How Can Foreigners Own Land Under Thai Law?

Thailand exhibits a unique set of characteristics in the property market. A country-wide economy where the cost of living and dollar/baht exchange value gives a definite advantage to foreigners means that there is consistently strong interest from oversea buyers in Thai land. However, it isn’t only economic factors that make Thailand so attractive to foreign buyers – unlike many other ‘cheap’ countries, we have a relatively stable political system and a rule of Thai law that is similar in principles to many Western countries. Thailand’s strong tourism focus means that a significant percentage of locals speak English … and it all adds up to the very real potential for there to be a majority of Thai land actually owned by foreigners. Thailand legal service professionals see these as the main driving forces behind the push to exclude foreigners from purchasing land in Thailand. However, the situation is far from being black and white – so today we look a little deeper at the Thai laws surrounding foreign ownership of property.

Direct Foreign Ownership Under Thai Law
Some decades ago, it was possible for foreigners to own land in Thailand if their home country had signed a bilateral treaty with Thailand to allow such real estate investment. Currently though, all such treaties have expired, and the reason that they weren’t renewed was that in practice they tended to be very one-sided.

The Exceptions to the Foreign Ownership Rules
However, there are two main situations where foreigners can own property in Thailand. These are condominium units and industrial land.

Foreign Ownership of Condominiums Under Thai Law
There are 5 types of foreign investors that Thailand legal services and Thai law consulting professionals have identified as legally able to own condominiums in Thailand:
-Permanent residents of Thailand
-Foreign investors who have entered Thailand under the Investment Promotion Act
-Any Thai entities with more than half foreign shareholders, or half of the registered capital held by foreigners
-Foreign entities who have a Certificate of Promotion granted under the Investment Promotion Act
-Other foreign investors who are purchasing a condominium with foreign currency

Foreign ownership of industrial land under Thai law
This may be allowed under a Thai Board of Investment promoted activity, and ownership is only granted if the BOI deems it appropriate. Thailand corporate legal service or Thai law consulting advice may be useful as to whether the BOI would consider a particular purpose worthwhile, or for help in phrasing your activities for favorable judgment by the BOI.

The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand may also grant permission for foreigners to own land for industrial purposes in designated industrial areas.

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