Yellow Tabien Baan the house registration book for foreigners living in Thailand

So what exactly is a yellow house book?

Quite simply, it’s a type of government-issued document called a Tabien Baan (literally ‘House Registration’ in Thai) which lists all foreign individuals holding a ‘Temporary Stay’ or a ‘Long Stay’ visa/visa exemption who live at the condo or house address specified in the house registration book. What a yellow Tabien Baan is not, contrary to popular belief, is proof of ownership of the property; as it happens, the yellow house book won’t even record the foreign owner’s details unless they’re occupying the property as their main residence in Thailand. Instantly recognisable, the Tabien Baanfor non-resident foreigners is a little booklet with a bright yellow cover and emblazoned on the front with Thailand’s emblematic Garuda and, in the upper right-hand corner, the initials ’ท.ร.13’ (short for ‘Thor Ror 13’ which is the Thai designation for the yellow house book).


From where can I get a yellow house book?

When buying a house and, less so, a condo unit in Chiang Mai, it’s customary for the new owner to be given the Tabien Baan for the property during the transfer process at the Land Office. As a rule, though, it’ll be a blue house book (or ‘Thor Ror 14’) in which only the names of Thai folk and those foreigners who have permanent residency in Thailand can be entered. Still, it’s perfectly possible for a non-resident foreign owner living in their own condo or house to swap the property’s blue Tabien Baanfor a yellow house book into which their name can be added. To apply for a yellow house book, pop into the or, more commonly, the amphoe office which is responsible for administering civil registrations for the municipality or district in which the condo or house is located.

How do I get a yellow house book?

Being Thailand, it probably won’t come as too much of a shock to learn that application requirements for a yellow house book differ wildly from one thesaban or amphoe office to another! So your first task is to check with the local registration authority precisely what paperwork you need to gather; but at the very least, the applicant will have to submit the original as well as photocopies (signed) of the following documents:

  • current passport (containing a valid Thai entry permit)
  • work permit (if any)
  • marriage certificate together with your Thai spouse’s national ID card and own blue house book (if any)
  • lease agreement along with your landlord’s ID and own blue Tabien Baan (if renting the property)
  • existing blue house book (if exchanging)

Besides which, it isn’t out of the ordinary for a district or local registration office to request a notarised copy of the personal information page of the applicant’s passport translated into Thai in addition to a number of passport style photographs. And, more than likely, you’ll need to be accompanied by one or two Thai witnesses (each with their own blue house book and national ID card) who’ll be asked to attest to your identity and residential status then undergo an informal interview.

For some foreigners, the whole thing is nothing short of a breeze but alas for others, a slow and agonising death by red tape! Even having been provided by Thailand’s Interior Ministry with a Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA) instruction manual that explains the ins and outs of issuing a Tabien Baan, officials at some district and local registration offices are unwilling or, worse, flatly refuse to hand out a yellow house book. We can assure you, though, that not only are non-resident foreign nationals legally permitted to have a yellow house book but that every thesaban and amphoe office in the country is actually obliged by law to register all foreigners residing in their catchment area!


Is there a fee to get a yellow house book?

Though it’s not altogether unheard of for foreigners to be prevailed upon to ‘grease the wheels’ a bit before being allowed a yellow house book, technically, thesaban and amphoeregistration offices throughout Thailand shouldn’t charge a single baht to churn out or update a Tabien Baan! If you’ve gone and lost or damaged your yellow house book, mind, expect to fork out a nominal sum for a replacement.


How long does it take to get a yellow house book?

Generally, foreigners are able to collect their brand spanking new yellow Tabien Baanwithin an hour or two of lodging the necessary papers. Even so, mileage varies and it’ll take rather more time (occasionally several weeks or even a few months) to sort out if, among other things, the registration office dealing with the application isn’t well acquainted with the process!


What information appears in a yellow house book?

With the book presented entirely in Thai, the opening page bears the full address of the property as well as the residence type (either a condominium or a house). The second page features the full name, nationality, unique 13 digit citizen ID number and date of birth of the ‘Householder’ (who may or may not be the owner of the property) while each of the remaining pages shows the particulars of every other non-resident foreign occupant (‘Dependent’) who lives at the same address.


Are there any benefits to having a yellow house book?

Unlike the blue house book for Thai nationals, holding a yellow Tabien Baan doesn’t bestow any additional rights (such as that to vote) for foreigners. It is, though, widely accepted nationwide whenever your address in Thailand needs to be verified; for example, when registering a Thai pre-paid SIM card, arranging a home broadband service, obtaining a Thai driver’s licence, enrolling as a patient at a hospital or clinic, purchasing a vehicle, transferring ownership of real estate, checking into a hotel or for an internal flight, opening a Thai bank account, or setting up a mains electricity or water supply. Plus, it offers the holder the opportunity to secure the Thai price at venues (like National Parks) which inflict two-tier admission rates, makes them eligible to receive a Pink ID Card for foreigners not to mention affording a sense of being more a part of Thai society. And, any foreigner contemplating putting in for Thai citizenship must have their own yellow house book…or remain forever an ‘alien’ in the Kingdom!

Care to share your own experiences getting a yellow Tabien Baan in Chiang Mai? Do you think the Thai house book for foreigners warrants having or is of no real value at all? We’d be only too pleased to hear what you have to say so feel free to post a comment below!