Once you are married in Thailand you have a number of options to protect your property investments. Many expats tend to place property into the name of their Thai wife after marriage as Thai law prohibits foreigners from owning land in their own name without millions in investment and permission from the Minister of the Interior.
Superficies in Thailand
There are a number of options with regard to property rights during marriage in Thailand. This can be a prenuptial agreement or a usufruct which is more common than superficies. In reality the superficies is the much better option.
With the superficies you can buy property say a house out in the middle of Northern Thailand. Since you can’t own land in your name, you can own the property on top of the land. In other words you own the house but not the land on which it stands. This is called a superficies and you would need to register the superficies against the title deed of the property.
The superficies is registered against the land for a period of 30 years for the lifetime of the holder of the superficies. These are the 3 options:
- 1. Register for 30 years;
- 2. Register for 30 years with an extension for another 30 years;
- 3. Register for the lifetime of the holder.
In terms of Thai law under the Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand under Sections 1410 – 1416 the superficies is a real right and this real right can be left as an inheritance as well. This is unlike the usufruct that expires on your death. If you are going to lease a track of land in Thailand then you can build on the property. What is built on the property will have the superficies registered against it. The superficies covers what is on the land and not the land itself.
When you buy the superficies the charges from the Land Department in Thailand is normally 1.1% which includes the 0.1% stamp duty. Speak to a lawyer in Thailand about the rights, limitations and also the cost.
Buying property in Thailand is complicated with many rules to ensure that foreigners do not buy up all the cheap land in Thailand and creating a property bubble. If you are married to a Thai national then consult a lawyer early in the process as you don’t want to lose your investment while in Thailand. Marriage does not always last forever and if something does go wrong you don’t want to be out of house and home and on the streets of Australia like many do find themselves in their old age. Ensure that you have secured you investments and that you do not regrets not having taken legal advice in the first place.
As stated many buy land in Thailand in the name of their wife and build a house on the property with a superficies registered over it. In the event of a divorce the superficies much like the usufruct gives you leverage during the Thai divorce process when property is divided. Take legal advice today.