The Tabien Baan is a government issued document listing everyone who lives at an address. Expats also know this as the Thai Yellow Book.
Expats in Thailand are faced with a tangle of red tape if they don’t have a Tabien Baan that proves where they live.
Thai nationals and expats with permanent residence have a blue version, while expats without permanent residence permission need a yellow Tabien Baan.
Having a Tabien Baan is the key that unlocks access to a host of government services, like healthcare, driving licences, social security and tax. Banks and other financial firms also take the booklet as proof of residence.
Many expats are unaware of the need to register for a Tabien Baan and offer their passport as proof of identity. This can lead to problems when the passport is lost or expires as the replacement has a different number that doesn’t tally with official records.
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What is a Tabien Baan?
The Tabien Baan is the Thai version of the UK voter’s roll.
Like the UK, banks, official bodies and government departments check the Tabien Baan as proof of address.
A listing in the document does not mean an expat owns the property where they live, just that the address is their main residence.
This ties in with Thai property law that does not allow foreigners to own land although they can lease a home built on the plot.
The listing is also useful for expats who need a letter confirming their place of residence from their embassy. The letter is usually required to open a bank account or to apply for a driving licence.
How do expats get a Tabien Baan listing?
A nominated ‘house master’ approves an expat’s listing, so the first step in getting a Tabien Baan is finding out who your house master is and asking them to register you at the address.
That sounds easy enough, but the task comes with a slew of paperwork.
Expats need to provide the paperwork to a local district office (amphur) nearest your home.
And that’s where things can get complicated. The success or failure of an application depends on the official’s interpretation of the rules and this can vary from one district to another.
A successful Tabien Baan application will need:
- A passport stamped with a valid Thai visa – tourist visas are generally not accepted
- Birth certificate
- The property rental agreement
- The blue Tabien Baan for your address
- Two passport photographs
If you are married, your spouse needs the same pile of paperwork, while you will need to show your marriage certificate and your spouse’s ID card
The official will also want you to provide two Thai witnesses aged 20 years or older and as the registration is an official document, your name, date of birth and parent’s names written in Thai.
Don’t forget the house master has to attend and give permission for your listing on the Tabien Baan as well. Sometimes, if you live in a village in a rural area, the head of the village (phu yai bean) occasionally attends the meeting.
If your local district official is a stickler for the rules, they might ask for translations of any foreign documents by a registered translator.
To avoid delays, check with your local district office for a list of precisely what they need to complete the Tabien Baan registration.
Lucky expats can complete the registration in under an hour, but some district offices have a more formal procedure that can take several day or weeks to allow for various officers to sign off on the application.
Applying for a Thai Tabien Baan FAQ
Dealing with officialdom in a foreign country can be complex and frustrating, to make the process a little easier, here are some answers to the most asked questions about the Thai yellow Talien Baan book.
Must expats live at their Tabien Baan address?
With the fuss and red tape surrounding a Tabien Baan application, you would think expats have to live at their registered address, but this is not so.
Many Thais live somewhere different from their registered address, especially if they move around for work.
If you rent a home, the landlord may not allow registration.
Why do expats need a Tabien Baan?
The main issue with Thai bureaucracy is the constant need to verify an address every time you deal with officialdom or want to open a bank account, get a driving licence or even buy a car.
Tabien Baan registration means that instead of the cost and inconvenience of paying your embassy for a stamp every time you are asked to prove residence, you simply show the blue or yellow book.
The registration also comes with an official pink ID card.
Is a Tabien Baan listing an official requirement?
If you have the right to live in Thailand, you don’t need a Tabien Baan, but a listing makes life a lot easier.
Having the booklet means you do not have to continually have to produce affidavits to prove your address every time you have to deal with a bank or the Thai government.
What happens if you don’t have a house master?
If you do not have a house master, the owner of the property can stand in for them.
Where do expats apply for a Tabien Baan?
Expats should apply for a Tabien Baan at the nearest local district office or amphur to where they live.
What’s the difference between the blue and yellow book?
The books are different colours to differentiate between Thai nationals (blue) and expats (yellow).
How much does a yellow Talien Baan cost?
The registration should be free, but some officials will try and make a charge to make the process run smoother.
Below are links to other country specific expat guides:
Have any Questions?
Speak to a financial adviser.