Thai Foreign Trade Department Bans Importation of Used Motor Vehicles for Personal Use

In a recent article in “The Nation”, the Director-General of the Thai Foreign Trade Department made a public announcement that a ban on the importation of second hand cars for personal use will come into effect on December 10, 2019. The directive for this ban was first announced back in July 2019, and is intended to prevent or minimize any adverse effects on both air quality and public safety on our roads.

Used motor vehicles tend to be less technologically advanced than their more modern day counter-parts, and have a tendency to emit higher levels of toxic gases into the atmosphere. Also, the future road worthiness of the vehicles comes into question as access to spare parts, and skilled mechanics who are familiar with these types of vehicles is problematic.

Thailand is well known for having high import tariffs for vehicles both as a source of lucrative tax revenues, and as a source of protectionism to safeguard its local motor vehicle industry and perhaps more importantly the jobs of the Thai workers employed within this industry.

The purpose of the ban is to prevent importers from importing entirely assembled new vehicles into Thailand, and disguising them as “used” personal vehicles to reduce the amount of import duties and tariffs which would otherwise be owed to the Thai Government.

After December 10, 2019, all “used” vehicles imported for personal use will be confiscated and destroyed immediately, and the owners will be fined a sum equal to 5 times the imported value. And as such, the Government will no longer hold public auctions for any confiscated motor vehicles like they did in the past.

The Director-General, then went onto add that after his public announcement, that it normally takes his department up to 25 Days to process and approve any importation applications, and advised anyone who wanted to import a “used” motor vehicle into Thailand for personal use before the December 10, 2019 cutoff date, that they’d best be advised not to do so, as the ban would take effect long before any application could be approved.

The spokesperson then went on to reiterate that the ban does not affect the importation of motor vehicles for diplomatic, and or research and testing purposes. Other exclusions to this ban apply, such as motor vehicles imported for display in a museum and/or for military purposes fall under the jurisdiction of other related Government agencies and are excluded from this importation ban.