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Foreign Ownership of Land

By virtue of the provisions of a treaty giving the right to own immovable property, subject to the provisions of The Land Code and subject also to limitations on rights over land for religious purposes, foreigners are allowed to acquire for residence, commerce, industry, agriculture, burial, public charity, or religion under the conditions and procedures prescribed in ministerial regulations and with the permission of the Minister.

Government policy generally does not allow foreigners to own land.  However, the Land Code permits non-Thai individuals or companies to own land by virtue of treaty provisions or ministerial permission,. Foreigners may now own up to one rai (1,600 square meters) of land for residential use, subject to the permission from the Ministry of Interior and Ministerial regulations. Foreign land ownership exceptions are made for businesses with Board of Investment promotion privileges, oil concessions under the Petroleum Act, businesses located in certain industrial estate, with respect to areas of land needed to conduct the business in question.

It is possible for a company with non-Thai shareholders to own land, provided that not more than 49% of the company is owned by foreigners. Significant penalties may be imposed on any person found to have acquired land as an agent of a foreign person or company. These penalties include a fine not exceeding Baht 20,000 or up to two years’ imprisonment.

Foreign Ownership of Condominiums

Subject to certain ministerial regulations, foreigners may own up to 49% of a condominium or up to 100% of a condominium located on a plot of common land not larger than five rai.

With certain exceptions relating to person with resident status and companies meeting certain conditions, the Condominium Act B.E. 2535 (1992) provides that a foreign individual or juristic person who intends to purchase a condominium must remit foreign currency into the country (or withdraw Baht or foreign currency from their non–resident account) in an amount not less than the condominium price. Proof of these remittances must be shown to the Land Department at the time of the registration of a transfer of ownership of the condominium unit(s).

Alternatives to Land Ownership for Foreigners

Given the restrictions on the outright ownership of land, foreigners sometimes employ alternative forms of land or building tenure. Forms such as lease, and the Roman law concepts of usufruct or superficies are provided for in the Civil and Commercial Code “CCC”. Unlike the Land Code, the CCC does not distinguish between foreigners and Thai nationals.

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