New Registration Plate

thailand white number plateI received the new registration plate for my Stallions Centaur 150 Cafe Racer early in January 2016. I purchased the motorbike new and submitted the paperwork for registration on the same day, the 23rd October 2015 with the dealer. I want to explain the process of registering a new motorbike in Thailand and the timescales typically involved. It may help others who are thinking of buying and registering a new motorbike.

I cover the following areas:

  • Thai Registration Documents
  • The Activity Timeline
  • The Registration Process

Thai Registration Documents

The main documents, what they are called and what they are for.

Green Book

This is the equivalent of a UK ‘log book’ or registration document. It identifies the motorbike by frame number and engine number and then records the owners and registration plates that are past and present. This is a must have document, it also confirms the motorbike has had all taxes, import duty etc paid.

Green book motorbike registration thailand

Red Plate

The Red Plate is the red colour number plate that is displayed on your motorbike in the period between your purchasing and the registration being formalised and your new White Plate being issued along with the Green Book. The Red Plate is a stock number plate held by the dealer. I was given a box of Red Plates to choose from, all had been used before. I went for one that was not too badly damaged. There are other situations that may mean a red plate is being displayed on a motorbike but I do not want to try to cover this subject.

Thailand red plate

White Plate

The White Plate is the number plate that belongs with your motorbike and should be displayed once it has been made available to you. It is the number plate issued by the local Transport Office for the area you are in. If you move to a different area of Thailand or if you choose to purchase a specific number, the White Plate will change and be recorded in the Green Book

thailand white number plate


The Tax is issued with the Green Book initially. It is a square piece of paper showing date of expiry and details of the vehicle it applies to. This has to be displayed on the motorbike. The year displayed on the Tax is the Buddhist calendar which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian Calendar. So 2016 is displayed as 2559 on Thai Tax documents. Your Tax has to be renewed annually.

thailand vehicle tax document


I have two types of insurance for my Stallions Centaur. I have the regular insurance that covers me for liabilities connected with an accident. This is a must have item and it is supplied as a print out similar to a till receipt. I also have insurance against loss of the motorbike, this is for theft. Motorcycle theft is big business in Thailand and you should get proper cover as well as take sensible precautions about keeping your motorbike safe and secure.

Letter of Residency

If you are not a Thai national, you will need a letter of residency when you purchase or register a motorbike (or car) in your name.

The Activity Timeline

This is a report based upon my one experience of registering a new motorbike in Thailand. I know the timescales may vary from province to province and many variables will affect what happens. And it is ultimately for you to go (or have someone do for you) and remove the red plate and fix the white plate to your motorbike, I know of one person who just did not bother and had a red plate for more than a year.

Purchase and Paperwork – 23rd October 2015

Paperwork received at Transport office and process beginning – 4th December 2015

Insurance, both types being ready to collect from the dealer – 14th December 2015

White Plate, Green Book and Tax with dealer – 4th January 2016

So you can see there is a big delay between the paperwork being created at the dealer when the motorbike is purchased, and it being administered at the Transport Office. It is incredible that in today’s climate of technology the Thai authorities are working in such a slow and ‘technology adverse’ manner. In the UK the dealer has a direct link to DVLA and can register a vehicle online in real-time and be issued with the registration number. But this is not the UK, things are different here – very different.

The insurance papers arrived with the dealer before the other items and it was only by chance that I collected them earlier, otherwise they would have stayed with the dealer to be collected with the Green Book, White Plate and Tax.

The Registration Process

In Thailand there is a structure and process for most things. I think this reflects the Thai culture to teach process and structure above common sense and thinking for yourself from the earliest of ages. The last thing any country wants is a population that feels it has a voice or the ability to make themselves heard – believe me, I know. There comes a time when the truth can hurt so much that the system feels the need to gag individuals – but that is another story all together.

This is how registering a new motorbike goes in Thailand. Once you have agreed on the actual motorbike and price (always haggle and once you have finished get your pretty Thai girlfriend to start again) you need to do the paperwork. Remember to take with you your letter of residency and passport, they will keep the letter of residency and copy your passport.

I received a multipart receipt, A5 size, when I drove away on my new Stallions Centaur. It is made up o the ‘Sales Form’ confirming the frame number, engine number and Red Plate number as well as price and my name, it is filled in by hand and signed by the person at the motorbike dealer. I also had a printed receipt for the motorbike confirming cost, my name and frame number. The last part is another printed receipt that itemises the registration cost, the two insurances and tax. These are important documents and act as proof the motorbike is being used legally. Keep the originals safe and keep a copy of each section with the motorbike so you can show it to the Police should they ask.

Be sure the dealer has your contact phone number so they can call you as soon as the green book and white plate arrive

Get on your way, leave the dealer and enjoy your motorbike.

The paperwork then goes to the Transport office and is ‘processed’.  The outcome is that your insurances, the tax, the white plate and green book is issued to the dealer for you to collect. They call you as soon as it is ready.

Keep all your documents safe and make copies. I added copies of the insurances to the paperwork I keep on the motorbike.

thailand motorbike number plate and taxRemove the red plate from your motorbike and fit the white plate. You will also need to display the tax on your motorbike and you can buy a display tube to do this for around 100 baht for a good quality one that uses machined and anodised aluminium or 20 baht for a plastic version. Go into any motorbike shop and ask for a tax holder.