Overview of the Property Law in Thailand
Foreigners can‘t own land in Thailand, but the Land Registry allows a Thai national married to a foreigner to own land after a joint statement together with his or her foreign spouse or proof that the money expended on the land/ real estate is personal property of the Thai spouse (read up on the procedure).
Protection And Ownership Thai Spouse | Family Law
A foreigner may own a land in Thailand in a name of Thai company (at least 51% of shares are Thai and 49% are foreign). This can be done as a Thai Limited Co.
Thailand has similar property laws and regulations as western countries as the Thailand Civil Code is based on the mainland European civil law system and copied aspects from common law countries. Thai property laws are considered western. What makes buying real estate in Thailand different and more complicated for non-Thai nationals is that Thai land laws prohibit every foreigner from owning land making it impossible for foreigners to obtain outright ownership over land and house in Thailand.
1 Land ownership by foreign nationals
1.1 – Foreigners cannot own land in Thailand but (in theory) individual foreigners can own land up to 1 rai (1600 square meters) in specified areas for residential purposes through a Board of Investment regulation (section 96 bis Land Code Act) which requires in addition to the land purchase a 40 million baht investment into Thailand in specified assets or government bonds beneficial to the Thai economy. IF granted (unlikely) it is under strict conditions and the land must be located in specified areas and requires approval of the Minister of Interior. Moreover this ownership is not transferable by inheritance, therefore limited to the life of the person granted the right to own the land for residential purposes under this exception. In practice, even if you would be very rich, this is not a viable option. Besides this one exception land ownership in Thailand is strictly prohibited for foreign individuals read more…
1.2 – Foreign companies with substantial investments benefiting the Thai economy may have special privileges and exemptions for land ownership granted under section 27 of the Investment Promotion Act, under section 44 of the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand Act or section 65 of the Petroleum Act (only for the duration of their business in Thailand) read more….
1.3 – The foreign controlled Thai company with a majority Thai shareholding (in number of shareholders and percentage of shares) is through preference shares the only vehicle available for foreigners to control their investment in land in Thailand. Even though land ownership by a partly (up to 49%) foreign owned Thai company is as such not illegal under Thai land laws, the legality and land ownership by most of these partly foreign owned companies is controversial if not illegal. The Thai government is since 2006 restricting and discouraging the misuse of Thai companies to circumvent foreign property ownership restrictions in Thailand. read more…
1.4 – According to section 93 of the Land Code Act, a foreigner who acquires land by inheritance as statutory heir can have ownership in such land upon a permission of the Minister of Interior. Note that section 93 applies only to ownership of land by foreigners under a treaty (section 86) and NOT to foreigners receiving land as a statutory heir from a Thai spouse. There is currently no treaty in place allowing foreigners to own land in Thailand, therefore no foreigner will be given permission by the Minister of Interior. They can inherit the land as a statutory heir, but cannot register ownership and must sell the land within one year from the date of acquisition.
Condominium ownership by foreigners
2.1 – Foreign nationals (natural and juristic persons) may have ownership* of a condo (apartment unit or flat) in Thailand within the foreign ownership quota of a condominium, but ‘aliens’ buying a condo in Thailand must qualify for foreign ownership under section 19 of the Thailand Condominium Act. Foreign freehold ownership of a condo in Thailand means that:
- a) not more than a percentage of 49% of the total unit floor area in a condominium can be foreign owned, the remaining 51% must be owned by Thai natural or juristic persons (i.e. in case of 100 equal apartment units in a condominium building only 49 can be foreign-owned), and;
- b) when foreign ownership is available the foreigner buying a condo must qualify for ownership under section 19 of the Condominium Act, usually this means having properly brought into Thailand foreign currency at least equal to the total purchase price of the condo and having exchanged this amount into Thai baht inside Thailand.