Big Bike Registration Confusion

Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by INTJ, Dec 5, 2006.

  1. I wonder if anyone can shed any light on the process of registering big bikes, as it all seems shrouded in mystery.

    Bike registration seems to run between 60-70K depending on who you ask. This figure seems outrageously high (in comparison to most other things here), and I am wondering why it is so expensive. Is the whole process actually illegal and most of the money goes to grease various palms ?

    Also, the process of recycling old books is often mentioned. I see many bikes for sale "invoice" on etc, are these freshly stolen erm I mean imported from Japan, or have they had the plates and books pulled to be used on other bikes ? How does one go about recycling a book, and how does one spot a bike with a 'dodgy' book ?

    Just struggling to get my head round the whole thing. Any explanations in plain english would be most appreciated.

  2. Here's something that I posted in reply to a query Large Bike Advice in the Motors section of Thai a few months ago. It may help enlighten you a bit

    It is not practical to import your own bike.

    1. You need an Import Permit, from the Ministry of Commerce to import an assembled vehicle (car or motorbike). I think that motorcycles over 150-200cc (not sure of the exact capacity) are classified in with motorcars / vehicles and so are subject to whatever laws apply to cars. But the important bit is that you first need the import permit, before you can even consider importing an assembled bike.

    2. Then the full Customs duty is 213% of the value of the vehicle. I think that Customs have a list of the bike values & if your invoice does not “match up” then they apply their own market value. So there is no easy cheats way out – you have to pay, & heavily.

    3. Then once you get your bike in your have to get it licensed & I think that there is a hefty fee for the initial rego compliance test. After that it’s only a few hundred baht a year, plus insurance.

    4. Unassembled bikes – these come in by the container load as 2nd hand parts & are only subject to 30-40% customs duties. These are the bikes that you usually see on the roads of Thailand without a number plate. Without the plate they are technically illegal & if you’re in Bkk / Pattaya / Phuket, the police tend to give you a hard time. Elsewhere up-country it does not seem to be such a problem, but you normally can’t leave the country on an unregistered motorcycle.

    5. Any licenced big bikes you see could be either legally imported (BMW) with full duties paid or registered grey imports – previously unassembled ones. Cost for this grey import rego is anything from 50,000 baht up, depending on whom you are dealing with. Most of the books are recycled books with the bike having engine & frame numbers re-stamped to match up with an old book / bike that was previously registered. Now there are dealers who claim their books are not recycled, how they managed this I don’t know but the crunch always comes when you either need to renew your bike rego or transfer the place of registration &/or ownership. Most of the time it works, but there are cases where it the renewal / transfer does not get approved. Sometimes this is because the bike might registered as 20 or 30 years old but it is only a few years old, the number of cylinders or capacity are wrong. These are all little traps you need to watch out for when buying a registered bike. If you never sell the bike or change the place of registration you might never have a problem, but if you’re buying, then check it all closely if you are going to change the place of registration from one province to another, as your local officials might like to be official & pay attention to what you’ve supposedly got.

    6. Now the big bike import system is so well organized that you can almost get any bike you want within a couple of months. You just need to have the balls to plonk down your deposit money with a reliable / reputable big bike shop, & wait your turn for the bike & rego to turn up.
  3. Thanks for the reply. Are you saying that it is nigh on impossible to make a *new* registration on a bike nowadays, ie most of the books are recycled ? Is this the method "reputable" dealers like Red Baron use ?

    Is this 50K (up) a legitimate charge for registration, ie. could Joe Bloggs walk into the Department of Land Transport with his import papers and get the job done, or is one forced to employ the services of various shady "agents" ? (the people Peter Reid describes as vermin".

    Just who is getting a slice of the 70K(ish) pie ?


  4. Hi Friends,

    Sincxe few days, I read with great pleasure and attention all the posts i can find on this forum and I should say that you are very accurate as I experiment it few month ago.

    I would confirm every words, Davidfl wrote, perfect description of what is the reallity.

    1. "You need an Import Permit, from the Ministry of Commerce... before you can even consider importing an assembled bike". Laurent would add before the bike touches the Thai soil, if not a sery of fine, etc...

    2. "Then the full Customs.... heavily". Laurent would add: please vist the very well organised site of Thai Customs( ) , even if you want to do an import from Europe to Thailand, do not hesitate to phone to the Thai Custom Authoriteis based in Belgium for Europe, very kind and skilled people full of good advices.
    Up to now, all these are quite easy, structurated and well organise. As a matter of fact, duty calculation takes into account CIF value, out of Foreign VAT, this will be the base of calculation.

