After the financial crisis of 1997 the Thai government introduced a new type of visa - the Investment Visa. This visa was created to help Thai businesses sell their stocks. The investment required from a foreigner wishing to reside in Thailand was not less than 3,000,000 THB of investment was created as an incentive to help Thai developers to sell their stock of condominiums units’ leftover of the crisis to foreign investors.
This visa was discontinued in October 2006 once Thai economy picked up.
Note: Discontinued only means that new applications for this particular investment visa were not accepted after the 1st October 2006 but foreign investors who have invested not less than 3,000,000 THB, have entered Thailand and received a permission to stay before the 1st October 2006 and have since then renewed their visas each year without any interruption are still benefiting from this promotion.
Now as a result of Thai political crisis and the world economic crisis in general Thailand has reintroduced the concept of the investment visa. The only difference with the former investment visa is that the minimum investment ceiling has been increased from 3,000,000 THB to 10,000,000 THB.
Thailand recognised that there was no real or ‘easy way’ for wealthy foreigners (who were below 50 years old) and wished to live in Thailand on a long term basis without working to stay and live here. The revived and revised ‘Investment Visa’ again makes it possible for younger more affluent retired foreigners to legally stay and live in the country. Another plus is that the investment visa has no age restriction. The retirement visa - which requires a monthly income of 65,000 baht or an 800,000-baht bank deposit - is only open to foreigners who are at least 50 years of age.
The minimum investment ceiling has been increased a lot (from 3,000,000 THB to 10,000,000 THB) but with new condominium units pricing ranging from 80,000, to as high as 350,000 THB per sqm many investors considering buying a top-end condo will in fact probably be bringing at least 10.000.000 Baht into the country.
Your options with 10 million baht in Thailand’s current property market are also fairly broad. This is not a tremendous sum for many expats - it works out at about €200,000, $300,000 or £180,000 - but it can get a desirable property in Bangkok or in Thailand’s resort destinations. And if the condominium under purchase cost less than 10,000,000 THB then there will still be the option to combine two types of investments to reach the ceiling (for example a condominium of 7,000,000 THB and state bonds of 3,000,000 THB). Alternatively, 10 million baht could get you a villa at the seaside, with a swimming pool and 800 square metres of ground (although your ownership rights are much less clear than with a condo).]
Conditions to obtain the new investment visa These are the general requirements for the Investment Visa.
(1) Must already have been granted a non-immigrant visa (Non Immigrant)
(2) Provide proof (Tor Tor 3 from the bank) of transferring funds into Thailand of no less than Baht 10 million;
(3) Show proof of the purchase or rental of a condominium unit for a period of no less than 3 years issued by a relevant agency or government, at a purchase or rental price of no less than Baht 10 million;
(4) Provide proof of investing in the form of a fixed deposit of no less than Baht 10 million with a Thai bank which is registered in Thailand:
(5) Alternatively, investing in the purchase of government or state enterprise bonds of no less than Baht 10 million; or
(6) A combined investment in state bonds and property purchase, with a total value of not less than Baht 10 million.
Note: This promotion only applies to foreign investors that have invested after the 25 November 2008. Foreigners who bought in their property prior to 2008 cannot use existing assets to qualify.
Documents & Legalities Requirements
As always you will need
- Passport or travel document with validity of not less than 6 months;
- Completed visa application form.
- Recent passport-sized photograph (4 x 6 cm) of the applicant taken within the past 6 months.
- Documents to support that you have indeed invested 10,000,000 THB in Thailand (such as Foreign
Exchange Transfer Form, Bank Credit Advice, Sale and Purchase Agreement and Title Deed and so on….)
If you fulfill all the conditions mentioned above and if you are able to provide all the documents required you will be able to receive each year a one year extension period for as long as you maintain your investment in Thailand.
Note: passport requirement validity of not less than 6 months is for when you apply for the 90 days Non Immigrant Visa at the Thai Embassy. When you apply for the one year extension period at the Thai Embassy you will need 18 months of validity at least.
The following is a precis of an article which appeared in the Daily Telegraph 20 th July 2012.
Expats who own land illegally in Thailand could be deported under tough new laws being drafted by the government.
Thai ombudsman Siracha Charoenpanij said earlier this month that he was drawing up “carrot-and-stick” legislation to protect the country from illegal foreign nominee ownership.
Under Thai laws, foreign nationals are not allowed to own residential land. They can, however, buy apartments so long as no more than 49 per cent of a development is owned by foreigners. They can also purchase detached villas, but while they can own the house, they cannot own the land the house is on and are only able to lease it for 30 years at a time.
To get around these restrictions, some have entered into complicated structures whereby a company is set up to purchase the land. A Thai national holds the majority of shares in that company, but in reality may have no financial interest in the company and may own it on behalf of the foreign buyer.
It is these such “nominee ownership” arrangements that the government now wants to crack down on, and Charoenpanij has also proposed a reward – of 20 per cent of the land’s value when sold – for those providing information about illegal ownership. His plans also include penalties for lawyers or consultants who advise foreign buyers on nominee structures.
Richard Pentreath, owner of Accent Overseas, a property firm focused on Thailand, said removing loopholes would be good for foreign buyers. “The changes would mean people could no longer be cheated out of their money. Some lawyers advise people to use such structures but then further down the line when somebody dies it turns out they don’t own anything at all.
“People don’t need to set up companies, they don’t need to do anything complicated at all. They should just stick by the letter of the law.”
But there is some confusion about the definition of a nominee structure, according to Marcus Collins, head of the regional property practice at law firm DFDL in Thailand. “Clearly there are many nominee structures that are not legal — where a friend or a driver or individual lawyer who has no financial investment in a property holds shares to basically allow a foreigner to own a property.
“But there are other arrangements where Thai individuals or Thai companies have invested money in shares and get a fixed return on those shares and at least have some economic interest in a structure. Maybe that is a nominee structure, maybe it is not.
“We would welcome clarification of what nominee really means and what is and isn’t legal, and hopefully that is something that will happen once this issue is brought to the attention of parliament.”
The ombudsman plans to submit the draft to Thailand’s parliament later this year.
Note: I think that the advice given in the last 4 paragraphs is good solid advice. The formation of companies to purchase property is ‘not within the spirit of the law.’
Whether we feel that the laws on property ownership are unfair or that ‘our’ governments should do likewise to Thais with property in our home country is immaterial. We must (try) and comply with the laws here in Thailand or if we cannot then we should pack up and go home.
Possibly some of our home countries have been far too generous to immigrants escaping from their own countries, to the extent that many of the native citizens of such home countries find themselves disadvantaged. It certainly sometimes appears that way back in the UK. Surely we cannot blame the Thais for trying to ensure that Thailand is for the Thais.