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Posts Tagged ‘Tabien Baan’

30th March 2011

This blog routinely posts about issues related to Thailand visas and Thai Permanent Residence in an effort to provide some information on these issues to the general public. It would appear that there is some consternation among foreign nationals in Thailand who are awaiting the adjudication of Thai permanent residence applications at the Ministry of Interior.  To quote directly from a recent opinion piece on the website PhuketGazette.net:

PHUKET: It’s time for the Ministry of Interior (MoI) to set up a special task force to begin fast-tracking the processing of the huge backlog of permanent residency (PR) applications it is now sitting on in silence.

Such a move would have multiple benefits for all parties involved, including, especially, foreign investors (potential and extant) and Thailand’s all-important tourism industry.

For reasons that have apprently never been divulged by the MoI, the stacks of stale PR applications, submitted in good faith and at great expense by law-abiding, long resident “visitors” to Thailand, continue to gather dust at the ministry.[sic]

Those reading this blog are highly encouraged to click upon the hyperlinks above to learn more about this issue.

Clearly, this is a significant issue for foreign nationals in Thailand, especially those who have been in Thailand for a long enough duration so as to be eligible to apply for Thailand Permanent Resident status. Those holding permanent resident status in Thailand are permitted to be placed upon a Tabien Baan (also referred to as a house registration booklet). This should not be confused with a Yellow Tabien Baan or Foreign Tabien Baan which allows foreign nationals, without Permanent Residence status, to obtain a house booklet under certain circumstances.

Unlike the United States Permanent Resident process, the Thai PR process can be quite long and cumbersome. Many have noted that there currently exists a substantial backlog of Thailand Permanent Resident status applications as there have yet to be any new Permanent Residence booklets issued for many years.

Those wishing to obtain Thailand Permanent Residence should note that this status is highly coveted amongst foreign nationals while simultaneously being difficult to obtain. Those seeking permanent residence in Thailand are only eligible after remaining in Thailand on Thai visa extensions for a period not less than 3 years. Also, most permanent residence applicants must also have maintained a Thai work permit for a significant period of time at a salary level which comports with relevant Thai Ministry regulations.

There is a common misconception about Thailand regarding the country’s immigration procedures. Many from so-called “Western” countries do not understand that Thais take immigration issues quite seriously and make rules and regulations which could be described as stringent. This is especially true in matters pertaining to Thai permanent residence as Thai PR applications are capped by a nationality quota and subjected to intense scrutiny by the Royal Thai Immigration Police and the Thai Ministry of Interior. Therefore, those thinking of applying for Thai permanent residence are well advised to conduct research into the issue and, in some cases, retain qualified counsel to assist in such an undertaking.

For related information please see: Thai Visa.

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26th June 2010

In a recent posting on the Chiang Mai Mail website, issues surrounding foreigners’ rights in Thailand were discussed. The issues came up in the context of a recent road show conducted by the Thai Ministry of the Interior. Foreigners residing in Thailand sometimes find it difficult to fully exercise their rights as the rules themselves can be somewhat vague. For example, the issue of alien registration on a Thai Tabien Baan can be confusing as few foreign nationals are fully aware of their right’s regarding registration. To quote the Chiang Mai Mail’s report about the recent Interior Ministry Roadshow:

Holders of Permanent residency can get a blue book (Tor Ror 14) and holders of temporary visas can get on the yellow book (Tor Ror 13) before they can apply for naturalization. The Provincial Administration reiterated an important point, that foreigners have the right to be listed on the census registration, “It is not well known even among officials. We have contacted registration officials that you have this right and you should insist on it.”

For many, registration on a Yellow Tabien Baan is beneficial because many Thai government offices view a Tabien Baan as definitive proof of lawful presence in Thailand and use the information in the Tabien Baan accordingly. Another issue that came up at the aforementioned roadshow was the issue of naturalization of those seeking Thai Citizenship. In the past, the language requirements for naturalization were rather stringent. During the recent roadshow the spokesperson for the Interior Ministry commented upon the revised linguistic requirements for naturalization to Thai Citizenship:

The requirements for naturalization were laid out, including the income requirements for both those married to Thais and those not married to Thais. The linguistics requirement has been reduced but the applicant must be able to sing the National and Royal anthems. Speaking and listening is mandatory but reading and writing is no longer required.

Finally, of particular interest to many foreign nationals in Thailand is that of the 90 day “check in” for foreigners present in the Kingdom on a “temporary” visa such as a Thai business visa or a Thai O visa. Regarding the Ministry of Interior’s stance on the issue, the Chiang Mai Mail was quoted as saying:

The next issue under discussion was Immigration and the right of habitation. Immigration officials discussed the various visas and how to obtain them as well as how to obtain Permanent Residency. The main issue of contention brought up by multiple Consul Generals, including Japanese Consul General Junko Yakata, was that of the 90 day reporting required of all foreigners on long stay visa extensions. Consul General Yakata told the officials that there are 3,000 Japanese nationals living in Northern Thailand. She requested a simplification of the process, perhaps by extending the length of time needed in between reports.

