knowledge and practical thai legal information

Foreign land ownership part II

Thai real estate law does not allow outright ownership of land (real property) by foreign nationals. Thai nationals and Thai owned corporations are permitted to own land under Thai land laws. Foreign nationals and corporations are allowed to own apartment units in a condominium.

Land ownership by foreign nationals

In theory, pursuant section 96 bis, individual foreigners can own land up to 1 rai (1600 square meters) in specified areas and for residential purposes through a Board of Investment regulation (section 96 bis Land Code Act). Such ownership requires a 40 million baht investment in specified assets or government bonds beneficial to the Thai economy and requires approval of the Minister of Interior. Ownership under section 96 bis is granted to an individual foreigner, such ownership is not transferable by inheritance. Other than this one exception foreign land ownership in Thailand is strictly prohibited under Thai land laws.

Land ownership by foreign corporations

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)

Foreign controlled Thai owned company

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 has since 2006 issued several regulations and guidelines for the business registration offices and local land offices that must prevent the illegal use of Thai companies and Thai nominee shareholders by foreigners.

Land ownership through inheritance

Section 93 of the land code act allows a foreigner to acquire land by inheritance as a statutory heir upon a permission of the Minister of Interior. Section 93 of the and code act applies only to ownership of land by foreigners under a treaty, foreigner to foreigner (section 86 of the land code act), and not Thai to foreigner, e.g. a foreigner receiving land as a statutory heir from his/her Thai spouse. There is currently (since 1970) no treaty allowing any foreign national to own land in Thailand. Any foreigner inheriting land in Thailand cannot register ownership and must sell the land within one year from the date of acquisition.

Ownership of buildings (on leased land)

Foreigners can't own land but are allowed to own the building separate from the land. You can obtain ownership by building the house in combination with a land lease allowing the lessee to build (with or without a right of superficies) or by buying an existing house separate from the land in combination with a land lease agreement. Transfer of an existing house separate from the land must be in writing and registered with the the local land office. Transfer of ownership of an existing house starts at the local land office and requires a 30 day public announcement of the sale at specified locations after which the transfer of ownership of the house is completed by the local land office.

The right to own a house on land owned by someone else is always relative to the right to use the land. When the right to use the land expires the right to own the house on the land exipres with it.

A house does not have a separate ownership title deed (evidence of ownership could be a building permit or the land office sale of a structure document), but it has a tabien baan issued by the government. A tabien baan (house book) is the booklet with the address of the house and the local municipality registers the (Thai) persons in it who use the house as their official residence (domicile). There are 2 types of tabien baans, the blue book (or Thor.Ror.14) for Thai nationals and a yellow house book (or Thor.Ror.13) for foreigners.

See also

search thaicontracts