Acquisition of Land in Thailand by a Foreign Government

| December 9, 2016 | Land, Property

The acquisition of land or a condominium unit in Thailand by a foreign government for official use, such as for use as an embassy or consulate, is not covered by any specific legislation. Therefore, assuming that a foreign government intended to acquire land or other immovable property in Thailand for official use, such an acquisition must be done by reciprocal agreement between nations, although not falling under the terms of Section 86 of the Land Code (as stated in Land Department Announcement No. 0610.4/893 issued on 2 August 1994). Furthermore, the Thai Cabinet has issued a number of resolutions on this matter which can be summarized as follows:

  • 19 February 1958: According to this resolution where a foreign government wishes to purchase land for official use or for the use as a residence for their officials in an area not exceeding 15 rai, regardless of whether it is one plot or several, then the Land Department may proceed to allow the acquisition. If the amount to be purchased is more than the amount specified, then permission may sought from the Cabinet on a case by case basis.
  • 1 April 1997: This resolution addressed the acquisition of land by social countires. Since the acquisition of land in Thailand by foreign governments had to follow the principle of reciprocity and since socialist governments do not allow foreign governments to acquire land in their countries, then accordingly Thailand could not allow socialist countries to purchase land in Thailand, but could only allow them to lease the land. However, due to the interest of maintaining stable relations with foreign countries, the Thai government would have to purchase the land from the private owner first and then enter into the lease agreement with the foreign socialist government.

An interesting issue arose when the Taiwan Economic and Trade Office in Thailand wished to purchase a land and building for official purposes. The Land Department considered the matter and concluded that the acquisition of land in Thailand by foreign government had to be done on the basis of reciprocity. However, since the Thai government had not recognized the sovereignty of Taiwan, the Thai government could not enter into any such reciprocal agreement with the Taiwanese government. Therefore, on 5 February 2000, the Cabinet allowed the Thai Economic and Trade Office to enter into an agreement with the Taiwan Economic and Trade Office regarding reciprocity in the purchase and acquisition of land for both parties.

The acquisition of land by foreigners is a complex legal subject in Thailand. Foreigners seeking to acquire land in Thailand are advised to consult with competent Thai legal counsel before proceeding.

 

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