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Real Estate Law Land Ownership By A Thai Spouse


Land Ownership and Thai Spouse

Land acquisition by a Thai married to a foreigner

IF A FOREIGNER has a Thai spouse then land could be bought on the name of the Thai spouse but obviously this carries some risk. The property will be registered in the Thai spouse's name and for the spouse to buy the land proof is required that the money used to purchase the property is legally from the Thai spouse, with no foreign claim to it. The same applies in case of the purchase of a condominium unit exceeding the foreign ownership quota in such condominium. In case of acquisition of land, land and house or in some cases condominium and registration of ownership at the Land Department the Thai spouse;

  1. has to show evidence that all money paid is a personal property (Sin Suan Tua) according to Section 1471 and Section 1472 of the Civil and Commercial Code, or;
  2. must together with his/her foreign spouse at the Land Department's provincial or local land office confirm in a standard certify letter of confirmation that all money paid for the property is personal property (Sin Suan Tua) and not a common property (Sin Som Ros). It is in this case not the Land Department’s policy to investigate the actual sources of funds. (*) If the foreign spouse does not live in Thailand it can be recorded by ambassador / consular or notary public in such country.

It is only since the Ministry of Interior regulation dated March 23, 1999 (Most Urgent Letter Mor.Thor 0710/Wor.792) that a Thai national married to a foreigner is allowed to legally acquire and register ownership of land in Thailand. Prior to the regulation a Thai national married to a foreigner lost the right to acquire land in Thailand because without the procedure the foreign spouse could acquire an illegal interest in land as property between husband and wife (continue: the registration procedure). The procedure in the 1999 regulation issued by the Ministry of Interior is based on the principle of section 1472 of the Civil and Commercial Code that if personal property has been exchanged for other property during the marriage that property becomes and remains a personal property and not a jointly owned property between husband and wife. This way the foreign spouse does not obtain any ownership rights in the land based on Thai family laws (property between husband and wife). Without the joint confirmation in the certify letter or proof the acquisition is paid with personal property of the Thai spouse the request for ownership registration must be referred to the Land Department in order to obtain an approval from the Minister. Without written evidence the land office will not allow registration of ownership.

Note: Any foreigner’s minor having Thai nationality may purchase or accept land as a gift with no consideration and register the ownership of such land if it does not appear after investigation that he/she has done so to avoid the law (primarily aimed at tax laws).

Management of the land by the Thai spouse married to a foreigner

The land must become a separate and personal property (Sin Suan Tua) of the Thai spouse according to section 1471 and section 1472 of the Civil Code, and not a jointly acquired or community property between husband and wife (Sin Som Ros). As opposed to jointly owned marital realty property (section 1476) the Thai spouse can sell, mortgage, transfer or exchange the property without consent of the foreign spouse read more...

Inheritance of land by a foreign spouse as statutory heir

In theory a foreigner can acquire land by inheritance as statutory heir (as opposed to legatees or heirs who are entitled by last will) and register ownership after having obtained permission from the Minister of interior. Section 93 of the Land Code Act: 'A foreigner who acquires land by inheritance as statutory heir can have an ownership in such land upon a permission of the Minister of Interior. However, the total plots of land shall not be exceeding of those specified in Section 87'.

It should be noted that the over 55 year old section 93 applies only to foreign ownership of land under a treaty (section 86 Land Code Act) and NOT to foreigners receiving land as a statutory heir from a Thai spouse. The last treaty allowing foreigners to own land in Thailand was terminated in 1970 therefore there is currently NO legal ground for the Minister of Interior to allow any foreigner to acquire land in Thailand as a statutory heir.

This in practice means that any foreign spouse who acquires land by inheritance as a statutory heir has to transfer the land within 1 year to a Thai national. The forgoing applies only to foreigners inheriting land as a statutory heir and not to foreigners heirs who acquire land under a last will.

Inheritance of a condominium

Any foreigner who acquires a condominium unit by inheritance, either as statutory heir or inheritor under will, shall obtain ownership of such unit, but must qualify under section 19 of the Condominium Act to actually register ownership with the Land Department. If he does not qualify under section 19 or if he qualifies but his ownership would exceed the allowed 49% foreign ownership in the condominium building it is required by law that the unit shall be disposed of within 1 year from the date of acquisition of such condominium unit. If the foreigner fails to do so, the Director-General of Land Department shall have power to sell the condominium on the foreigner's behalf, read up 'condominium acquired by inheritance'.

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