This is another brief post which may be useful to expats living or planning to live in Thailand but of limited if any relevance to the general reader. However, as I always say for this type of administrative post, it is also an insight into the non-tourist side of living in Thailand and could be worth a read to just for general interest.
The Tabien Baan or Thai house book is the official document that links a person to an address. The house book comes in two varieties and two colours, blue and yellow! The blue book is issued to Thai citizens and along with their ID card forms the basis of individual identification depending on circumstances.
When we moved into our new home my wife Gaun went to the local Amphur (council) office to obtain a new Tabien Baan with her latest address. The first page inside shows details of the house while each subsequent page identifies the Thai people who are resident there (Gaun and Peng in my situation). Gaun also changed her and Peng’s (my stepdaughter) ID cards to reflect the new address, which is also processed at the Amphur office.
A farang living in Thailand with a permanent address can also obtain a house book – the yellow version, but why would you want to? Firstly to clear up a common misconception the house book doesn’t have any legal standing in relation to the ownership of the house. People will have a blue book even if renting but have no legal claim to the property, much to the relief of their landlords.
The benefits for a farang obtaining a Tabien Baan are limited but useful when required. The yellow book can be used whenever Thai bureaucracy needs to formally verify your address in situations like transferring the ownership of a car, motorbike or real estate, getting a driver’s licence or having the phone or electricity connected. Now in some of these situations if you have a Thai partner their ID can be used but if you are on your own or want to be independant of your partner then a yellow book is an useful document to have. The alternative is to get a Certificate of Residency from your local Immigration office, which is as administratively challenging as getting a yellow book, costs 500 THB (?) and the Certificate can only be used for one transaction. More information HERE.
Updated 6 Feb 2016:
I used my yellow book for the first time yesterday. I had two accounts with Bangkok Bank, one opened in Chiang Rai and one in Chiang Mai. Because I am now outside those provinces I am charged for each use of an ATM or bank transaction. I called into the Nong Bua Lamphu branch of Bangkok and they very efficiently closed both accounts and opened a new one plus issued a new ATM card. My yellow book was duly photocopied as part of the proof of identification. It is the first time I have been able to go solo with all my ID and not rely on Gaun’s. BTW for any local Bangkok Bank customers they are about to open a branch in Si Bun Ruang close to the petrol station and Kasikorn Bank in the main street.
In my early days when living in Chiang Rai I had to travel to a Thai/Myanmar border town called Mae Sai to visit Immigration and obtain a Certificate of Residency so that I could buy a car. The process was painless once we found the office but it was a half day out of doing something more interesting. You can read about the trip HERE including our visit to the Royal Palace at Doi Tung. In my original post Google maps had the office located in the middle of a rice field. I see they now have an actual building tagged as Immigration but I would double check before relying on any Google location in Thailand.
Back to topic. I have no particular reason to have a yellow book as we have most of the situations where it would be required already covered. However I am hopeful of winning the lottery shortly, which will allow me to buy a pick-up and I’ll now be ready to whip out my yellow book to take possession without delay 🙂 In reality I see it as another step to integrating myself in Thailand and felt it was worth the once only hassle for a lifetime benefit.
Now going online to research the documentation required for obtaining a yellow book isn’t especially helpful. It seems that expats have a wide range of experiences with what the Thai authorities require and the costs/timescales involved. What I’ll do here is pass what worked for me and then you can comment on any variations, if you’ve been through the process, for others to refer to.
Firstly this is a transaction done at the Amphur office, as I stated above. The Amphur processes all the local council type transactions, ID cards, land titles, wedding registration (you can read about ours HERE) etc. It doesn’t cover driving licences or motor type transactions just for your information.
You will need to line up a couple of Thais who are willing to sign a document stating that they know you are resident in Thailand. One of them needs to be the head of your moo ban (a type of mayor of the village). My wife Gaun, being the super organised person she is, had already lined up the mayor and her sister Yuan to be available to sign off today.
Now I had previously been into the Amphur to find out what was required and was told that I needed to get my passport translated into Thai. This was verified by some of the forums. Accordingly on a recent trip to Udon Thani I called into an official translator and arranged for the two passport pages to be translated and posted to me in Si Bun Ruang. They arrived a week later. I have included the translator’s details below for locals because finding referrals in Thailand is often a huge challenge.
Updated 11 Feb 2016:
My previous map had this business in the wrong location. If I continue to get my directions wrong I will be offered a job with Google maps. The two maps above are correct. I re-visited Tim, the translation lady, to get a document witnessed and she wanted to charge me 2,000 THB for her effort! A true farang price. I left her with nothing when I would have been happy to pay say 500 THB. The Thai business logic in action. I would use her again for a translation but make sure you get a quote for other services before a trip to Udon. Unfortunately I can’t find any alternative translation services in Udon. They must exist maybe on the Thai script internet. If any locals come across one please let me know.
Interestingly when we presented the translated documents today we were told that they weren’t needed as, since the original advice was given, Gaun and I had become legally married and the Thai marriage certificate superseded the requirement for the translated passport. So my advice is if officially married to a Thai bring a copy of your marriage certificate, If not then go down the passport translation route.
In my case the only other documents required were the house blue book (and a copy), Gaun’s ID card (and a copy), the two “witnesses” supplied their ID cards plus copies, and the usual passport photo page/current visa and extension of stay notice, which are pretty standard for any official translation here. Please note some of the Amphur offices (Khon Kaen/Roi Et) seem to require photographs so it might be worthwhile taking a couple along just in case. I wasn’t asked for them.
The Amphur printed out three statements that Gaun, Yuan and the mayor signed and eventually came up with a yellow book. The whole process took about one and a half hours. Cost – nothing! I bought the office a round of coffees. I have said before that I may just be lucky but I have always found Thai bureaucracy to be reasonably efficient. As long as you do your research and are properly prepared then for the most part whatever you are wanting to obtain drops off the end of the production line eventually (bring a book!).
My other experience that varies from some stories on the forums is that I have never been asked for or have paid “incentive” money to Thai officials or police. Now some of my transactions have been post-coup in a time where there may be a bit more restraint on corruption, but I lived here pre-coup too without problems. It seems that some farang just presume that extra money is part of a transaction and offer it in some form whatever the circumstance. I believe this makes it harder for other expats in that we are encouraging that culture and raising the expectation of the officials we deal with that all farang will pay extra for services. Certainly pay if it is required but in my experience this is not a given and you should approach each situation without a bribe in mind. My marriage certificate cost me 20 THB (A$0.80) and now my yellow book cost me zero. Not a bad outcome for a supposedly corrupt country.
Please remember that each Amphur office seems to set their own requirements so use my experience as a base and be prepared to be flexible. If renting then your landlord’s ID and Tabien Baan will mostly likely be required.
So I am now set up for my lottery win and I will report back on the buying the pick up once it is in the carport:
Thanks for reading.