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Buying or Selling a Car

Thailand - Buying or Selling a Car

When purchasing a new car in Thailand it is often advised to buy a Thai manufactured car as these are much lower in price than imported models. The registration of a new car will be carried out at the local Land Transport Office, but with a new car all the paperwork is dealt with by the dealer. When purchasing a new car, expats need to produce a certain amount of documentation. This includes a valid passport, a non-immigrant visa and a work permit or letter of residence which has been issued by the Immigration Department or Embassy. When you purchase the car it is sold with a temporary number plate. This is red with black text on it. A permanent number plate is only issued when the registration process for the car has been completed. This can be anything from 1 to 6 weeks.

Car owners are also issued with a registration book known as the Blue Book or Lem Tabian. This contains the owner’s details but this will only be given to the owner once any finance on the car has been cleared.

Used cars are often more popular in Thailand than new cars. Each used car for sale should have the Blue Book already and this should show the details of the current owners. Other details contained in the book include information on previous owners and details of the taxes which have been paid on the vehicle. As the finance company keeps the book until the loan is cleared a buyer should carefully question any seller than cannot produce the book.

The transfer of ownership of a used car is also done at the Land Transport Office and each will need to go there to complete the paperwork. It is not essential that the seller goes in person to the department and he can give power of attorney to a third party to complete the paperwork on his behalf. The department will check details on the car to ensure that it is not stolen, such as the engine number and the chassis number. It is recommended that the buyer only pays the seller when the department has checked this information.

In addition to the blue book, the seller needs to provide a signed copy of the passport, visa and work permit of the previous owner, if these are applicable while the buyer needs to provide a signed copy of their own passport, visa and work permit. A tax sticker to prove that the car is roadworthy is needed if the vehicle is more than 7 years old and in order to obtain this the seller needs to put it through the recognised roadworthiness test. If either the buyer or the previous owner of the car is a Thai national then they need to show their ID card and House Registration Document if applicable. Any documentation produced by an expat that is in English will need to be accompanied by a certified Thai translation. It should be noted that in different provinces the requirements are slightly different, although the paperwork already mentioned should be made available just in case.

Those who do not have the non-immigrant visa may be able to purchase a car in some provinces by obtaining a letter from the Immigration Department or a certificate of residence from their embassy. It is worth contacting the local Land Transport Office in advance to find out exactly what they will need from you.

If purchasing a motorbike (a favoured form of transport in Thailand) then the procedure is very similar, although a non-immigrant visa is not essential and the department will accept a tourist visa and a certificate of residence which has been issued by the Thai Immigration Department or the expat’s own embassy. The registration book for a motorbike is a green book and this is issued when all the paperwork is completed. As with a car, if the vehicle is being bought on finance then the loan company will keep the book until all the payments are made. Motorbikes also need to undergo a roadworthiness test, although this becomes applicable when the bike is 5 years of age.

Useful Resources

Department of Land Transport
Tel: + 66 2271 8888

Read more about this country

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