Ban on used car imports from Dec 10
Thailand is set to ban the import of personal used cars, effective from Dec 10, in a bid to stop smuggling and curb pollution.
Each importer must proceed with import plans under existing rules until Dec 9. For any import violations after Dec 10, the Customs Department will have the right to seize and destroy illicit vehicles.
Adul Chotinisakorn, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said the Commerce Ministry made an official announcement after the cabinet approved the measure on May 7 and ministerial regulations were published in the Royal Gazette on June 13.
"The new rules are meant to control emissions from vehicles and for road safety," Mr Adul said.
Existing regulations have loopholes for smuggling cases; for example, importers declare finished car imports as vehicle parts to pay less customs duties.
At present, cars are subjected to an 80% import tax while parts and components enjoy 30% duties.
In addition, only new cars are legally imported for commercial purposes, while used cars for sale are prohibited.
The Customs Department reported that personal used car imports in 2018 totalled at 100 units. In actuality, there were roughly 1,000 cases of smuggled cars imported for the period and 95% of those were luxurious cars and supercars.
According to the department, smugglers declared the cars as semi knocked-down units, instead of finished cars or completely built-up ones to avoid the high tax payment.
Some cases are related to money laundering and narcotics and polices and officials had coordinated with the Foreign Trade Department to ask for import details to be submitted.
Mr Adul said the department improved the regulations to facilitate trade and cut red tape in line with the government policy and has been working with 15 related agencies towards this since 2015.
The new rules exempt imports for special purposes such as government and diplomatic use, R&D, public charity, reassembly and re-export and exhibitions.
Used tractors, trailers, ambulances and fire trucks are allowed to be imported, but all exemption cases have to request permission form the relevant ministries, such as Commerce, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Industry and Defence.
The import violations will have penalties under the Export And Import Of Goods Act of 1979.