Buying a Secondhand Motorcycle in Thailand

There was a time when I was bike-less and when all I could think of was the SR…I even had dreams about it!
I was very confused about my options…Green book (registration book), no book, what kind of book, how about the police etc….

Before doing the decisive step though, I spend a lot of time researching online and talking to people ‘in the know’.

Finally, I got my SR in February 2011, with a decent book, from Bangkok, and I’m in love with it.

So, to the book(s)…

To put it simply, if you ride a bike without book the police will stop you sooner or later and then it’s up to them what they do with you and your bike.

Let me reiterate this as it is quite important, riding without registration in Thailand may lead to your bike being impounded and a hefty fine, possibly (read: probably) including large bribe payouts.

You might get lucky once or twice, but don’t count on it. Farang=money to many policemen in Thailand. Anyway, some places are stricter than others. Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya and Chonburi seem to be the strictest in my experience.

Next option is to get it registered, but how? 
Firstly, a fully legal book is basically impossible. You would need all the documents stating you paid for the import duty (300% of the bike’s value) and other various taxes, plus get an emission test done (around 30K), which is impossible to pass for an old bike with carb (unless you can grease the right hands of course) andandand…bottom line: forget it.
Don’t despair just yet. You have a another option

You need to find a recycled book. That means a book from an older bike that states it’s a Yamaha, 400cc and has 1 cyclinder. You can find such books for 25.000 to 35.000. There are quite a few around, especially from Pratchinburi. That’s the easiest book to get due to “special deals” going on at that office. The downside here is that the police is investigating them and you might get into trouble.

The best thing would be to find a book from Bkk, but they’re pretty rare….or other provinces, also not too common.
To Summarise…
So, buying a bike which has the green book already or taking the bike to a shop and letting them sort it out for you are your best options I think. Just make sure to check the book before (Yamaha, cc’s, cylinder, province…) as books can come in various levels of “genuinity”. They will do their magic on the frame. The engine number on your bike can stay, but it has to be noted in the book that the bike changed the engine to the new engine.
Around 60.000 Baht seems to be a fair price for a non-registered, well maintained bike . With a book, if you can find one, add about 25~30.000Baht more. 
Once this nightmare is over and you have your book and plates, you’ll be fine. The risk when being stopped will be much smaller. If the police stop you, they will usually check the frame number only, if anything.
Be aware though that they know all about this bike and stories with the books and a few 100 Baht can do miracles and save a lot of headaches if you feel the necessity arises.
Although it’s much better to have a book than not, if they do decide to do a thorough check, they’ll find out anyway. It’s not good but very rare from what I’ve heard.
It depends upon the policeman who stops you; the local police will gladly close an eye if you smile and stay polite.
Don’t even think about getting angry, that’s the worst you can do!
The Highway police on the other hand is much stricter on unplated bikes. They can and will impound the bike and if you offer them some tea money, they will charge you with bribery, too. And then you’re in big trouble.
If one day you decide to sell the bike, you cannot bring it to the DMV offices to do the transfer yourself. You have to find someone who is versed in dealing with recycled books and who will do it for you ( for a couple 1000 Bahts).
These are my experiences so far and I reported all I know to the best of my knowledge. I hope this can help any potential SR lovers find the bike of their dreams.
If you need any more help with finding an SR in Thailand or advice on registering problems, send me an email at [email protected] and I will try to help you through the process.
Good luck!
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