Customs regulations and required documents
Personal effects import regulations
Customs duties are an important part of the Thai taxation system. Duties are collected on both imports and selected exports. The classification of goods for duty purposes is based upon the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (commonly referred to as the “Harmonized System” or “HS Code”) and is, therefore, consistent with the classifications used by most of Thailand’s trading partners. Duties are levied on an ad valorem basis or at a specific rate, whichever is higher. On January 1. 2000, Thailand adopted the GATT Valuation Agreement. Imported articles are subject both to duties and to VAT, which is also administered by the Customs Department. Export duties are imposed on only a few items, including rawhide and wood. Exports are taxable at a 0 percent VAT rate.
Customs procedures for goods arriving in Thailand are similar to those in most other countries. An importer must file an entry form, plus other requisite documents (such as a bill of lading, invoice, and packing list) with the Customs Department through an electronic channel called the “Paperless System.” For certain goods such as medical devices, pharmaceuticals, food supplements, cosmetics, and chemicals, an import license is required, and duties and VAT are due upon arrival. When total duties have yet to be determined or urgent clearance is required, a deposit may be paid. Finally, landing and storage charges must be paid before the goods are released. Imported goods can also be stored in bonded warehouses. Generally, the obligation to pay duties arises at the time of import, whereas stored goods are assessed at the tariff rate in effect on the date of release.
To expedite customs clearance, an advance entry system allows importers to file the required forms, including the bill of lading, prior to the arrival of the goods in Thailand. The amount of duties can then be determined with reference to the bill of lading. Once the goods arrive, the duties and port charges need only be paid before the goods are released. It is often worthwhile to use the services of an experienced agent to assist with clearing goods through customs. Shipping agents often provide their own clearing agents. Where goods accompany passengers arriving by air, sea, or land, a declaration is required. If necessary, customs officers, at their discretion, can assess the value of the imported goods and collect any shortfall duties.
In addition to import duties handled by the Customs Department, certain import items are also subject to excise tax. These include gasoline and products thereof, automobiles (fewer than ten seats), electrical appliances, beverages, perfumes and cosmetics, yachts and vessels for entertainment, lead crystal and other crystals, carpets and other floor covering materials, motorcycles, batteries, marble and granite, liquor, tobacco, and playing cards. Excise tax is also imposed on local products in the same categories as well as on certain entertainment service providers such as horse racing grounds and golf facilities. The excise tax is calculated based on the retail price.
Upon arrival in Thailand, foreign citizens must hold a valid Passport with at least six months validity, a valid Thai visa, and proof on onward travel. However, visitors from ASEAN or Western countries, including most European, Commonwealth, and North American citizens, are not required to have a Thai visa for visits less than 30 days in Thailand. They will be granted access through Thailand immigration with a 30 Thai visa waiver, provided upon arrival. After such time, a Thai visa extension from an immigration office or a Thailand visa from an embassy or consulate outside of Thailand is required. Immigration policies are subject to change: check with a Thai Embassy or The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (www.mfa.go.th) for the latest information.
Thailand customs allows visitors to enter Thailand with personal effects, the value of which does not exceed 80,000 Baht, without paying import fees as long as: 1) the items are specifically for personal or professional use; 2) the amount of goods are reasonable; and 3) the items are not subject to restriction or prohibition.
There are restrictions on the amounts of alcohol and tobacco products; only the following amounts may be transported into Thailand under duty free regulations:
* 250 grams of cigars or smoking tobacco, or 200 cigarettes
* 1 liter of wine or liquor.
Prohibited and Restricted Goods The Thailand Customs Department is responsible for stemming the illegal transport of illicit drugs into and out of Thailand. Consequently, Thailand Customs officials do occasionally ask to search passengers’ bags. If you have nothing to declare, simply walk through the Green Channel, stopping only if asked to do so by a customs agent.
If you have goods to declare, you should hand a customs form to the Thailand Customs Department agent at the Red Channel marked “goods to declare”.
It should be noted that plants and animals, as well as products made from such, may be subject to restrictions and quarantine.
If you wish to bring in or take out plants or plant products it is advisable to contact the Plant Quarantine Office for current restrictions and regulations.
Import of plants or plant products: 66(0)2-134-0716 to 7
Export of plants or plant products: 66(0)2-134-0501
Pets If you wish to bring in or take out animals or animal products it is advisable to contact the Animal Quarantine Office for current restrictions and regulations.
Import of animal or animal products: 66(0)2-134-0636 to 7
Export of animal or animal products: 66(0)2-134-7031 to 2
International departure taxes are now included in the cost of air tickets when they are purchased from an airline or travel agent. There are no official domestic departure taxes, although privately owned and operated airports, such as Koh Samui Airport, has levied a small domestic “departure tax” in the past and may still do so depending on their current policies.
Imports of used vehicles and vehicle parts, household refrigerators using CFCs, refurbished medical devices, gaming machines, and computer peripherals are restricted.
