Koh Samui Real Estate FAQ

1. What are the main types of land titles?

Mainly, title deeds in Thailand are organized into 4 categories as follows:

Freehold Title Deed (Chanote or Nor Sor 4)

The holder of this title type has full rights over the land. He can use it as he pleases without any claims from other parties. This is why, when you are planning on purchasing land on Koh Samui, you should focus your attention of getting this title deed.

Nor Sor 3 Gor

Nor Sor 3 Kor is the document that is usually drafted for lands that are waiting for the full title deed. This particular type of land must be measured by the Land Department so that in the document its boundaries will be clearly mentioned. Once it is ready to be a full title deed, this type of land can be transferred, sold or mortgaged just as any other land with freehold title deed (Chanote).

If you want to change the title of a Nor Sor 3 Kor to a full title deed ( Chanote) then you need to file a petition to the Land Department. If there is no one to object to your petition then the Land Department will grant you the requested title change.

Nor Sor 3

The difference between Nor Sor 3 Gor and the Nor Sor 3 is that the latter type has never been measured by the Land Department. The land has no well-determined boundaries. " Gor” means that the boundaries have been already determined and stated in the document. Of course, the Nor Sor 3 title can be changed to Nor Sor 3 Gor after the land is measured and eventually change to the title of freehold title deed (Chanote).

Possessory Right

This is the least recommended type of title deed because this type of land has never been acknowledged by the Land Department. Only the Local Administrative Office recognizes this land for tax purposes.

The most important thing you should know about land in Koh Samui is that except for Chanote, the Thai law doesn’t allow to register any leases for lands such as usufructs, superficies or mortgages. And even though the law in Thailand clearly states that foreigners cannot own land in this country, there are many alternatives for buying a property on Koh Samui.

2.How is land measured on Koh Samui?

Usually, in constructions and buildings the measurements are done in the metric system, but when it comes to land, the measuring unit is Wahor Rai.

3.Can foreigners buy land on Koh Samui?

Thai law says that it is prohibited for foreigners to buy freehold land or more than 49% of the shares in any Thai company that owns freehold land. Still, foreign investors have the right of owning a building that is located on a land that is on the name of a Thai citizen. This is the case with all condominiums- the building is distinct from its land.

4.How can foreigners buy land on Koh Samui?

Foreign investors that want to buy land on Koh Samui have the option of setting up a Thai limited liability company or using a leasehold agreement.

Advantages of setting up a Thai company for buying land:

The difference between this option and the regular land leasing is that as long as the company exists, you will have full rights and control over the land. If you were already considering setting up a business in Koh Samui then this alternative is very convenient. If you want to buy land for investment purposes then you must know that you also have the choice of subdividing or mortgaging the land for resale. These options are not available for leaseholds.

Disadvantages of setting up a Thai company for buying land:

As a foreigner, the law does not allow you to own more than 49% of the shares of a Thai company that has freehold land. Basically, you need to find Thai shareholders who will grant you control of their company’s shares. The law stipulates a minimum number of 3 shareholders – 2 Thai shareholders and 1 foreign shareholder.

5.Do I have to register the land lease at the Land Department?

Only leases that exceed 3 years need to be registered at the Land Department. Those that are for a shorter time period do not need to be registered.

6.What is the maximum lease term?

Usually, the maximum number of years for which you can lease a land on Koh Samui is 30 years, but you have the option of extending it for two more times, thus adding up to 90 years. Each time you renew the lease, you must register it at the local land office. On the other hand, land that is leased for industrial purposes has a maximum term of 50 years and has the option of extending the period one more time.

7.What are the disadvantages of leasing a property on Koh Samui?

The major risk that you may face when leasing a land on Koh Samui is the refusal of the landowner to extend the lease after the first 30 years term. If this happens then you can sue the land owner for breach of contract.

8.What is a condominium?

A condominium is a building that is divided into distinct areas with the unique quality that each one of these areas can be sold for personal ownership.

9.How can a foreigner buy a condominium on Koh Samui?

Any foreigner who brings foreign currency in Thailand can buy a condominium on Koh Samui. The condition is that the foreigner must present a Foreign Exchange Transaction Form which proves that the Thai bank where the foreigner has his account has received from abroad an incoming remittance in foreign currency.

10.What are the restrictions for owning a condominium?

Any foreigner or foreign legal entity can buy space in a condominium, but only up to 49% of the total unit space available in a registered condominium building.

11.Can a foreigner lease a condominium on long-term?

Usually, condominiums can be leased for a maximum term of 30 years with the option of renewing the lease for two more times. Leases that are for a period shorter than 3 years do not need to be register at the Land Department.