Thai Title deeds are marked with a garuda or khrut. A garuda is a mythical bird-like creature used as the national symbol of Thailand. In many cases the colour of the garuda can be used to determine what type of title document it is.
Parcels of land represented by these Thai Title deeds can be mortgaged, leased or sold. Land owners can grant rights to third parties, such as the right of superficies (which allows someone else to build and own a building on the land for a period of time) or usufruct (which allows someone to work the land for a period of time). Original copies of these documents are kept at the Land Department. The Land Department annotates these deeds by attaching transaction records pertaining to the parcel. This includes sales and mortgage records and any rights the landowner grants to third parties, such as a long-term lease or the right of superficies.
Chanote (NS-4) – Title Deeds
A Chanote, or NS-4, shows full ownership rights to a piece of land. Chanote deeds are the most dependable title in the Thai deed system. A red garuda, or khrut, appears on a Chanote deed.
The Chanote deed lists the position of the land, total area, the title number, and the survey information. A sketch of the property on the title shows the land parcel’s relation to neighboring parcels. The original copies of Chanote deeds are kept at the Provincial Land Department.
All land parcels represented by Chanote deeds have been fully surveyed by the Land Department. Concrete or metal survey markers are used to mark the corners of the real property. The Land Department correlates the survey of the parcel to the national survey grid and satellite photographs.
Under Thai law, squatters who live on another person’s land without permission can eventually claim ownership of the parcel if the land’s rightful owner of does not evict them. A Chanote title deed gives land owners 10 years to evict squatters from their land before they lose their ownership.
Nor Sor Sam Gor (NS-3K) – Confirmed Certificate of Use
The Nor Sor Sam Gor, NS-3K or Confirmed Certificate of Use, is almost as good as a Chanote deed. A green garuda appears on a Confirmed Certificate of Use. A Confirmed Certificate of Use shows that the Land Department has confirmed and certified the owner’s right to the land. Land parcels represented by these certificates have been unofficially surveyed, but not been officially surveyed, by the Land Department. The unofficial survey has been correlated with master surveys and satellite photographs. Owners may petition the Land Department to officially survey the land and upgrade the title to a Chanote deed.
Confirmed Certificates of Use are kept at the District Land Department. The Certificate includes the total area of the parcel, the location information, survey information, and a sketch of the property. The certificates are numbered and dated. Full ownership and rental records are attached.
Landowners who own land with a Confirmed Certificate of Use only have one year to remove squatters before the squatters gain ownership through hostile possession.
Nor Sor Sam (NS-3) – Certificate of Use
The Nor Sor Sam, NS-3 or Certificate of Use, is the least definite Thai land title. A black garuda appears on the Certificate of Use.
The certificate certifies that the owner has occupied the land and put it to good use. The certificate grants the landowner the rights of possession, but these rights have yet to be officially confirmed. Because the rights have not been confirmed, any transactions (buy, sell, mortgage) must be published at the Land Department without opposition for 30 days without before they can be registered.
Parcels represented by a Certificate of Use may have been surveyed against adjacent plots, but the surveys have not been correlated with a master survey or satellite photo. The Certificate of Use is a floating map of the real property and may not have parcel points depicting the relationship to other parcels of land. As a result, the parcel size listed on the deed may be inaccurate. It is advisable to get the boundaries surveyed before you buy.
Certificates of Use are kept at the District Land Department. They include information on parcel size, location, and ownership records. Like the Confirmed Certificate of Use, landowners have one year to remove squatters before the squatters gain ownership through hostile possession.
Documents Merely Providing Evidence of Land Ownership
These documents do not establish ownership of land. Building permits cannot be granted for structures on land parcels that are only represented by these documents. These claims can only be transferred by inheritance and cannot be used as collateral for a loan. Leases and other land rights cannot be registered on these claims. The documents may be used to dispute others individuals’ claims to the land in question, but may not be used as evidence if the state claims the land.
Sor Kor 1 (SK-1) – Claim Certificate
The Claim Certificate, SK-1 or Sor Kor Nung, establishes a claim to land but not actual land ownership. These documents are largely a product of land reform initiatives. Farmers could obtain the certificate after occupying land for six months and publishing a 30 day notice at the land department without counterclaims. The certificate gives the land occupier the right to continue occupying the land.
These certificates describe the land parcel in everyday language. There is not even a sketch of the property. Instead the parcel is described as “from the treeline down to the river bank…” Because of the inherent vagueness, these certificates may be used fraudulently.
Claim Certificates can sometimes be upgraded to a Certificate of Use or even a Chanote. To upgrade, the claimant must prove that the land was possessed legally and put to good use.
This certificate grants someone the temporary right to occupy a piece of land. Preemption Certificates were issued under the authority of the 1936 Land Act with the understanding that they would eventually be upgraded to Certificates of Use.
Por Tor Bor 5
This document certifies that the occupier paid taxes on the land. It provides no evidence of a valid claim to ownership, but can be used to prove possession against private parties. Often the actual owner of the land is the government.