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Importing Personal Effects to Thailand - Where is the line for personal vs business?


mdsvanc

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In a year or two I will be moving to Thailand, with my Thai wife of ten years.  We are not sure where we will live, but that is not the point of this message.

 

From reading a number of threads on this topic, it appears that the least painful way to import personal effects is to use the Thai wife's exemption for six months, and to use a reputable agent for door-to-door.  I am just looking to avoid delays or problems, and I do not mind paying for the service.  My understanding is that the Thai wife declares the property as her own, and is exempt from duty. Great.

 

The problem arises in that I have a bad habit:  I like to build things.  I have a lot of tools, and I really, really want to bring them with me.   It is what I do for an avocation.  I have had some of them for 20 years.  I do not have more than one of any of them, which I hope makes them OK.

 

This is what I currently have, although I am considering others:

Tools for woodworking: Bandsaw, tablesaw, router, router table,  drill press and a roll-away toolbox full of hand tools such as chisels and so forth.

Tools for metalworking: Tig/stick welder,  small milling machine(8x26 or so) lightweight, small metalworking lathe(10x22),  Metal cutting bandsaw, hydraulic press, 72" belt grinder and another  roll-away filled with metalworking tools. .

 

If pressed, my wife could not name one of these tools.  We are going to leave our furniture here as not appropriate for Thailand.  The only thing we will really be bringing in is my tools, clothing, bedding. personal mementos and the contents of her kitchen.  We can probably fit it all in a 20' container. Do they do any kind of a "smell test" on contents?  Do they really care if the items are mine and not hers?   There is no way anyone is going to believe my sweet little  wife knows anything about a milling machine or lathe. If I was looking at that stuff coming in, I would think someone was importing a business.  If there is a duty, I can certainly pay it, but I would prefer to not buy the tools twice.

 

I can get instructions from the agent when I ship, but I am asking here in order to see which way the wind is blowing.  I do not like surprises.

 

Thank you in advance for any help you can give.

 

 

Best Regards,

mds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The duty free allowance for returning Thais are for "household effects" - not personal effects. Thai customs describes what it covers like this:

Quote

The term “household effects” includes all goods which are normally necessary to equip a self-contained home e.g. furniture, carpets, books, musical instruments, paintings, tableware, stereos, linens, and similar household furnishings, etc.

I can see a minor amount of tools go through without problems, but with what you describe I would expect problems.

 

Sophon

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I doubt you will have a problem. Declare everything to your shipping agent, for tax and insurance purposes.

I did similar in 05, except 2 x 20' containers, which belonged to me. Door to door, UK to NE Thailand. Used a BKK shipping agent.

Enclosed was everything i pretty much owned, bar UK winter clothing.

Snap On Tool roll cabinets, top chests, specialist m/c tooling, lathe, mig welder, 15T hydraulic press, hydraulic bike lift bench, grinder, pillar drill, hand electric tools. Household goods yada yada. Contents of Snap On cabinets i valued at £30k.

Both containers were kitted out internally with proper floors, workbenches wall sockets and lights.

I declared everything, in my name as personal goods, absolutely no problem. I paid 70k TB customs/import tax on the lot. Sailed straight through.

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Just read thru again, my lathe was/is a 10/22" too. I seriously doubt you will have a problem, nothing has changed since i did it. Just be upfront with the shipping agents, they will advise.

Since then i have imported a milling machine and a shaper seperately, but that's another story.

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18 months ago my wife and I imported a 40 ft container containing all the usual things one expects to find in a house including furniture and hundreds of my tools and other items I would need for building a house.There were about 30 boxes of tools but none were as big as some of yours.They were imported as belonging to my wife.I used a company that had an agent in Bangkok hoping it would smooth things out.I had invoices for most of the power tools showing they were more than 1 year old.When the agent in Sydney wrapped the boxes in bubble wrap they did not itemise what was inside.When the container arrived in BKK the agent asked me (by email, as we live in Chiang Saen) what was in some of the boxes.I said something like "I am a 70 yr old coming to live in thailand and these things are my lifetimes collection of tools and furniture".That satisfied her and customs and it was delivered 1000 kms the next day, and nothing to pay.That's not to say the same happens to everyone, it was just my experience.And by the way I was very aprehensive about how it would go as I have heard lots of bad reports about thai customs.

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And could I just add this.I left a lot of things at home thinking I either wouldn't need them or I could get them here.This was a big mistake.If I did it again I would have brought absolutely everything I owned including the kitchen sink.For instance you cannot even buy a proper broom here.The garden hoses are rubbish as are many other things we westeners take for granted.

