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property ownership laws in thailand

The property ownership laws in Thailand

It is possible to own properties in Thailand as a foreigner, but there are restrictions on who is permitted to own what, especially when it comes to buy a land. If you are looking to invest in real estate in Thailand, here is a guide about the rules and the criteria a foreigner needs to qualify to own a property in Thailand. 

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The limits of property ownership in Thailand

Foreigners are not permitted to own lands in Thailand but this does not mean that they cannot invest in the Thai property market.

Own buildings that sit on the land, like condos or villas is permitted, and there are also several ways that foreigners can have access to the use of land and own their own home.

    • Leasehold Agreement: This basically means purchasing the right to use the property as it was your own. The main downside of this is, there is a limitation to how long leaseholds can be, which is 30 years according to the land code in Thailand. It is possible to have the leasehold extended but the landowner does not have to do so.
    • Thai Company: A foreign investor can open a company that will then be able to purchase the land under the company’s name, and they can “own” that land for as long as they own their company.
    • A foreigner can also purchase the property in the name of a Thai person they know, but this is risky.

4 sources have been issued by the Thai government that describe the laws that address property ownership in Thailand:

    • The “Civil code book IV Property”.
    • The “Thailand Land Code Act”.
    • The “Civil code book III ‘Specific Contracts”.
    • and The “Thailand Condominium Act”.

The Thailand Land Code Act

The Thailand land code act specifies the laws that relate to the ownership of land in Thailand, including foreigners.

Section 86 of the act states that it is not permissible for land to be owned by foreigners unless there is a treaty with the foreigner’s home country. However, there is currently no such treaty in force, with the last relevant treaty terminated in 1970.

The land code in Thailand allows some exemptions.

Section 96 bis of the Thailand code act states that foreigners are permitted to purchase land through the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI). In order to qualify according to this section, the foreigner will need to invest a minimum of 40 million baht and this money must be invested in government bonds or specified assets.

Foreigners who qualify are permitted to purchase up to 1 rai (1600 square meters) for residential purposes only. Those with BOI investments of at least 1 million are permitted to purchase 20 rai of land to be used as residences for their employees.

Foreigners are also permitted by the Thai land code to own up to 49% of a Thai company and land can be owned under that company name. Foreign executives and directors of Thai companies are also allowed to purchase up to 20 rai of land, provided it will be used as residences for the company’s employees.

The law also states that a foreigner in Thailand is permitted to own land provided they are married to a Thai national. However, the land is not to be in the foreigner’s name, and a declaration must be signed stating that the land purchase was funded by the Thai national.

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The Condominium Act of Thailand

The condominium act of Thailand states that foreigners are allowed to own 100% of a condo unit (not the condo building itself), and that represents the best option for foreigners who want to invest in Thai real estate.

However, foreigners are not permitted to own more than 49% of the total number of units in the condo building. This means that if you wish to purchase a unit in a particular condo building but 49% of the units are already owned by foreigners then you will have to choose a different condominium building instead.

The law also states that the funds for the purchase must come from overseas and the amount due must be paid in foreign currency. If the amount exceeds $50,000 (or equivalent) then a foreign exchange transaction form must be presented.

According to the Thailand condominium act, foreigners are permitted to rent out their condo, although the condominium themselves may not permit this. This is unless the foreigner is deemed to be renting out their condo as a business, in which case the foreigner must abide by the rules that apply to foreign business in the country.

The law states that foreigners are also permitted to sell their condo and relevant property taxes must be paid at the time of the transfer. The remaining sum can be transferred out of Thailand with no further deductions provided the foreigner presents applicable documentation.

If a foreigner gains a condo unit through inheritance or by way of a gift, then they must meet the qualifying criteria if they are to be permitted to keep the condo. If the recipient does not meet the criteria specified by law, then they must sell the condo unit within 1 year of receiving it.

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