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Can Thailand Amity Treaty Companies Own Thai Real Estate?

Transcript of the above video:

In this video, we're going to be discussing Amity Treaty companies and specifically whether or not these entities can own property here in the Kingdom of Thailand. So specifically what are we talking about? Pursuant to the provisions of the U.S.-Thai Treaty of Amity, American citizens or American corporations can own entities here in Thailand in a manner substantially different from other foreign nationals. So notably, Americans can own a company or companies essentially a hundred percent.

That being said, this has to fit into the framework of Thai corporate law which still requires three shareholders just as a basic formality with respect to the Amity Treaty regime. There are basic formalities with respect to the setup of any corporation of Thailand but that being stated, once an amity treaty company is certified, an American citizen can own virtually a hundred percent of the shares of the company. This is very different when compared to other foreign nationals in Thailand as basically no other foreign nationality is granted these kind of preferential benefits compared to other foreign nationals. That being said, a question that often comes up is “Okay, I've got an Amity Treaty company, can I go ahead and use it to buy real estate?” The short answer to that is no and the reason for this is pursuant to the actual provisions of the Treaty itself.

Land ownership is explicitly restricted under the provisions of the treaty and moreover notwithstanding the fact that the Amity company is given what's called “national treatment” under the provisions of the treaty when an activity would fall outside of the provisions of the treaty they are not allowable. So whatever the company is trying to do which is not in line with the specific provisions of the treaty and what the treaty allows, legally allows, within the Kingdom if it falls outside of that sort of bailiwick, if you will, the company is not considered a Thai company. For those purposes, so long as one keeps one's company within the parameters of the treaty, it’s treated as a Thai national falling outside of set parameters will result in the company not being treated so, given Thai national treatment for those purposes.

So for real estate ownership which is specifically forbidden under the treaty that the company's not going to be treated as a Thai national and as such, is still going to be barred pursuant to the various restrictions in Thailand on Thai property ownership. An interesting question does arise though with respect to the Thai Condominium Act as foreign nationals are allowed to own Thai condominiums. And it's my understanding in the way that I look at it pursuant to the Treaty and pursuant to the Thai Condominium Act, it may be possible to go ahead and buy a Thai condominium under the company's name so long as all of the relevant requirements pertaining to a foreign national owning a Thai condominium are adhered to and all the formalities are adhered to in such a way that the transfer can occur. You can effectively, you can perfect the transfer of that property over into the businesses name.

But that being said, even that is a little bit complex and under many circumstances it needs to be sorted out with various officers and things like the Land Department and for that reason, it's oftentimes not a bad idea to go ahead and check with confident legal professionals such as our Thai attorneys. I deal with certain aspects of the Amity Treaty myself as it is an American piece of legislation but that being said, it's a treaty but it's effectively adopted as legislation by ratification from the U.S. Senate. But that being said, the treaty as I said before so long as one is operating within the parameters of the underlying document. It's a very effective tool for Americans doing business here in Thailand but in those instances where the company may be operating outside of that bailiwick problems can arise.