Buying your own motorbike in Thailand

Honda Sonic 125
First I did live in Bangkok where having your transport is useless, then I lived in the south of Thailand where I discovered that I really needed my own transport. So when I moved to Pattaya City I decided that I needed my own motorbike.

Motorbike? Yes, motorbike. You see all those “little” scooters driving around but they are all between 100 and 150cc and all classified as a motorbike for which you have to be at least18 years old and you need to have a motor-drive-license. My first motorbike was a brand new Honda Sonic 125cc. I did buy it at a Honda dealer and the dealer takes care of the all registration of the motorbike. It comes with a license-plate, registration book (the Green Book), tax-sticker and of course insurance. All taken care of by the dealer. This all is so easy because the bike is made in Thailand so there are no idiotic high import-taxes on it. To prevent paying this high import-taxes some people import their bike illegal or something in between. By the latter the bike is imported as spare-parts (much lower import tax) and then here in Thailand rebuild.

As government officials all over Thailand also the people at “Department for Land Transport” are easy to accept some “tea money” to provide all kind of motor-bikes with more or less legal papers. And if not, then you can always use the Green Book from a old motorbike that is not used anymore. Or you can just make a Green Book yourself. In the “good old days” this all was no problem, but also in Thailand times are changing. In the “old” days there were not much other kind of bikes made in Thailand as the “smaller scooters”. So if you wanted a real bike you had to pay a lot of money for a legal imported one, or move into the shady business of Green Books and spare-part-motorbikes. Nowadays there is a reasonable choice in reasonable priced (made in Thailand) big motorbikes like from KTM, Ducati, Kawasaki, Honda and Yamaha.

Yamaha TW225e
That was not so when in 2007 I wanted to buy a semi off-road bike, so I bought a Yamaha TW225e at a local bike-shop. The owner messed up the all paper-work and after 6 weeks I brought the bike back to get my money back. Too bad it was nice bike. Then I ended up buying another Yamaha bike at another bike-shop, knowingly that it was a spare-part-imported bike without Green Book. But I was promised for some extra money a all legal Green Book would be arranged (as re-building a motorbike is legal in Thailand). I waited 3 months and nothing happened, went to another shop in Bangkok, had a lot of problems and it took another 8 months and a lot of money but finally I had my 100% legal Green Book. And now I am in the mood of buying a bigger motorbike.

If the motorbike is sold new in a motorbike-shop it is probably legal imported, but check that before you buy it. A shop like “BWM Barcelona” in Bangkok is 100% trustworthy (well legal-wise not service -wise), just like any official Kawasaki dealer but there are shops that sell private imported brand-new bikes and it could take a long time to get a Green Book for it. A friend of mine bought a 400cc 3-wheeler motorbike from an big dealer in Pattaya for the price of an small car and he still does not have an Green Book (and probably will never get one).

What to look for when buying a “bigger” second-hand motorbike that is not newly build in Thailand or newly sold in Thailand
1. Does it come with a legal Green Book?
2. Can you see the original Green Book?
3. Check the Green Book (frame-number, brand name, type, engine-number)
4. Check the frame-number and engine-number on the motorbike
5. Check if the frame- and engine number correspondent with the type of motorbike

As far as about the Green Books this story also works for buying a car, only the book is blue.
Also dogs drive motorbike

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