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Thai Customs - Are They Corrupt?


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We have just moved to Khon Kaen from Xiamen, China. We preceded the move two weeks ago by shipping some personal belongings, including my Thai wife's Guanjho(Chinese musical instrument) via a reputable shipping company. There were no problems with Chinese Customs and all went well until our stuff reached Bangkok and Thai Customs. Customs people don't work on Saturday or Sunday so we waited until Monday to follow up with them. We went on to our new home in Khon Kaen believing all was well. There was, of course, nothing illegal in the shipment. Then the problems began:

1. They wanted us to pay tax even though it was my wife's stuff and she is a Thai national. They asked for her passport which we sent. They told us then that there would not be a tax. They then asked me to send my passport.

2. After holding our stuff, they then asked for a letter from the music school in China verifying that my wife took lessons there for over a year. Why that is important, I don't know. The letter was sent in Chinese and had to be translated....We thought that would be the end of this harrassment. Wrong!

3. Now Customs is saying we didn't live two years in China even though our passports clearly show two, one year Chinese Visas secured through the university there where I taught. They contend that because my wife made several trips back to Bangkok that the total days living in China was less than a year and a half. That is simply not true........

4. They now contend, reversing an earlier statement, that we owe them tax on our used goods.....In the meantime they are holding my wife's Thai passport hostage until we pay them the tax or "under the table"....

We contacted our attorney in Bangkok today and from now on he will deal with these people and I hope this can get resolved soon.

In Xiamen, China few years ago the customs official there was found corrupt and the government simply executed him. Perhaps that's a good alternative to the present system of just sending the official somewhere else.............

I would be very interested in knowing if any ex pats on this forumn have had similar problems with Customs or are we an isolated case.........

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"Corrupt" is such a harsh word to use and in Asia I'm not really sure what it means. I have known many including myself who have had a culturally interesting adventure with the kind folks down at Customs.

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"Corrupt" is such a harsh word to use and in Asia I'm not really sure what it means. I have known many including myself who have had a culturally interesting adventure with the kind folks down at Customs.

I'm not accusing them of corruption, I'm just raising the question..............

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:D imho 2 mistakes - [1] you shouldn't have sent them the original passports, & [2] you shouldn't have had the attorney handle this matter.

now it looks like you will pay the customs duties as well as the lawyer fees which will include "additional" expenses. :o

how much tax did they want to charge on the musical instrument anyway? is it worth all the hassle? :D

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Possibly the most corrupt organization in the Country.

They have your stuff, you want your stuff. You will pay.

I recently had to pay 20,000 under the table to release my shipment valued at $500.

Oh yea, they usually try to stall the process for a week or two to tack on extra storage fees.

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I used a very good shipping company to bring a load of personal effects into Thailand from NZ recently. The quote from the Bkk-based company was a third as it was from a similar NZ company and I had no issues with customs. The stuff was delivered to me within 48 hours of it landing. The delivery people didnt even hang around for a tip.

Excellent service.

I'm sure corruption is rife but, in my case at least, I had no issues at all.

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"Corrupt" is such a harsh word to use and in Asia I'm not really sure what it means.

I'm sure you do. :o

From cambridge dictionary:-

corrupt (IMMORAL)

adjective

1 dishonestly using your position or power to your own advantage, especially for money:

I guess that about covers it very nicely :D

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We have imported electrical equipment for 18 months at 1% import duty and now out of the blue they want 10% backdated.

I am doing a very good job at not being in the office for now until they (hopefully) go away.

I don't hold out a lot of hope, but let's see. They currently seem as apathetic as usual.

PS -- I have never been asked to nor never offered to pay under-table money. If they delay it...we wait. Simple as that.

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Did you ship this stuff in your wifes name, also did you pay for door to door service from china to your address in thailand, the shipping company should of sorted all this out, you are now getting me paranoid as i am shipping a 40 foot container from UK in the near future, all going to be done in wifes name, no mention of me or ferrang.

