Can you buy land in Thailand as a foreigner?

When you're considering Thailand as your home and intend to live here for the long term, buying land in Thailand opens the door to a world of opportunity where businesses can thrive and easily access everything you need as Thailand stands out as one of Southeast Asia's most promising countries. The question is, can foreigners buy land in Thailand? Let's check our blog

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Buying land in Thailand lets you explore many exciting opportunities in a beautiful country in Southeast Asia. Thailand has stunning beaches and lush landscapes, offering various options for people who want to invest in land. Whether you dream of building a home, starting a business, or adding to your investments, buying land in Thailand needs careful thought and understanding of local laws. In this article, we'll explain everything you need to know about buying land in Thailand, from legal rules to practical tips, so you can make smart choices and start your journey to owning property in the Land of Smiles.

Reasons for buying land in Thailand

  • Cost of living: Pleasant tropical climate, and abundance of amenities and attractions.
  • Vacation Home: Some foreigners purchase land in Thailand to build a vacation home where they can escape during holidays or for extended periods.
  • Business Ventures: Foreign investors may buy land for commercial purposes, such as setting up businesses like resorts, hotels, restaurants, or other ventures catering to tourists or locals.
  • Lifestyle Change: Seeking a change in lifestyle, culture, or environment motivates some foreigners to buy land in Thailand for personal enjoyment or to immerse themselves in the local community.
  • Diversification: Investing in foreign real estate allows individuals to diversify their investment portfolios and potentially hedge against economic fluctuations in their home countries.
  • Long-Term Planning: Buying land in Thailand can be part of a long-term plan for retirement, family legacy, or as a way to establish roots in the country.

Option 1: Establishing Your Thai Company

Before finalizing any land purchase, it's crucial to seek legal advice from a qualified attorney.

Foreigners are prohibited from owning land directly, but they can acquire land through a Thai registered company. Various types of business entities exist in Thailand, with the Thai Limited Company being the most prevalent. However, specific criteria must be fulfilled to register a limited company.

Additionally, Americans have the option to conduct business in Thailand under the Thailand Amity Treaty. However, businesses structured under this treaty are not eligible to own land.

Who is eligible?

In order to be eligible to utilize this method several criteria need to be met (detailed below), A Thai limited company can be formed by individuals or corporate entities, both Thai and foreign. The process of forming a Thai limited company involves fulfilling certain requirements, such as having a minimum number of shareholders, meeting the capitalization requirements, and registering a registered office in Thailand. 

Whether Thai or foreign, anyone who meets these criteria and complies with Thai company laws and regulations can form a Thai limited company. Additionally, it's common for foreigners to engage local legal or business consultancy services to assist them in navigating the company formation process effectively.

What is a Thai Limited Company?

A Thai Limited Company, particularly a Private Thai Limited Company, stands as the predominant form of business entity in Thailand, distinguished by the following characteristics:

  • Ownership Structure: It is owned by a minimum of three shareholders, each contributing to the company's capital.
  • Limited Liability: Shareholders' liability is confined to the par value of their respective shares, offering them protection against personal liability beyond their investment.
  • Directorial Management: Shareholders' involvement in company operations is restricted, with directors primarily responsible for managing company affairs.

As per Section 1096 of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code (CCC), "A limited company is that kind of which is formed with a capital divided into equal shares, and the liability of the shareholders is limited to the amount, if any, unpaid on the shares respectively held by them."

The incorporation process of a Private Limited Company necessitates the following steps:

  • Promoters: At least three natural persons are required as promoters (initial shareholders), maintaining this minimum throughout the company's operation.
  • Registered Office: The company must have a registered office in Thailand, accompanied by copies of the House registration (Tabien Ban) number and a Letter of Consent from the landlord.
  • Capitalization: A minimum registered capitalization of 2 million THB is mandated for foreign businesses operating in non-restricted sectors and 3 million THB for those in restricted sectors under the Foreign Business Act. Thai-owned companies are exempt from these requirements but must fulfill financial criteria to support expatriate work permits.
  • Memorandum of Association: Submission of a memorandum of association is required alongside the application.
  • Statutory Meeting: A statutory meeting must be convened.
  • Bank Certification: A Letter of Certification from the bank is necessary to validate the sufficiency of funds in the Thai shareholder's personal bank account, especially if Thai shareholders are among foreign shareholders.
  • Documentation: All shareholders, initial promoters, and directors are obligated to sign pertinent application documents in Thailand.

Option 2: Leasehold Arrangements

Opting for a leasehold agreement is a widely favored method among foreigners for acquiring real estate in Thailand.

