Real property acquisition by a Thai married to a foreigner

When a Thai national married to a foreigner requests ownership registration of land in Thailand the Land Department must ensure that the land becomes a personal (non-marital) asset of the Thai spouse only. The Land Department will ask from the foreign and Thai spouse a joint declaration that the money expended on the land (or land and house) belongs to the Thai spouse's personal assets, and therefore (under Thai laws governing property of husband and wife) will remain a personal (non-marital) asset of the Thai spouse after the purchase (pursuant to section 1472 Civil and Commercial Code).

The above Land Office procedure is required because foreigners are under Thai land laws not allowed to own land, not even as a joint property of husband and wife. This means that the foreign spouse has no ownership rights in land and the property is not automatically subject to division of marital assets when the marriage ends, read more...

Land Office procedure

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, and/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 (letter of confirmation) that all money paid for the property is personal property of the Thai spouse and not a common property (Sin Som Ros) between husband and wife.

The regulation on which the Land Office procedure is based

It is only since the Ministry of Interior regulation (Letter Mor.Thor 0710/Wor.792 dated March 23, 1999) that a Thai national married to a foreigner is allowed to legally acquire land and following the prescribed procedure is allowed to register ownership of land. Prior to the regulation a Thai national married to a foreigner basically lost the right to acquire land in Thailand because without the procedure the foreign spouse could acquire (illegal) co-ownership in land pursuant to Thai laws governing property of 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 property by the Thai spouse married to a foreigner

The land (land and house) becomes a separate and personal property (Sin Suan Tua) of the Thai spouse and according to section 1471 and section 1472 of the Civil Code not a jointly acquired or community property between husband and wife (Sin Som Ros). This means that, 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 and the property is not (automatically) subject to division of assets when the marriage ends 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.

See also