Foreigners Buying Land
Though Thai Property Laws prohibit a foreigner from owning land in Thailand, there are other alternatives to owning land in Thailand.
Using a Company
A foreigner may own a land in Thailand in a name of Thai company (at least 51% of shares are Thai and 49% are foreign). This can be done as a Thai Limited Company or a registered Thai Partnership. The most common form of company registered in Thailand is the Thai Limited Company. If a company is going to support a work permit application, a two million baht capital is required for each work permit.
Board of Investment (BOI)
A foreigner, who invests in a minimum of at least one million Baht in Thailand for no minimum prescribed period of time, is entitled to buy up to 20 Rai of land for residential purposes for employees. However only 10 Rai for executives and directors of the Company. However, it must be noted that although it may be permissible to own up to 10 or 20 Rai, this depends on how large or small your company is and the activities involved, which will then be ultimately up to the discretion of the Board of Investment. This land brought also has to be located in the same area where the Company is located. The Board of Investment may also grant privileges to the applying company permission to own land if it will be used for an activity promoted by Board of Investment, however this must not exceed 5 rai and must be owned by a foreign company and also deal with the activity requested of. Please also bear in mind that permission from the Ministry of Interior must be obtained before any such grant.
Married to a Thai National
In 1999 the Thai property law was amended to allow a foreigner with a Thai spouse to legally own land in Thailand. Nevertheless, the land must still be registered at the land office in the name of the Thai national. The foreigner must also sign a declaration stating that the funds used in the purchase of such land were the funds of the Thai National and not of the foreigner.
Through Lease of Property
Leasing is one option for a foreigner to acquire land. The foreigner in essence leases the land or house from whoever is named the owner of the land, namely the Thai national. The maximum duration of a lease under Thai property law is 30 years, with a possibility to renew again if agreed by the lessor. However, renewal periods are not effective in a contract and would more than likely be unenforceable. This is the least complicated option for a foreigner to have a right of usage of land. A land leased over three years must be registered at the Land Department in order for it to be legally enforceable.
A company or the Thai spouse of a foreigner may grant a Right of Superficies in favor of the foreigner, giving him the right to personally own all constructions situated on the land. By using this possibility, a foreign individual can be registered as the owner of a house without owning the land. The Right of Superficies can be conceded for a period of 30 years and can be renewed for another 30 years (but not automatically). It must also be noted that although a superficies may be registered, this is still upon the discretion of the Land Officer at each Land Office.
Before buying land, an essential step to the process is to conduct a Title Search. Since there are different levels of land title deeds, it is recommended to verify with the Land Department the type of title deed of a land in which you are interested to acquire and its legality. This step would provide more information about a land; for instance, and whether it is under any obligation and also whether it is a freehold title or not and is strongly recommended to contact a Lawyer or Solicitor to provide you with such information retrievable from the land department. However, before any such title search can be performed, a copy of title deed must be present.