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 Related to Taxes and Duties
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.
On arrival at Thailand Immigration and Customs
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.
Declarations and Allowances
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.
Agricultural 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:
- Pornographic materials
- Counterfeit trademark goods and IPR infringing goods
- Fake notes or coins
- Reserved animals or CITES-listed wildlife