Was it ever possible to register a big bike in TH in a Thai name?

Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by KZ25, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. Was at the transportation department today and did the paperwork for a used Nouvo 135 I bought. The seller & I came to talk about big bikes and green books in Thailand, and how many big bikes have "grey" green books, recycled ones where the frame # gets changed to match the one in the book.
    I told him about one of my previous experiences but the guy interrupted me, corrected me and finally saiod that he didn't believe me. Actually I can understand him, I have to admit it does sound hard to believe, but I'm sure I remember things correctly. This is what happened:
    In 1993 I arrived in BKK and started looking for a bike at big bike shops. Most were like repair shops which had several mid-sized bikes in different states of assembly, 400 - 750cc. Nothing like Red Baron or so. I came across one shop which had what I was looking for: a blue late-model Yamaha XT400. It was assembled, had side cover and battery missing, low km on the clock. It looked like it had been sitting outside for at least a year - grime, dust, flat tires. I figured it had been abandoned or confiscated in Japan, bought in an auction and shipped to TH in one piece.
    I told the mechanics I want to buy it; they cleaned it up, charged the battery, put air into the tires and made it run right. They gave me some paperwork. The bike had no license plate but my Thai GF said I have to go to the department of transportation with the paperwork.
    This is where it gets interesting. We went early in the morning, showed the paperwork (which I now believe was the invoice) and started the process to put the bike in my GFs name. We had to wait; then the bike was checked, and I remember clearly that some guy then came with tools and hammered an engine number into a small area on the engine block which was obviously for the engine number. But this field did at that point not have a number, it looked like no number was stencilled at the factory. It did not look like the number was erased and the area prepped for a "new" one. Also the frame # was original, so why mess with the engine #? And as far as I know the Thais, they don't start the "grey number" process until they have a buyer.
    They told us to come back some time later to pick up the license plate but we took off and rode the bike all over south TH and I left when I ran out of money without picking up the book and plate. In those days we were not once stopped by police or asked for papers.
    If anybody has any explanation what went on in those days please let me know your interpretation. Maybe someone has a similar story to tell.
    Interestingly there are old big bikes from the late 80s to early 90s with original green books, I have seen a 400 Bros with matching original numbers and an original book, first owner.
    What I think is that it was possible to register a big bike into a Thai name but the law changed sometime in the 90s.
  2. Sorry but I don't quite understand. When was it NOT possible to register a big bike in a Thai name? I've never heard that there's any distinction or discrimination when it comes to the nationality of someone trying to register a vehicle in Thailand. A good Thai friend of mine recently sold his fathers single owner 198x BMW and it was legally registered in his father's name. If anything I imagine it was a lot easier to register vehicles back in the days before computer records and emission testing came into effect.

    I've only been coming here since the late 90's so am not familiar with how things worked in the "old days" ;)
  3. My father in law had also a BMW R26 which was registered on his name.... I wish he had kept it, love those vintage styles :)
  4. Okay I didn't make it 100% clear but of course I am not talking about a new BMW, Harley, Ducati or other new imported bikes but about the majority of big bikes - the 400Fours, Steeds, Bros, XR250s and what else there is on the roads today. In short, all the bikes with grey books - they have grey books because they can't be legally registered. It's a cotton industry getting grey books for illegally assembled bikes.
    If I'd buy an XT400 today it wouldn't be possible to get a legal green book at the Department for Transportation in BKK, but it was possible in the early 90s, as I wrote above.
  5. Any bike (new or secondhand) that is legally imported can get registration (green book) on name of foreigner or Thai. Well as long as the emission standards are met. The reason that some bikes are not legally imported (as motorbike) is the high tax-import (to avoid the high-tax import people import spare-parts and then build a motorbike).

    The fact that there are older big bikes with legal green books is that this high import tax has been enforced since 1985 ???? Sorry I did forget since what year it is exactly.

    So you could buy and old wreck of a big bike with legal green book and then re-build this bike with new spare-parts. This is all 100% legal to do so. But that is what is being abused by importing total bikes in spare-parts and then "re-building" the bike here in LOS.
  6. It is indeed possible to import any bike and pay the tax-import, it will be difficult tho to pass the emission test with an older model like a XT 400, I eared some ppl doing it by changing the exhaust with the one of a newer CBR 250 to pass the test then putting back the original exhaust afterwards....

    Still does this sound like a good plan to pay that much for a older XT 400 when theres more and more options on the Thai market ?

    Soon we wil have more options on bigger models like the V-Strom, new honda 250 CRF L, and maybe with lot of luck a 450 KLX.

    I can see, since I'm in LOS, that the market is shifting toward bigger bike models as more and more Thai ppl are interested in aquiring such bikes, we, farangs, make little difference on the real market anyway.
  7. Yes, you could rebuild the bike which is often not a good move or find another "Honda" or "Yamaha" with "400" or "750" cc and "two" or "four" cylinders or whatever it says in the book and then simply stamp the number of the book into the frame - that's what I meant with "grey book" above.
  8. I mentioned the XT400 because I bought it used in 1993. I would not buy this bike today, of course. Especially not when I can choose between a KLX 250 and a CRF250!
  9. Of course they could be legally registered. The whole bent books is to avoid paying the taxes for importation.

    These days there's a larger emissions hurdle, but it's still possible if you stick to the rules or have them bent.
  10. I guess what I'm looking for is information on the import taxes which haven't always been that high.

    If there were hardly any in 1993 that would explain the easy registration process.

    "Emissions" was probably not a word you could find in a Thai dictionary back then.
  11. Well you yourself state you never actually got a book or plate, so combined with other confusion as to what was happening its hard to know really what was happening. eg the papers / invoice you had may have been the import taxation docs for frame or engine or both.. That is common with 'invoice' bikes that are not regged, the invoice is the import document / value

    Excise tax came in in 2540 / 1997 but thats only 3%.. No idea on when import duty on whole or parts bikes started but long prior to that I would have to assume.
  12. I stated that "They told us to come back some time later to pick up the license plate", meaning that it was being processed. I would have gotten it if I'd stayed in TH.

    There was no confusion about what was happening; I only have questions why it was happening.

    I was able to register a 400cc bike without paying excessive taxes which is not possible today.
  13. But you didn't actually get either..

    My point about the confusion is.. You said you had some 'paperwork' which may have been the tax paid 'invoice'.. The stamping the engine indicates something was up (engines dont come on used bikes sans numbers) but again your not sure what.. Sounds like it may have had the frame papers but not engine ones.. But your not sure and we will never know from the info you have given. Engines can legally be changed, but frames it seems cannot, when BMW changed a frame on a dealer sold bike they stamped it the same as the old frame.

    Certainly big bikes have ALWAYS been able to register if the right taxes and rules are met. What happened when you applied for a plate, nearly 20 years ago, I don't think can be answered.

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