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Foreigners cannot buy land in Thailand. Even if you have been married to a Thai and lived in Thailand for decades you cannot even buy 1 rai ( 1600 SQM ) of land with a house on it.

You either have to buy it in your Thai partners name or buy a condo/apartment.

I personally find this is racial discrimination however I would like to learn more about why the government has set this policy. It's not like we can take it back home to AUS when we leave, it will always remain in Thailand.

When I ask this question to Thais who have married foreigners and live together in Thailand, this is the response :

It is what it is. I don't understand those who are really against the rules that apply here but still insist on sticking it out and complaining. If I was unhappy about the situation, I would have to find somewhere else to settle.

No worries. Maybe Thailand is not the place for you. I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for somewhere. Cheers

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    Are you asking about the Thai reasons specifically or are you interested in general reasons (e.g. given by other countries with similar policies) as well? This paper by the FAO analyzes the issue at an international level. It mentions Thailand, but not enough to answer the question for their motivation specifically.
    – JJJ
    Feb 1 at 18:07
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    Interested in reasons specific to Thailand including Thai government and Thai people. Feb 1 at 18:09
  • Note that there are substantial exceptions for industrial activity siam-legal.com/thailand-law/… "under the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand Act of B.E. 2522 (1979), as amended. Under Section 44 of the aforementioned Act, foreign entrepreneurs are allowed to own industrial estate land to conduct business, as the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) may deem appropriate, even in excess of the land area limitations prescribed by the Land Code."
    – Fizz
    Feb 2 at 1:34
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    In any good nationalist-authoritarian regime, the law is basically full of exceptions that the government can make for those with the right connections.
    – Fizz
    Feb 2 at 1:45
  • Of course, and in quite a few not-so-authoritarian countries as well. I doubt these laws bother any ultra-rich Chinese or American CEOs, but it certainly will put up barriers for regular immigrants, such as someone from Bangladesh trying to have their own restaurant.
    – Obie 2.0
    Feb 2 at 1:47
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While not a government source, Thai Residential a real estate advisory group in Thailand explain this policy as a purely economic one.

To open the doors to foreigners would, for the most part, irreparably change the dynamics of their property market.

And in a world with ever increasing money flow and global wealth production, that capital is forever searching for new homes, especially new property markets.

The main reason for land ownership restrictions is to keep the domestic market more affordable to a country’s own citizens. This is a problem that (so far) Thailand has been able to avoid.

If Thailand ever opened up to foreign freehold ownership of land, houses and villas, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that prices would quickly head for the stratosphere.

The linked page also discusses other countries with these restrictions, or other more limited ones. Including most of South East Asia and more widely;

Australia 2009 article

Proposals concerning acquisitions of an interest in Australian land by a foreign person require notification to, and approval by, FIRB if the value of the interest being acquired exceeds prescribed thresholds. In the case of vacant land and residential land (as well as acquisitions by foreign government), the threshold is zero and accordingly all acquisitions of such land or by such entity require approval by FIRB.

Switzerland

Foreigners may only buy a residential property in a touristic area. So unless you are Swiss, or hold a Swiss Residence Permit, you cannot buy a property in Geneva, Basel, Zurich, Zug or any of the other cities in Switzerland. Foreigners are allowed to buy chalets and apartments in most Swiss ski resorts as these are in tourist areas.

With similar practices discussed for NZ and Canada and the UK.

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This question touches people's subjective attitudes and motivation, so not everything in my answer is formalized in written form. Let me focus on what I learned from my conversations with Thai people.
I don't necessarily agree with everything within though.


The sovereignty over the national's territory has always been of fundamental importance in the Thai psyche and worldview. It has deep historic and social roots.

  1. Siam has never been colonized by a Western Power while most its neighbors fell to British, French, and Dutch colonialism.
    In 20th century, Thailand has successfully withstood its freedom against the foreign-inspired Communist rise in Asia — one of a really few countries in the region.
    Protecting this achievement seems a reasonable public demand.

  2. Many Thais think that they are "poorer" and aliens are "wealthier". If land ownership were allowed for aliens they are thought to simply buy out all valuable land.

    • Per comments: I read the OP's reference to racial discrimination as it was against the OP (who is presumably a European). Not sure if this the case. If it is, one may notice that Chinese are also seen wealthier, so the land law makes Chinese unable to buy land, too; this refutes the argument of "racial discrimination".
  3. Thai people more often tend to rely on the ruling elite to protect the nation, contrary to the concept of a fair competition. So what you may find a discrimination would be seen fair by local citizens.

For instance, Thailand's Land Code Act (1954) Chapter 8 is specifically named Limitation of Aliens Right in Land which is not a coincidence; it reaffirms the importance of sovereignty over the national's land and the attitude to protect it the way the people demand.

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    It sounds like you think racial discrimination against Chinese people is not possible.
    – Obie 2.0
    Feb 1 at 23:55
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    @Obie2.0, good catch. I read the OP's reference to racial discrimination as it was against the OP (who is presumably a European).
    – bytebuster
    Feb 2 at 1:20
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    It strikes me as obvious discrimination against all non-Thai people, which has a very non-trivial correlation with being of non-Thai ethnicity. It's clear that the law does not discriminate against the OP for being European (if indeed they are) but for not being Thai. I think very few of our users would accept or support such a law in their own countries. Perhaps if people realized that it also applied to millions of documented and undocumented immigrants from Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and so forth, as well as to North Korean refugees, they would not be so sanguine about it?
    – Obie 2.0
    Feb 2 at 1:27
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    @Obie2.0 When it's a "good catch" then why didn't you edit the answer? Currently it seems to imply that Thai people discriminating Chinese people can somehow not be construed as racism.
    – Philipp
    Feb 2 at 11:41
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    The policy is nationalist, not racist. It is intended to benefit citizens of the country and I find it hard to believe that to believe that users do not support laws that benefit only citizens of their own country; such as national health policies, social security policies, eligibility for election,gov buying locally etc. Given there is a route to owning property in Thailand for foreigners via citizenship it is hardly an extraordinary difference from the majority of internally focused policies common across the globe.
    – Jontia
    Feb 3 at 8:57

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