Frequently Asked Questions
How can a foreigner buy land in Thailand?
Thai law is very specific about the ownership of land: foreigners cannot own land. Foreigners can own buildings but are forbidden from land ownership. If a foreign national wants to buy a house or any property that includes land there are two options available:
- The buyer can set up a Thai limited company to hold the freehold of the land. The freehold will be put in this company’s name. The company itself must have Thai shareholders that make up more than 50% of the shares available. There can be more than one foreign shareholder as long as they do not own more than 49% of the entire shares. The main investor will be made the director of the company. Thai lawyers will create safe and clear protective measures that will retain control of the company for the foreign director so that, even though they are a minority shareholder, they will retain complete control of the company. This includes holding the majority of the voting rights within the company so that they cannot be forced to make any contractual decisions against their will. The other shareholders will be restricted in what they can decide for the company and sign agreements to say they can be replaced at any time. A Thai law firm, for a fee, will help owners run this Thai company and make sure the rules for Thai companies are followed, including keeping clear and accurate company books, holding annual general meetings and filing annual accounts. It is in this way that the foreigner is the effective owner of the property without breaking Thai property laws.
- The foreign buyer can lease the land for a period of thirty years. Instead of setting up a Thai company as described above, a foreigner can lease the land for a set 30 year period. This lease can be renewed up to two times within the terms of a written contract, making the lease effectively a 90 year lease. There could also be the option for the buyer to buy the freehold of the land if and when it becomes available.
How can foreigners buy condominiums and apartments in Thailand?
Condominiums in Thailand are restricted by the percentage of foreigners who can purchase properties. This makes condominiums distinct from ‘apartments’. In a condominium, foreigners are allowed to own up to 49% of the units; thus complying with the regulation about foreign owners of land. 51% of the owners must be made up of Thais. Whenever a unit is sold the land registry will check on this percentage and decline any sale that increases the overall percentage to more than 49% of foreign owners. The remaining 51% of the condominium can be leased to foreigners or owned by Thais only. This is stipulated in the condominium licence.
For developments with no condominium licence, they are known simply as apartments. These cannot be owned by foreigners but can be leased for a rolling 30 years. These 30 year leases can be renewed twice, effectively making them 90 year leases.
Can you explain the various land titles in Thailand?
There are two types of land titles that prospective buyers should consider in Thailand: Chanote or Nor Sor Sam Kor.
Chanote titles refer to land that has been accurately surveyed on the national survey grid. The area of land is clear and accurately measured and recorded. This is the best type of land title and the easiest to transfer from one owner to another. In most cases this is the best type of land title for foreigners to consider.
Nor Sor Sam Kor titles are simply land that has not been as accurately measured as Chanote titles. Whereas they are still relatively safe purchases the transfer of ownership may take longer due to this inaccurate measurement.
Nor Sor Sam titles were the predecessors of the Nor Sor Sam Kor titles and are much less accurately measured. This type of title requires 30 days’ notice before any change in ownership can take place.
There are many other types of land title, all with less degree of accuracy, all of which carry many risks for buyers and cannot be granted approval by authorities to build upon.
Our company can give you expert advice about how to purchase the different types of land titles in Thailand.
How simple is it to form a Thai limited company?
It is a simple process although you will need legal assistance to go ahead. We can put you in touch with a good Thai law firm. They will charge a small fee. The whole process will take up to two weeks to complete.
How many shareholders do you need for a Thai limited company?
The minimum requirement for the company is for two Thai shareholders. These Thai shareholders will be provided by the lawyer setting up the company. So, if you have 1 foreign director, you still need 2 Thai shareholders.
What is the number of shareholders necessary to form a limited company?
You need a minimum of two Thai shareholders to form a company. These will be provided by the lawyer you employ to set up the company. The foreign investor will be the director along with the minimum of two Thai shareholders.
How can I stay in Thailand for long periods?
There are three types of visa for foreigners entering the Kingdom:
Tourist Visa: this must be issued by a Thai embassy in a foreign country before entering the country. The visa is for 60 days and can be extended for a further 30 days inside the country. Many foreigners will leave the country towards the end of this 90 days and renew their visas. You are forbidden to work on this visa.
Non Immigrant Visa: this is issued by a Thai embassy outside the Kingdom. These last for one year but you have to report your whereabouts every three months. You can apply for a non-immigrant visa if you are employed, if you own a company worth at least 2 million baht, you have a Thai family, or if you are retired and have enough money to support yourself. Real Asia Properties will be happy to provide you with assistance to obtain a non-immigrant visa.
Resident Visa: these are difficult to obtain, you must have considerable financial security, be able to read and write in Thai and have some influential Thai references.
How is land measured in Thailand?
Usually land prices are quoted in baht per Rai, but sometimes per Talang Wah for smaller areas:
1 Rai = 1600 sqm
1 Acre = 2.53 Rai
1 Hectare = 6.25 Rai
Talang Wah = 1 square Wah = 4 sqm
1 Rai = 400 Talang Wah = 400 sq Wah
1 Ngan = 100 sq Wah