after the original lease term expires. While this is not outright ownership, this is a very popular way of owning land as a foreigner in Thailand, as this transaction does not require setting up a company with different shareholders whose interests at some point may become different from yours.
Another advantage is that you can transfer you lease contract executed for the house, private apartment, or condominium unit, or even sell your rights under such contract. The option to renew the contract after 30 years is not be automatic and will depend on the discretion of the lessor and particular clauses comprised in the lease contract.
Another alternative is to set up a private limited company, as a Thai company may own the land. If you decide that this is the best option for you, be aware that as a foreigner you cannot hold more than 49% of the Thai company's shares - your company has to be at least 51% Thai-owned, so you will need Thai shareholders.
It may slook not attractive compared to outright land ownership, but this option is considered to be one of the most useful ways to purchase or acquire ownership of land in Thailand as a foreign national. However, you have to make sure that the Thai persons holding 51% of the shares of the company are people that you can trust.
It is worth mentioning that foreign corporations may not own land in Thailand unless under BOI incentives.
If you are married to a Thai citizen, you are in a better position. A foreign national is allowed to buy land in Thailand if they are married to a Thai citizen. However, there still are some limitations.
We would like to draw your attention to the fact that as the foreign spouse (also referred to as a "non-Thai spouse") you will have no actual ownership rights over the land, and the land title deed may not be in your name but has to specify the name of your Thai wife or husband instead, as the land can only be legally owned by Thai nationals. Such real estate is considered the property of the Thai spouse.
Last but not least, problems might still arise in case of a divorce: pit may be difficult to prove that the land is a marital property. In general, a skillfully drafted prenuptial agreement may help to minimize your risks as a foreigner. Engagement to or marriage with a Thai national will be also beneficial for your a visa application. Keep in mind, also, that while it is possible for a foreigner to inherit land from a Thai spouse, they may only inherit land and dispose of the land - they will not be allowed to register ownership of the land in question.
Due to the current legal restrictions in Thai property law imposed on foreigners looking to purchase property in Thailand, Juslaws & Consult strongly recommends that you should use the services of a registered lawyer in Thailand if you consider such purpose. Our lawyers have extensive experience and deep expertise in property law, specifically when it comes to matters of buying land in Thailand for residential purposes, and we will be happy to assist you with your acquisition.
There's a lot of information a foreigner needs to be aware of when it comes to buying a plot of land, a villa, a house, or even a condominium in Thailand. Thus, a thorough real estate due diligence shall be conducted before any purchase.
Our services include title searches, reviews of the Sale-Purchase Agreement before you actually sign it, and many other aspects. 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.
If you have an inquiry or need to learn more information, please do not hesitate to contact Juslaws & Consult. We are always here for you.