The Land Code governs the land ownership in Thailand. According to this one foreign nationals and companies are not permitted to own land in Thailand, except for the following cases:
1. Incentives under investment laws
A BOI promoted company with at least 50% of its shares held by foreigners and with substantial investments may apply for land ownership by submitting a request to the Office of the Board of Investment. If the land acquisition request is approved, the office will send a letter of approval to the company and will notify the Department of Land or the provincial governor.
Companies under BOI may own land everywhere in Thailand to such an extent as the Board of Investment deems appropriate in order to carry on the promoted activity.
If the foreigner wishes to change the purpose of the land use, such foreigner shall re-register the land. Upon such change, the proportion of land may have to be reduced. No ownership of land is possible beyond the term of promoted activities.
In case a foreigner dissolves his promoted activity or transfers it to another person, he needs to dispose of the land that he has been permitted to own within 1 year of the date of dissolution or transfer. Otherwise the Director General of the competent Land Department has the power to dispose of it under the Land Code.
Petroleum concessionaires that bring into Thailand a minimum of 40 million Baht to invest for at least 5 years and the investment is beneficial to the economy and society of Thailand may own land in Thailand. They are allowed to buy up to 1,600 sq.m. of land and to use it only for residential purposes.
If they fail using the land for residence purposes within 2 years from the date of purchase, the Director-General can make use of it.
A foreign industrial operator (manufacturer or trader) may acquire land in an Industrial Estate to carrying out industrial activities. The size of the land will be decided by the IEAT (up to a maximum of 16,000 sq.m.).
If case the operator dissolves his industrial activity or transfers it to another person, he needs to dispose of the land that he has been permitted to own within 3 years of the date of dissolution or transfer.
Another way to acquire land in Thailand is by inheritance. In this case, the land devolved when combined with the land already acquired cannot exceed the limit specified by law. For example, land for residential use cannot exceed 1 rai per household, land for commercial use cannot exceed 1 rai, and land for industrial use cannot exceed 10 rai.
3. Investment for residential use
A foreigner that brings into Thailand not less than 40 million Baht in equivalent foreign currency to invest for at least 5 years can, subject to certain other conditions, own land of no more than 1 rai (equivalent to 1,600 sq.m.) for residential use. The other conditions include:
• Permission must be obtained from the Interior Minister
• Money brought into Thailand shall be invested in one of the prescribed businesses or activities (government bonds, property funds, BOI promoted businesses)
• The land to be acquired shall be located in a residential zone according to the law on Town and Country Planning
This ownership is limited to the life of the person granted the right to own the land for residential purposes.
If the foreigner fails to use the land for residence purposes within 2 years from the date of ownership, the Director-General can make use of it.