16 Jul Acquiring Land in Thailand with Thai Spouse
Ownership of land in Thailand is restricted to Thais only, which inevitably makes it difficult for foreigners to acquire a house, villa or any other standalone property in the kingdom.
To get around this, many non-Thai nationals take out long-term renewable leases or explore other legal loopholes such as purchasing land in the name of an incorporated company.
The above two methods are both viable options, but there is a more straightforward way which hasn’t always been possible: to acquire the land in the name of a Thai spouse.
Previously, legislation in Thailand enforced by the Land Department prevented any Thai woman who was married to a foreign national from purchasing land. This archaic policy was based on the assumption that the land ownership would be in the sole interest and benefit of the foreign spouse.
(In theory, this policy also restricted a Thai man married to a foreign woman from purchasing land; however, since a Thai man retains his ‘Mr.’ title on official documents when married, his marital status would be able to go undetected by the Land Department and this would never become a legal issue. On the other hand, a Thai woman’s title does change to the equivalent of ‘Mrs.’ after getting married.)
The remaining red tape of today
The good news for happily-married Thai-farang couples is that this policy has long been scrapped. This, theoretically, allows a married couple to purchase land as long as the purchase agreement is made in the name of the Thai spouse.
But… there is a small but.
In order to get the thumbs up from the Land Department, they must be satisfied that any land owned by the Thai spouse is considered to be fully her own separate property – and not that of the husband. I.e. it is a personal asset of the Thai spouse (Sin Suan Tua) and not a marital asset.
And how is this done? By paperwork, of course!
A foreign spouse must present the Land Department a signed letter waiving all of their current and future interest in the land. This can be obtained from the Land Department.
Where should the money come from?
A clause within this agreement states that the money used to buy the land/property must be the personal property of the Thai spouse.
So, surely that means it is prohibited for a foreign man to pay for the land under his Thai spouse’s name?
In short, no. The Land Department does not investigate the original source of the funds used in the transaction.
This means that the funds could potentially have come from the foreign spouse as a ‘gift’ and then used to buy the property.
Let’s just be clear at this stage… A Thai spouse has the legal right to sell, mortgage, transfer or exchange any property in their name without the consent of the foreign spouse – no matter how much of the overall funding may or may not have originated from him.
Not surprisingly, this puts many foreigners off the idea altogether.
For others who have more confidence in their marriage and status in the country, acquiring land in Thailand with Thai spouse is a workable solution to a common problem.
Other popular ways of acquiring land in Thailand (as a foreigner)
For those foreigners in Thailand who do not have a legal spouse or would just rather own land via another method, there are a few more options on the table.
The two most popular, which are outlined below, involve either incorporating a Thai company or a long-term leasehold agreement.
Long-term leasehold agreement
Long-term leases are generally taken out for a period of 30 years – the standard in Thailand – and are automatically renewable two times. This allows for a leasehold of the land for a total of 90 years.
Incorporate a Thai company
It is also possible in Thailand to purchase land as a foreigner if the purchase is carried out in the name of a Thai company. It is worth noting here that the company must have at least 51% Thai ownership and must not be setup up purely for the purpose of property ownership.
Also read: Thailand’s New Land and Building Tax Law