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The land office holds information on all land and condominiums registered in the province. This is the place to conduct any due diligence before buying. Property registrations have been conducted over the years from a series of aerial mapping, site survey and historic documenting and recording. Thailand employs the "Torrens" land registrar - a system that has been used here since the 2nd world war.

Phuket Land Office

Phuket Land Office

All purchase transactions should be recorded in a written from, have documentary evidence showing some form of deed signifying title, and should be registered and paid. It should be noted that contracts of sale and negotiations between the buyer and seller do not take precedence as the only transactions conducted at the Land Office are to record what is being exchanged and what fees are payable. Apartment and condominium leases for more then 3 years should also be registered at the Provincial land office.

Proof of real estate or land ownership that has yet to be surveyed or officially documented is considered dubious. One should also scrutinize all parties mentioned as owners, as they may not represent the true owner but distant relatives or aunts and uncles. The process to determine ownership can become quite complicated, especially in rural areas where deeds of title and record of ownership are not altogether as mature as in Western countries. Caution is therefore well advised !

What Foreigners Can Own:

  • A unit in a registered Condominium;
  • A structure or building as distinct from the land upon which the building or structure lies;
  • A registered lease, for the maximum term of 30 years for all types of titled land or buildings.

Foreigners Cannot own:

  • Freehold land.
  • More than 49% of the shares in of a Limited Thai company that owns freehold land.

Landed Property involving Foreigners:

Most if not all landed transactions which involve foreigners will be in the form of a Long Lease.

Lifetime Lease:

Not a common vehicle for property ownership in the past due lack of understanding about the security offered by a lease - these are fast becoming more relevant and prevalent in everyday property purchase transactions. Long lease ownership should be considered in tandem on land which is titled as Chanote or Ngor Sor Sam "Gor" property.

Lease provides a structure with which foreigners can typically own landed property for a lengthy timeframe. Under normal circumstances there are no restrictions to developing or owning buildings on leased property. Moreover, by prior arrangement lessee can be negotiated to include options to extend the initial term to a lifetime proposition- say 90 years.

One of the main reasons why property leases are more popular is attributed to the legal community writing more airtight and enforceable contracts, which seek to protect the lessee over the term of contract and the extension period.

For the lease option to be effective - potential buyers should understand the ownership vehicles for Landed Property . Unique to Thailand are the classifications or gradients with which title certificates are labeled - as the land ownership and use progress through time. The highest form of title is the Chanote, which is also considered the most mature. Here are the different variations:

Chanote (Highest Form):

Title Deed (Chanote)

Title Deed - Sample

A title deed is the purest form of land ownership signifying that the property or real estate has been surveyed and catalogued with the district land office. It ensures easy transfer and is issued mainly in urban areas. One original set is kept in the District Land Office where the registration of land transfer takes place, and the other original set is given to the owner of the land.

Ngor Sor Saam Gor (High - certificate of use ):

This document certifies the right to own and use land and is often issued pending the upgrade to title deed. This title is very similar to Chanote but has not yet been upgraded because formalities to upgrade the title have not been completed by the owner. Transfer of the certificate is mainly completed at the District Land Office or Branch District level, as the case may be.

Ngor Sor Saam (Medium - certificate of use):

This is similar to the confirmed certificate of ownerships and use, but lacks completion of formalities such as provision of an aerial surveys or official measurement by the district land office relative to other parcel within the adjoining areas. Transfer of this certificate requires posting of intent at each of the following places:

  • Provincial Land Office or Branch Land Office;
  • District Land Office or Branch District Office;
  • House of the Village Headman;
  • Location of the land;
  • Municipal Office, if the land is in a municipality.

Below the Chanot and N.S.3. title, there are a host of other forms of land deeds and paper such as the Sor. Kor. Nueng (S.K.1)., the Tor. Bor. Tor. Hoc. (T.B.T.6) and the Tor. Bor. Tor. Ha.(T.B.T.5.) These ownership rights are essentially a form of squatters claim, filed with the district Land Office for a small fee. Under these title it is absolutely not recommended to register any form of leasehold ownership. Over time, in some instances depending on the length of the claim made for the land by its users - it is possible to upgrade a title to N.S.3. or even Chanote.

The titles below are not suitable for Lease Hold interest in Landed Property transactions:

Sor Kor Neung (Certificate of Possession):

This certificate only recognizes possession and does not imply ownership rights with such possession. The certificate is non-transferable. However, a person in possession may transfer physical possession. This certificate is required for issuance of a Certificate of Use, and is most common in the rural areas. Tax Receipt A tax receipt is evidence of possession, but does not confer ownership rights with possession. It is useful when applying for a Certificate of Possession.

Sor Bor Khor (Certificate of Possession):

A Sor. Bor Kor. title is a very different. These are true title deeds, accurately surveyed and post-marked which can also be mortgaged and submitted for planning permission for development. However, they may not be sold or transferred (except under last will and testament). Although this interpretation cannot be fully translated into widespread implementation (i.e. the existence of "grey" areas) it is expected that its interpretation will change in time and that the titles will become upgraded to full Chanote.

Apartment or Condominium Property:

As we said above, foreigners my own a freehold or a leasehold title in a registered condominium development.

Documentary ownership for Condominium and Apartment property can graded in two ownership categories which will depend on the type of ownership level, available at the time of purchase.

Freehold Title: (Nangsue Kammasit Hong-Chut)

This is the documentary evidence of condominium ownership. It has similar importance to the Land Title Deed (Chanote). Administrative procedures relating to the registration and issuance of a Land Title Deed also apply to the registration and issuance of a Condominium Unit Title Deed.

Only 49 % of all inventory in a condominium development can be sold with registered titles to foreign entities. Money from abroad must be remitted, to fund the purchase in exchange for foreign exchange certificates to record the purchase. The owner of the property will be evidenced on the title deed.

Leasehold Title:

The remaining 51 % of all apartment or condominium property can be sold as a registered long lease. Typically lease terms are 30 years with most property developers offering 2 terms of 30 years (i.e. lifetime lease) The long lease in apartment developments are fast becoming the most practical and viable property ownership vehicle for foreign buyers. No foreign funds need to be remitted to Thailand to register the lease.

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