Chinese Consul General Zhu Weimin requested a change in the 90 day reporting procedure as well, citing the large numbers of Chinese students who attend Chiang Mai schools who cannot take time off from school to travel to Immigration to report. He suggested they open on the weekends for those who have jobs and classes.

The official justified the 90 day reporting by saying “it allows us the best possible protection. If someone goes missing then we have more recent information as to their whereabouts to give to the Embassy.”

90 day reporting is currently required of those foreigners remaining in Thailand on a Thai visa extension. Anyone in the Kingdom on an extension must report their address every 90 days. As can be gathered from the above quotation, some foreign nationals in Thailand feel that the 90 day reporting requirement is cumbersome. However, Thai authorities seem unwilling to change the rules as the current system would seem to provide the most efficient method of maintaining records as to the last known addresses of foreign nationals in Thailand. This is important as Thai authorities can use the data from 90 day reporting to apprise foreign governments of the location of their citizens for purposes of death or disappearance in Thailand. In this author’s opinion, the 90 day reporting scheme is rather cumbersome, but no one, as of yet, has provided a feasible alternative which would comport to the needs of all concerned.

For Related Information please see: Thailand Permanent Residence.

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14th March 2010

An often asked question among foreign nationals in Thailand is: Can we get married in Thailand? More often, the question is posed with some variation. For example: Can two Americans get married in Thailand? Or, can two Canadians get married in Thailand? Finally, a common question: my fiancee is British (or any other nationality) and I’m an American, can we get married in Thailand? All of these questions can be answered relatively quickly: Yes, provided all parties meet the legal requirements.

Thailand marriage registration can be very quick when compared to certain common law jurisdictions. In many States in the USA, there is a statutorily prescribed waiting period between marriage license obtainment and marriage solemnization. In Thailand, there is no such delay. In many ways, the Thai civil administration system is much more streamlined when compared to the common law system, particularly that of the United States. In the US, the separation of powers and federalism create a system in which different sovereigns have different methods of registering a marriage. In Thailand, the system is uniform and marriage records are kept at the local Amphur Office (or Civil Registrar’s Office). The Amphur keeps copies of Marriage Registration information as well as household registration information known as a Tabien Baan.

Obtaining a household registration for a foreigner (known as a Foreign Tabien Baan or a Yellow Tabien Baan) can be difficult, but marriage registration for foreign nationals really depends upon the country of nationality. Thai officials require that foreigners prove their marital status by obtaining documentation from their Embassy or Consulate that is accredited to Thailand. For those from common law jurisdictions it can be relatively easy to obtain such documentation, but other civil law jurisdictions can cause difficulties. It may be best for those interested in registering a marriage in Thailand to check with their Embassy or Consulate to ascertain how long it would take to obtain certain necessary documentation (Most notably, an affidavit of an ability to marry).

Although it is not something that some people wish to discuss at the time of marriage, the issue of divorce in Thailand is important. Thai Courts may or may not take jurisdiction over a divorce involving two foreign individuals married in Thailand and therefore jurisdiction for a later divorce proceeding may depend upon other factors. Finally, in any conversation about marriage registration it should be noted that a Thai Prenuptial Agreement will only be enforceable if it is registered at the same time as the marriage.

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26th January 2010

There are many foreign nationals who have opted to take up long term residence in the Kingdom of Thailand. For many expatriates, a pivotal question regarding residence in Thailand deals with the issue of Thai property law. Under the current laws in the Kingdom of Thailand foreign nationals are effectively barred from purchasing a Freehold Chanote (Title Deed) to land in the Kingdom. This being said, foreigners are allowed to take freehold title to Thai Condos provided certain legal requirements are met, but for many foreign nationals in Thailand actual home ownership is the preferred method of living in the Kingdom.

In the past, a Thai company could be used to own Thai Real Estate, but the company had to be structured in such a way that it comported to Thai law. In recent months there has been some discussion by Thai government officials about doing away with this system of property ownership. How this will play out remains to be seen, but some foreigners, who are still interested in enjoying Thai property, are looking at other ways of structuring their interests so as to properly comport with possible future restrictions.

One method involves the bifurcation of Thai title. What this means is that the land underneath a structure is owned by a Thai while any structures on the land are owned by a foreigner. This arrangement would be legal under current Thai law, but many are confused about how such an arrangement could be set up. This is where the Yellow Tabien Baan becomes an issue.

