Customs readies digital platform to aid importers

Customs readies digital platform to aid importers

The Customs Department is set to launch a digital platform to facilitate importers who are individual entrepreneurs to address import-related obstacles.

Phantong Loykutnanta, deputy director-general of the department, said with thriving cross-border purchases via e-commerce, 38 million parcels a year are imported by international delivery companies through express mail services at Suvarnabhumi airport.

Another 5 million parcels are imported by individuals who have placed purchase orders and asked to send them home.

Imported parcels by individuals are sent and gathered at Bangkok EMS Center at Lak Si, Bangkok.

According to Mr Phantong, those who are not familiar with customs procedures on imports often find it difficult to follow the rules.

"The new digital platform helps people who are importing goods for personal use understand these procedures," he said.

Mr Phantong said the platform will be open for individuals to register to choose the import service providers, which should help reduce difficulties in customs procedures.

If imported parcels carry a tax burden, customs officials will take charge of evaluating tax before sending the parcels to the recipients' destination.

Importers need to contact the destination post office and pay tax before being allowed to pick up their parcel.

The new digital platform is expected to be introduced in May, said Mr Phantong.

According to department data, the number of imported parcel posts by individuals increased every year except 2020, when the figure dropped to 4.81 million parcels from 5.98 million because of the pandemic.

He said once the pandemic situation returns to normal, the volume of the imported parcels is expected to surge.

Under the current customs regulations, imported goods worth up to 1,500 baht are exempt from import tax and value-added tax (VAT).

The Finance Ministry recently ordered the Customs Department to step up its search for ways to reduce the impact of the exemption for imported goods worth up to 1,500 baht, citing such measures as hurting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Patchara Anuntasilpa, director-general of the Customs Department, said earlier the department may consider measures similar to a non-tariff barrier to help protect domestic SMEs from low-priced imports that enjoy import tax and VAT waivers.

In international practice, such express parcel post is tax-exempt.

Mr Patchara said any efforts to collect tax from imported goods with relatively low prices have to utilise other tax laws, not those relating to customs.

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