There are a high number of car dealerships in Thailand, and most major makes are sold. Cars manufactured in Thailand have a much lower rate of sales tax than imported cars, and are often good value by comparison to luxury imported vehicles.
All registration procedures and transfers of vehicle ownership are completed at the local Department of Land Transport Office (DLT). Most new car dealerships will assist with this by issuing all of the necessary paperwork to the DLT.
For further information from the DLT:
Those who are not Thai citizens need to produce the following paperwork for the DLT with copies:
A temporary red number plate will be issued, which will be replaced by a standard white permanent plate when the registration process is completed. This should take only one week but can take as long as six, depending on how quickly the car dealership submits the paperwork and the DLT processes it. Bear in mind that vehicles with red number plates can only be driven between the hours of 06:00 and 18:00.
The new owner will be issued with proof of ownership documents in the form of a registration book called the Blue Book (Lem Tabian), which includes the owner's name and address. If a car is bought with a loan then the finance company will keep the Blue Book until all monies have been paid; the new owner will be issued with a copy.
A window sticker will also be provided by the DLT to indicate that the annual vehicle tax has been paid.
Compulsory Motor Insurance (CMI or Por Ror Bor) must also be bought from the DLT, the car dealership or an insurance company. CMI must be renewed annually.
Three additional levels of motor vehicle insurance are available in Thailand: 1st class, 2nd class and 3rd class. The three levels indicate the degree of coverage, with 1st class being fully comprehensive.
All cars must display a tax sticker on the windscreen as proof that car tax has been paid. When a car is bought, the tax sticker stays on the window and remains valid until it expires, regardless of the owner of the car. Tax must be paid annually at the local DLT office.
To make a car tax payment, take the Blue Book and proof of CMI coverage to a local DLT office.
There is a sizable used car market in Thailand. Local and national newspapers publish classified advertisements, both in print and online. Although most of these are in Thai, they provide a point of comparison for pricing.
The following methods can be used to advertise a used car:
Cars can also be sold through a dealership, though these will offer a relatively low price to the seller. All used cars should be accompanied by their Blue Book (Lem Tabian), which shows the owner's name and address. This book also contains information on previous owners, as well as records of taxes paid on the vehicle. However, finance companies may keep the Blue Book until the car has been paid for in its entirety, so if the seller cannot provide this Blue Book the buyer will need to ensure that any monies due on the car have been paid.
Transferring ownership of a used vehicle is similar to buying a new vehicle. The purchaser and the seller must both complete the transfer of ownership at their local DLT office, although the seller can give power of attorney to a third party. The DLT will check the engine and chassis serial number to make sure the car has not been stolen, so it is strongly recommended that money is exchanged only after this has been checked. The following documents must be provided:
Note: As all documents will be in Thai, it is advisable to have them thoroughly checked by a solicitor or Thai speaker as well as the relevant authorities before making a payment on the vehicle. Be aware that the lack of a Blue Book will make administrative matters and resale extremely complicated, and that its absence may indicate that the vehicle was stolen.
The procedure for buying or selling new and used motorbikes is also carried out at the local Department of Land Transport office. The paperwork required is similar, but a tourist visa will be accepted from those who have a Certificate of Residence issued by the Thai Immigration Bureau or their Embassy.
Owners will be issued with a registration book (Green Book) when the paperwork is complete.
If a motorbike is over five years old, it must pass a roadworthiness test before any transfer of ownership is undertaken. An up-to-date tax sticker will prove that the roadworthiness test has been passed.
Privately importing either a new or used vehicle into Thailand is expensive: Thai import taxes and fees on vehicles can add up to around 200 percent of the vehicle's value.
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