    3. "Then once you get your bike in...test" Laurent would add: this is the most difficult, time and energy consuming keeping in mind that the bike should go through homolmogation test according to local regulation which could be different from European, US or Japanese ones...You'll have to tune your bike previous to the test in order to comply.

    On top, it cost a lot and if you fail to the test and want to pass it an other time you have to pay agauin, thus I would recommand to pay a high attention to this test.
    "After that it’s only a few hundred baht a year, plus insurance Laurent agrees totally.

    4. "Unassembled bikes – unregistered motorcycle" Laurent would add that when you are a foreigner in a country and you want to leave in have to respect the local laws and drive a registred bike.

    5. "Any licenced big bikes...supposedly got" Laurent would add perfectly right, a big trick here is to registred a bike under an other Green Book registration thus you'll end up with a bike with changed serial France we call it a "Saucisson". You'll pay some unreliable grey people to end up with something which is as grey as they could be ....Not a good deal !

    6. "Now the big bike import system is so well organized that you can almost... bike & rego to turn up". Laurent would add: I did the import of my Ducati very legally and succeed all the steps of the registration to end up with a Green Book and evreything in order very legally, thanks to Loyal Civil Servants, however, before sending my bike from Europe to Thailand, I did not know that an official dealer was establish in Thailand and after visting him, and adding all costs this adventure costed me, the bike TCO (read Total Cost of Ownership) costed me more than if I would I bought it to the Thai dealer...It fully confirms again what Davidfl wrote: the business is well organised !

    Next time, I'll buy a brand new BMW (for instance at BARCELONA, the official BMW bike dealer) and pay the price, it would be better and less headhacke.

    If you choose the way of the deposit, make sure the dealer won't colapse in between the moment of your deposit and the moment where you should theoritically delivered of the bike.

    If you choose grey way, you'll allways be obliged to stay in a grey area, a matter of personal behaviour.

    Good luck and ready to help if needed.
  5. I legally import and sell bikes here , we buy them from Auctions in japan and USA, they get inspected prior to dispatch by police and customs, they are dissasembled and shipped here, Then import duty is paid. then we reassemble them.
    Then they have to go to Bangkok for inspection cost 20,000baht each bike plus transport, then the bike has registration Tax based on value and engine size can be anything from 15000 for a Jap 400cc to 60,000 a Harley + service charges and basic government insurancefor Then we get a legal new book and registration.

    Its expensive and time consuming ,and takes on average 6 months many other shops do the same , but others cheat or dont know how to do it right.

    Its a real pain to be honest with u.

  6. Dear Jerry,

    Thanks for these explanations, perfect, in fact it seems to be done in a perfect legal way (and clever).

    I should say I was a bit doubtful about this way of importing bikes because I feared it would stay in the grey area but if you say it's done in the right manner, and it seems to be through your words, I, then, change my mind.

    Are you a bike dealer, established in Thailand or do you do it on your own but in the legal way ?

    Personnally, having a "naked bike" for roads, I'ld look for an off-road one, second hand one, not too heavy -I am not Mr Muscle- but with a big heart such as a big mono 4 strokes cylinder.

    If you hear something, I want all paper in order with green book and everything and I do not want any restamped engine or restamped frame...I think this time I would rather go for a Japanese one.

    In summer I thought about buying a brand new BMW 1200 GS at the official Thai dealer, but let say, the price was high for me and I was not convince this would be the idle bike for me as I fear it won't be too "agile", too veloce in the small tracks... Maybe a bit too heavy, too big for me, even if the engine should be perfect.

    So if you hear something, I will be around for X'Mas...
  7. Dave , Just add a little to your info. A kiwi mate of mine imported his V Max from NZ, paid I think about 70K tax on a bike worth about 200K so that wasn't excessive. He then got the registration done in few hours for almost no money.
    The procedure was up on The BKK riders site. Thai's have told me impossible! but the guy is certainly not a liar.
    I have highlighted the restamping bit of your post as I think its dangerous, it has many more implications than just a minor breach of law. It is certainly less serious to ride with no registration which is a minor infraction by comparison.
    The other option is to recycle a book but get both the original numbers posted to the new book. Ie orginal numbers left on the bike, new numbers allocated to the book. This appears to be just taking advantage of a "loophole" and according to my Lawyer is legal. (he thinks[:)])

    As for getting a full registration on a import, first you have to make sure all the required taxes are paid, including some obscure assembly tax, then you have to submit the bike to the SAE Thailand for emissions and compliance testing, cost 28,000 Baht. Then you have to take all papers to the Land transport dept. You then run around in circles to various departments mean while to save time pin quite a few 1000 Baht notes to your shirt so they can pick them at will, saves the effort of digging into your pocket at each visit. Evetually after a Total spend of about 45,000+ depends on the engine capacity (and how rich you look) Incl the test, you will have the coverted green book about 6 months later.

