How to Import from China to Thailand: Duties, Permits, and Customs Clearance

Basic knowledge import offers beginners a brief overview of the import law of the Southeast Asian country. In addition to information on the customs clearance procedure, the brief description contains information on customs duties and additional import charges, import licenses / permits, labeling and marking regulations as well as certification / norms and standards.

Import duties and other import duties

Thailand is a member of the WTO. Free trade agreements exist with the countries of the Southeast Asian community of states ASEAN as the Southeast Asian Free Trade Area (AFTA) and within the framework of the ASEAN + 1 agreements with China, Korea (Rep.), Japan, India and Australia / New Zealand.

The Thailand customs tariff is based on the common customs tariff nomenclature of the ASEAN countries (ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature – AHTN), which in turn follows the international customs tariff nomenclature (HS 2012). In principle, the Thai customs administration accepts the purchase price on the basis of CIF as the customs value. The average tariff for industrial goods is 9%. Excise tax is levied on, among other things, alcoholic beverages, tobacco and mineral oil products, perfumes and scented waters, lead crystal goods, air conditioning, as well as passenger cars and motorcycles. As a sideline import tax, the Thai value added tax with a uniform tax rate of 7% also applies. The tax base for imports is the customs value plus all import duties (except for VAT itself).

Customs clearance

The customs declarant in Thailand must be registered with the Thai customs administration with a customs card. Thai customs law provides for representation by customs agents approved by the customs administration.

Since 2013, particularly reliable and trustworthy companies have been able to apply for the status of Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) in Thailand and thus take advantage of special benefits such as accelerated customs clearance and quick duty reimbursement as well as advantages in the provision of securities. As part of the Thai “National Single Window”, all information required for customs and other authorities involved can be submitted electronically via a single access portal.

Import licenses / permits

A permit from the Department of Foreign Trade (DFT) in the Thai Ministry of Economic Affairs is required for the import of marble and processed stone, unfinished clothing and its parts, chainsaws and used cars and motorcycles. Importers of pneumatic rubber tires for motor vehicles must be registered with the DFT accordingly. A license from the Thai Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) must be obtained for the import of food, medical devices, pharmaceutical products and cosmetics. The import of telecommunications devices and equipment such as cell phones and set-top boxes requires approval from the Thai National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). The import of certain used electrotechnical and electronic devices and equipment as well as highly toxic chemicals and radioactive substances is subject to authorization. Responsible is the Thai Ministry of Industry, Department of Industrial Works, Hazardous Substances Control Bureau.

Shipping documents

The following shipping documents are required for a proper customs declaration in Thailand: Commercial invoice, five copies, in English, freight documents (bills of lading or air waybills), packing list and, depending on the goods, other evidence such as phytosanitary certificate or analysis certificate. For goods originating in countries with which Thailand has concluded free trade agreements, a formal proof of origin must be kept in order to claim a preference.

Labeling and identification regulations, packaging

Labeling in Thai is mandatory for all foods. For specially controlled foods such as milk products, the wording of the labeling must be approved by the Food Inspection Authority (TFDA). For reasons of consumer protection, labeling regulations must be observed for certain consumer goods, e.g. for electrical mosquito control devices and lead-containing paints and varnishes.

Import bans

There are import bans for narcotics, CFC refrigerators, used tires for cars and motorcycles as well as certain games of chance.

Certification / norms and standards

Binding standards exist for certain building materials (products made of flat glass, steel products), consumer goods (washing powder, toys, gas lighters, etc.), electrotechnical goods (washing machines, dryers, irons, fans, plastic-insulated wires), paints and varnishes and motor vehicles. A conformity assessment by the Thai standards authority TISI is required for these goods. Technical documents and samples are to be presented to TISI for the assessment process. The Thai customs administration must be presented with the certificate of conformity issued by TISI at the time of importing the goods.

Customs Administration Thailand:

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