How to Pick the Best Shipping Company, Ship Your Valuables Safely and Securely and Avoid Customs Tax ?
After getting a visa to stay in Thailand long-term, the next step you are very likely to do is to decide what to ship in Thailand.
Moving is a big matter. And it’s even bigger when it’s about an international move. There are so many things you want to ship to Thailand. You are afraid that you can’t find it in Thailand or buying a new one might be too expensive.
But the main question will be is it really worth doing that? Shipping more items means you need to pay the cost of shipping more. And you will be likely to pay more custom tax as well.
Not just only deciding what to bring, you want to make sure to choose the best possible shipping company that can ship your belongings to Thailand smoothly, without any problem from custom clearance, delay, or your stuffs being damaged.
Because of many possible problems happened from shipping, we decide to write this The Insider’s Guide to Shipping to Thailand: How to Pick the Best Shipping Company, Ship Your Valuables Safely and Securely, and Avoid Customs Tax to help you have the smoothest shipping experience ever.
The ebook is going to help you decide what to bring to Thailand, how to avoid custom tax, which company you should choose, and all other shipping related procedures.
It’s going to make the shipping easy. Not just only this time shipping your item to Thailand, but also other countries for your future move as well.
Deciding what to bring to Thailand and what’s not is a big headache. You don’t want to ship too less items since buying everything new cost a lot of money.
And you also don’t want to ship too much since it will increase the shipping fee and custom tax.
Here’s some rules to help you decide easier whether or not you should ship it to Thailand.
Rule #1: Necessity
Before brining anything, ask yourself. Do I really need this item in Thailand? Are you going to use it? If it’s necessary for you or your family, bring it.
Rule #2: Price
Set the minimum price threshold for the item. A good number is $100 USD. If anything that’s more expensive than $100 USD, bring it here. If not, just sell or donate it.
Rule #3: Memory
Is this item important to your memory or not? If yes, bring it.
But before shipping any items to Thailand it’s better to come to Thailand for a month first with the maximum package you can carry on the flight.
After staying here for a while, you might find out that you really do not need to ship anything much to Thailand at all. And you won’t even need to use a shipping company at all.
Instead, you can bring everything you need from your home and bring it with you every time you fly back.
In case you really do need to use a shipping company, let’s take a look at each item category and see which products you should or should not bring to Thailand.
1. Cloth and Personal Wear
Although cloth, accessories, and footwears can be easily purchased in Thailand, you can bring it as many as you want. It’s considered as your personal goods and most of the time won’t be subject to taxed, especially if you ship them by sea.
The exception can be a collections of luxurious items such as watches and bags. Thailand is becoming more strict in bringing these items. If you bring many of them by air, there’s a high chance of paying a big amount of import tax.
You might also want to purchase extra pairs of shoes. It’s pretty difficult to find shoe size that’s larger than 12 US size (46 in EU size and 11.5 in UK size)
Decoration is totally optional. While you can buy a new decoration in Thailand, some of them can’t be found here.
Note that the decoration has a high chance of being subject to tax, especially for paintings and pictures.
So, let’s go back to the rule. If it’s important for your memory, bring it with you. If not, sell it.
3. Electronic Appliances
Although their price tend to be higher than $100 USD, it’s better to sell any electronic appliances including vacuum cleaner, air conditioner, fridge, oven, washing machine, and even a television, and buy a new one in Thailand.
After moving to a new country, these item will be out of warranty. Once it’s get broken, which is possible during shipping, you might want to spend this money buying a new one instead of fixing it.
In addition, the standard voltage in Thailand is 220 V at 50 Hz frequency which is totally different in many countries especially for those who come from the US.
To prevent it blowing up, you need to buy an additional power adapter in order to use it here, which costs at least $30 USD. And a power adapter for a vacuum cleaner might even cost you $100 USD in which you can use that money to buy a new good once here in Thailand.
