Thailand requires traders to submit a Customs entry form for exports out of the country as well as imports into the country. You will also need to provide some other documents that include some or all of the following:
- Packing list
- Letter of credit
- Airway Bill (or Bill of Landing)
- Free Trade Agreement Form
The above list is non-exhaustive. Customs can also ask to see material safety data sheets or ingredients lists.
The above list also does not include the documents that other competent authorities like Thai FDA may require the importer to produce.
Some products or goods are treated differently and will require a license or special permission to be allowed to import into or exported out of Thailand. Such licenses are required to be obtained from the relevant agencies in Thailand. Products that may require a license in Thailand include:
- Processed/unprocessed food products
- Healthcare and medical devices/products
- Agri products
- Medical devices
The above list is not exhaustive and some products may require approval from more than one agency.
It is highly recommended that you use a professional freight forwarding company’s services to make an assessment if a licence is required prior to import or export. Their experience as well as local regulatory knowledge can save you a lot of money that may arise from penalties and fines from not having the right licence.
How to import into Thailand?
Here are the steps that you need to follow in order to conform to the legal requirements demanded by the Thailand authorities.
1st Step: Using e-Customs System
In Thailand, the import procedures are managed through an online customs system called the e-Customs system. This is a part of the National Single Window in Thailand. Using this system, the importer can send relevant documents and information to the authorities. To ensure the safety of the documents as well as the genuineness of the sender, a digital signature has to be provided by the importer. Hence, before registering to use this online system, the importer needs to acquire a digital signature.
In Thailand, the import procedures are managed through an online customs system called the e-Customs system.
As soon as the digital signature for the individual or company is available, the e-Customs System registration process can commence. You can either manage the process yourself or hire a third party to carry out the procedure on your behalf. In case you are registering for the service yourself, here are the steps you will need to follow:
- Install the e-Customs software on the company’s or individual’s IT system and verify the digital signatures
- Register with the Thai customs authorities, which chis can be done at the following offices: Registration and Customs Privileges Sub-Division, General Administration Division at each Customs office, Customs Procedures and Valuation Standard Bureau
- Test the readiness as well as accuracy of the message exchange system on the e-Customs software.
- After the completion of the necessary tests, receive your Customs Registration ID from the Communication and IT Bureau.
2nd Step: Review Controlled Goods
Before you import a product into the country, it needs to be determined whether the product requires an import license or not. This is a very important consideration as not doing this in a timely manner will not only result in penalties but will also get you into trouble with the local regulatory and enforcement agencies.
Continuing on the first requirement of import licences or permits, there are around twenty-six different categories of products that need an import license. You should always consult the updated complete list on the Thai customs website when checking for licence requirements, as additions could be made anytime. However, just to give you an idea – some of the products that require a license include raw materials, textiles, petroleum and pharmaceutical products among many others.
You should always consult the updated complete list on the Thai customs website when checking for licence requirements.
Even if the product you intend to import does not require a permit, it is worth the effort of checking if there are any additional requirements for that specific product. For instance, some products require extra fees whereas others demand a certificate of origin to be allowed for import. Some products may also require a self declaration or quota application prior to import.
As part of the government’s push for agencies to use the National Single window, many agencies have over the past few years introduced electronic document submission options. The government continues to work on expanding this to all agencies and departments.
3rd Step: Submission and Verification of Declaration
The importer submits the import declaration or entry in this step after making sure that all the documents he/she may need to present to the officials are ready and available. After the import declaration is submitted through the e-Customs System, the system then checks the submission for authenticity and determines whether the shipment will pass through the red lane or the green lane.
Some shipments are selected for red lane clearance. This could be based on the risk profile of the product or it could be random.
Some shipments are selected for red lane clearance. These could include products that are high risk or require additional documentation, checks, validation etc., from the authorities before they can be imported. For any shipment that must go through the red lane, the following documentation needs to be provided:
- Airway Bill or Bill of Landing
- Package list
- Import permit or Import license, if applicable
- Origin certificate
- Miscellaneous documents
4th Step: Duties and Taxes Payment
Depending on the HS Classification of the product, whether or not Free Trade Agreements are used and/or whether the importation is to a bonded area, import duties may need to be paid by the importer. Duties can be paid through the e-Customs System. You can also make the payment at the entry port where your shipment arrives. Thailand uses CIF Incoterm as basis for the calculation of duties and taxes. The trade must also pay VAT.
5th Step: Cargo Inspection and Release
The last step in the process is pretty simple and consists of an inspection before the products or goods are released. As far as green lane shipments are concerned, they are released after the necessary documentation and administrative/documentary screening is completed with no concerns found. In case of red lane shipments, the importer needs to present the documents that Custom officials require. In addition to that, these goods will most likely go through a physical examination by Customs officials. Some products may also require an inspection by competent authorities based in the port prior to attempting Customs clearance.