Ownership of immovable property in Thailand for investment as well as residential purposes is very attractive. Therefore, property purchases in Thailand are not only carried out by local Thai residents, but also by foreigners. However, foreigners are often confused by Thai law regarding their rights as a result of misleading and contradictory information that disregards specific legal issues under Thai property law regulating the purchase of land by foreigners. The following is an overview of Thailand’s property law concerning the acquisition of property by foreigners:

1. Leaseholds

Though restrictive, Thai property law permits foreigners to own a 100% interest in land leases. The law states that a foreigner can lease land from a Thai who will maintain ownership of the land after the expiration of the lease. The maximum lease period is 30 years, with the option of renewal.

2. Company Ownership

In the recent years, Thailand’s Department of Land has become strict in inspecting or investigating limited companies for the use of nominees who do not hold a legal interest in the company owning land. This is different from previous years when registered companies with majority foreign ownership could purchase land in Thailand. However, the recent changes are not excessively restrictive for foreigners; foreigners or foreign companies can still secure property in Thai limited companies through legal means.

3. Thai Spouse

A foreigner’s spouse, who is a Thai national, is permitted to purchase property in Thailand under his or her own name. However, the Department of Land requires couples to sign declarations that the funds used in purchasing the property are the Thai spouse’s property. Any claim by the foreign spouse on the property is waived. In this case, prenuptial agreements are often signed by spouses to minimize the risk of loss of property in case of divorce.

4. Investment

Thai law permits foreigners to purchase and own a limited number of properties if they invest 40 million baht for five consecutive years, as long as the property is for residential purposes.

5. Usufruct Habitation and Superficies

Usufruct is the legal right to use and profit from another person’s property. Foreigners may acquire life term interests in property rights in Thailand. This is similar to a lease, whereby ownership is not transferred. However, it is important to note that Thai law regards the act of nominees purchasing land on behalf of foreigners as illegal. To offer a succinct distillation of the Thai property scene as it pertains to foreigners, foreigners can own, and indeed benefit from the ownership of property in Thailand, so long as they put in the necessary homework required to judiciously navigate relevant Thai property law.