Foreigners are not allowed to own land in Thailand. But, there are certain avenues provided by Thai laws in which a foreigner may be able to acquire land in Thailand.
Setting Up a Thai Company – A foreigner can register a Thai company and use this company to buy land. The company should have existing, genuine Thai shareholders who own the majority of the company shares. Utilizing nominee shareholders is against the law and can jeopardize your business interests in Thailand. In fact, the Land Office, in its effort to curb this prevailing practice has started to require Thai shareholders to present proof of their financial capacity before the transfer of the land into their company. It’s also important to remember that the registered capital of the company should be proportionate to the value of the land to be purchased so as not to raise doubts in the Land Office about the authenticity and capability of your company.
Marriage to a Thai National – This doesn’t mean that as a foreigner who is married to a Thai, you can already purchase land in your name. The land to be purchased will remain in your Thai spouse’s name. The Land Office will ask you to sign a declaration stating that the funds used for the purchase of property was given to your wife as a gift. This way the land eventually becomes her personal property. To protect your interest in the property in case unpleasant things happen down the road in your marriage, an agreement can be entered into between you and your wife. You would need to consult a reputable lawyer to draft this agreement for you.
Leasehold agreements – A foreigner may have a 100% interests in the land by entering into a lease agreement with the land lord. The initial lease term is 30 years but a provision can be added in the agreement to allow the foreigner in leasing the land for another 30 years should the initial lease term has been exhausted.
Investment – A foreigner who invests THB 40 million in Thailand for 5 years is allowed to purchase land in Thailand up to 1 rai for residential purposes.
Habitation Rights (Usufruct and Superficies) – The right to usufruct can be conferred to a foreign beneficiary called a ‘usufructuary’ by the land owner. The foreigner then would have the right to occupy the land and use it. The right to usufruct ceases upon the demise of the usufructuary and unfortunately, this right cannot be transferred to an heir. The right to superficies, on the other hand, allows the foreign beneficiary to enjoy and make use of everything including structures in the land. This right is transferable as opposed to the usufruct. See the article habitation rights on this website.
Our legal counselors and attorneys who are highly experienced in this area can guide and assist you along the process of dealing with all complications in property related transactions such as buying land. Please feel free to contact us for additional information or assistance you may require. Our legal consultation is free-of-charge and we are more than happy to assist you.