If you landed on this post that means you’re moving to Thailand or you’re already here and you have to figure out how to ship your stuff to Thailand.
I was in your shoes in 2014.
My wife and I had to ship the belongings of our house from New Jersey to Thailand. And there was plenty to worry about.
- Who would pack and pick up our stuff?
- Would it actually get to Thailand?
- Once in Thailand, what port would it arrive in?
- How would I get it through Thai Customs? And how much would I have to pay? (I’ve heard so many stories about Thai immigration officers bribing people)
- Once it did clear through customs, how would I get 62 boxes to our house in Thailand?
Luckily my wife found a company to do all that for us for one fairly reasonable price—about $1,400. Not bad for sending almost everything we owned across the world.
If you want to hire a company to do everything for you—including dealing with Thai customs—fill out the form on Sirelo’s page and get up to five free quotes from international moving companies.
If you want to attempt to do it yourself, continue reading.
One of the first things we had to do before our family moved to Thailand was figure out how to ship our things to Thailand.
Luckily my wife, who was originally from Thailand, shipped many things over the years from the USA to Thailand. So we had a head start.
The first thing we did was decide what to ship. In the end we decided that we would ship only the things that would cost us more money to buy again in Thailand:
- road bikes and mountain bikes
- baby furniture and safety gear (high chair, car seat, pack and play, etc.)
- coats and shoes
- videography and photography gear
- plus a few other odds and ends
You may want to ship all the belongings of your house, including your furniture.
After we decided what we were going to ship and what we would sell, trash, or donate, we looked for a shipping company that had experience shipping from the USA to Thailand.
As I mentioned earlier, my wife already used her friend’s shipping company many of times. But for this case, we needed an international shipper who could handle a lot more stuff.
We found a shipping company in Thailand that had an office in New York City as well. But they couldn’t give us a price for our shipment until either they, or we, knew the dimensions of our shipment.
We could’ve paid them more to pack our stuff. But I’m a control freak. I wanted to be sure everything was packed as safely and securely as possible. And my wife wanted to label every box with its contents. So that’s what we did.
The shipping company told us the dimensions of the pallet sizes they had available. I measured that distance on my living floor. Then I began stacking our boxes. As it turned out, our 62 boxes of various sizes would fill one-and-a-half pallets.
For that size shipment, we needed Less than Container Load, or LCL, shipment because we only filled a portion of the container.
What You Can Ship
If you are moving to Thailand you can ship used or secondhand household items into Thailand tax and duty free.
Your are limited to how many household items you can ship, though. For example if you come to Thailand by yourself you can only bring one microwave, fridge, television, and other electronics.
If you come to Thailand with your family, you can bring two of each of these items.
If you bring more than you’re allowed to in either of the two cases above, you must pay taxes and duty.
What You Can’t Ship
You can’t ship certain things to Thailand—these are called prohibited items. There are also things you can’t ship to Thailand unless you have a permit—these are called restricted items.
Let’s take a look at both.
Thailand has a list of prohibited items that you can’t bring into the country. Below is a list from ThailandLaw.org. Keep in mind there may be other items you are prohibited from bringing into Thailand.
- obscene objects, literature, pictures
- obscene literature and pornographic materials
- goods with an improper Thai flag design
- counterfeit money, bonds, or coins
- fake Royal Seals or official seals
- IPR infringing goods like musical tape, CDs, computer software, etc.
- counterfeit trademark goods
Thailand also has a list of restricted items, which means you can only import these if you have a permit.
Again, this list is borrowed from ThailandLaw.org but may not be an extensive lit.
- Office of National Police – firearms, parts thereof, and ammunition
- Fine Arts Department – Buddha images; artifacts and antiques
- Post and Telegraph Department – radio transceivers and telecommunications equipment
- Department of Agriculture – plants and planting materials
- Department of Live Stock Development – live animals and animal products
- Office of Food and Drugs Administration – medicine and chemical products
You can ship the items above to Thailand, but you need a permit.
Preparing Your Package for Shipping
You want to be sure you get the proper packaging for international shipping. Your stuff is going to be touched by many hands, transferred quite a few times, set sail on the seven seas, and then taken a ride.
We didn’t have many fragile things to ship. Those things that were fragile we wrapped in bubble wrap and then stuffed in between our clothes.
For everything else, we packed them straight into cardboard shipping boxes, wrapped them with newspaper if necessary, and sealed the boxes with packing tape.
