Importers have been clamoring for changes to Thailand’s customs laws for years, arguing against the severity of penalties for violation and lack of clarity in the appeals process. After many years of debate and various draft proposals, a new Customs Act was published in the Royal Gazette on 17 May 2017 and will take effect in mid-November 2017. The new Customs Act addresses some of the concerns of importers, with the main provisions as follows:
Customs Duty Assessment and Surcharge
- Customs duty assessments must be made within three years from the date of filing the shipment entry form.
- If circumstances prevent a customs duty assessment from being processed within three years, the customs officer may request the Director-General of the Customs Department for a two-year extension.
- If the Director-General of the Customs Department has reasonable grounds to believe that a taxpayer intends to evade customs duty, the customs duty assessment can be made within five years from the end of the two-year extension period.
- Collecting customs duty must be completed within ten years from the date of filing the shipment entry form. This is reduced to two years in the event there is an error in the calculation of customs duty.
- A 1% monthly surcharge duty will be added to the amount of any customs duty shortfall
Period for Customs Duty Refund
- A request for a customs duty refund must be made within three years from the date of import or export, as the case may be.
Appeals of Customs Duty Assessment
- An importer or exporter has a right to appeal a customs duty assessment to the Appeals Commission within 30 days from the date of receipt of such assessment.
- If the Appeals Commission cannot reach a decision within 180 days, the importer or exporter has the right to bring an action before the courts.
Penalties for violation
The new Customs Act specifies penalty for each offences as follows:
- False or incomplete declaration: Fine not exceeding Baht 500,000.
- Smuggling: imprisonment of up to ten years or a fine of four times the price of the applicable goods including customs duty, or both imprisonment and fine, as well as seizure of the applicable goods.
- Evasion of customs duty with intention to avoid customs duty payment: imprisonment of up to ten years or a fine of 0.5 to 4 times the amount of the customs duty shortfall, or both imprisonment and fine, as well as seizure of the applicable goods.
- Evasion of restrictions or prohibitions on controlled goods: imprisonment of up top ten years or a fine not exceeding Baht 500,000, or both imprisonment and fine, as well as seizure of the applicable goods.