    Now agents, some of who will take your money never to be seen again will do it on your behalf. If they do actually do the job, you will pay a premium over the actual cost of about 20-30K. Its worth it.
    The amount of shagging around dealing with these morons in the various departments will eventually ensure your status as Genuine GT riders alchoholic (and all your hair will fall out) OR you will do some serious physical damage to one of them, ensuring a much larger cost or stay in the Monkey house.
  8. Peter, have I misread or misunderstood your post? You have mentioned that re-stamping, in addition to being illegal, is dangerous. Yes?

    However this is exactly what you and the boys at SiamSuperbike have told me you will do with my bike when you get a book for it.

    If I've misunderstood your post forgive me, otherwise I sure as hell would like an explanation.
  9. I would only recommend buying a bike that was in stock , and with a new book not recycled. fully legal bikes tend to be more expensive.

    I only have access Harleys and Ducatis at present,but Motozone have very nice legal Jap bikes,Mr T is reliable, Red baron is usually OK.
    Make sure bikes are registered in Bangkok not the provinces, this is really important.

    none of the good ones are cheap though.

  10. Dear Jerry,

    From your last post on the issue, who is Mr T. ?
    Apologises for my ignorance, not yet in the loop...
  11. I pity the fool......( Line from tv show with a character named Mr.T)

    But here it is a bike shop located in Bangkok.
  12. OK my Friend, I do understand that's a bike shop in BKK, but where ?I know only a little about BKK, thus your indications could be usefull.
  13. Mr T-Bikes
    213/13-14 Rama 3
    Tel 02-294-0261 (-0262), 02-683-4202
    Fax 02-683-04201
    GPS: N13.67417/E100.54280

    Old stock - mainly the old man's personal & idiosyncratic BMW collection inc. combination.
    Little english which compliments their disinterest to do business with farangs. They are however straight & above board regarding selling legal bikes. They also own BKK Motorcycle one of only two authorised BMW dealerships - try Barcelona first if you want to get a new one.

    A mate of mine bought a Super Tenere from them with few problems tho they were NOT gonna do a deal on their price - so don't expect any joy haggling with a chinese thai who does not speak english!
    The major bugbare he faced was having to chase them for the greenbook - they just couldn't be bothered to put the papers thru.
    As his experience was akin to pushing water uphill he went to SSB for after sales servicing; and had to stand over the mechanic when he realised that they were fitting the sprocket incorrectly etc etc. But therein lies another story sadly well documented on these pages.

    In BKK Mr T-Bikes they are the main stockists for TT & Wunderlich - but with a very limited stock and a quoted 2 month wait list if they can actually be bothered to look up the part and then order it.
    Better off ordering thru S'pore:
    Suggest you contact Chan Kok Pyng in Singapore. ... echnik.htm
    Tel: +(65) 6283-5150 / 9820-9401 / 9680-3256

    BKK is served by the good, the bad & the ugly.

    The one I hear the most consistent favourable reports about are Red Baron:

    58/15 Moo 3 Sukapibal 3 Rd, Saphansoong, 10240
    Tel 02-729-4131 (-4132)
    Fax 02-729-4133

    GPS: N13.77619/E100.67236

    Monsterman's postings sound very interesting.
    How about telling us a little about your outfit?
    Always good to add a new name to a short list!


    PS there is a good listing of shops on bkkriders site:
  14. Dear Rhodie,

    Thanks for your detailed answer, that's helpfull, just a small issue, the link for Chan Kok Pyng in Singapore, seems not to work: ... echnik.htm

    For the rest I will investigate it in 2 weeks from now...

    It seems that Red Baron has a good reputation, I know this place since a while, nice people, I think good and honest service. At least the workshop is very well organise and clean.

    My issue is that I just read that some Friends said they would only service bikes aquired to them ???!!!

    Would you believe it or is it to avoid to have trouble with Authorities when servicing grey bikes ?
  15. Never get involved with any bikes that have had the VIN numbers ground off or in any way altered.