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I brought a twenty foot container, all my diy tools expensive furniture the only people ripped me off was the receiving agent, fees like a thousand baht to clean the container, customs no problem.

later I shipped four cardboard boxes taped to a pallet,  my books am a big reader, customs made me pay a thousand baht no receipt in Bangkok klon toey pirt, the fork lift driver wanted two hundred baht to take the pallet to my truck, I said ok then told him  to F off. And drove away.

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15 hours ago, Sophon said:

The duty free allowance for returning Thais are for "household effects" - not personal effects. Thai customs describes what it covers like this:

I can see a minor amount of tools go through without problems, but with what you describe I would expect problems.

 

Sophon

That is why I am asking.  I did not know if there was a clean line, and it sounds like there is nor.

 

Best Regards,

mds

 

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12 hours ago, thaiguzzi said:

I doubt you will have a problem. Declare everything to your shipping agent, for tax and insurance purposes.

I did similar in 05, except 2 x 20' containers, which belonged to me. Door to door, UK to NE Thailand. Used a BKK shipping agent.

Enclosed was everything i pretty much owned, bar UK winter clothing.

Snap On Tool roll cabinets, top chests, specialist m/c tooling, lathe, mig welder, 15T hydraulic press, hydraulic bike lift bench, grinder, pillar drill, hand electric tools. Household goods yada yada. Contents of Snap On cabinets i valued at £30k.

Both containers were kitted out internally with proper floors, workbenches wall sockets and lights.

I declared everything, in my name as personal goods, absolutely no problem. I paid 70k TB customs/import tax on the lot. Sailed straight through.

70K seems steep to me for bringing in my own stuff, but If I have to pay it, I will.  Far easier than trying to locally source the stuff.  Might be worth that just to avoid problems.

 

Best Regards,

mds

'

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12 hours ago, thaiguzzi said:

Just read thru again, my lathe was/is a 10/22" too. I seriously doubt you will have a problem, nothing has changed since i did it. Just be upfront with the shipping agents, they will advise.

Since then i have imported a milling machine and a shaper seperately, but that's another story.

Thanks for the reply. Did you source the milling machine in Asia?

 

Best Regards,

mds

 

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10 hours ago, RBOP said:

ummm.. can your power tools run on 220volts 50 hertz? 

Some can some can't.  I have a couple of VFD's that are rated for 2HP.  They accept 220V/50hz single phase and put out 220V/60hz 3 phase.  I bought them for AC speed control and  made sure they would accept 50HZ.   I have changed some of my motors over to 220V/3 phase just so I could see how it works.  Not terribly efficient, but it seems to get the job done.

 

The smaller stuff can be run off of a truck battery and a 5000W inverter.  I am pretty sure I can find a 12/24V battery charge there.

 

 

Best Regards,

mds

 

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10 hours ago, briando said:

18 months ago my wife and I imported a 40 ft container containing all the usual things one expects to find in a house including furniture and hundreds of my tools and other items I would need for building a house.There were about 30 boxes of tools but none were as big as some of yours.They were imported as belonging to my wife.I used a company that had an agent in Bangkok hoping it would smooth things out.I had invoices for most of the power tools showing they were more than 1 year old.When the agent in Sydney wrapped the boxes in bubble wrap they did not itemise what was inside.When the container arrived in BKK the agent asked me (by email, as we live in Chiang Saen) what was in some of the boxes.I said something like "I am a 70 yr old coming to live in thailand and these things are my lifetimes collection of tools and furniture".That satisfied her and customs and it was delivered 1000 kms the next day, and nothing to pay.That's not to say the same happens to everyone, it was just my experience.And by the way I was very aprehensive about how it would go as I have heard lots of bad reports about thai customs.

Wow.  Sounds like you had a great experience.  Glad to hear some positive news.  So far the worst I have heard is 70K and that was for a lot more than I have.  If that is as ad as it gets, I will be fine.

 

Thank you very much for your time.

 

 

Best Regards,

mds

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, briando said:

And could I just add this.I left a lot of things at home thinking I either wouldn't need them or I could get them here.This was a big mistake.If I did it again I would have brought absolutely everything I owned including the kitchen sink.For instance you cannot even buy a proper broom here.The garden hoses are rubbish as are many other things we westeners take for granted.

That is really good to know.  I used to run a nursery, and crap hoses are the worst. I will definitely throw some in the container.  I am going to be there for all of October, and I will peruse a few stores to see what other things might not be available.   Probably not going to do the container thing more than once, so need to pack it tight.

 

Best Regards,

mds

 

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6 hours ago, ableguy said:

I brought a twenty foot container, all my diy tools expensive furniture the only people ripped me off was the receiving agent, fees like a thousand baht to clean the container, customs no problem.

later I shipped four cardboard boxes taped to a pallet,  my books am a big reader, customs made me pay a thousand baht no receipt in Bangkok klon toey pirt, the fork lift driver wanted two hundred baht to take the pallet to my truck, I said ok then told him  to F off. And drove away.

