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A Thai house book, known as a Tabien Baan is the official government issued house or apartment address and resident registration book. This administrative document is issued by the local municipality and the people who reside at the address are registered in the house book.
Many people believe that this book can be used as proof of ownership of a residence but this is not true. The book has nothing to do with ownership of the house or condo and is not issued by the land department. It is a booklet issued by the local municipality (not the land department) that belongs to the official papers of a home or condo and its practical use is that it registeres and proves a persons place of legal residence. The house book can state the owner of the house, if he or she is Thai but not a foreign non-resident owner.
The blue house book is for Thai nationals and the yellow book is for foreigners.
The house book proves a person’s domicile and is often used in procedures such as transfer of ownership of a car or bike, opening of a bank account, applying for a new electricity supply or telephone line, it also gives Thai’s the right to vote in the district in which they live.
As foreigners are not usually registered in a Thai house book they can use a letter of residence provided by the local immigration office, if they have a non immigrant visa, as proof of address. If he is the owner of a condominium he can use the title deed, the empty blue book and his passport. When a foreigner owns a house the blue book is normally left empty unless Thai nationals also reside at his permanent address.
A house book can be issued for a house, condominium apartment (whether registered under the Condominium Act or not). The official house book for Thais is the blue book and for foreigners residents a yellow book. A blue book is standard issued but in case of a foreigner it can be exchanged for a yellow book if the foreigner meets specific criteria. The documents required for the exchange of a blue book of a completed house or condominium for a yellow book could, besides the application form, could include: a non-immigrant visa, a work permit, a marriage certificate, apartment unit title deed, documents relating to the land and right to use and possess the land, the official land office sale of a structure document and a building permit.
The blue or yellow tabien baan is not an important document for foreigners and most foreigners owning a condominium or a house (separate from the land) will have a (empty) blue house registration book and not a yellow book. The legal value for foreigners is very limited and generally there is no need or requirement to exchange a blue tabien baan for a yellow tabien baan. A yellow book does not confer any additional rights. However, foreigners married to a Thai national living in Thailand should have their name in the house book of the marital home. For Thais a house book’s primary function is that it states his or her place of legal residence (permanent home).