A Yellow Tabien Baan is used by foreign nationals who live in the Kingdom. However, they are very difficult to obtain and are usually only promulgated if the foreign national has bought a Thai condo. That being said, a foreign national who is on a Tabien Baan can obtain a building permit to build a structure in Thailand. Once the structure is built, it can be owned wholly by a foreign national. A foreigner could secure long term lease to the underlying property while maintaining ownership of the structure. Use of a Thailand usufruct or superficies would also strengthen the foreigner’s property interests without violating the de facto restriction placed upon land ownership for foreigners. This is not the only benefit that a Yellow Tabien Baan can confer upon a Foreigner in Thailand as there are other major benefits that foreign nationals can enjoy by being on a Foreign Tabien Baan.

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11th August 2009

Thailand is a very large and somewhat polyglot Kingdom. There are many different dialects of Thai as well as many religious and cultural traditions present throughout the Kingdom. Keeping track of the comings and goings of the Thai citizenry can be a difficult task, luckily there are Thai Immigration authorities deal with these concerns. However, a more important concern, particularly for the common Thai person, is keeping track of the vital statistics records for those resident in the Kingdom of Thailand.

A Thai Amphur office (spelled Amphoe or Ampoe) is best described as a civil registry office. The office is tasked with keeping a record of Thai marriage, Thai divorces, births in Thailand, deaths in Thailand, recordation of Thai prenuptial agreements, and in limited circumstances recordation of Thai wills. In a way, the Amphur office is something of a “Jack of all trades,” office. Another accurate name for this office is a “civil registry.”

Even though the Amphur’s legal mandate does not involve registration of Title deeds for Thai property or Real Estate, a really major part of the Amphur’s role in the Thai bureaucracy involves Thai household registration. A Thai household registration booklet, also known in the Thai language as a Tabien Baan (or Tambien Baan), records the place of a household and the head of the household. It further records how many people live in that household and their names and ages.

The Amphur office maintains the database of this information and is the office that must be used in order to change information listed on the Tabien Baan or when adding a new member to the Thai household registry. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible for foreign nationals to obtain a tabien baan or be registered on an already existing tabien baan. That being said, the only type of Tabien Baan that a foreigner may be listed on is a yellow tabien baan which is different from the blue tabien baan. A blue tabien baan is reserved for Thai citizens and foreigners with Thai permanent residence. It should be noted that the ease of getting on a yellow tabien baan will likely depend upon the office with jurisdiction over the household because local office procedures can differ and this could result in relative difficulty for the prospective registrant.

Foreigners can get married at a local Amphur office regardless of citizenship. However, the procedure for getting two foreign nationals married depends upon each person’s nationality. A person’s nationality and their Embassy’s protocols can affect the marriage process. It is wise to do research or contact an attorney before beginning the marriage registration process.

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8th August 2009

The government of the Kingdom of Thailand has announced that they will be launching investigations into the buying of agricultural Thai real estate by foreign nationals in the Kingdom of Thailand.  Apparently there have been rumblings among the Thai farming community concerning an influx of foreigners buying land in Thailand in order to grow crops for eventual sale on the open market.

Many individuals are concerned that a foreigner will use a Thai company to own land and thereby circumvent the laws on the books regarding foreign real estate ownership. The Nation Newspaper in conjunction with ThaiVisa.com is reporting on the issue, to quote their article:

“Concerned Thai officials will continue monitoring whether foreigners have violated law on buying or renting farmland to engage in agriculture in the kingdom although initial investigation found that such a practice does not exist, Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot said on Saturday…Farming as an occupation is reserved for Thais only and the probe was conducted following an outcry by some farmers that foreigners have bought numerous plots of farmland here and hired farmers to provide the labour.”

People moving to Thailand or wishing to live part time in the Kingdom should be aware of the somewhat xenophobic attitude of many Thai people when it comes to the subject of Thai property law. Regulations regarding Thai real estate reflect a negative attitude toward foreign ownership of Thai property. Many Thai people consider Thai property ownership to be a right that ought to be held in reserve for Thai citizens. That being said, there are exceptions to this general mood. Most Thai people do not see a problem allowing foreign nationals to own a Thai Condo in freehold. Further, obtaining a Yellow Tabien Baan (foreign house registration booklet) is becoming somewhat commonplace. However, this nonchalance does not extend to feelings regarding ownership of farm land and Thai government policy is a reflection of these feelings.

Evidence of this attitude can be found throughout the Thai foreign business act. A Thai company that is owned by a foreign national is specifically barred from engaging in business activities involving Thai farming. Even the US-Thai Treaty of Amity specifically precludes land ownership and agricultural activity. An Amity Treaty Company, although accorded preferential “national treatment,” is still subject to somewhat stringent regulation regarding Thai agriculture.