That kind of stuff is what i worry about, though all in you did not get take for that much.  Still is offensive, but TIT,

 

Best Regards,

mds

 

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13 hours ago, RBOP said:

ummm.. can your power tools run on 220volts 50 hertz? 

The UK is 230/240V 60hz. My containers are my workshops, they were wired professionally in the UK, everything runs off a 3 pin plug into Thai 220V 50hz system. Absolutely no problem in 12 years.

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3 hours ago, mdsvanc said:

70K seems steep to me for bringing in my own stuff, but If I have to pay it, I will.  Far easier than trying to locally source the stuff.  Might be worth that just to avoid problems.

 

Best Regards,

mds

'

Not really, i itemized everything at realistic insured prices, inc Snap On cabinets with contents at £30k. Lathe £2k etc. Every year dozens of containers are lost at sea, i did not want that to happen to me and have a lifetime's worth of tools gone and end up with zilch. There were no invoices supplied from me to confirm value.

 If your shipping agent handles everything, and the transaction is door to door, you will not have any problems at customs, regarding some of the horror stories above.

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3 hours ago, mdsvanc said:

Thanks for the reply. Did you source the milling machine in Asia?

 

Best Regards,

mds

 

No, from the UK, ditto the shaper. Both classic brand name Made In England quality. Shipped via a Thai friend of mine who imports S/H Ford tractor parts worldwide (mainly UK and Holland) into Thailand. Cost me nada bar the diesel to run down to Chonburi and back to pick them up. I offered 5k each time (two seperate shippings) and he point blank refused any money.

There are some good machine tool dealers in BKK, pretty much everything is Chinese/Taiwanese and older clapped out Japanese stuff. You can pick up a nice Chinese Bridgeport copy mill for 70-90k S/H.

 

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One more thing.

Buy all your tooling needs over there, stock up, and bring them with you. Lathe tool bits, inserts, end mills, drill bits etc.

You can get all that here, but it is frightfully expensive for the real McCoy brand names, at least 100% more expensive, sometimes 150-200%...

 Regards,

   Mike.

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40 minutes ago, johng said:

 


UK uses 50hz....I read they switched from 60hz after WWII

Right. I aint no electrician, so presumably Thai is 60 and UK is 50 or was i getting confused?

Either way 230/240v works happily on a 220v system.

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7 minutes ago, thaiguzzi said:

Right. I aint no electrician, so presumably Thai is 60 and UK is 50 or was i getting confused?

Either way 230/240v works happily on a 220v system.

 

Both Thailand and the UK are 50Hz.

 

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6 minutes ago, thaiguzzi said:

Did'nt know that.

Maybe Europe is 60Hz? Or the States. Somewhere is...

 

Europe is 50Hz too as is most of the rest of the world. The Americas are mostly 60Hz with some pockets in the Western Pacific rim likely due to US influence after WWII.

 

From here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utility_frequency

 

 

Worldwide_map_of_voltage_and_frequency.p

 

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When asking Customs by email about the interpretation of a certain import rule and relevant taxation, I got an answer within days clearly outlining how the text should be interpreted.

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Hi guys and apologies for hijacking the thread but is there only six month window for thai wife household goods to be duty free?

 

i buggered up as we came over four years ahleaving stuff in storage in UK, due to circumstances not relevant here, did not ship out and am only now getting to the point where I can ship out here. Presume that means death by import duty?

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That's great news Im kinda in the same boat as the op long marriage to thai wife 30+yrs life time collection of tools + rc aircraft collection we will be coming over in approx 6 mo when I retire 

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Great post and topic. Next year I will likewise be bringing my engineering tools of a lifetime,  garden tools, kitchen equipment and a kit car that has a doner car originally registered in 1972. I will be using the Shipper called Excess Baggage to ship to Chiang Mai as they double deck over a car with a frame and floor to maximise the use of the space. The varied advice given here has been very enlightening and useful. Cheers guys!

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6 hours ago, The Dark Lord said:

Hi guys and apologies for hijacking the thread but is there only six month window for thai wife household goods to be duty free?

 

i buggered up as we came over four years ahleaving stuff in storage in UK, due to circumstances not relevant here, did not ship out and am only now getting to the point where I can ship out here. Presume that means death by import duty?

Might be wise and cheaper to move back to UK for a short while and then ship to claim your 6 month window if it is possible in your circumstances. Or if you know some one that is coming to Thailand that is willing to ship your stuff in their name, whilst sharing the shipping cost. This would be another option, but they would need to know the details of your items in case customs wants answer  on your items.

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