Phuket is a beautiful island in Thailand that definitely has a lot to offer. So, it’s no wonder a lot of foreigners want to purchase property in Phuket for personal use or as an investment. However, what does it take to buy property in Phuket as a foreigner?
Property and Land Ownership Rights
According to Thai law, foreigners aren’t actually allowed to own land in the country. However, there are certain property and land ownership rights foreign nationals are entitled to. They can own a registered condominium unit, a building that is distinct from its land, or a registered leasehold for all types of buildings or titled land that lasts up to 30 years. However, they may not own freehold land or more than 49 percent shares in a Thai company owning freehold land.
Owning Land in Phuket
To own land in Phuket, foreigners have two options: long-term leaseholds or a limited liability company.
- Long-Term Leaseholds
Long-term leaseholds can be structured such that they are equivalent to freehold ownership. Leaseholds can cover up to 30 years and can even be renewed twice. This gives foreigners a total of 90 years of ownership. And since the foreigner will be the legal owner of the building occupying the land, the possession of the land is essentially secured. But upon expiration of the lease, the foreign lessor would not be able to take possession of the property since it is separate from the land.
- Limited Liability Company
Another option is to set up a Thai company that can legally purchase land. But as a foreign national, you are only allowed to own a maximum of 49 percent of the shares in that company. Thai juristic persons will need to hold the rest of the Thai company’s shares. However, with the help of a lawyer, they can sign over the control of their shares to you. Since the company will own the land it stands on, you basically have control over the land’s ownership.
Purchasing a Condominium in Phuket
According to the 1979 Condominium Act, foreigners have the right to own the freehold of at most 49 percent of the total unit space of a registered condominium. Since a condominium juristic person will be responsible for setting out the proportion of foreign ownership, you would need to request a letter of guarantee from them, which will be sent to the Land Department upon ownership transfer.
Property Ownership of Thai Women Married to Foreigners
In the past, Thai women whose spouse is a foreigner would forfeit their right to purchase land in the country but can still retain land they’ve owned prior to the marriage. However, this has changed since 1999. Thai women married to foreigners can now purchase land. However, they would have to prove that the money used for the purchase is legally theirs and does not have a foreign claim. This would often mean that the foreign spouse would need to sign a declaration that states that the money belongs to their Thai spouse prior to the marriage.
Property investment in Phuket can be pretty tricky if you’re a foreigner. But it is not impossible. All you need to do is learn about your property and land ownership rights and stick to the law.
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