Bangkok is a shoppers' paradise. From its enormous, world class shopping malls to the evening street vendors peddling T-shirts, handicrafts, jewellery and more, you can buy almost anything here. This includes goods of questionable authenticity. On stopping at a stall to look at a Rolex watch recently, I was quoted a special price of only a few thousand baht. Given that a genuine Rolex normally fetches thousands of dollars, this was either an amazing deal, a vendor with a numeracy problem, or a counterfeit watch. I assumed the latter, and this led me to question whether it is even legal for me to buy this watch and take it back to my home country with me. So today, we will examine the international transport of counterfeit goods from Thailand.
ILLUSTRATION: ISTOCKPHOTO/THINKSTOCK; ART: NATTAYA SRISAWANG
You can generally assume that any good not sold by an official licensed dealer of that brand's merchandise or any product that does not come with a certificate of authenticity, is counterfeit. According to the Customs Act BE2469 (1926), together with the Export and Import of Goods Act BE2522 (1979), the export of counterfeit goods from Thailand is expressly prohibited. This means that, even though you can buy all the faux designer products you want and show them off to your friends within Thailand, legally speaking, you are not allowed to take any of that counterfeit merchandise back home with you. However, under Commerce Ministry regulations there is an exception. Counterfeit goods for personal use, home appliances, or souvenirs that are owned by travelling persons in an appropriate amount are allowed to be taken out of Thailand. The appropriate quantity of these items is left to the judgement of the customs officials checking your luggage, but it is safe to say that you will not be stopped for wearing your new watch onto the plane.
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