    Never buy a bike you even suspect that this has happened (old VIN) number ground off & restamped.

    Bikes purchased from Red Baron & Motozone are legit. Obscenely expensive - but it can be done.

    Once you have a green book - the engine can be changed & the registration (green book) updated.

    I paid 25k to register my 1992 Superfour. To the best of my knowledge I am the first owner in Thailand.

    Bigger & newer bikes will cost more - anything with to 100k. Be ready. Shop around.
  16. I am a partner in Wranglers in Duck Sqaure Pattaya , we specialise in New and late model low mileage Harleys and Buells , we have full service and diagnostics for HDs and Buell.
    I also sell as a sideline a few Ducatis,BMW ,Triumphs and Big Jap bikes to order or as the fancy gets me. But I sell only models I can service myself.

    Call me on 0866141903.

  17. Armed with the info from this forum I went out and tried getting prices on bikes in Chiang Rai. One secondhand-dealer was very honest and told me the rego would take 4 months for me to get through.

    A new bike-dealer offered me a 175 cc "Platinum" (chineese make, never seen before), with green book within a week, one year insurance, all for 55 000. Tempting, but from the info here I was not so sure this would materialize within a week, and the 175 would be to small for me, and the engine to small for the norther Laos roads. In the end I'll end up renting bikes in each country.

    Thanks for posting good info, people! Makes things a bit clearer for naive tourists :)
  18. Sven
    In Chiang Rai try ST Motorcycle ... frica,twin
    He has 250s for sale with plates, ready to go.
  19. With "recycled books" the problem now in Chiang Mai, (& probably some other efficient vehicle rego offices) is that they have a list of Jap engine & frame nos. complete with photos of what the exact model bike should look like.

    So if you have ended up with a "recycled book" & a bike with re-stamped engine & frame nos. to match the book, then in Chiang Mai they can & will readily identify that your bike engine & frame nos. do not match the bike when it came out of Japan.

    You may or may not have been aware of this at the time of purchase, but it is a problem if you are trying to transfer the rego from Bkk (or wherever the bike is registered) to Chiang Mai. The officials in Chiang Mai are extremely strict & on the ball. My guess is that Chiang Mai is not the only place that this occurs.

    Now the Cnx officials also politely told the people concerned, that could probably arrange the transfer of ownership without problems at the place of registration (where the original "doctoring" took place, as it was unlikely they would blow the whistle on themselves.)

    There have been at least two instances of this in Chiang Mai in the last few weeks, & none of the parties involved complained or were shocked - they know the score & how the system operates.

    I don't doubt that the same problems can & do occur in other towns were bike sale transfers are attempted for big bikes first registered in friendly centres in & around Bangkok.

    So be cool & understand the system, sometimes not even the seller is aware. Sometimes he is & if he's honest he will explain the possible complications that could arise.
    The important thing for any worried buyer is to go with the seller to the vehicle rego office, wait for the vehicle inspection & ownership transfer approval before completing the deal.
  20. One more for those guys who swear by Red Baron only doing legit bikes.
    I personally know a GT Rider (not a regular on this board) with a Yamaha TDM bought from Red Baron.
    When he received the book in the mail, the bike was registered in Phuket under his wife's name - no complaints. However when they attempted to transfer the rego to Cnx they were told the bike engine & frame nos were for a bike 20 years old & that was not the bike he had. 5 years later the bike rego is still stuck in Phuket & not going anywhere.
    You all be careful now.
  21. The safest way to have bike registered is using Bangkok for INITIAL FIRST registration , with full inspection cost up to 20,000 and then registration tax/fee dependant on engine size and make up to another 60,000 , once a bike is registered in Bangkok and on the computer then it can be easily tranfered to the provinces. Origonal provincial registrations and old reused/stolen book shortcuts are not worth it. Remember the Chantaburi scandal where 600 books were stolen for registations at chantaburi very suspect ever since.
  22. Oh yeah one other thing , Big bike and spare available in Thailand are not stolen in Japan as alledged by some people it is an urban myth, i have been to the auctions in Japan and the sale of nearly new bikes/cars for export or breaking is due to Japanese law which require vehicle owners to got through very expensive registration inspections at 4 years and 6 years which makes it often cheaper to buy a new vehicle as well a the japanese obsession for having the latest thing.

