The yellow tabien baan – getting registered
What is the Tabien Baan?
A tabien baan (ทะเบียนบ้าน), or house book, is simply a government issued booklet listing all the people registered at a particular address in Thailand. It is a basic administrative document and forms the basis of Thailand’s registration system for all citizens and permanent residents.
With this basic document, ID cards can be issued, and together they then allow further access to a myriad of government services (e.g. health, licenses, welfare, tax) as well as being useful for all types of banking and other financial services.
Being on a tabien baan does not signify ownership of the place of registry. It merely lists those who are officially registered at that address. All tabien baans will be controlled by a ‘house master’, which is a designated person who gives permission for a person to be registered at that address. Similarly, that person need not be the owner.
There are two types of tabien baan:
- The blue tabien baan (Thor.Ror 14 or ท.ร.14) for Thai nationals and permanent residents and;
- The yellow tabien baan (Thor.Ror 13 or ท.ร.13) for foreigners without permanent residency in Thailand.
Many foreigners living in Thailand don’t bother registering on a yellow tabien baan. This has mainly been because of a lack of awareness of both foreigners, but also Thai officials, of their existence.
However over recent years the documents have become more popular as being on a tabien baan provides foreigners a unique ID number, useful for dealing with certain government agencies.
Without a tabien baan, banks and government agencies will normally use your passport number as a default ID. This generally works fine, however in the event that a passport expires and is replaced, your new passport number will not match your previous records on file. These small discrepancies have caused major hassles for instance when people try to replace lost bank books or credit cards and your ID on record doesn’t perfectly match.
In many cases, the yellow tabien baan also negates the need for a foreigner to get a ‘residency confirmation letter’ from their embassy, which is often required for opening bank accounts or applying or renewing driver’s licenses. Depending on the embassy, they may only be a single use document (requiring multiple trips) and many embassies also charge a pretty penny to issue them.
Requirements for a yellow Tabien Baan
Unlike most of the requirements for applying for Thai citizenship which are pretty exacting, getting a tabien baan issued really comes down to the whims of the officials in the local district office (สำนักงานเขต). However, for the most part the documents requirements usually consist of the ones outlined below. These include copies of:
- Your passport’s data page;
- Your birth certificate;
- Your passport page showing your Thai visa;
- Your spouse’s Thai ID Card (if married);
- A rental contract (if applicable);
- Blue tabien baan of the address you wish to be registered;
- A copy of your marriage certificate (if applicable);
- Two passport sized photo’s;
- Two Thai citizen witnesses aged 20 or above; and
- Given the tabien baan will all be in Thai, written details in Thai of your basic data information (name, date of birth) as well as your parents’ names.
Given you will be entered on someone’s house registration, the ‘house master’ will need to attend and formally give permission for you to be entered on the tabien baan. If you are a rural area, occasionally the village head, or ‘phu yai baan’ (ผู้ใหญ่บ้าน), is also asked to attend.
In some cases, the district office may require you to have Ministry of Foreign Affairs registered translations of documents which are not in Thai or have been procured overseas.
As mentioned earlier, given that each Thai district office applies their own take on the rules for issuing a yellow tabien baan, it is worth checking in with your district office in advance to see what their exact requirements are.
Depending on how familiar your district office are with issuing them, they can be issued with little fuss in under an hour. For more remote district offices, you may find officials pulling out the Thai civil service instruction manual on issuing the documents, and it may take a number of days if sign-offs from senior officials in that particular office are required. Others yet, may also want to interview you as well to double check why you want to be registered, as well as to verify your relationship if married.
Unfortunately, from time to time, certain offices are reluctant to issue them for no good reason, but this is fortunately less common in Bangkok and larger cities.
Do you need to live where you are registered?
The simple answer is ‘no’. It is very common for most Thai’s to not actually live where they are registered, particularly people who have to move provinces for work. Landlords generally don’t let their tenants be registered on their tabien baan either.
Citizenship applications: where should I be registered?
As outlined in other sections of this website, for those who are applying for Thai citizenship via marriage or permanent residency routes, then being registered in Bangkok is ideal as that will allow a dedicated Police Special Branch naturalization unit to process your application.