What is the difference between an invoice and a green book?
An “invoice” is simply a document you shows the bike was originally bought new from a dealer. This will have information about the dealer, the original buyer and details of the bike including the engine number and possibly the frame number.
It does not, of itself, make the bike legal on the road. All it proves is that the bike was bought in Thailand legally, making it possible for you to apply for the proper paperwork.
A “green book”, on the other hand, is the official document proving that the bike has been registered with the Phuket Provincial Transport Office, and means the bike can be driven legally on the road.
Is it legal to drive your new bike if you only have an invoice?
No, it’s not. But if you have bought a new bike it will usually already have a green book and be registered to the dealer. In some cases, however, it will come with a red dealer plate.
You may drive it with the red plate (though only in Phuket and not at night) until the dealer has it properly registered, after which you will receive the green book and white plates from the dealer.
You may need to push the dealer a bit to get this done.
What if you’ve bought a secondhand bike? Can you ride it legally if it’s not in your name?
Of course you can, so long as the tax sticker is up to date. Before the sticker expires, however, you should get the bike transferred to your name (in the green book).
How do you get a secondhand bike registered in your name?
Take your passport with up-to-date visa, and a work permit or other document certifying your address in Thailand, plus photocopies, to the Transport Office on Rattana kosin song roi pee road in Phuket Town. You’ll also need the original invoice detailing the sale by the dealer to the first owner of the bike, and also the bill of sale between you and the previous owner.
If you’re one of those people who is terrified at the thought of doing anything with our beloved bureaucracy, you can get a bike dealer, local motorbike shop or mechanic to do it for you.
They will know what is required. They will need a power of attorney document. Blank documents can be bought for B5 at most stationery stores.
The fee for transfer of ownership of a bike is B105.
What if I have absolutely no paperwork?
Then you’re out of luck. There is no process whereby you can register a bike for which you have no green book or original invoice.
You’ll need to track down the original owner (somehow), and get some form of “invoice” or proof of ownership. Or you can take your chances and ride it illegally.
Oh, by the way, if the bike is imported, the process of registration is significantly more complex and costly and would take half a day to explain. So don’t ask me.
Is there more information in English?
Unfortunately, no. Transport Department has a website at dlt.go.th but this is in Thai only. For a laugh, get Google Translate to translate it into really incomprehensible English. Or get a Thai friend to sit with you. To clarify any specific issues, again, get your Thai friend to call the Phuket Transport Office at 076 211 019.
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