4. Electronic Gadgets
For your smartwatch, camera, computer, and so on, bring them all with you while flying to Thailand. Unlike electronic applicants, these gadgets always come with their own power adapter allowing you to use it anywhere in the world.
If the plug is different, you can buy a plug adapter here in Thailand. And it’s very cheap.
You can ship spoon, cutlery, or any crockery you have to Thailand. It’s considered as household staff and most of the time you won’t be taxed for it.
However, be sure to pack it well, especially crockery. Wrap it with newspaper or bubble. You may even want to pack them with towel and let them absorb any possible shocks during shipment.
Most of the rental accommodations in Thailand, be it an apartment, a condo, or a house, already have furniture inside.
In addition, these item can be purchased in Thailand with a good quality at good price. So, you won’t really need to bring it here at all unless you have some special reasons like it’s expensive or valuable for your memory.
Furniture is also considered household items by Thai Customs. This means you can bring one of each piece of furniture to Thailand (one chair, one table, one wardrobe, and so on) without having to pay import tax.
If you come with your family, it’s going to be two pieces each. Please read the Avoiding Custom Tax section for more information.
7. Car and Motorcycle
Unless it’s a memento of your memory, it’s better to sell your it and buy a new one in Thailand.
Bringing a car or motorcycle here permanently is very complicated. There are many bureaucratic procedure involved, in addition to registering a car. And you also need to pay a hefty amount of import tax at 200% to 300% of your vehicle price at average.
In addition, the cost of bringing a car normally starts at 50,000 baht if you ship by by sea or 300,000 baht if you ship by air.
And if you’re from a country with a steering wheel on the left side of the car, it’s very risky to drive it here in Thailand where the steering wheel is on the right side.
If you really want to bring your car to Thailand, here’s what you need to do:
- Get an import license and import permit from the Department of Foreign Trade from the Ministry of Commerce*
- Find a shipping company for shipping and customs clearance
- Get a car registration book and registration plate at the Department of Land
*Both import license and permit must be obtained before your vehicle gets to Thailand.
Note: To import a used car, you must hold at least a one-year non-immigration visa and need to own the car for more than 18 months.
You can only ship one car into Thailand. Also, after a successful import, you need to wait three years before sell your car.
To obtain an import license and permit, you need to go to the Department of Foreign Trade. It’s located on the tenth floor of the Ministry of Commerce at 563 Nonthaburi Rd., Amphur Muang, Nonthaburi 11000.
Here’s the required documents:
- a copy of your passport
- a driving license from your home country
- car registration and title*
- pictures of the front, back, left, right, inside, and engine of car
*The car registration and title must be certified by Thai embassy.
The approval process takes one to two months. Also, it’s recommended to contact the Thai Embassy directly at +662-5474771-86 to find out more information. The import regulations and requirements are subject to change without prior notice.
You also need to get a shipping insurance for your vehicle, which costs around 1% to 2% of the total value.
Once your vehicle is in Thailand, you need to get a car registration book and registration plate at the Department of Land Transport. The entire process is straightforward and can be done within two hours.
Here’s what you need:
- a car registration form (can be obtained at the Department of Land Transport)
- a certificate of import from Thai Custom (Form 32)
- an import entry, import list, and VAT receipt
- a motor insurance receipt
- a copy of your passport including the visa stamp page
- a certificate of resident or a work permit
Once you get to the Department of Land Transport, go to the information counter, and present all your documents to the officer.
Then, you’ll need to have your car inspected there and pay annual taxes and fees, which should costs less than 5,000 baht in total depending on your car’s age and engine size. Then you’ll get the car registration book and license plates.
For other item like a bicycle, car seat for your kids, musical instruments, hobby equipments, and so on, you can go back to the three rules as mentioned above, necessity, price, and memory, and decide again whether or not you want to ship it to Thailand.
If you can declare that these items are for personal staff, there’s a chance that it won’t be taxed.
It may sound like a stupid advice. But don’t worry too much about custom tax and try to calculate everything yourself. There are different calculations formula and requirements for different items. It’s hard to come up with the exact tax you need to pay.
