Foreigners can buy and hold Thai real estate through a variety of ownership structures and land titles. The three most common forms of ownership used by foreigners to hold Thai real estate are: leasehold, freehold through a condo title, and freehold through acquisition by a Thai company. Foreigners may also, in some circumstances, own industrial property freehold. The Thai Land Code considers “foreign” ownership to be property ownership by any foreign individual or company.
In Thailand, a condominium (or condo) is a multi-unit building where there is freehold ownership of individual units and a common interest, along with all the other owners, in the land and common areas.
- A condo is registered at the Land Department and each individual unit has its own title deed.
- Foreigners are allowed to own up to 49%, in terms of area, of a condo building in Thailand.
- The percentage of foreign ownership of each condo building is registered at the Land Department.
- Purchasers of new condos which are sold off plan need to clarify with the developer that their particular condo unit will be registered as part of the quota for foreign ownership.
- Purchasers of units in existing condo buildings should clarify with the vendor if the unit is already part of the foreign quota and, if not, whether the foreign ownership quota is still available.
- All the money used by a foreigner to purchase a condo must be remitted to Thailand as foreign currency.
- Foreign purchasers need to obtain a “Foreign Exchange Transaction” certificate from the beneficiary bank for each remittance and all these certificates must be shown to the Land Department in order to register the condo.
- When the money is sent to Thailand, a foreign purchaser needs to include in the transfer instructions that the funds are being remitted for the purpose of buying a condo unit.
- A foreigner who has Thai baht in his non-resident bank account or who has a foreign currency bank account in Thailand may withdraw money from such account for the payment of the condo unit. In this case, a withdrawal slip and bank certificate issued by the bank is needed, confirming that the funds were withdrawn from the account to buy a condo. These documents will need to be shown at the Land Department.
- Foreigners with Thai spouses who are buying a condo jointly must comply with the foreign ownership regulations and transfer all the funds to purchase the condo from overseas.
- Foreigners with permanent resident status in Thailand do not need to transfer funds from overseas.
- The owner of a condo unit will be named on the title deed of the unit. The condo title deed will clearly state the area, which will include any balconies but will exclude columns and common areas. The condo title deed will show the ratio of ownership of the common areas.
Condo / Apartment: Property Definition
Thailand has specific definitions that describe the difference between an apartment and a condo and, while different parts of the world use either apartment or condominium to describe what is essentially the same type of property, Thailand does not. In Thailand, an apartment is a residential building held under single ownership on an individual title.
Condo / Apartment / Villa: Definition of Leasehold Title
A foreigner may register ownership of a 30-year lease with the Land Department. This may be a lease for a condominium, an apartment, a house/villa or land. The land owner or building owner must hold the property on freehold “Chanote” title or “Nor Sor 3 Gor”.
There are no restrictions on foreigners owning a building outright. Therefore, a foreigner may own a building erected on the land over which they have a 30-year lease.
The lessor can grant the lessee a series of options to renew the lease for further terms of 30 years each, but these options cannot be registered against the land title and are only enforceable on the contracting parties.
This structure is transparent and is fully in accordance with the Thai law.
As the leasehold structure can be complex, we recommend that the purchasers of a leasehold property seek qualified legal advice before entering into any lease contracts.
Ownership of a Condo, Apartment, Villa Or Land via a Company
An indirect way for foreigners to own property in Thailand is possible through the ownership of a Thai company. However, there are strict rules as to what is deemed to be a Thai company when foreigners are involved. The establishment of a Thai company and the law relating to foreign ownership of landed property is a specialist area and we therefore recommend that purchasers consult a legal professional.