Can a foreigner buy land or purchase property in Thailand?
Thai law, in general, prohibits non-Thai citizens from
buying land or purchasing property in Thailand. However,
there are various exceptions to the law, as well as
methods for foreigners who want to buy land or purchase
property to acquire rights to land and property in Thailand
What are the options available for buying land or property in Thailand?
For a foreigner wishing to buy land or purchase property
in Thailand, there are mainly four options worth exploring.
These include using investment, leasing, owning a company
and marrying a Thai spouse.
Investing/BOI: With significant investment of funds, foreigners may
be allowed to own a limited amount of land under Thai
property law. Some foreign companies seek and obtain
the approval of the Board of Investment (BOI) to purchase
land for a limited period. This option, however, is
not available to the vast majority of non-Thai nationals
seeking to obtain a second home, retirement home or
investment in Thailand because of the legal restrictions
involved. As a result, other options must be examined.
Leasing: Thai property law allows a foreigner to lease land for
a maximum of 30 years, with lease renewal options of
30 years. Many foreigners choose this method to secure
land or property ownership. In comparison to setting
up a company, land leasing is easier and requires less
maintenance. (More information on land
leasing in Thailand can be found here)
Owning a company: A foreigner may use a Thailand-registered
company to obtain property rights or land
interest in Thailand. This "Thai" company
must be at least 51% owned by Thai shareholders, while
the remaining 49% or less may be held by foreigners.
(Some law firms are still using the old law and recommending
39% foreign ownership.)
Marrying a Thai spouse: A recent revision of Thai law has provided the opportunity
for a Thai with a foreign spouse to buy land or property
in Thailand. Prior to registering the land parcel at
the Land Department, the couple may be asked to sign
declarations, declaring that the funds for the property
came solely from the Thai spouse. This may, in effect,
result in the non-Thai spouse waiving his/her rights
on the land or property. Such declarations may become
problematic in a divorce case as the non-Thai spouse
may have difficulties proving that the land was marital
property. To prepare for such an event, a skillfully-drafted prenuptial
agreement may be useful.