The easiest way for a foreigner to own property in Thailand is to purchase a condominium. Since the Condominium Act BE 2535 (1992) it is possible for foreigners to own 49% of the units available in a condominium block. This avoids the use of nominees & Thai Limited companies. All that is required is proof that the money used to purchase the condominium arrived in Thailand as foreign currency & originated from abroad. This is done by obtaining a Tor Tor 3 form the receiving bank. Condos can still be bought in Thai name, Thai company name or with the use of a nominee. (Details below)
Land & Houses
Under Thai law it is not possible for a foreigner to own land, however they are entitled to own a house or a building on the land. Saying that there are ways in which a foreigner can own or invest in land.
1) Obtain Thai Residency.
Become a principal investor in new export orientated Board of Investment (B o I) approved company. Maximum land allowed 1 rai or 1600 sqm.
Make an approved investment of 40 Million Baht for a minimum number of years. Again maximum land allowed is 1 rai or 1600 sqm.
Below are the more normal ways in which the property is purchased by the foreigner but registered in a Thai name.
1) 30 Year Lease with Thai Nominee – Here the deal is made safe by the buyer having a lease registered on the land. The lease is a legally binding document that is registered at the land office. There is a minimal amount of tax payable on the lease income. The initial term of the lease & extension periods are declared as paid in advance & incorporated into the agreement as an option to allow the lessee the right of purchase should the law change.
Nominee with Mortgage – This is a very similar method to the previous one. Instead of a lease being registered a mortgage is used. The way this works is that the buyer uses a Thai nominee to purchase the property; this property is then registered as mortgaged at the land office. Again there is a tax payable which is minimal. The property cannot be sold until the mortgage lender signs the title documents declaring the mortgage cleared. This gives 100% control over the property.
Company name – This is probably the most popular method of ownership. To do this a company is formed with 3 shareholders including yourself, some older existing companies would have & 8 shareholders. The buyer is then made director & becomes the sole signatory for the company. The director would also have obtained documentation through a lawyer giving the buyer 100% control of the company. As this is a company there will be a small yearly tax obligation and these costs are minimal. Here at Northern Thai Realty we can assist you with this. If you were to buy a property already in a company the process is just a small matter of changing the name of the director which Northern Thai Realty can do for a small fee.
A Chanote is currently the only document that can be described as a land title deed. The reason is that it alone confirms ownership of land or condo. The land is accurately surveyed with the area & boundaries set using GPS. The back of this document will show the current owners name.
For areas that have not been surveyed there are other types of documentation available such as a Nor Sor Sam. Unlike at Chanote these documents are issued to show the possessors exploitation of the land. Although they do not provide ownership rights like a Chanote does, they can still be registered for the transfer of land.
Thai Spouse Ownership
Pre 1998 any Thai woman that married a foreign national lost her right to purchase land in Thailand, however she was still able to retain the land she owned prior to her marriage. In 1999 regulations were changed to allow a Thai wife married to a foreigner to purchase land in her name. To do this they must prove that the money used was legally theirs with no foreign claim on it. This is normally achieved by the foreign spouse signing a declaration stating the fund used belonged to the Thai spouse prior to the marriage & that they have no claim on them at all.