By far the most common way of paying for the purchase of property in Phuket, the international bank transfer is probably the simplest and fastest way to bring the necessary funds in Thailand. However, if you aren't properly informed, you may be surprised when later on someone asks you for a "Foreign Exchange Transaction Form". Indeed, the bank in your home country usually doesn't know about such requirements specific to a foreign country, and most times the buyer only has limited communication with the local receiving bank, so usually the buyer only knows about it when it's too late. Therefore it is essential to understand what is the "Foreign Exchange Transaction Form" and its purpose, how to obtain it and most importantly when you will have to use it.
The Purpose of the Foreign Exchange Transaction Form
The Foreign Exchange Transaction Form, also known as "Thor Tor 3", is an official document issued upon an international bank transfer by the receiving Thai bank for an amount exceeding of more than 50,000 USD, which states the details of your inward bank transfer such as the amount of foreign currency, exchange rate, the sender and receiver information, and the most importantly the purpose of the transaction. This document is required to comply with the Foreign Exchange policy of the Bank of Thailand, and is also a part its measures to counter international money-laundering. It also serves as the proof that the funds you now have in Thailand have come from outside of the country in a legal and regular way, which will be important to show when you wish to send the funds outside of the country again.
When you will need your Foreign Exchange Transaction Form
There are usually two moments where you will be asked for the Foreign Exchange Transaction Form. The first is when registering the purchase of a property at the Land Department, as the officials will need the evidence that the money used to purchase the property has come into the country through legal means. This is even more important for Foreign Freehold Condominiums, as the Condominium Act specifically requires that the foreign buyer must show the FET Form mentioning the purpose of the transfer to be "For the Purchase of a Condominium", in order to be entitled to the Foreign Freehold ownership. The other time is if you decide to sell your asset and send the funds back outside of Thailand, the bank will require the Foreign Exchange Transaction Form of the original inward transfer, to comply with the policy of the Bank of Thailand. As you can see this document is very important, and one shouldn't omit to request it.
How to correctly obtain your Foreign Exchange Transaction Form
The first step to obtain a correct Foreign Exchange Transaction Form starts when making the bank transfer from your bank in your home country. The transfer should mention your name either as the sender, or as the receiver, or at the very least in the purpose of the transfer. It should also clearly mention the purpose of the transfer, usually as "To purchase ....". Once the transfer made, you must contact the receiving Thai bank to obtain the Foreign Exchange Transaction Form. While the receiving Thai bank will always report international bank transfers of more than 50,000 USD to the Bank of Thailand, you must request the form from the bank for your own personal use. It's important not to wait for too long, as the banks won't keep such records once they become too old, therefore it's best to ask for it as soon as it is received and keep it somewhere safe. If you are sending the funds directly to the Seller's account, remember that it will be up to the Seller (the account owner) to request the form, and he must do so in person, therefore it does require advance planning and care.