The minor district (King Amphoe) Yan Ta Khao was created on January 1, 1948 as a subordinate of Kantang district. Originally it consisted of six tambon - Yan Ta Khao, Nong Bo and Thung Khai were split off from Kantang district, Na Chum Het from Mueang Trang district, and Nai Khuan and Phrong Chorakhe from Palian district. It was upgraded to a full district on June 5, 1956.
The district is subdivided into 8 subdistricts (tambon), which are further subdivided into 65 villages (muban). Yan Ta Khao is a township (thesaban tambon) which covers parts of tambon Yan Ta Khao. There are further 8 Tambon administrative organizations (TAO).