Did the shipping company have a copy of your wifes passport ?. as this should of been all they should of had.

Edited by Thaicoon
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"Corrupt" is such a harsh word to use and in Asia I'm not really sure what it means.

I'm sure you do. :o

From cambridge dictionary:-

corrupt (IMMORAL)

adjective

1 dishonestly using your position or power to your own advantage, especially for money:

I guess that about covers it very nicely :D

In Asia I hazard to guess that it means getting the money you think you actually deserve for working twenty years of your life to reach your position of power which might only last a few years before you are re-assigned to an inactive post.....

Soundman.

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This has got to be the funniest posting I have ever seen on TV.

Are customs corrupt? This has to be a troll. I am incredulous.

They rank right at the top of the world amongst all governments, all agencies as one of the most corrupt institutions operating today. I believe they beat out the Sicilian mafia in 1991 and Colombian Drug lords late in 2005. They are amazingly corrupt, in fact, I am pretty sure that they are the hub of corruption world wide.

Pay your money quickly, you might be able to negotiate a little with them but now that they have your passport I think you are pretty much finished. In the long run, you might seriously consider just letting them keep anything you foolishly decided to send through rather than face that organized crime syndicate for a Chinese banjo. I make it a point to always negotiate the bribes before the shipment leaves foreign shores.

Corrupt? Really this should be moved to the joke forum.

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Did you ship this stuff in your wifes name, also did you pay for door to door service from china to your address in thailand, the shipping company should of sorted all this out, you are now getting me paranoid as i am shipping a 40 foot container from UK in the near future, all going to be done in wifes name, no mention of me or ferrang.

Did the shipping company have a copy of your wifes passport ?. as this should of been all they should of had.

We had both our names on the shipping which in hindsight was probably a mistake.....In hindsight should have used just hers....There were two shipping companies, one in China and their affiliate in Thailand and yes we paid for door to door service........They had a copy of wife's passport.

It appears today that they will release the goods after we pay taxes of about 50% of what the stuff is worth.......We will pay but will never attempt to deal with the Customs Department again..........Being an American, I'd expect an appeal process but this ain't Omaha!!! Welcome to the Land of Smiles!!!!!!!!!!!Great people but their bureacracy leaves much to be desired.

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Did you ship this stuff in your wifes name, also did you pay for door to door service from china to your address in thailand, the shipping company should of sorted all this out, you are now getting me paranoid as i am shipping a 40 foot container from UK in the near future, all going to be done in wifes name, no mention of me or ferrang.

Did the shipping company have a copy of your wifes passport ?. as this should of been all they should of had.

We had both our names on the shipping which in hindsight was probably a mistake.....In hindsight should have used just hers....

No kidding.. :D:o Next time just use your wife's name for shipping instead of yours, chief. Maybe you're notoriously naive about how things work here but your "wife" shouldn't be.

It appears today that they will release the goods after we pay taxes of about 50% of what the stuff is worth.....

:D:bah::o:D;):bah::D

..We will pay but will never attempt to deal with the Customs Department again..........Being an American, I'd expect an appeal process but this ain't Omaha!!! Welcome to the Land of Smiles!!!!!!!!!!!Great people but their bureacracy leaves much to be desired.

Comon is this a troll? You can't be this stupid?

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"Corrupt" is such a harsh word to use and in Asia I'm not really sure what it means. I have known many including myself who have had a culturally interesting adventure with the kind folks down at Customs.

I'm not accusing them of corruption, I'm just raising the question..............

Of course they are corrupt. You should have paid a good shipping agent, otherwise you get screwed evey time! :o

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I used a very good shipping company to bring a load of personal effects into Thailand from NZ recently. The quote from the Bkk-based company was a third as it was from a similar NZ company and I had no issues with customs. The stuff was delivered to me within 48 hours of it landing. The delivery people didnt even hang around for a tip.

Excellent service.

I'm sure corruption is rife but, in my case at least, I had no issues at all.

So you had a package delivered one time and no problem...

Try running an import/export biz and then get back to me.

