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Thai Land Measurements and Land Titles

If you are thinking of buying a property in Thailand and of course the wonderful tropical island of Koh Samui it is a good idea to get familiar with local units of land measurement and also the different types of land titles and their respective levels of ownership and usage rights.

First of all units of measurement:

1 wah² = 4m²
1 ngan = 100 wah (or 400m²)
1 rai = 4 Ngan (or 1600m²)

Or looking at it from a measure you will be familiar with

1 hectare (10,000m²) = 6.25 rai
1 acre (43,560 ft²) = 2.471 rai

Even though m² has become more widely used by real estate agents and property developers over recent years Thai units will be the ones used in land titles and other legal documents so it is best to have an understanding of these measurements. You will also still see signs and property advertisements using the traditional terms – in particular the unit 'rai'.

Now, let's examine the different types of land titles. There are six main categories of titles which define different types of land ownership and or usage. The first three Nor Sor 4 Jor, Nor Sor 3 Kor, and Nor Sor 3 are relevant to foreign buyers.

Chanote – Nor Sor 4 (Si) Jor – Often this is referred to as the Freehold Title Deed. The Chanote title allows ownership and possession rights over the land, it clearly states the land's boundaries with GPS coordinates, it states ownership of the land, and also provides details of legal leasing and the lessee's right to occupy the land. It has the provision to incorporate nine separate plots, should the owner wish to develop the land. This is the best and most secure type of title deed if you are planning to buy land in Thailand.

Nor Sor 3 (Sam) Kor
The land has been measured with exact boundaries which are documented by the Land Department. With due process a Nor Sor 3 Kor title can be changed to a full Chanote title deed as long there is no opposition by adjacent land owners. Similar to a Chanote title, the land may be sold, transferred or mortgaged It also allows for the plot to be subdivided. The only difference of NS3Kor with Chanote is the way of measurement. NS3Kor size may often vary from the size of Chanote.

Nor Sor 3 (Sam)
This is not a title of possession but rather a legal document of use. It allows for the land to be built on but the land measurements has not been yet registered by the Land Department and exact boundaries have not been defined. These titles can only be issued if the land does not adjoin other titled plots. This means that at some future date a re-negotiation of land boundaries could take place as neighbouring land is developed. The Nor Sor 3 title can be upgraded to a Nor Sor 3 Kor and, in-turn, upgraded to a full Chanote title deed.

The following titles are not widely applicable to foreign buyers but it is good to understand how they work and to avoid land that has one of these titles and also to have thoroughly checked out any full titled land that may have originally come from a Nor Sor 2 or Sor Kor 1 title.

Nor Sor 2 (Song)
A Nor Sor 2 document defines right of use and occupation rather than ownership. It entitles the holder to occupy and use the land for a temporary period of time. The land must be occupied within 6 months of the right being granted and utilised within 3 years. The land cannot be sold but can transferred by inheritance. Application to upgrade these to a title deed can be made but even if granted there may be caveats on the land's future sale.

Sor Kor 1 (Nung)
A Sor Kor 1 document is a notification of possession of land and entitles the holder to occupy and use the land for farming purposes. Sor. Kor. 1 documents have not been issued since 1972 and should have been upgraded before February 2010. Changing this type of documentation of use to another or a full land title is now only possible through a petition to the courts.

Please Note: Information provided in this article is meant as a general introduction and guide only. Topics discussed are based on the situation at the time of publication. As relevant laws and regulations do change Sunway Samui strongly recommends all investors contact a reputable law firm for personalized and professional advice."
14.05.2021

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