Even you ship the exact same item with exact same price to Thailand, you might even need to pay the different amount of tax, depending on which custom officer you meet.
Shipping by item via air has the highest chance of paying custom tax even if it’s your used personal item.
Here’s a few rules you can follow to decrease or avoid custom tax,
- Make it like your personal used item the most. Even you buy a brand new shoes, take it out of the box.
- If you can’t make your new purchased item look like a used product, bring a receipt with you. This too make sure the custom officer won’t overcharge the price.
- If you buy any item from overseas and have it shipped to Thailand, ask the merchant to take it out of the box and mark it as a gift and give a receipt with the lower price.
Note that we can’t guarantee the result since it’s purely based on custom officer’s decision, even the major shipping providers like DHL, Fed-Ex, and UPS can’t estimate the amount of tax.
There will be less tax problem if you bring the item with you while coming to Thailand. But you still need to use the same rules as mentioned above.
Shipping by sea has the least tax problem. The freight forwarders can calculate tax for you ahead of time.
And you can pay tax to the freight forwarder company directly. They will do the custom clearance for you, and you won’t need to worry anything about it anymore.
Therefore, if you are afraid of bringing any item that’s has a high potential of paying a big amount of taxed, it’s better to talk to the shipping company first and let them calculate the custom tax. Then, you can decide again whether or not you want to bring it with you.
In addition, for household stuffs and personal wears, most of the time you don’t need to pay tax for these item categories at all when shipping via sea.
1. Avoiding Custom Tax
You are able to ship used household and personal stuffs into Thailand without having to pay custom tax if you are married to a Thai. But he or she must’ve lived outside of Thailand for at least a year.
If you don’t marry Thai, you must hold a non-immigrant visa allowing you to stay in Thailand for at least 1 year such as
- Non-immigrant B visa for working or doing a business
- Non-immigrant ED visa for studying in a school or university
- Non-immigrant O visa for retirement, marriage, guardian, or accompanying spouse.
The visa must already be granted or have a supporting document issued by a government organisation such as
- a work permit Or
- a certificate letter from the immigration department stating that you will be allowed to stay in Thailand temporary for at least a year.
It must be a common household equipment such as electronic devices, furnitures, and books.
These household stuffs must be used before and cannot be used for commercial reasons. You must be the owner of these household stuffs.
There is an additional rule for importing these stuffs including furniture and electronic devices such as televisions, ACs, and microwaves: one item each is allowed to be imported under the duty free allowance. If you bring more than that, it’s going be to subject to taxed with a normal tax rate.
But if you move to Thailand with your family, it’s going to be two items each.
You need to file an additional application for taxes and duty free allowance for these household items. The form will be prepared by your shipping company.
When choosing a shipping company, it’s important to choose the one that are expertise in shipping between Thailand and your home country.
These companies know exact details on custom tax between two countries and can normally ship your stuff into your new home smoothly without any problem.
They may even have an insider contact with custom officers to further decreasing the possible issue you may have with custom tax.
This mean the shipping company must have at least have their office in either Thailand on your home country, or even better, at both counties.
In addition to the company profile, there are a few things you should keep in mind before using any shipping company.
Don’t focus too much on the price. The cheapest isn’t always the best. Instead, go with an experienced shipper that you feel happy talking to them the most.
When comparing quotes from different providers, look into the details of the service. Some cheaper offers might not include the door-to-door or packaging service
Always ask for the custom clearance service. Shipping companies should estimate custom tax and let you pay them directly. They will clear with Thai customs for you without having you to pay anything to the custom yourself.
It’s normal in this industry to pay 100% in advance.
Tell exactly what you need for the shipment in detailed and don’t hesitate to ask questions
Good shipping companies should answer your questions clearly, accurately, and quickly within a day or two.
Some shipping company might be able to send you pictures during shipment eg. loading your belongings to the port
Read user reviews, preferable between your home country and Thailand.
