Phuket Property: Questions & Answers
Can I Own Property in Phuket?
Foreign nationals may own:
- A unit in a registered Condominium
- A building (as distinct from it’s land)
- A registered leasehold of up to 30 years for all types of titled land (and/or buildings). However with appropriate extension and purchase options a 30 year lease can become tantamount to freehold purchase.
Foreign nationals may NOT own:
- Freehold land
- More than 49% of the shares in a Thai company that owns freehold land
How is it measured?
Land is measured in Rai, Ngan and Wah.
1 Rai = 4 Ngan (or 1600 Sq.m.)
1 Ngan = 100 Wah (or 400 Sq.m.)
1 Wah = 4 Sq.m.
1 Acre = 2.5 Rai (approx.)
1 Hectare = 6.25 Rai (approx.)
Metric measures are usually used in the construction and measurement of buildings
Land prices are usually expressed in Baht per Rai or (for smaller plots) Baht per Wah
What Will it Cost Me?
Labour and local building material costs are low, but imported materials and prime beach land cost more than many would expect. Proximity to the beach is the single biggest determinant of land cost. Beach front land can cost up to fifty times that of land plots in the center of the island.
What Kind of Visa Can I Get to Stay in Thailand?
There are four basic types of visas available for visitors and residents to Thailand.
Transit visa - valid for 14 days will be issued to those people arriving in Thailand without a visa. Technically you must have an onward flight ticket, but in practice this visa will be issued almost without question. Note: There are a few countries (not many) that do not require visas and will get a three month entry stamp on arrival - in general these countries are the ones that grant the same rights to Thai nationals visiting their countries.
Tourist visa - issued by Thai embassy abroad - these visas will be valid for 60 or 90 days (varies from country to country). Of note is that you may apply for more than one Tourist visa at a time and these multiple visas may be used up consecutively. Many quasi resident visitors to Phuket (who do not work - or want to avoid the red tape of a Non Immigrant visa) live for years on a tourist visa (and go shopping in Singapore or Penang every three months). So long as you are solvent and not engaging in any local business activity, there is nothing wrong with this approach.
Non Immigrant visa - issued at an embassy outside Thailand and valid for a 90 day stay, this visa may be extended within Thailand for periods up to one year at a time. There are three basic grounds to obtain and renew a Non Immigrant visa. 1) that you are employed (and have a work permit) in Thailand. 2) That you have Thai family. 3) That you are retired and can prove adequate pension or other financial means to support yourself. Ownership (or long lease) of property has no bearing on the extension of a Non-Immigrant visa. Lengthy form filling and copying of personal documents (in duplicate) are required both when you first apply and for every subsequent renewal of this visa. If you hold a Non Immigrant visa, you should obtain a Re-Entry permit if leaving the country if you do not wish your visa to lapse.
Resident visa - rarely issued and hard to obtain. These visas are issued on a very selective quota basis. Qualification requirements include reading and writing Thai, a fairly strong local financial status and some good (influential) Thai references.
Can I Work in Phuket?
There are generally very few employment opportunities for a foreigner in Phuket. The biggest employers of foreigners are the hotels (management, finance and chefs), but these appointments are usually filled from abroad. The second biggest employer of foreigners will be the International schools (some of these positions are local hire). Most other legally employed foreigners (and the biggest group overall) on the island are the owner/proprietors of small businesses.
Every foreigner employed needs to have a work permit before he can work. The company employing you must apply for this. Generally no company with a registered capital under 3,000,000 Baht may employ a foreigner (unless it can be proved that the job he will engage in cannot be done by a Thai). There are no fixed capital rules for obtaining a second foreign work permit within any given company. Applications will be judged individually on the basis of total capital investment and the absence of Thai's who could perform the same roles
For a more detailed view of legal and ownership issues as well as recent trends in the Phuket Property market - we recommend reviewing the series articles reproduced from the Property Page of the "Phuket Gazette" the islands most respected English language monthly newspaper.