The law in Thailand views foreigners in a very specific way. It seeks to promote their presence due to the vast sums of money that tourism brings to the economy, but it is a lot less welcoming when it comes to owning a piece of the country. In fact the law in Thailand actually prohibits non-Thai nationals from purchasing land outright. This unfortunately means that even if you had the money and stumbled across a lovely little piece of land for sale in Thailand, you could not purchase it directly. You will probably have noticed the slightly evasive wording of some of the statements so far, and there is a good reason for this. Whilst a foreigner cannot buy land directly, there are a number of workarounds that you can utilise; all of which are perfectly legal.
Land by marriage
Let’s get what is probably going to be the most controversial entry on this list out of the way first. If you are married to a Thai national then you can, sort of, own land with them. The land must be registered in the name of a Thai national and you will have to sign a legal document that declares the money used to purchase the land was not yours but that of your Thai spouse. So even though you can technically own joint land this way, it is not really a very welcoming option.
Invest in Thailand
The Thai Board of Investment is pretty stringent when it comes to what is and is not permissible, but if you invest a fairly significant sum of money into the country then the Board of Investment does have the power to grant you and your company permission to purchase land. The purpose this land is bought for and the amount of land the board will allow you to purchase are entirely discretionary on their part, but the general rule is that its purpose must ultimately be for the benefit of Thailand.
Use a company
Sticking with corporate solutions, the law states that a predominantly Thai owned company can allow a foreigner to purchase land in that company’s name. Being predominantly Thai owned means that at least 51% of shares must be held by Thai nationals at the time of purchase. This commonly takes place with Thai Limited Companies, and it is also possible through a registered Thai Partnership, but once again there are further stipulations and complications that will factor into this method that are too complicated to go into here.
Through a property lease
Probably the simplest way to acquire land in Thailand, and the most commonly implemented, is to purchase a lease from a Thai landowner. At present, the maximum lease permitted under Thai law is 30 years and after this period, although renewal is possible, there are no assurances of continued ownership, making this the easiest but least certain method.
Owning land in Thailand is a tricky prospect. As you can see there are workarounds that can be used as well as side steps such as a property lease, but the general way of looking at it is that the Thai government do not want their land being bought up by non-Thai people. This is a perfectly understandable, if somewhat inflexible stance to take, but it does mean that if you are on holiday in a beautiful island such as Koh Samui and spot some land for sale you will probably not be able to snap it up. This sadly means that any dreams of settling down on that piece of beachfront land for sale Koh Samui you have seen will probably not come to fruition, at least not in quite the way you think. Have a talk with the real estate agent or seller and ascertain where you stand and what your options are. Just remember, nothing is truly impossible.