Owning Land in Thailand

Thai law generally prohibits foreigners and foreign owned companies from owning land, however a majority Thai owned company can purchase land for the purpose of doing business. Many people have set up shell companies to purchase land for their home, but Sunbelt Asia’s lawyers would strongly recommend you avoid this course of action. The Thai government has been investigating these transactions and have confiscated property from such companies.

However, if you are a part owner of a Thai Limited Company, the company can purchase land for purposes of business. In the Land Code Act a company is defined as ‘foreign’ or ‘alien’ if more than 49 percent of its capital is owned by foreigners or more than half of the shareholders are foreigners. A private limited company must have a minimum of 3 shareholders at all times, and to be considered Thai under the Land Code Act the company must have at least two Thai shareholders and one foreign shareholder who may hold up to 49 percent of the shares.

A Thai Amity company cannot purchase or own land as it is a foreign business entity.

The first step is to set up a Thai Limited Company, you can find more information about that at our page on Setting up a company. The company must be active to avoid possible charges of fraudulent activity or of confiscation. That means, a real company actively trading, with employees, filing annual audits and in business.

It is important to be aware that the Land Department will strictly investigate such a company to ensure that the Thai shareholders did, in fact, invest real assets or cash in the business. Setting up a company with Thai shareholders who are shareholders in name only and did not actually invest in the company is illegal.

Board of Investment options

Under Section 27 of the Investment Promotion Act B.E. 2520 a company that is certified by the Board of Investment for promotion and receives permission from the BOI may purchase land for purposes specific to the business, for example, purchasing land to build a factory, or for accommodation for executives and employees. It is important to note that the company has one year to sell that land within one year of the termination of the project.

A foreign owned BOI company can purchase land in specific amounts for specific reasons:


  • Five rai for the establishment of offices for promoted projects.
  • One rai for the residence of executives.
  • Two rai for the residence of employee.

Businesses investing in the Eastern Economic Corridor have also been given rights to own land within the corridor but only in specific areas and for the purposes of industry and will be limited to 1 or 2 rai.

You can learn more about BOI applications and starting a BOI promoted company in Thailand and the necessary requirements to do so.
Inheriting land

A foreign statutory heir can inherit land (that is a spouse or child) from a Thai spouse, however, they generally will not be able to take possession of the land and will have one year to sell the property before the Land Department steps in to sell it and take a 5 percent fee of the sale price before deductions or taxes.

It is important to note that the Land Department will require the Thai spouse to sign a document upon purchasing land that it was purchased with her or his personal assets, the foreign spouse is required to sign a document stating that they forego any rights to inheritance or ownership in the land.

If the land is owned by a Thai Limited Company in which the foreigner is a director, the shares of that company do not automatically go to the heirs. A general meeting must be called in the event of the death of the foreign director and a new director appointed.

So, owning land is not impossible but it is difficult and for a foreigner, a 30 year lease or an usufruct may be the more sensible approach to building a house and staying in Thailand.

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