|Some regulatory background to purchasing property in Thailand:
(Disclaimer: Although the information in this report has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy and such information may be incomplete or condensed.)
Ownership of land/house with land:
Since 1971, a foreigner (an "alien") or a majority foreign-owned company
can principally not own land or buildings with land in Thailand.
... Aliens wishing to acquire land in Thailand must bring foreign currency into Thailand for certain types of investments in an amount to be specified in ministerial regulations which shall in no event be less than 40 million Baht and obtain permission from the Minister of Interior. Any aliens meeting such requirements may be granted permission to own land in an area not exceeding one (1) rai for residential purposes. The ministerial regulations have not been issued as of October 1999.
A law office can help with advice on property ownership through a company.
There are three legal acts relevant to the purchase of a condominium
unit by an alien, being the Condominium Act B.E. 2522 (or 1979, the
Condominium Act (No. 2), B.E. 2534 (or 1991) and the Condominium Act (N.
3) B.E. 2542 (or 1999) issued on 28th April, 1999. Until recently,
foreigners could only own forty percent (40%) of the aggregate unit space.
This has been amended to 49% of the aggregate unit space
although the ministerial regulations governing this change have not yet
been issued. The new Act allows that aliens or alien juristic
persons (majority foreign-owned companies) can own up to 100%
of the aggregate unit space registered in a condominium up to 27th April
2004. The total development area in that case must be under 5 rai (8000
m2) and located in Bangkok, all municipal districts and "such other areas
as shall hereafter be announced by the Minister of the Interior to be foreign
Who can own a condominium:
Documents needed when buying a condominium:
1. Remittances must be sent in exactly ("to the letter") the same name as that on the purchase contract, i.e. if Tom Smith is the purchaser then the name Tom Smith must appear on the remittance advice. T. Smith or Smith Enterprises are unacceptable.A condominium title (first established under the condominium act of 1979) is a title to a part of a building or buildings with multiple owners, and a fractional interest in the land (always a Chanot) and other common assets (such as a swimming pool) and common parts of the building (such as the stair well or lobby). The title will state the
floor area of the private apartment, the ground area of the common land and the percentage interest which that apartment has in the common property. This percentage also represents the value of the voting interest in the condominium company or owners' association.
Buildings other than condominiums do not have any form of title document, but their sale or long lease can be registered at the Amphoer (district) land office. Proof of ownership, must be established either from proof of construction or document showing previous sale-purchase (not to be confused with the House Registration document, which is only a register of the house's occupants).
Transfer of a building as distinct from its land requires the
posting of 30 days public notice (to see if anyone wishes to contest the
Purchase of land, and/or house with land:
The services of a law office will be necessary when purchasing land through a company, respectively establishing a company that can acquire land/houses.
Understanding Land Titles:
True title deeds, "Chanot ti din", are only to be found in the most and longest developed parts of the Thailand, and of course in Bangkok. Chanot titles, issued by the Provincial office of the Thai Land Department, are accurately surveyed, plotted in relation to a national survey grid and also marked by unique numbered marker posts set in the ground.
Most "titles" in rural Thailand are however of the Nor. Sor. Sam
or Nor Sor. Sam Kor. (N.S.3.) variety and are in the strictest
interpretation "land exploration testimonial deeds". They are to all practical
purposes land title deeds (issued and maintained by the Amphoer, the District
land office) in as much as clear records of ownership are maintained, and
that they may be sold, leased, used as mortgage collateral etc.
N.S.3. titles are in general less accurately surveyed than Chanot titles. In the case of the older (now increasingly rare N.S.3.) titles the boundaries are only recorded in relation to the neighboring plots and survey errors in length of boundary or area are not unusual.
The newer Nor. Sor. Sam. Kor. is in general much more accurately surveyed and each plot is cross referenced to a master survey of the area and a corresponding aerial photograph. For this reason whenever purchasing N.S.3. land which lacks clearly defined physical boundaries it is a wise precaution to ask the owner to stake out the boundaries and then ask neighboring land owners to confirm the vendors interpretation of the boundary.
The Chanot and the Nor. Sor. Sam. Kor. are the only titles over which registerable right of ownership or lease can exist, and are as such the only ones that a prudent foreigner should consider.
Below the Chanot and N.S.3. title there are a host of other forms of
land claim document such as the Sor. Kor. Nueng (S.K.1)., the Tor. Bor.
Tor. Hoc. (T.B.T.6) and the Tor. Bor. Tor. Ha.(T.B.T.5.). These rights
are essentially a form of squatter or settler's claim which has been filed
with the district office and upon which a small fee has been paid. Unlike
the Chanot and N.S.3.. it is neither possible to register a sale or lease
over these land rights, nor will a bank accept them for collateral and
most importantly one cannot apply for (or obtain approval to) build on
The newer Sor. Bor Kor. titles are very different to the above claims. These are true title deeds, accurately surveyed and pegged (like a Chanot). They may be mortgaged, planning permission for development may be sought and granted. The one significant thing that may not happen with a Sor. Bor Kor, is that it may not be sold or transferred (except under last will and testament). Many expect that this limitation will change in time or that the titles can be quickly upgraded to a full Chanot. This is not a universal interpretation of the intention of the new titles and it may be unlikely that any upgrading will granted in the near future.
source: various contributions made to the Real Estate Chapter of "eThailand.com"