We are often visited by foreigners who bought homes in Thailand months or years ago. They come with lots of documents in Thai that were delivered to them at the time of purchase. Generally, they want to know if the documents mean they have good title to their homes.
More often than not the first thing that comes out of the envelope is the blue book. The person who hands it to us will says something like: "Since I have the blue book, I'm sure I have title to the property."
Then they look at us, nervously, for confirmation.
We tell the person sitting across the desk that possession of the blue book doesn't mean anybody owns the property _ all it means is that the property is a registered address in Thailand.
Sometimes, at this point in the conversation, our visitor becomes incredulous, saying the seller told them that possession of the blue book under Thai law is the same as ownership.
Or they say that the only thing anybody in his/her development has to prove title is the blue book, and the neighbours have all confirmed that this is enough evidence.
Sadly, this is not true.
So what is a blue book? It is a house registration document issued by the Provincial Administration Department. It's part of the civil registration system, which includes the registration of birth, death, migration and procedures in connection with the home like applying for a house number or demolition.
A house must have a blue book in order to apply for public utilities such as electricity, water or land telephone lines. It is often required when applying for cable or satellite TV.
The procedure for applying for a blue book is fairly straightforward.
The person in possession of the house, such as the owner or tenant, must apply for the book within 15 days of construction on the house being finished. There's a 1,000 baht fine for not complying with this requirement.
The documents that have to be filed with the application are as follows:
Form Tor Ror 900;
copies of the ID cards of the applicant and the applicant's representative, if a representative such as a lawyer is submitting it;
power of attorney to the representative, if any;
documents certifying the right to possess the land on which the house is located, for example, the land title deed Nor Sor 3 or Sor Por Gor. They would also include the letter of consent to construct the house on the land signed by the landowner in case the householder submitting the application is not the landowner;
photographs of the completed house, showing all four sides.
After these documents are submitted, the registration officer will issue the blue book in duplicate, one copy of which goes to the applicant. There is no fee for this.
You can see then that the existence of a blue book doesn't mean somebody has title to the house. But in connection with our visitors mentioned above, there can be good news.
That's because to apply for the blue book in the first place, it means the owner most likely has other documents that do indicate ownership or a registered long lease. We'll talk about the real proof of ownership in the future.
Next week we'll talk about names in blue books, and yellow books.
James Finch of Chavalit Finch and Partners
and Nilobon Tangprasit of Siam City Law Offices Ltd
Researchers: Arnon Rungthanakarn and Sitra Horsinchai.
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About the author
Writer: James Finch and Nilobon Tangprasit