Friedrich ‘Sam’ Fauma from the International Law Office outline breaks down the different forms of Thai land ownership.
Very important information to read:
This article is intended as a preliminary guide only and refers to some but not all elements required to consider in detail prior to starting any property dealings or due diligence. Property dealings are often complex, especially in foreign countries and we highly recommend you seek independent professional advice.
In the beginning, i.e. the Sukhothai era, most of the land in Thailand was in the possession of the people, who reserved the right to individually use said land and to transfer it to their heirs.
Later, in the Ayuthaya and Ratanakosin era, the land was owned by the kings.
At present, the possession of land has to be in accordance with the principle land administration laws.
There is the supervising Land Department and some land is still controlled by other governmental authorities.
The Forestry Department is responsible for the management of land in forest zones, Sor. Por. Gor. is responsible for land in reformed land zones, and District Offices and Municipalities (Oar. Bor. Tor) look after public land zones.
All land under the control of these government departments have no effect as to the rights of people who owned land before the government-appointed the land as a forest, public or reformed zone.
The law has no retrospective effect on the individual’s rights to land under the law before it became a forest zone.
That individual person still maintains its rights to the land.
There are two types of rights to private land:
The first is the right of possession (Possessory right), i.e. people who possess and use the benefit of land will have the right to possess such land under the Civil and Commercial Code.
The second is ownership by a person who has a title deed and documents concerning the land.
How land can be owned in Thailand
- Sor Kor 1 is a notification form of possessed land, where there is a certificate to show the right to the land. This maintains existing rights. On December 1st 1954, the government advised all land proprietors to notify such possession to the government as per form Sor. Kor 1. After it was proven that such a proprietor had possessed the land legally and used the benefit of the land, then the government would issue Nor. Sor 3 or Nor. Sor. 3 Gor as evidence. Nor. Sor 3 and Nor. Sor. 3 Gor are legal certificates provided that any name shown on the title is a person who has the right to the land (according to the principle law). This right will be recognized by the law and can be used as evidence in any dispute with an ordinary person or the government.
- Bor. Tor 6 is evidenced by the issuance of a tax number for the purpose of paying tax for using the benefit of the land. Such land has not yet been assessed as to the person’s right to possess such land. In the event that there is no title for the lan , then it may be land in a conserved forest, public land or land which existed under Sor Kor 1, Nor. Sor 3, Nor. Sor. 3 Gor or a title deed. Any of these titles must have a Por. Bor. Tor 6 as tax must be paid, the same as any land without a title. Purchase of such land is possible by handing over the possession of the land to the buyer along with the tax number. The right to land under Por. Bor. Tor 6 cannot be used as evidence in any dispute with authorities.
- Por. Gor 4-01 is an allotment of land from the land reformative committee, and under no circumstances may this land be bought or sold. It may be transferred to heirs only.
- Nor Sor. 3 is an instrument certifying the use of land issued by the government to the proprietor of land not a possessory title, i.e. it is confirmed by law that a person holding Nor. Sor 3 has the legal right to possess the land. This land title can be used as a legal document or to use the benefit of the land as an owner. Nor Sor 3 is a floating map with no parcel points. It is issued for a specific plot of land and is not connected to other land plots.
- Sor. 3 Gor is a legal land title with the same legal basis as Nor. Sor. 3. The difference being that Nor. Sor. 3 Gor has parcel points on the map, and is set by using an aerial survey to set the points and the land area. It is possible to verify a nearby land area. It always uses the same scale of 1:5000. There is no need to publicize any legal acts, and it is possible to partition (divide) the land into smaller plots.
- Chanode Land Title Deed is a certificate for ownership of land. A person having their name shown on the deed has the legal right to the land and can use it as evidence to confirm the right to government authorities. The title deed has been issued by using GPS to set the area and boundaries of the land, which is a very accurate method. Any legal acts may be done immediately, as per the right of ownership. Land partition of more than 9 plots must be carried out according to the Land Allotment Law, Section 286.
- A Condominium can be owned by a foreigner with ownership registration on the land-title if the foreign total held ownership is not over 49 % (some areas and projects 100%) from the total square meters of the building. In this case the foreigner has to send the funds to Thailand in foreign currency in order to obtain a F3 form from the bank with the remark ‘to purchase a condominium’.
Friedrich “Sam” Fauma
International Law Office Partner, Director and Advisor