Restricted goods are goods of which the imports and exports are restricted by law and therefore require a permit from related government agencies. The permit must be presented during Customs formalities. Examples of restricted goods are as follows:
|Types of Goods||Issuing Authorities|
|Buddha image, artifact/objects, antique||Fine Arts Department (http://nsw.finearts.go.th)|
|Guns, bullets, explosives, and the equivalents to guns||Department Of Provincial Administration, Ministry of Ministry of Interior (www.dopa.go.th)|
|Plants and their parts||Department of Agriculture (www.doa.go.th)|
|Living animals and carcass||Department of Livestock Development (www.dld.go.th)|
|Food, medicine, cosmetics and food supplement||Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (www.fda.moph.go.th)|
|Vehicle parts||Ministry of Industry (www.industry.go.th)|
|Cigarettes, tobacco and alcoholic beverages||Excise Department (www.excise.go.th)|
|Communication Radio Devices and telecommunications equipment||Office of The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (www.nbtc.go.th)|
Prohibited goods are goods for which either the import into or export out of Thailand are prohibited. The following are some examples of prohibited goods:
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No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation at the airport.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Foreign citizens from a limited number of countries, including the UK, are now allowed to enter Georgia by air under the following conditions:
For foreign citizens who were legally in Georgia before 14 March 2020, the Georgian Government has extended the period that their entry permits remain valid until 1 July 2021, provided the overstay was caused by one of the following circumstances, which must be documented:
If you were legally in Georgia by 14 March and wish to renew your stay without applying for a residence card, you will need to book an appointment at Public Service Hall. You should attend your appointment with a Georgian-speaker as you will need to make your renewal application and be interviewed in Georgian. Your application must include the reason why you could not renew your visa in time. The fee is 50 lari (approx. £13). Public Service Hall will review the case and make a decision within three days on whether, and if so, for how long to renew your visa.
If during your visit to Georgia up to March 2020 you were driving using your UK driving license, and you have not been able to leave Georgia since due to Covid restrictions, you can continue to drive using the UK licence (provided it remains valid) for the remainder of your current visit to Georgia.
If you are working or studying in Georgia and meet the requirements for a Georgian Residence Permit, you should apply for this through Public Service Hall. You should not remain on a visitor’s entry permit indefinitely.
If you are in Georgia for more than 183 days and take up any form of paid employment, you are automatically liable for income tax and must inform the Revenue Service of your employment, whether you are on a visitor’s permit or officially resident. Non-compliance will be fined.
In consideration of the difficulty of renewing UK passports during coronavirus, the Georgian authorities currently recognise as valid for residence and visa purposes, UK passports that have expired since 6 January 2020 or have less than six months’ validity when presented. These passports are considered to be expiring on 31 December 2021.
This applies to the following passports – British Citizen, British National (Overseas), British Protected Person, British Overseas Citizen and British Subject.
This provision is founded on the UK Government recognising holders of such passports as British under international law, and will remain in place until 31 December 2021 unless the UK Government withdraws the recognition sooner.
The extended expiry relates only to where you need a valid passport to reside in Georgia. It does not mean that your passport is valid as a travel document.
If you are in Georgia, your passport has expired and you need a passport to travel elsewhere in the near future, you should apply for a new full validity UK passport. Please use this guidance to complete the application form and submit it at the Visa Application Centre in Tbilisi.
If your passport has expired and you need to travel urgently you may be eligible for an Emergency Travel Document. Please follow the passport guidance linked above for more information.
Prior to the current COVID-19 restrictions, British nationals did not need a visa to enter Georgia for visits of up to one year. If you wished to stay for longer, you would need to apply for a longer term visa category. Contact the Embassy of Georgia in London or visit the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for more details on entry requirements.
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.
Make sure you have a valid travel insurance policy as you may be asked to provide evidence of this by your airline at check-in or by the immigration authorities upon arrival in Georgia. You may face difficulties if you cannot provide evidence of valid travel insurance.
Georgia has a very strict anti-drugs policy, which can also cover prescription and non-prescription drugs or medicines, otherwise commonly available in the UK and the European Union. For example, non-prescription medicines containing codeine are illegal in Georgia. This can cause serious problems for travellers and in some cases lead to administrative and criminal proceedings. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, please contact your nearest Embassy of Georgia.
If you intend to travel with prescription medicine, you must carry a doctor’s prescription and ideally the original packaging. See Health
UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Georgia.
The political situation in Georgia is generally calm, but political tensions are currently high, increasing the likelihood of demonstrations and opposition rallies, particularly outside Parliament on Rustaveli Avenue and Freedom Square in Tbilisi, as well as in other large towns. These can escalate without warning. You should check local media, stay away from any large gatherings and demonstrations and follow the advice of local authorities.
Crime levels are low. However, you should exercise particular caution in areas frequented by tourists. There have been incidents of pick pocketing and burglary involving foreign nationals.