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Shipped personal effects from China earlier -

1: You shouldn't need the original passport - you only need photocopies.

The reason for this is that you need to prove that your Thai wife has been outside of Thailand for over one year - if not, you need to pay tax.

you are allowed to have time in Thailand, not exactly sure how long, but in my case we had a couple of two week holidays in here.

2: You generally need to show your Chinese work permit -generally - this however can be got around by mixing your goods with someone elses - Use Santa Fe - they no how to bend the rules...thanks guys!

If you can show these requirements then you should not need to pay tax.

And as for Thai customs being corrupt?....do bears shit in the woods?

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"Corrupt" is such a harsh word to use and in Asia I'm not really sure what it means. I have known many including myself who have had a culturally interesting adventure with the kind folks down at Customs.

I'm not accusing them of corruption, I'm just raising the question..............

Of course they are corrupt. You should have paid a good shipping agent, otherwise you get screwed evey time! :o

Answer to question: YES........guess you are new here. The same answer applies to virtually every sector.

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No experience of this as I thought it best to sell everything before moving here as I anticipated customs would be a nightmare.

I would have thought that you would be better off using a "reputable and very efficicent Thai clearance agent" as There's a good chance That they will have an understanding with the Customs Cartel as its in their business interests that things go smoothly for the customer. But I could be wrong ;-)

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I've heard that customs are going computerised now, so there will be less chance for these "under the table" fines. The downside of this is they will open (detain & charge on?) more packages in order to make their figures legitimately.

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Did you ship this stuff in your wifes name, also did you pay for door to door service from china to your address in thailand, the shipping company should of sorted all this out, you are now getting me paranoid as i am shipping a 40 foot container from UK in the near future, all going to be done in wifes name, no mention of me or ferrang.

Did the shipping company have a copy of your wifes passport ?. as this should of been all they should of had.

Just to put your mind at rest a little. I have just shipped in a container of household effects from the UK. I would recommend that you use a door to door service and the services of a reputable UK based shipping company that also has arrangements with an established specialist logistics provider in Thailand. This will usually ensure a smooth customs clearance process.

Concerning the passport issue, apparently it is a requirement for Customs to hold the original passport and this was confirmed to me by the British Embassy. Obviously this raises a question of breaching the legal requirement of foreigners having to carry their passports at all times. In your situation I would guess that the passport will have to be presented once in Thailand. Be aware of storage charges in the meantime.

In my case I also hold a work permit which I believe mitigated any potential problems. I ended up paying an acceptable amount. The only small concern was a longer wait than expected in the customs clearance process which I believe added to the storage charge.

On the whole I was satisfied with the overall service including the subject of customs clearance.

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So you had a package delivered one time and no problem...

Try running an import/export biz and then get back to me.

I'm on that side of the ball, U.P.! The biggest beef that I have with Customs being a "flexibly and independently commission-based" service is that it's not a dependable/regular thing. The people that want their "tea money" aren't static. I find different hands out every time, but there are ALWAYS hands out. That's both outgoing (business, ship our own 40' high-cubes) and incoming (usually personal, only 2 containers so far).

Wish they could upgrade the corruption to a set fee and place/person to pay! :o

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I have a friend who used to work in Bangkok advising importers and exporters on Customs issues. He then moved to Indonesia, doing similar work.

Asked him how the Thai Customs compared to the Indo Customs, who are well known in Oz for their high levels of corruption. His answer - the Indos are absolute beginners compared to the Thais, who have the whole game institutionalised ie it goes well beyond individuals looking for some tea money.

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[Just to put your mind at rest a little. I have just shipped in a container of household effects from the UK. I would recommend that you use a door to door service and the services of a reputable UK based shipping company that also has arrangements with an established specialist logistics provider in Thailand. This will usually ensure a smooth customs clearance process.

On the whole I was satisfied with the overall service including the subject of customs clearance.

Just curious, as I am intending to ship some stuff over in the next month or so, which UK based agent did you use?

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