Steps to Buying a Car in Thailand for Expats

Are you heading to Thailand for retirement, or are you just wanting to live in this gorgeous country? You’re definitely not alone in your interest in moving to Thailand. For a plethora of personal and professional reasons, more people than ever are heading to this Southeast Asian country. But before you head out to enjoy your new life, you might want to know what it takes for expats to buy a car in the country. Here are the steps you’ll need to take for buying a car in Thailand.

Dealers Try to Make it Easy

Some people claim you must go down to the Department of Transportation to register your new or used vehicle, but this isn’t the case any longer. Your dealership should be a significant help in this area as they can help get the vehicle registered without you ever having to physically show up at the DOT. 

You Do Need Documentation

Documentation is essential for anyone, especially expats buying a car in Thailand. While Thai natives need to show their identity, expats are also required to show they are legally allowed to be in the country. Documents such as your passport with a proper visa stamp page intact along with a certificate of residence is a requirement. The certificate of residence can be acquired at the Thai Immigration offices. 

Careful with Verbal Agreements

Although most car dealers in Thailand are legitimate, there may be some attempts to take advantage of naïve newcomers — especially with verbal agreements. Although they might convince you of it, this is not enough when purchasing a new or used vehicle. Always, always, always get everything in writing! Car purchases require a deposit to hold the vehicle, and when giving a car dealership anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 THB, you’ll want to be sure your money is going toward the purchase and never in the dealership’s shady pocket.

Costs Involved

Countries are different in their costs for vehicle ownership whether it’s a Ford Focus or a Nissan Almera. While living in Thailand, you’ll notice that getting financing in Thailand is enormously difficult for expats, so many people simply purchase the vehicle out right. Additional costs may include:

  • Vehicle Road and Registration Tax
  • Compulsory Motor Insurance
  • Car Insurance
  • Car Maintenance Costs
  • Red License Plate Deposit (This is for New Cars Only)

What Papers Can You Expect to Be Given?

Different countries signify ownership in different ways. In Thailand, ownership is granted when total payment is received and processed. You will be given a Lem Thabian, also known as a Blue Book, for the car in order to certify that it’s owned by you. If you happen to get financing, you’ll be given a Samnao Thabian Rot which is a photocopy of your Blue Book. In this instance, the Blue Book is retained by the financial institution providing financing. 

All things considered, it’s relatively easy to purchase a vehicle in Thailand — even for expats. So long as you keep all documentation at the ready and have the available funds to purchase a vehicle in full, you’re on your way to getting your dream car in Thailand. Just make sure to do a little research before going to the dealership in order to ensure you’re getting a fair deal. Happy buying!

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