Take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security, remain aware of your surroundings and keep your mobile phone charged and with you at all times.
There have been reports of sexual assaults by taxi drivers after dark.
Although Georgian legislation protects all people’s human rights and equality, ethnic minorities and LGBT+ individuals may face discrimination. There have been reports of racially and sexuality motivated harassment and assaults. Georgian authorities are working to tackle discrimination and the Georgian parliament has passed anti-discrimination laws.
If you’re the victim of an attempted assault or feel threatened, contact the local police emergency number by dialling 112.
The Administrative Boundary Lines with Abkhazia and South Ossetia are generally unmarked away from roads. Take care not to cross the lines inadvertently as you risk arrest. You may wish to hire a professional guide if you plan to hike close to the Administrative Boundary Lines.
It is illegal under Georgian law to enter Georgia from Russia via South Ossetia or Abkhazia. If you enter Georgia in this way you may face criminal prosecution, which carries the penalty of potentially heavy fines and/or a prison sentence of up to 4 years. If your passport has entry/exit stamps from the separatist authorities the Georgian authorities may consider this as illegal entry via an unrecognised border crossing.
If you’re considering travelling to Russia via the land borders with the Russian Federation, consult FCDO travel advice for Russia. The FCDO currently advise against all travel to: Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan and the districts of Budyonnovsky, Levokumsky, Neftekumsky, Stepnovsky and Kursky in Stavropol Krai. The FCDO also advise against all but essential travel to North Ossetia, Karachai-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria (including the Elbrus area).
There is some risk from unexploded ordnance in areas along the Administrative Boundary Lines with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and near the border with Azerbaijan (Red Bridge area in particular). Areas where unexploded ordnance might be present are not always marked.
If you visit the Udabno caves at the Davit Gareja monastery site, take care not to cross the Georgia-Azerbaijan border, which is unmarked in this area and disputed.
Take extra precautions after dark in unfamiliar areas as you would at home.
Taxi provision and safety has improved significantly but you should avoid flagging down unmarked taxis in the street, and check that the vehicle has working seatbelts. Unmarked taxis are not metered. Taxi apps, which offer a metered service, are available in the cities. Covid restrictions mean you must sit in the rear seat (maximum of two passengers) and wear a face mask.
Street lighting away from main roads can be poor and pavements uneven. There may be occasional short power cuts and you may wish to be prepared by carrying a torch.
Take appropriate precautions when skiing and ensure you have valid insurance for skiing/winter sports in Georgia. Ski resorts will re-open on 8 March.
If you get into trouble while hiking, skiing, or participating in adventure and/or extreme sports, the level of emergency response may be limited.
It can be difficult to get accurate information on mountain conditions, including avalanche risks when off-piste skiing. If you are considering trekking, mountaineering, climbing off-piste skiing or other extreme sports you might consider contacting companies who can provide specialist guides.
As Georgia’s winter and adventure sports industry develops, the Georgian authorities are working hard to ensure proper safety standards are maintained. However, be aware that, in some instances, safety standards may not be adequately observed. For example, several people were injured when a ski lift at Gudauri malfunctioned in March 2018 and a tourist helicopter crashed near Stepantsminda (Kazbegi) in spring 2019.
You can drive in Georgia with a valid UK driving licence for up to one year from your last entry into the country. Beyond this, you will either need an International Driving Permit (IDP), or apply for a Georgian licence. This is a straightforward process through an application to the Service Agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Holders of a valid UK driving licence do not need to sit a driving exam as part of the application.
If you’re planning to hire a car in Georgia, make sure to check the requirements of the car hire company before you travel. They may require you to have an IDP.
In the UK, International Driving Permits (IDP) are an over the counter service from Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel Both 1949 and 1968 versions of the permit are acceptable in Georgia.
Driving is on the right. The speed limit is 60 km/h in towns and cities. In other areas it’s 80 km/h unless indicated.
There’s a zero tolerance policy towards drink driving.
Take care when driving especially at night. Many roads outside central Tbilisi, and other city centres, are badly lit and of poor quality. Stray livestock pose a hazard in many areas. Road markings and the right of way can be confusing. Many cars are poorly maintained and the standard of driving is erratic.
It’s compulsory to wear seat belts in the front seats in Georgia. Children under 12 years of age must sit in the back of the car. Children under 7 years of age must sit in child safety seats.
Heavy rain, flooding and snow at higher altitudes can affect roads and bridges making travel difficult or impossible (particularly in remote areas). Landslides are also common. If you’re travelling outside of Tbilisi, particularly in remote areas, make sure your vehicle is suitably equipped and check locally on current conditions.
See the RAC guide on driving in Georgia.
Exercise normal caution with your personal safety and belongings when travelling by train. Locks for compartments are usually available on sleeper trains.
There are international airports in Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi.
A list of incidents and accidents in Georgia can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
The FCDO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.