After we packed and sealed our boxes the shipping company came to our house, took inventory, and loaded them into a van—62 boxes in all.
A few days later they sent us pictures of all our stuff neatly organized on two pallets and wrapped in shrink wrap.
Shipping Paperwork and Documents
If you want to ship you personal things from America to Thailand, here is what you have to submit:
- copy of your passport
- draft Import Declaration
- letter from the Thai immigration department confirming that you are allowed to stay in Thailand for one year
- work permit (if coming to work in Thailand)
- letter from Thai government confirming that you have a non-immigrant visa from the Immigration Department and that you will be working in Thailand for at least a year
- bill of landing or air waybill
- invoices (if any)
- packing list
- sales documents (if any)
- permits (for restricted goods)
- Application for Duty Exemption
Starting to see why it’s easier to hire an international shipping company?
You might wonder if you really need shipping insurance when sending your package to Thailand.
To be honest, whatever international shipping company you use, their services are most likely going to give you basic insurance.
If you want to take out more insurance, ask what options they have.
I wouldn’t ship my package with one company and buy insurance from another though.
The amount of time it takes your package to get to Thailand from anywhere in the world depends on where you ship from and what service you use.
If you ship a small package to Thailand and use priority mail it should take no more than six business days to reach Thai Customs.
If, on the other hand, you ship something by air or sea—say, your household belongings—it could take up to six weeks to reach Thailand.
Thailand Customs Clearance
When you ship your things from the USA to Thailand, basically four things happen after your stuff arrives at the port in Bangkok.
Keep in mind that if you hire an international shipper, they will handle the process below for you.
- You submit an Application for Duty Exemption and all supporting documents to the Duty Exemption and Investment Promotion Sub-Division, Central Service Division of Bangkok Port Customs Office, or other port of entry in Thailand.
- Customs looks over documents and the Application for Duty Exemption. If you have anything not eligible for duty exemption, they will charge duties.
- Customs returns the documents to you, and you submits an Import Declaration and then pay duty and taxes (if any).
- You then submit the Import Declaration and the supporting documents at the Customs Service Division and they will release your goods.
How much you’ll have to pay in taxes and duties depends on what you ship to Thailand. Because so many variables are at play, it would be hard to list one set equation.
But here’s a helpful PDF that shows you how to calculate Thailand tax and duty estimates.
International Shipping Companies for Small Packages
If you have a small package you need to send from America to Thailand you can use any of these international shipping companies.
MyUS helps you ship small packages to Thailand in just two to four days.
This is perfect if you have to order something from Amazon in the America but need it quickly.
If you have to send a one-off package, you can sign up for their single-package membership.
If you need regular shipments sent from the USA to Thailand, you can sign up for their premium or VIP membership.
But the real benefits of using MyUS is that you can:
- skip the headaches of filing customs forms; and
- shop and pay zero US sales taxes (save more money than shopping on your own and using UPS, FedEx, or DHL)
MyUS takes care of all the customs and compliance details for you. Thailand sometimes changes their rules and restrictions.
But MyUS hires compliance professionals who keep up with the latest laws.
And when you shop through the MyUS website you can buy from Amazon, Ebay, Nike, Walmart, and hundreds of other stores and pay zero US sales tax.
This happens because MyUS earned a tax-free status.
You can use UPS to send your small- or medium-size package from the USA to Thailand as well.
If you go with UPS’s two-day shipping, you’ll pay between $195.83 and $267.99 for a five-pound shipment worth $100.
FedEx can send your stuff from the USA to Thailand with their International Next Flight, International Priority, or International Economy services.
For a five-pound box valued at $100, FedEx will charge you between $194.67 and $221.08 depending on how quickly you want your package to arrive in Thailand.
FedEx is just slightly less than UPS.
International Shipping Companies for Large Shipments
If you have to ship the belongings of your house from the USA to Thailand, then you need an international shipping or moving company.
If you don’t have anyone who could recommend a shipping company to you based on firsthand experience, your next best choice is to get quotes from a few different shipping companies.
But instead of wasting all your time searching for quotes, you can use a service like Sirelo. When you fill out the form on their website, you get up to five free quotes.
To ship small packages from America to Thailand, use MyUS.
To ship larger things from America to Thailand, use an international shipping company who specializes in moving large things overseas. To find a company, use Sirelo to get up to five free quotes.
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