Siam relocation is a shipping company that has positive feedback for shipping between Thailand and other countries. You can ask for a free quote on our website.
3. Shipping Prices
It’s difficult to estimate the shipping prices due to many factors involved including:
Distant: The price of shipping from UK to Thailand is different from Australia.
Size and weight: Is it heavy? How much size does it take?
Service: Do you want the shipping company to pack everything for you? Do you want to pick-up the item yourself?
Item: Is it fragile that need special care? Or is it an antique or an expensive art that’s very expensive?
Overall, to move your household stuff in a 20 foot container, you can expect to pay at around $4,000 to $6,000 for shipping to Thailand from UK, USA, or Australia.
4. Shipping Packages
When choosing any shipping company, you are likely to have 3 options in shipping.
The cheapest option may only come with shipping between countries. You need to pack everything up yourself, send it to the departing port, and picking it up yourself at the arriving port. And it might not include the cost of custom clearance.
The second option would be to let the shipping company to pick up and delivery item from your house to a new house in a new country. They will also do the custom clearance for you. This is the most popular option so far.
The most expensive option is similar to the second option but with an additional service on packaging. You literally do not need to do anything much with this option. The shipping company will come to your house, pack everything up, send it to your new house, and unpack everything for you.
If you choose to do the packaging yourself, there are a few things you should always follow. This is to make sure your belongings will be protected from any incoming damage as much as possible, easy for unpacking and tracking.
1. Prepare Boxes
You can ship your goods in cardboard boxes or plastic boxes with snap on lids. If you decide to pack everything, make sure to take measurements so you can get the right estimate for your shipping needs. If you let the shipping company pack for you, they’ll handle the measurements for you.
2. Use Bubble Wrap or Cloth
You need to make sure the content inside your box will not move. And it can be done by wrapping each of them tightly with bubble wrap.
Cloth is also a good choice. You can use your shirt, pants, or towels to wrap around any clean items inside the box. For furniture, you can use a blanket.
You can also use newspaper for wrapping. But it can leave ink stain to your items.
Use quality packaging tapes to wrap around boxes in H-taping method. Don’t use duct tape since it’s easy to be tear off.
4. Pack Room by Room
Instead of packing items by category, do it by room. You can start with a living room, pack everything you don’t use regularly inside boxes. Once you are done, move to kitchen, bedrooms, and so on.
And in each box, you can write down your own code to let you know which box belong to which room. For example, you can use L for a living room, B for bedroom, D for dining room, and so on.
When you are in a new house, just move them to each rooms and unpack there.
5. Label Clearly
In each box, you should write down any items you put there, save the file on your computer, and then when you get to Thailand you can double-check that everything is there.
You can also send a less-detailed list to the shipping company so they know what to put on custom forms. You don’t have to be detailed down to the T. Just a few general descriptions will do.
6. Start Packaging Early
Moving to Thailand is a big deal. It might take you a whole month to pack everything up. So, at the very least, give yourself some breathing room and start packing two to four months before the moving date.
7. Shipping Duration
It normally takes six to eight weeks to ship from your home country to Thailand, including custom clearance, from an original country to Thailand.
Buying a shipping insurance is totally optional. Normally, the shipping company will have a contact with different insurance providers and can get it for you if needed. Some shipping company might also provide this service themselves.
The average cost of the insurance is around 3% of the total value of your belongings, and it will cover 90% of that.
For example, if the total value of your belongings is 200,000 baht. The insurance will cost you 6,000 baht with 180,000 baht coverage.
If you decide to buy the insurance, it’s important to do a well packaging with bubble wrap, packing paper, and tape. Otherwise, when a damage is occured, the insurance company might claim that the cause of the damage is from a bad packaging.
The damage from the shipment usually occurs during loading and unloading your belongings. If the shipping company has a good reputation during this process, you might not need to buy the insurance.
However, note that an accident still does happen during shipping from many uncontrollable factors such as storm.