Can I own land and a house in Thailand?
Land ownership is governed by the Land Code BE 2497 (1954), the Civil and Commercial Code, the Land Reform for Agriculture Act BE 2518 (1975) and the regulations issued by the Ministry of the Interior. Although you can own a house or structure in your own name, Thai law does not allow foreigners to own the land the building is erected on. However there are a number of ways in which you can circumvent this rule:
- Invest in a private Thai limited company. This involves the incorporation of a private company of which the foreigner holds a maximum of 49% of the shares and is the sole director. The remaining 51% of the shares must, according to Thai law, be held by Thai nationals. This is the method that has been adopted by tens of thousands of foreigners who protect their property ownership with this "legal framework". The company must submit an annual balance sheet and there will be a tax obligation, but the costs are minimal and your lawyer should be able to assist you with the above.
- Become a Thai resident or citizen
- Invest in a new export oriented Board of Investment (BOI) approved company. The most you can currently own freehold is one Rai of land (1600 sqm.)
- Make an approved investment of 40 Million Baht or more, which has to be maintained for a specific number of years.
- 30 year lease with the option of renewal. This can be done by taking out a registered 30 year lease (residential) to the foreigner in the foreigner’s own name with pre-paid options to renew for two further periods of 30 years each. The foreigner could also be given the option to purchase the land, in case the law in respect of foreign land ownership rights changes. Under Thai law, a foreigner can own the building (for example a house) erected on the land. In order to be enforceable, any lease for a period of more than three years must be registered at the respective land office. There is a registration fee and stamp duty applicable, based on a percentage of the rental fee for the whole lease term. The originally registered lease remains in force and effective even if the property is sold.
Can foreigners own buildings even if they don't own the land?
Although Thai law does not allow foreigners to own land in Thailand, foreigners have the right to own buildings (See "purchase of condominiums". Foreigners have no right to freehold land ownership). If foreigners want to purchase land in Thailand in order to build a property, they have two options, either to form a joint venture limited company with a majority Thai ownership or to secure a long term lease with a right of renewal.