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Car Registration in Thailand

By B. S.

Registration or Transferring Ownership of a Used vehicle

Should you purchase a new or used vehicle, transferring ownership or registration must be done at your local Department of Land Transportation office, called the ‘DLT’ for short. The main DLT office and primary DLT offices for the surrounding Pattaya area are:

  • Head Office: 1032 Phaholyothin Road, Lardyao, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900 Telephone: 02 271 888, English language extension: 4712-4 or for Thai language: 1584

  • Banglamung: 16/9-10 Moo 8, Sukhumvit Road, Nong Pla Lai, Banglamung, Chonburi 20150 (Covers Banglamung, Pattaya and Sattahip) Telephone: 038 069 054-5

  • Sriracha: 206/21 Moo 8, Tung Suk Lah, Sriracha, Chonburi 20230 Telephone: 038 351 818-9 (Covers Sriracha)

  • Rayong: 171 Moo 6, Sukhumvit Road, Rayong 21000 Telephone: 038 616 792 (Covers Ban Chang)

To do this, unless you purchased the vehicle new from a car dealership, both the buyer and seller must be present to complete the transaction. The documents needed by an expatriate buyer are:

  • A valid passport

  • A valid non-immigrant visa

  • A valid certificate of residency or work permit

  • A valid Thai drivers license

  • Signed copies of both the information and visa pages of the passport

  • Signed copies of the certificate of residency or work permit

If you are purchasing the car from another foreigner, he or she must provide:

  • The same documents and copies as the buyer

  • The vehicle’s registration booklet (Blue Book or Lem Tabian)

  • A valid certificate verifying the vehicle is roadworthy (Tor Ror Or) if the vehicle is more than seven years old

  • Proof the annual vehicle tax is up to date

If you’ve purchased a new automobile, the car dealership will typically take care of the transfer of ownership for the buyer after he or she provides the necessary documents. Whether you visit the DLT yourself or the dealership does it for you, all of the documents at the DLT will be prepared in Thai. To insure the accuracy of the transaction, bring a trusted Thai speaker along to verify the information on the documents before any money changes hands.

Never buy a used vehicle from a seller who is not in possession of the vehicles’ Blue Book. Not only will it make transferring the ownership of the vehicle exceedingly difficult, it’s also a good indicator that the vehicle is stolen. The DLT will also verify the serial numbers of the vehicles chassis and engine to further verify that it was not stolen.

Annual Vehicle Tax

If the vehicle does not display a valid annual vehicle tax sticker, one must be purchased while registering the car. The cost varies and is calculated based on the type of car, its age and size of its engine.


Compulsory Motor Insurance, which is often referred to by the acronym ‘CMI’ is mandatory. It must be purchased either at the car dealership, DLT or prior to visiting the DLT office from an independent insurance broker. The documents needed to purchase motor insurance are:

  • The Blue Book

  • The Tor Ror Or (if the vehicle is more than seven years old)

Registering an Imported Vehicle

After your vehicle has been permanently imported, as the owner, you must register it at the local DLT. At the DLT you will get what is called a Lem Tabian. It is a registration booklet or ‘Blue Book’ because of its colour. While registering your vehicle you must also pay the annual vehicle tax and purchase CMI. It is important to do all three of these things as soon as possible, because it is illegal to drive in Thailand unless your vehicle has a valid annual tax sticker displayed on the front windshield, along with the blue book and proof of CMI inside the vehicle while doing so.

To register an imported vehicle, non-Thais will need the following documents, with signed copies:

  • Valid Passport

  • Valid Non-Immigrant Visa

  • Valid Work Permit or Certificate of Residency issued either by Thai Immigration Office or the relevant Embassy

The Blue Book (Lem Tabian)

After the paperwork has been completed, you will be issued with proof of ownership, in the form of a registration booklet. The Blue Book will include the legal owner’s name and address and must be presented on demand to any police officer. A window sticker will also be issued by the DLT to indicate the annual vehicle tax has been paid. The tax sticker must be displayed on the windshield and the Blue Book must remain in the vehicle at all times when driving. If you haven’t already purchased CMI from an independent insurance provider, the CMI can be purchased from the DLT at the same time you register your car. However, you will not be allowed to register your vehicle or acquire the annual road tax sticker if the vehicle is uninsured.

Vehicle License or ‘Number’ Plates

Plate NumbersAfter registering your imported vehicle the DLT will issue a pair of temporary red license plates. Permanent or white license plates will be issued as soon as the registration process is complete. This can take anywhere from one to six weeks, depending on how quickly the paperwork can be processed. Keep in mind that it’s illegal to drive without any number plates. The fine for driving without license plates is 200 baht each time that you are stopped.

In the event your number plates are stolen: Go to the police station and fill out a report. This will cost approximately 10 baht. Take the police report to the local DLT office along with copies and the original of your passport, driving license and the vehicles Blue Book. There, you will fill out the appropriate forms and pay a 205 baht fee. The DLT will hold onto the Blue Book for two days while processing the forms. When the two days have expired, the Blue Book will be returned along with a receipt and a card. Keep both the card and receipt in the vehicle until you receive new number plates to show the police should you get stopped for not having license plates. It will take approximately two months for the new number plates to arrive.