This is in reference to the Wealth Care article from Feb 11 concerning foreigners owning land. You wrote: "You will be treated as a foreigner and can only buy a maximum of one rai for personal and commercial use, 10 rai for agricultural purposes and 0.5 rai per family for a cemetery."
This is indeed a surprise to me and to other farangs living here that I have spoken with, as we all understood that foreigners cannot buy land in Thailand under any circumstances. Can you please confirm that foreigners can buy land under the conditions stated above and advise me of any pitfalls, restrictions or other terms and conditions there might be? Many thanks.
_ Bruce Giddings, Khon Kaen
I read your reply to Mr Pairoj in regard to foreigners being able to buy one rai of land for personal or commercial use and 10 rai for agricultural purposes in the Feb 11 column. Can you please elaborate on this and explain if there are any requirements that come with this rule? Where can I get more help and advice? Thank you.
I read your recent Wealth Care column and am confused about whether foreigners are actually legally allowed to own one rai of land for personal and commercial purposes. I am advised that foreigners may not legally own any land in Thailand and are restricted to owning strata-titled condominiums in their own names. Can you tell me which is the correct legal position here?
_ Stephen Soul, Udon Thani
ANSWERED BY... Teera Phutrakul, CFP, Chairman, TFPA There were quite a few queries from Wealth Care readers about land ownership in Thailand for foreigners, so I hope this extended reply will clear up any misunderstanding on the subject.
As with everything else in Thailand, the devil is in the details and you have to read the fine print carefully. Under the Thailand Land Code Act of 1954, foreigners may own land under the provisions of a treaty. However, the last treaty allowing foreigners to own land in Thailand was terminated in 1970. But in 1999 the Land Code Act was amended allowing foreign individuals to own land of up to one rai (1,600 square metres) under Section 96 for residential purposes through the Board of Investment, which requires a 40-million-baht investment in Thailand in specified assets, government bonds or businesses beneficial to the Thai economy.
However, strict conditions still apply, and foreigners can only buy land in specified areas with the approval of the interior minister. In addition, this ownership is not transferable by inheritance and is limited to the holding period the foreigner was granted under the exception.
Another way for a foreigner to own land is to marry a Thai national and one day inherit the land if you outlive your Thai spouse. But here again the devil is in the details. A foreigner married to a Thai national may, as a statutory heir with approval from the interior minister, inherit land under Section 93 of the Land Code Act but must dispose of the land within one year of acquisition.
Still want to own land in Thailand? If you are determined, then you may want to establish a Thailand-registered limited company with 51:49 (Thai:foreign) ownership with two classes of shares _ ordinary and preferred with different voting rights. Here again, the process can be quite cumbersome, and the use of nominees to avoid true ownership is becoming more difficult to get away with.
Leasing is another popular and more straightforward option to acquire a property in Thailand. The maximum duration of a lease permitted under Thai law for non-commercial use is 30 years (commercial use is 50 years). It is possible under Thai law to lease land as an individual rather than through a Thai company.
For foreigners wanting to live in Thailand who are not too bothered about owning land, buying a condo is something to consider. A condominium is a building that can have its separate portions sold to individuals or groups for personal property ownership. The Condominium Act stipulates foreigners or a foreign legal entity can acquire up to but not exceed 49% of the usable space in a condominium block. If you do not want to buy, you can always lease. Condominium leases, like land leases, are generally prepaid for 30 years with the option of renewing for two additional 30-year periods.
The Thai Financial Planners Association is the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) trademark licensing authority in Thailand. It is a self-regulated, non-profit group of financial advisers and experts from various organisations set up to give advice to investors. Questions can be submitted through email@example.com or posted on the TFPA webboard at www.tfpa.or.th
About the author
Writer: Thai Financial Planners Association