Thailand is not ‘selling off’ the country by letting foreigners buy land, says govt

The Thai government is defending its plan to allow foreign investors to buy up to one rai of land after an opposition party claimed that they are “selling off” the country. Foreign land ownership in Thailand comes with strict conditions and the plan will benefit the country’s economy, a government spokesperson said yesterday.

The Cabinet recently voted to allow four groups of foreign investors to buy up to one rai of land and/or property in the kingdom. The plan was met with opposition from the Pheu Thai Party, which claims that ‘selling off’ the country to foreigners will make real estate in Thailand more expensive and inaccessible for Thai citizens.

Yesterday, Government Spokesperson Tipanan Sirichana defended the foreign land ownership plan. Thailand’s land will not be snapped up by foreigners because only four types of foreign investors are eligible to buy land of up to one rai (0.16 hectares).

If they meet all the requirements and already hold a Long Term Resident (LTR) visa in Thailand, four groups of foreigners will be eligible to buy land…

  1. Wealthy foreigners who have at least US$1 million in assets, have a personal income of at least US$80,000 per year for the past two years and invest at least US$500,000 in Thailand.
  2. Foreign retirees older than 50 years old who receive a pension and receive a personal income of at least US$80,000 per year OR an income of at least US$40,000 and an investment in Thailand of at least US$250,000.
  3. Working foreigners who have an annual income of no less than US$80,000 for two years OR have an annual income of at least US$40,000 and graduated with a Masters’ Degree or own intellectual property OR received Series A funding amounting to at least US$1 million OR worked in a company listed in the stock market OR in a company which generated at least US$150 million in revenue in the past three years AND has at least five years work experience.
  4. Foreigners with special skills who have received an annual income of no less than US$80,000 for at least two years, have a work contract in one of the target specialist industries AND have at least five years of relevant experience.

Foreigners from all four groups must have a health insurance policy that covers medical expenses in Thailand of no less than US$50,000 to qualify for foreign land ownership.

If a foreigner withdraws their investment, the land they purchased must be sold. Moreover, foreigners can only buy land in Bangkok, Pattaya, or other “specified residential areas.”

The measure is not new, said the spokesperson. It was put in place after the 1997 ‘Tom Yam Kung’ financial crisis to attract foreigners. But the new legislation is stricter because it limits foreign investors to four target groups, said the spokesperson. The measure will be effective for five years upon its publication in the Royal Gazette.

Therefore, with only some foreigners eligible to buy land, under strict conditions and for a high price, the spokesperson denied claims that new foreign land ownership legislation will increase the price of real estate or leave no land/property left for Thais.

PropertyThailand News


Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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