Sun 2 May 2010. Kasikorn Bank, The Mall, Bang Kapi, Bangkok.

If You Want A Very Scary And Dangerous Time – And Risk All Your Savings – Do What I Did And Pay Cash For Your Retirement Land In Thailand

(As an aside, Bang Kapi is a massive overcrowded and gridlocked district of Bangkok, not far from the new Suvarnabhumi Airport and is not an area to visit unless uou have good reason to… not evan a restaurant in sight and you try getting a beer there…!)

This post follows on from the other post “Transferring Funds (Money) to Thailand” where I started to explain the visit to the Bank and transferring money to Thailand.

We (me and my wife) discussed the means to pay for the land we were about to pay for in Pak Chong, Thailand.

Firstly I didn’t fancy the prospect of carrying around and handing over huge amounts of cash. To my mind, there was a very real risk of somehow it wouldn’t be there when we needed it. (i.e. stolen) Also I didn’t like the idea of handing over large sums of cash in the Land Office.

My preference was to get a cashier’s check made out to the vendor’s name which we could simply hand over on completion of the sale. But there were a couple of problems with this:-

1. We didn’t know EXACTLY what name the land vendor might want on the Cashier’s Cheque until we had met here. So we couldn’t get the Cashier’s cheque straight away.

2. I asked if we could get the Cashier’s Cheque from the Bank in Pak Chong after we had met the vendor at the Land Office. The bank lady said yes, that could be done, but we would have then to pay a tax. If the cashier’s check was issued from this branch of the bank (Bang Kapi) then there would be no tax to pay. (I later asked my wife how much the tax would be and she didn’t know. Neither could she explain why we would have to pay tax in Pak Chong but not in Bangkok)

One Million Baht In Cash Is A Lot of Notes!

So my wife decided to draw the cash (one million Baht). I asked her if she knew what 1,000,000 Baht would physically look like – I mean the size of the bundle. I envisaged something the size of a housebrick and not something you want to be walking on the streets of Bangkok (or anywhere else for that matter) with. Of course I got no answer. She filled out the withdrawal form for 1,000,000 Baht and we waited about fifteen minutes while some kind of discussion behind the scenes went on.

The Formalities Of Transferring Funds To Thailand

After a while, a young, bright, bank offical came out and directed us to a table. There were certain formalities to go through before the money could be released. (Although according to my wife’s Pass Book, the money was already in her account!)

There were a couple of Forms to sign by both myself and my wife and I was asked for my passport which I didn’t have on me. My (U.K.) driving license was accepted and duly photocopied. I enquired if it was strictly necessary for me to be present to allow my wife access to her own money and was told that no, it was not necessary for me to be there. However since I was there, they wanted to ID me!

In answer to my question why all this was necessary and why the transfer had been blocked by the bank, they explained that it was a security measure. (Presumably to counter money laundering I imagine). The bank official also explained that the ‘block’ is only placed on transfers over the value of $20,000. Since I had transferred around $30,000 it applied in my case.

The Foreign Exchange Transfer Form

Then the sum of $20,000 triggered off a thought – I remembered reading in Philip Bryce’s excellent book “How To Buy Land And Build A House In Thailand” that if you want to repatriate money you need a Foreign Exchange Transfer Form that you get when you first transfer funds to Thailand. (Applies to amounts over $20,000 only).

So I asked for the Form. Or at least tried to. You have to remember that all these discussions were in the Thai languge – way above my level of knowledge of the language – and my wife being ‘under pressure’ with the task in hand was not in a mind to grace me with a transcript of the conversations.

Anyway the reply was that such a Form was ‘not necessary’ and that ‘you can easily transfer money back to the U.K. if you want to’. Mmmm. Philip Bryce didn’t dream up that piece of advice by himself! Anyway I didn’t get my Form. The Form my wife signed, though, clearly said at the top “Foreign Exchange Transfer Form” in the English language.

I checked the book “How To Buy Land And Build A House In Thailand” later when I wrote this article and note much to my horror that I should have got a copy of the Foreign Exchange Transfer Form because even if I don’t need it to transfer money out of Thailand I may need it to get my retirement visa.

Extract From”How To Buy Land And Build A House In Thailand“:-

“If you are applying for a retirement visa or non immigrant visa in Thailand, you need to show proof that you have brought money to Thailand. So keep a record of the transfer and get a Foreign Exchange Transaction Form (formerly called a Thor Tor 3 form) at the bank in case you decide to transfer the money back out.”

The Physical Bulk Of One Million Baht Is… Big And It Attracts Robbers!

Soon, the formalities were complete and we were told we could go back to the counter and collect the cash, which we did. We watched as wedge after wedge of thousand Baht notes were counted in the counting machine, one hundred per bundle, ten bundles and stuffed into brown paper envelopes with the words Kasikorn Bank plastered all over the outside! Hey guys look I got a million Baht, come and rob me!

And all this in front of a bank heaving with cutomers – packed from wall to wall (even though it was Sunday) – watching the spectacle. Only then did the reality hit my wife and she physically started shaking and nearly started crying. Her face went pale and she nearly burst into tears. “How the hell do we get back home with this lot without being attacked and robbed” she was thinking – me too. If only she had thought about that when I asked her if she knew what a million baht looked like before she handed over the withdrawal form!

“We would lose the money and the land…”

All it needed was one of those people in the bank to make a call on his mobile to his mates to set up a gang of two or three people with knifes to attack us on the way home and that would be that. I simply didn’t have another million Baht to call on. We would lose the money and the land. Simple as that.

After a few minutes I told her that I would stay here with the money and she should go to buy a bag to put it in. Off she went into The Mall to buy the bag and doubts started to creep into my mind as to whether we had made the right decision to withdraw the cash. An idea came to mind. Why not pay all the money back into the bank and get the cashier’s cheque from Pak Chong? Or at the very least enquire from the bank what the cost of the tax would be.

I put this to my wife on her return. “We already got the cash!” She retorted. (That means we can’t change our mind…. even though we could. If you know what I mean)

So it was back to Plan A and we shovelled the bank notes into the shopping bag she had bought and hot-legged it to the taxi rank. We were nervous all the way home and when we got there I had to hide the cash in the house.

Safely Home With The Cash – But What A Nightmare… And It’s Not Over Yet

(As you will read in a later post we did manage to get the money (cash) to the land lady at the Land Office without losing a single Baht, but it was not at all a comfortable experience and one not to repeat – tax or no tax.)


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One Response to “Don’t Buy Land In Thailand With Cash”

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