Thailand has increasingly become popular as a destination for retirees and foreign investors. With this influx of foreigners, it is only natural that many would be interested to know if they can own land in Thailand. Be it for business or to build your dream house, it makes sense to want to own such property outrightly.
Unfortunately, while owning land is possible for foreigners in Thailand, it is not an easy process. At first glance you will find that foreigners are not allowed to own land unless there is a bilateral treaty with their home country that would allow this. all such treaties are expired meaning that those coming into the country now are restricted to just condominiums ownership under the Condominium Act.
Owning a condo gives you shared ownership of the land with other residents, but even foreigners are restricted to no more than 49% overall ownership of such property.
Landed property is very difficult for a foreigner to acquire. There are a few exemptions in law that can be tried but rarely succeed due to the tough conditions that may apply.
Set Up a Thai Company
It is possible to invest in landed property through a Thai company. This means setting up a limited company that runs a legitimate business. It must generate revenues and most importantly, have a majority Thai shareholding. Foreigners may only own up to 49% of shares. This is a tough option to pursue just to own land, less than outrightly.
Under these terms, the foreigner would not be able to own the land, but rather rent it on long-term leasehold conditions. Legally, such leases may not exceed 30 years. You can however request your lawyer to allow for at least 2 additional renewals that would effectively make for a 90-year lease term. It would allow the tenant to enjoy exclusive possession of the land and develop it as their home for the duration of the lease.
The foreigner can then own the buildings on the land, separate from the land itself. To have separate ownership of the structures on land, you will need to have this in writing and registered with the applicable authority, typically either the Land Department or provincial office.
This arrangement can also be made for foreigners marrying local Thais. The foreigner can retain ownership of the buildings while the spouse retains ownership of the land. Note that when buying the land, there must be a written declaration affirming that the funds used to buy the land were of the Thai national and not the foreigner. This way it becomes their private asset, not subject to equitable distribution of assets in case there is a divorce.
Investment Promotion Act
This law was created to help attract foreign investment for industrial projects. The Board of Investment (BOI) and Ministry of Interior may permit foreign investors to own land in specific locations for purposes of setting up a factory and related housing. Under this law, the company may be wholly owned by a foreigner, hence they enjoy full control over the property utilized for this scheme. This ownership may however only last as long as the project does. The property does not become transferable nor can it be inherited.