Registering a car in your name in Thailand

What to do once you’ve bought a used car in Thailand

Once you’ve gone through the process of buying a used car in Thailand, you’ll presumably want to register the car in your name.

To do this I needed:

1. Photocopies of my passport and Visa stamp. (I have a ‘B’ Type Multiple Entry Visa)

2. A Permanent address.

3. A Certificate of Residence to prove that I have a permanent address. (Can be obtained from the Chiang Mai immigration office with copies of your house/condo rental lease, landlords ID card copy and copies of your passport and Visa page.
Fee equals 500 Baht at time of writing (valid for 30 days from date of issue)

4. The vehicles ‘Blue Book’.

5. A signed photocopy of the sellers Thai ID card, or signed copies of the sellers passport page if they are not Thai.
6. Transfer Forms from the DLT, signed and filled out from the seller.

If you are buying a car within your province then that should be all that you need. However if you purchase a vehicle outside of your region or state then the license plates will need to be changed which requires an additional form that can be obtained from the DLT, Department of Land Transport.

The following information is based on our experience of registering a car in your name at the Chiang Mai DLT.

registering a car in thailand

In our case we bought a vehicle from Bangkok which had BKK license plates on the car, on the tax and insurance documents and in the ‘Blue Book’.

As we live in Chiang Mai we had everything changed over at the DLT when we registered the car in my name.

The process is fairly simple but time consuming and a little confusing if you don’t speak a word of Thai which we didn’t at the time.
There are a few English speaking staff members at the Chiang Mai DLT but to be honest the paperwork in your hands is pretty self explanatory and doesn’t require too much communication.

We walked into the DLT and asked the English speaking information counter at the entrance for advice on where to go.  The lady sent us to a small desk in the centre of the waiting room opposite counter 7.
A Thai lady automatically took the paperwork and began stamping and correcting the forms, she knew exactly what we were there to do.

registering a car in thailand

Once completed, she came over to counter 7 with us and handed over the paperwork to another lady who asked for a 70 Baht processing fee which we paid. We were then told to come back in 3 days for a car inspection. 

This is where they match up the vehicle chassis and engine numbers to the blue book to make sure that you haven’t been sold the wrong vehicle.
We were given a little orange ticket with a number on it.

registering a car in thailand

On the inspection day we went straight to the lady outside counter 7 again and told her we were there for the inspection and showed her the orange ticket.  She sent us to counter number 3 to pick up some papers.  

We then got a little confused because no one told us what to do next, so we sat in the waiting room for an hour before working out we were supposed to drive the car around to the back of the DLT where there is a big garage called ‘INSPECTION’.

registering a car in thailand

This is the exit of the inspection garage in Chiang Mai DLT 

registering a car in thailand

 This is the entrance to the inspection garage, you drive past the exit first 

After walking out to the car a little embarrassed, we drove into a big queue of cars also waiting for their inspection.  It didn’t take long to get inside and once in you have to stop where you are told, turn off the engine, leave the keys and go and sit in another waiting room opposite until you are called.

registering a car in thailand


There was a problem with our car because the Chassis number wasn’t in the normal place on the strut like other Thai cars. So they scratched off a lot of paint trying to find something that was right under their noses on the slam panel.

registering a car in thailand

The guys at the desk said that the Chassis number wasn’t valid because it wasn’t in the right place, (which isn’t true). So I told them the vehicle had some accident repairs and it was probably moved at that time. They accepted that as an excuse and I had to sign a paper putting that on record to cover their backs.

Once that was all sorted they gave us more forms, we went back to the main lobby and visited the little desk in the centre again.  We were sent us to counter 5 this time where another lady took the forms and handed me the newly amended blue book which now had my name in it and a new license plate number for the car stamped inside.
At that point we had to re-tax the vehicle because the license number was now different. That cost 600 baht plus 270 baht for the inspection, new plates and administration fees.  We were told to return in 3 days and go to counter 3 to collect the Chiang Mai license plates.

Three days later we returned with the Blue book and went straight to counter 3 where a man asked me to hand over the old number plates.  I didn’t know they were going to ask me that so I had to go home and unbolt the old plates with my tool kit.
Several cuts and grazes later I walked back into the DLT with the dirty faded Bangkok plates and was rewarded with some beautifully shiny new Chiang Mai plates.

The car was now legally registered in my name with the current number plates for the province in my possession. The last step was to phone the insurance company that was covering the car and ask them to change the documents to match the new plates. That didn’t cost anything.

After about a week of messing about at the DLT, the paperwork was all sorted and we were ready for our first road trip to Pai in Mae Hong Son for our one year wedding anniversary.
Registering the car and the whole DLT experience was an uncomfortable process but fairly easy in hindsight.

Before we arrived in Chiang Mai we were informed through forums that you cannot register a car in your name in Thailand on a Tourist Visa and you would need to have a Multiple Entry Visa or non immigrant Visa to do this. However as with most things in Thailand we have since found out that this may not be true.

We have a B type multiple entry visa so we cannot say for definite which source of information is correct. has a wealth of information about the legal requirements of buying a used car in Thailand.

I’ve also been told that it’s not necessary to register the car in your name and you can continue to drive the car as long as you keep all the signed documents from the previous owner along with the ‘Blue Book’ which is the vehicle ‘log book’ or ownership documents.
Again, whether this is fact or not is hard to say so we went ahead and got the paperwork in my name anyway.

In total, the financial cost to register a car in a new name, change the plates and complete a car inspection was 940 Bhat (£19)
The total hours however, considerably more, so on a visit to the DLT, make sure you take a good book and prepare to be patient.

Chiang Mai Department of Land Transport is located on highway 108, towards Hang Dong.  Heading South out of the city towards Big C, the DLT building is the large purple structure on the left opposite the airport runways, just before the Big C supermarket.   
The Chiang Mai DLT opening hours are from 08:30 – 16:30.


Our Chiang Mai DLT Google Map

View Chiang Mai DLT, Department of Land Transport in a larger map

Jmayel El-Haj – 8 Miles from Home 

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