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Property Law in Thailand

Land Measurements

Land is measured in Thailand in Rai, Ngan and Wah

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1 Rai4 Ngan (or 1600 m2)
1 Ngan100 Wah (or 400 m2)
1 Wah4 m2
1 m20.25 Wah
1 Acre2.5 Rai (approx.)
1 Hectare6.25 Rai (approx.)

Land titles

It is only possible to register a sale or lease over land with a proper title deed, meaning Nor Sor Sam, Nor Sor Sam Gor or Chanote. Therefore land with a proper title has many times the value of land without a title. however it is possible - in certain circumstances - to upgrade land from title-less to a regular land title deed.

There are two types of rights to private land: The first is the right of possession (possessory right), i.e. people who possess and use the benefit of land will have the right to possess such land under the Civil and Commercial Code. The second is ownership by a person who has a title deed and documents concerning the land.

Chanote (Nor Sor 4)
Full title deed.
Nor Sor 3 Gor
Second best title deed. Used while awaiting measurement for a Chanote.
Nor Sor 3
Third best title deed. Ownership may be established; Less specific boundary demarcation than a Chanote.
Possessory Right
One of the weakest land rights. Normally an inherited land right proven by tax payments at the local administrative office.

Chanote (Nor Sor 4)

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Chanote is a certificate of ownership for land and the only true title deed. Land held under Chanotes are accurately surveyed and GPS plotted in relation to a national survey grid and marked by unique numbered marker posts set in the ground. Chanote titles are found in the more and longest developed areas of Thailand (for example the Bangkok area has only Chanote title deeds). Any legal act do not have to be published.

Sor Kor Nung

Sor Kor Nung is a notification form of possessed land. It is just a paper that shows the person who notified possession of the land. However the one who actually occupies the land has a better right than than the person who has just a notification form. In order to show some form of rights to the untitled land, it is possible to install a fence or a physical boundary of some kind around this land. It may also be possible to build a simple wooden structure upon the land. Some physical presence will be required in order to show some kind of use to which the land has been put.

It is in certain circumstances possible (based on the length of the claim and the use of the land) to upgrade a Sor Kor Nung to a better deed, Nor Sor 3 or Chanote, depending on the determination of the land by the government, but it is definitely not recommended to buy such land without the best of connections at the Land Office (approval is often discretionary). Again it is not possible to register a sale or lease over this type of land or obtain approval to build on.

Nor Sor Sam and Nor Sor Sam Gor

Nor Sor Sam and Nor Sor Sam Gor are legal certificates that show who has the right to possess the land and use the benefit of the land as an owner. The name showing on the title is the person who has the right to the land and has the legal right to possess the land (use the benefit of the land as an owner). This right will be recognized by the law and can be used as evidence in any dispute with an ordinary person or the government. It is possible to register a sale or lease and apply and obtain approval to build on this land.

The Nor Sor Sam Gor is more accurately surveyed and has parcel points on the map, and is set by using an aerial survey to set the points and the land area. It is possible to verify a nearby land area. The right of use has been confirmed and legal acts over the land do not need to be published and it is possible to subdivide in smaller plots.

Nor Sor Sam is not accurately surveyed and this could cause problems in verifying the land area. Nor Sor Sam is a floating map with no parcel points. It is issued for a specific plot of land and is not connected to other land plots. Should the land not have clearly physical boundaries the boundaries should be staked out and confirmed by the neighbouring landowners. The Nor Sor Sam is a legal certificate of possession, however possession has not been confirmed and any legal act must be published for 30 days, to see if anyone wishes to contests the right of use.

Sor Bor Kor

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Sor Bor Kor is an allotment of land from the land reformative committee and are true title deeds and accurately surveyed and pegged (similar to a Chanote), however they cannot be sold or leased. Sor Bor Kor may only be transferred under last will or testament. It is not possible to purchase or lease Sor Bor Kor land.

Can a foreigner own property in Thailand?

Thai law, in general, prohibits non-Thai citizens from buying land or purchasing property in Thailand. However, there are various exceptions to the law, as well as methods for foreigners who want to buy land or purchase property to acquire rights to land and property in Thailand legally.

A foreigner can own a condominium as long as less than the allowed percentage of the condos or apartments in the building are owned by foreigners.
Via a Thai company
A company can own property such as land and a house (and hence the foreigner can buy land and a house via their Thai registered company) as long as no one foreigner owns more that 39% of the company (recently amended from 33%) and total foreign ownership of the company does not exceed 49%.
Via a Thai spouse
The Thai spouse of a foreigner can own property in her/his name only. This is fine as long as you don't have marital problems.
30 year Lease
Land leasing is the most straightforward approach to acquire property in Thailand. Many foreigners feel more secure knowing that a legally registered land lease stays valid even if the underlying property or the land is sold.
A foreigner can lease land for 30 years, with an option for another 30 years. The first 30 years are guaranteed as they are registered with the Land Department, however the second can be contested. It is mandatory for leases that are three years or more to be registered at the Land Department. A new registration at the Land Department is mandatory for every lease renewal with the landowner's agreement. Such renewal leases are taxable.

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Qualified legal advice from reliable lawyers

There are pros and cons in every approach used to buy land or purchase property in Thailand. Whether you choose company formation or seek a lease arrangement to buy land or purchase property, it is important to seek qualified legal advice from reliable lawyers who have experience with Thailand's land law as it relates to non-Thais. Such lawyers are available at KBS Interlaw Co., Ltd.

For more information contact us at info@kbs-properties.com
or by phone at 08 65 23 22 30 (English, French, German)