Why is it preferred?

  • Simplified Process: Leasehold arrangements are straightforward and easy to understand.
  • Full Control: Foreigners can enjoy complete ownership rights over the leased property throughout the agreed-upon lease duration.
  • Avoiding Shareholder Complexities: Unlike purchasing through a limited company with multiple shareholders, a leasehold arrangement allows for individual control without conflicting interests.
  • Transferability: Leasehold interests can be transferred or sold similar to freehold title conveyances in Thailand.
  • Lease Term: The maximum lease duration is 30 years, with the possibility of renewal for additional 30-year periods subject to specific conditions and approval by the Land Office Registrar.

Who is eligible?

Foreigners and Thai nationals alike are eligible to undertake a leasehold agreement to lease land in Thailand. However, there are certain restrictions and regulations that foreign individuals or entities need to be aware of. For instance, leasehold agreements for land are typically limited to a maximum term of 30 years, with the possibility of renewal upon agreement between the lessor and lessee. 

Additionally, in some cases, foreigners may need to obtain approval from the relevant authorities, such as the Board of Investment (BOI) or the Ministry of Interior, depending on the nature of the land and the intended use. It's advisable for foreigners interested in leasing land in Thailand to seek legal advice to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Option 3: Marriage to a Thai Citizen

Another option for foreigners to acquire land in Thailand is by marrying a Thai citizen; however, there are certain limitations:

  • Waiver of Rights: The non-Thai spouse must relinquish any claim to ownership rights over the property.
  • Property Ownership: Although purchased by the non-Thai spouse, the property must be registered under the Thai spouse's name.
  • Financial Declarations: Declarations may be required at the Land Department, confirming that the funds used for the purchase are solely owned by the Thai spouse.
  • Divorce Complications: During divorce proceedings, proving the property as marital assets can be challenging.
  • Risk Mitigation: Skillfully crafted prenuptial agreements can help minimize risks for the non-Thai spouse by outlining clear guidelines for managing matrimonial assets.

Who is eligible?

To marry a Thai citizen, foreigners must meet certain eligibility requirements outlined by Thai law. These requirements typically include:

  • Legal Age: Both parties must be at least 17 years old to marry in Thailand. However, individuals aged 17 require parental consent.
  • Capacity to Consent: Both parties must have the mental capacity to consent to marriage willingly.
  • Marital Status: Individuals must be single and legally eligible to marry. Divorced or widowed individuals must provide documentation proving the termination of their previous marriage.
  • Health Certificate: Foreigners may need to provide a health certificate issued by a Thai hospital or clinic, certifying that they are free from contagious diseases. This requirement varies depending on the local district office.
  • Financial Requirements: While not a formal requirement, some district offices may request proof of financial stability or assets as part of the marriage registration process.
  • Legal Documentation: Foreigners must provide a valid passport and any additional documents required by their embassy or consulate, such as a certificate of no impediment to marriage.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Respect for Thai customs and traditions is essential throughout the marriage process, including ceremonies and family interactions.

Steps to Protect Your Rights:

  • Purchase the Land: The land is purchased in your Thai spouse's name, as per Thai law.

  • Establish a Long-term Lease Agreement: Once the land is purchased, you and your spouse can enter into a lease agreement where you, as the foreigner, lease the land from your spouse.

    • The lease can be for a period of up to 30 years, with an option to renew for additional 30-year periods.
    • The lease agreement must be registered at the local land office to be legally binding and enforceable.
    • Right to Use the Land: The lease grants you the right to use and benefit from the land for the duration of the lease term, even if you and your spouse divorce.
    • Legal Protection: Since the lease is registered, it is recognized by Thai law, providing you with legal protection against any changes in ownership or marital status.
    • Continuity: In the event of a divorce, the lease remains valid, allowing you to continue using the land as specified in the lease agreement.

Important Considerations:

  • Register the Lease: Ensure that the lease agreement is registered at the land office to secure your legal rights.

  • Clear Terms: The lease agreement should clearly outline the terms, including the duration, renewal options, and any conditions for termination.

  • Legal Advice: Consult with a legal expert to draft and register the lease agreement to ensure all legal requirements are met and your interests are fully protected.

Buying land in Thailand offers numerous benefits for both investors and those seeking a new lifestyle. With its stunning natural landscapes, rich cultural heritage, affordability, and investment potential, Thailand provides unique opportunities for land ownership.

If you're considering setting up a company in Thailand, it's crucial to seek guidance from professionals and legal experts like us at Thaikru. We have helped many business owners successfully set up companies in Thailand with ease and a seamless process.

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