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How to Get an Import/Export License in Thailand

Manufacturing and trading businesses in Thailand are often involved in importing and exporting raw materials and products. Individuals or organizations involved in such activities are obliged to register with the Thai customs office and submit an application to get an import/export customs license. Such an import/export license enables organizations to register with the customs database in Thailand and execute business transactions for the purpose of importing and exporting goods. 

Steps for Applying for an Import/Export License

Step 1: Register for the use of the e-Customs System

The online e-Customer system is used to import and export goods into the Kingdom of Thailand. Organizations are required to obtain and use a digital certificate, which serves as a signature, to verify the identity of the business or person using the system. In Thailand, most online operations utilize digital certificates, and the import and export industry is no different.

An organization can register directly for the e-Customs system or make use of an agent or assistant. If the company registers directly, it must complete the following:

  • The e-Customs software must be installed on the organization's IT system
  • The organization must register with the Thai customs office
  • The organization must test and confirm the adequacy of message exchanges with the system

Once these requirements have been met, the company will receive an e-Customs registration ID from the Communication and IT Bureau.

Step 2: Review the Controlled Products

Only a select group of products require a permit for importation or exportation in Thailand, so organizations will have to verify whether a permit is required with the customs department. Approximately 50 categories describe goods that require a permit to be exported in Thailand. 

Import Red Line Goods

Organizations must confirm if the goods they wish to import are deemed "red line" goods. According to Thai regulations, red line goods require further certification and verification or are considered high risk. Companies can only verify whether their goods are classified as red line upon application, as there isn't a concise list of red line goods as of yet. Goods are commonly classified as red line if they involve food, plants, and drinks. 

Organizations must present several supporting documents if they wish to import red line goods:

  • Air Waybill or Bill of Landing
  • Packing list
  • Invoice
  • Origin certificated
  • Import License
  • Any other required documents, including the ingredients list and technical specifications

Export Red Line Goods

Additional documentation is required if organizations wish to export goods classified as red line. These documents must be submitted before the shipment leaves Thailand. The following documents must be submitted:

  • Export License
  • Invoice
  • Any other required documents, including information about the destination

Step 3: Submit and Verify the Declaration

Along with the Import or Export Declaration, organizations are required to submit the following documents:

  • An updated copy of the organization's affidavit
  • The first and second pages of the K1 application
  • Two copies of the company's value-added tax certificate
  • A copy of the bank statement and bank account (only the first page)
  • A copy of the seal registration
  • The third page of the K1 application (Power of attorney)
  • A copy of the passport

Customs will check all these documents for completion. The submission will determine whether the goods are green or red line and calculate any customs tariffs, duty fees, and the goods' valuation. 

Step 4: Pay Taxes and Duties

All import and export duties and taxes have to be paid via electronic transfer through the EDI, Kung Thai Bank, and the Bank of Thailand's BAHTNET. The payment can also be made in person at the customs department. Goods that are exported or imported to Thailand are generally subjected to duties, but several items are exempt. Therefore, organizations must confirm whether duties apply to imported or exported goods with the customs department. 

Step 5: Inspection and Release of Shipment 

The entity importing or exporting the goods must submit the payment receipt and verified Declaration to the warehouse, as required by customs. The shipment will then be inspected before it can be released. A regular screening applies to green line goods, whereas customs officials will inspect the supporting documents and the shipment of red line goods. Only if the shipment and the Declaration correspond can the shipment be confirmed and released. 

After the Submission of the Application

The application process is generally reviewed and either approved or denied relatively quickly. Organizations can expect to hear back from the customs department within one day of submitting the application. 

If approved, the organization will obtain a company license number enabling them to execute imports and exports. This license remains valid for three years before expiring.