Land ownership in Thailand is not a readily available option for foreign individuals. Foreign companies may have opportunities to own land, particularly through BOI certifications, subject to qualifying business activities and a rigorous application process. Nevertheless, it is still relevant to understand the various title deeds in use in Thailand, as it is significant for lease agreements as well as land ownership.
Three main types of title deeds in Thailand
In Thailand there are several different levels of land rights as set out by the Land Department (link in Thai), beginning with an individual’s limited rights to farm an area of land to full ownership rights to a delineated parcel. Here, we will go over the main types you are most likely to encounter.
N.S.2 – Temporary land rights reservations
From time to time the Land Department will announce opportunities for individuals to claim land parcels for use. If you receive this right, you may be able to upgrade to a more permanent title as long as you begin developing the land within six months and complete within three years of obtaining the rights. If not, the Land Department can revoke the rights. Furthermore, these rights do not entitle the holder to mortgage or transfer to any other party except through inheritance. Also, if you do not use the land during the specified time, the Land Department can revoke your rights.
N.S.3 – Right to full land rights
The N.S.3. does not entitle the holder to full land rights, but rather the right to full land rights (i.e., one level below full land rights). There are three sub-levels in this category. The first, N.S.3, recognizes the application to full ownership. Issued by the District Chief, this certification is limited in that it does not delineate the land’s boundaries. You can sell, transfer, or mortgage this land, but there needs to be a land survey and an officially announced 30-day period during which others may contest the transaction. The second, N.S.3a, indicates that the land has been surveyed and delineated through aerial photography. The third, N.S.3b, means that there are land boundaries and there is no need for a petition period for selling, transferring, or mortgaging the land.
N.S.4 – Chanote, or full land ownership rights
This is a full title deed that bequeaths full ownership rights to a plot of land that is precisely surveyed and mapped out. The owner can use the land as they see fit, including selling, leasing, or transferring, as well as protecting the property against interlopers.
You can still lose your land rights with a title deed
Under Thai law, if you do not put the land to use, you risk losing your rights to that land. For a chanote, you cannot let the land fallow for more than ten years. For other deeds, it can be anywhere between one to five years before the Land Department repossesses the parcel. This is to encourage development and to maintain or increase land value for that plot and surrounding parcels.
GPS Legal wants you to remember “chanote”
While you may not be in the position to own real property in Thailand, you or your company may enter into a lease, superficies, or usufruct, or you may be involved in a transaction where land is put up as collateral. In all these cases, only land with a chanote qualifies under Thai law.
If you are about to or are considering a transaction involving land ownership in Thailand, you must do your due diligence to protect your interests. If you need assistance with such real estate matters, please contact GPS Legal for a free initial consultation to discuss your options.