    The Pignorance of some people leaves me breathless.
  23. Good point monsterman. when i was looking for a bike last year i went to a shop here in hua hin. the owner pulled out a book with photos from an auction lot in japan. all makes and models. if i had wanted one i would have given him my bid, emailed to japan, if i won the bike is shipped here with all invoices as parts (standard). apparently there are a couple of places in ratchaburi and klong toey that will do the book work once the "parts" clear customs. since i ended up not going that way i have no idea how it all works out, but thats the story i got....
  24. "Oh yeah one other thing , Big bike and spare available in Thailand are not stolen in Japan as alledged by some people it is an urban myth"

    On 9th of April 2006, Japan TV Ch.4 aired a special documentary program in the eveing news about the bikes stolen in Japan and being sold at a shop in Bangkok.

    Two Harley Davidsons stolen in Japan were found being for sale at a motorcycle shop in downtown Bangkok, Thailand and the two Japanese owners of these motorcycles left for Bangkok to get their stolen bikes back late February this year.

    On visiting the shop they showed the evidence that the Harley Davidsons in the shop, V-ROD and FXSTS (CBX Registry No. 2'992 and No. 3'521), had been stolen in Tokyo in 2004 and 2005 respectively and these bikes are theirs. However, the owner of the shop refused to return the bikes to them, insisting that these bikes were imported by the "legal" procedure.

    The fact is, he had mentioned openly to the visitors one month earlier that the Harley Davidsons he sells are all stolen bikes from Japan. The scene of that conversation was also aired.

    As the shop owner wouldn't show any sense of guilty, a team from the Royal Thai Police came in to support the Japanese riders and confiscate the two Harley Davidsons as an evidence for their investigation.

    The copy of shipping documents the police has got from the shop shows that these Harley Davidsons had been dismantled into parts and shipped in a separte container. The stolen motorcycles had not been imported as a complete machine, but as used parts of motorcycles duly declared. That was the "legality" that the shop claims.

    The documents also show how the international motorcyle theft group organizes the whole process; from stealing, dismantling, shipping, importing and assembling.

    The TV Ch.4 program has caused a great sensation among not only the motorcyclists but general public who knew little about motorcycle theft; they expect that justice shall be done in Thailand and the confiscated Harley Davidsons be returned to the two owners soon.

    Cyber-hunters go after stolen cycles

    Kyodo News

    Owners of expensive motorcycles who had their prized machines stolen -- and in many cases shipped overseas -- now have an Internet site to exchange information in an effort to find their bikes.

    News photo
    Supataro Kondo shows off his 250cc dirt bike, which was stolen but later found in Thailand, at his home in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, in September. KYODO PHOTO

    "Your stolen bike is on sale at a shop here," was the message entertainer Supataro Kondo, 39, received in a telephone call at the end of 2001 from a friend who was in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai. The friend was there to arrange a motorbike tour.

    Kondo had three 250cc off-road bikes -- each valued at about 500,000 yen -- stolen from his home in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, over a two-month period. The bikes, each weighing more than 120 kg, were taken even though they had steering locks in place and heavy iron U-locks, making Kondo suspect underworld involvement.

    When he visited Thailand, he found various Japanese-made motorcycles on sale. "New bikes recently sold in Japan were everywhere to be seen, and they cost less than those on the secondhand bike market in Japan," he said.

    Strewn about in one bike shop, Kondo found Japanese license plates and security gadgets, including wire locks that had been cut off.

    Through the shop owner, he tracked down the buyer of one of his stolen bikes and successfully reclaimed it.

    "Japanese police and customs should cooperate better to prevent stolen bikes from being exported," Kondo said.

    According to the National Police Agency, motorcycle thefts peaked at about 250,000 in 2000 but had decreased to some 104,000 in 2005. The arrest rate in such cases is only about 10 percent.

    A Tokyo resident whose 400cc motorcycle was stolen several years ago set up the Web site Internet Dragnet -- -- to list stolen bikes and exchange information. Some 4,000 stolen bikes are now listed there.

    In May 2004, a police officer in Taiwan alerted the Web site manager that he found a motorcycle whose serial number matched that of one of those listed as stolen.

    Tapping Kondo's experience in Thailand, the site manager has, with the help of Taiwanese police, recovered 11 stolen bikes from the island. Since then, 14 stolen bikes have been found in Thailand and Greece with the help of the Web page.

    All the stolen bikes have been identified through the serial numbers stamped on their frames. To avoid detection and to keep customs duties down, the bikes had been disassembled in Japan and reassembled overseas.

    "If you love bikes," the Web site manager said, "you should pursue the culprits and your beloved bikes to the end."

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