With the current global economy still in a somewhat less than optimal condition, it seems logical to assume that these restrictive measures will remain part of the law of the Kingdom of Thailand. It does not seem likely that the Thai government will allow foreigners to engage in farming activities in the near future.

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7th August 2009

In recent weeks there appears to be an upward trend in the Thai property market. Looking at the situation strictly from the standpoint of a foreign attorney, more people seem to be looking into purchasing Thai property. That being said, what type of Thai property is seemingly in demand?

There seems to be renewed interest amongst foreign nationals in obtaining a Thai Condo. These Condos often have the benefit of conferring foreign freehold ownership to the foreign national in the Thai Title Deed. Further, by obtaining a foreign freehold Title deed, the foreigner would likely be able to obtain a Yellow Tabien Baan, which is a house registration specifically designated to non-Thai nationals. Although somewhat difficult to obtain, there are many benefits associated with a Tabien Baan. Another benefit to the owner of a Thai condo: easier obtainment of a Thai O visa.

Aside from the legal benefits of purchasing Thai real estate, it would also appear as though the property market has stabilized and demand is on the rise. Many people take the view that the Thai property market has “bottomed out,” although we cannot make speculations as to the accuracy of this claim, the plausible argument could be made that the seemingly continuous descent of the property market is at an end.

What does this mean for the potential buyer? For starters, it means that one should carefully weigh all options before making a decision to buy property. Further, a prospective buyer should conduct due diligence in order to ensure that the property in question is valuable and the seller does in fact have the right to the property he wishes to sell.

Often when buying Thai Condos, it is wise to wait until a building is actually built before putting any money down as a deposit. Unfortunately, Thailand is rife with stories of unsuspecting buyers who put up a down payment on a property development only to see the developer go bankrupt before the building was completed thereby leaving the prospective buyer with a deposit down on an unconstructed untitled piece of property. in order to avoid situations such as this it may be wise to retain a property lawyer.

Finally, with the Thai property market apparently on the upswing, transaction taxes and fees may be on the rise as well. Since the Thai government imposes land transfer fees based upon the price of the Real Estate rising prices may create an environment of rising fees.

(Nothing Contained herein should be construed as legal advice. No attorney client relationship, express or implied, is created by reading this piece.)

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30th July 2009

The Tabien Baan, or document proving House Registration, is distributed by a village, city, or other  municipal authority. The Tabien Baan (sometimes spelled Tambien Baan) reflects the residents who live at a specific property (this document is not used as proof of Real Estate ownership, for that one must have a Thai Chanote or Title Deed). The Tabien Baan (House Registration) is issued to Thai Citizens and is used as a permanent address for service of process and other official mailings.

A Tabien Baan is an extremely important document for Thai nationals because it acts as proof of a Thai person’s residence. Therefore, it is used to determine a Thai person’s voting district and in the case of Thai men of military age, the Tabien Baan is used to ascertain what district the Thai man will be placed in when drawing for the military draft. This can be critical because if one district reaches a certain level of volunteers then it is not necessary to further draft any inhabitants of that district. As a result, a Thai man’s House Registration (Tabien Baan) can have a massive impact upon their life and career depending upon the district in which they live.

Can a Foreigner (Farang) Get a Thai Tabien Baan?

For a foreigner (farang in Thai) it may be possible to be registered on a Tabien Baan in Thailand if:

  1. the foreigner has acquired a Thai lease that has been legally registered at the Thai land Department
  2. the foreigner has used a Thai company to buy land in Thailand (This is becoming less common as the Thai Land Department officials are more heavily scrutinizing cases involving a Thai Company to own land.)
  3. the foreigner has bought a Thai Condo as a freehold Title owner pursuant to the Thai Condominium Act

A Tabien Baan issued to a foreigner residing in Thailand is generally referred to as a “Yellow Tabien Baan” because the booklet is the color yellow. Yellow Tabien Baan’s are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain because the local Amphur office (or Khet office in the Bangkok Metropolis) is reluctant to issue Tabien Baan’s to foreign nationals.

There are some benefits to having a Tabien Baan in Thailand. Most notable is the fact that a foreigner can obtain a building permit based upon a Tabien Baan and as a result could more easily obtain a superficies for structures built upon a piece of Thai property. Thai banks are also more cooperative about granting Thai mortgages to foreigners who are noted on a Tabien Baan.

Those with Permanent Residence in Thailand can be placed upon a blue Tabien Baan in the same way as a Thai National. However, this does not denote Citizenship nor voting rights, it is simply an administrative change based upon the foreigner’s residential status.

The Tabien Baan may become an important aspect of the USA visa process as well. For those Thai nationals applying for a K1 visa or a K3 visa, the Tabien Baan may be requested in order to prove the Thai’s residence in Thailand.

(Please be aware that this information is imparted for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No Lawyer/Client fiduciary relationship is created by reading this posting.)

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