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How to buy a car in thailand
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  1. #1
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    Sep 2002
    Paknam, Samut Prakan, Thailand
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    HOW TO...: Buy a car in Thailand

    The Nation, Published on Jan 10, 2003

    The purchase of a car and the ensuing transfer of ownership is one of the less numbing bureaucratic processes in Thailand, although it does have its share of earnest behind-the-counter rubberstamping.

    To compensate for the relatively undemanding nature of this particular bureaucratic process, a new element is cast to keep you on your toes - a third person. This person will likely be a stranger to whom you will be handing over wads of cash.

    While owning a car upcountry is practical, you might want to think about the benefits of having one in Bangkok - a place where taxis are abundant and cheap and erratic driving habits can dent even the strongest emotional armour.

    Weigh up what you would spend on parking fees, petrol, and other running costs of your own car against what you spend on taxis and other public transport. Also, take into account the stress factor, and the chances of having an accident and shelling out for compensation.

    Then, if are still you are thinking about buying, rent a car for a month to weigh up the pros and cons.

    For an expatriate to purchase a vehicle in Thailand, a work permit and tax ID are required. While a law that makes it illegal for visitors to a country buy what is essentially a consumer item may seem a little strange - well, stupid in fact - there is probably a reason for it, although Iíve yet to figure it out. Perhaps purchasing a car signals intent to stay in Thailand long-term, therefore proof of your legal right to do so must be provided. So how come you donít - to my knowledge anyway - need a work permit and tax ID to buy a refrigerator or a lawn mower? Go figure.

    Or perhaps it has something to do with the notion that a visitor will act irresponsibly in the event of an accident or traffic offence, and leave the country before cases have been settled. But there are no restrictions to visitors renting a car, or driving someone elseís vehicle; so that argument makes little sense.

    Now, with your work permit and tax ID at the ready, you can skip off to buy a brand-new car. In the case of a new-car purchase, any problems involved with the transfer of ownership dissipates, as you will be deftly steered through the process by the salesman still cheerfully bathing in the afterglow of a handsome commission.

    Providing the paperwork on your side of the counter is correct, the same applies when buying a used car from a reputable licensed dealer.

    Problems mostly arise if you purchase a car privately. In these cases, always check thoroughly that the person selling you the car actually owns the car - all of it. And donít hand over one satang until this is established beyond doubt.

    Although this advice may sound blindly obvious, remember you will be wading through paperwork that is in a language foreign to you, and you will be unfamiliar with the process of ownership transfer. If a person is intent on ripping you off, knows the system, and knows you donít know the system, it wonít be difficult for them. And as a foreigner without connections, you may find little recourse in settling a dispute.

    I once purchased a car from a shadowy expatriate in Phuket, who appeared to be the owner and had the paperwork to prove it. As it turned out, he was the owner - along with three other people.

    The car belonged to a company of which he was a director. To transfer ownership, the signatures of all directors or (if appointed) the company executor are required. This proved to be a little difficult as the company executor was living in Sri Lanka, another company director was dead, and the third was in jail.

    Company ownership of vehicles is common in Thailand, resulting in many ending up on the used-car market. In these cases, the seller needs to provide - besides the ownership transfer forms - additional documents relating to the company. The companyís executor, if they have one, signs the transfer papers. Otherwise, all the directors must approve the sale.

    To avoid the situation I found myself in, it does no harm to have your lawyer cast an eye over the paperwork (both yours and the sellerís) before any cash changes hands. Think of this as the same as having a motor mechanic check a used car you intend to buy, as you normally do back home.

    New-car dealerships went through a shake-up a few years ago, when foreign carmakers learned of lousy after-sales service being provided for their marques. So, these days warranties are generally honoured and service centres are ably staffed.

    Used-car dealers may offer warranties as a sweetener, but donít always count of them being honoured or carried out with due care. Get the car checked by a reputable independent mechanic before buying. Or if it is a marque that has a dealership here, take the car to that service centre and get them to check it out.

    Parts for many marques - especially Japanese - are inexpensive in Thailand. Combine that with low labour costs, and car repairs and servicing becomes surprisingly affordable, especially compared with the hefty costs of having a car serviced in the West.

    Phil Macdonald

    The Nation
    Support the forum and chat rooms and buy computer software and books for learning Thai at

  2. #2
    lucky_168 Guest
    How much are the taxes in buying new cars ??

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