Successful Permanent Import of Used/Secondhand Motorcycle into Thailand

Discussion in 'Asia' started by M1Tanker, Oct 16, 2016.

  1. M1Tanker

    M1Tanker Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    105
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    Thailand
    I realize that most riders here are traveling through countries and thus a permanent importation is not sought after. I am posting this in the Regional Forums as a source of information.

    I recently completed the permanent importation of my motorcycle (2008 BMW R1200GS Adventure) into Thailand. I also obtained the green registration book and Thai license plate. The process was long and required a lot of paperwork.

    Here are some recommended questions to answer prior to starting an attempt to import a motorcycle into Thailand:

    • Are you trying to permanently import your motorcycle?
    • What kind of visa will you be coming to Thailand on?
    • How well documented is your motorcycle? All original sales documentation? All registration documents? Motorcycle driver's licenses to include expired and international drivers licenses?

    There are two Thai government agencies that one needs to interact with in order to permanently import a motorcycle into Thailand:

    1. Department of Foreign Trade within the Ministry of Commerce (NOTE: An import license must be obtained as well as an import permit for the motorcycle.)
    2. Customs Department (www.customs.go.th/wps/wcm/connect/custen/individuals/importing+personal+vehicle/importingpersonalvehicle+)
    3. (NOTE: I did contact the Thai Industrial Standards Institute and they informed me that because I was importing a used/second hand motorcycle they did not play a role in the importation process.)

    I did have to pay import duties and the motorcycle was depreciated in accordance with the formula that can be found in the Thai Customs link above. The cost wasn't zero baht but it was considerably less than a new or used equivalent BMW.

    Once I completed the importation, I then took that paperwork to my local Department of Transport. I filled out more paperwork and paid a small processing fee. Weeks later I received my green registration book and license plate.

    All personnel that I interacted with at all of the aforementioned Thai government agencies were professional and ethical. I will point out that many of the personnel in these offices are not completely familiar with permanently importing a motorcycle because they just don't see it happen that often. Patience, thoroughness, and professional determination are required. I found that researching the process online, asking a lot of questions, and communicating with each office in person or online to be effective. I started the process over a year prior to shipping my motorcycle.
    #1
    BangkokSpanner and Motornoggin like this.
  2. lockyv7

    lockyv7 Long timer

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    this is great, i am hoping to retire to Thailand for the cheap living once my age pension kicks in within the next two years and would like to bring a bike with me as i have looked online and haven't found the bike i would like there.
    #2
  3. SilverBullet

    SilverBullet Been here awhile

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    Can you please share with us what you paid?

    _
    #3
  4. M1Tanker

    M1Tanker Been here awhile

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    It cost me less than 250,000THB in Thai Customs duties plus incidental expenses.
    #4
  5. AlexAdi

    AlexAdi n00b

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    Glad that I found your post. Are you still in Thailand. I am based in Indonesia till the end of the year and will move to Bangkok for the next couple of years the way it looks. Wanted to drive it over from Jakarta, but it appears too expensive and a hassle getting the bike into Thailand temporarily and change it afterwards to permanent. Funny ... I will be importing ... a 2008 BMW 1200 GS Adventure. Your advise above already has given me some pointers. As it is a year ago since you imported, maybe you have some more advise. If I get the bike in, it would be great to meet up one day. Ride safe, Alex
    #5
  6. Slim McThinnerson

    Slim McThinnerson n00b

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    Cool, I think. You paid 8000 USD to import an 8 year-old bike worth about...8000 USD?

    Well hey, more power to ya. Thanks for the info, regardless.
    #6
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  7. Farang Paul

    Farang Paul A Late Convert

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    Mostly it is not worth the hours of paperwork and all the time and trouble. Add the value of the bike at home to the 250k import cost and you could buy a 2008 GSA cheaper here.
    However if you love your bike so dearly, or have an unusual or rare model, it may be worth it.
    M1 Tanker has done well and kudos to him, however read some of the information available on many forums and it really comes down to luck. The wrong customs agent or the wrong port of entry and you may never see your bike again as the costs to release it far exceed the value of the bike. Don't forget that TIT (this is Thailand) - whatever the law may say or be, it is open to interpretation by a local office (interpretations may vary even within one office) also there is almost no chance of an appeal without escalating costs.

    AlexAdi and Lockyv7 please read more about this before you get your hopes too high. Be prepared for a shitload of paperwork and one big heap of frustration.
    #7
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  8. Slim McThinnerson

    Slim McThinnerson n00b

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    You can also check Siam Shippings website. Some good info there.
    #8
  9. lockyv7

    lockyv7 Long timer

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    i have some people looking into it for me, lets just say i know a bloke who knows a bloke who has a brother that, , ,
    #9
  10. Farang Paul

    Farang Paul A Late Convert

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    "i have some people looking into it for me, lets just say i know a bloke who knows a bloke who has a brother that, , ,"
    If you have any real experience of Thailand you will know that the above statement is like opening your wallet and inviting them to help themselves - som nam na!
    #10
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  11. lockyv7

    lockyv7 Long timer

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    there's another saying, what you dont know you just dont know.

    you dont know me and you dont know who i know or what i know.
    #11
  12. Farang Paul

    Farang Paul A Late Convert

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    Another expert on Thailand who doesn't live here!
    #12
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  13. M1Tanker

    M1Tanker Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    105
    Location:
    Thailand
    I haven’t checked this thread in a long time.

    Here are some additional comments.

    I like my bike but it is just a machine. The reason that I decided to import it was based on economics.

    To purchase a new BMW R1200GS Adventure here in Thailand is over 1 million THB. In 2015 when I was researching the feasibility of importing my motorcycle, I did search for used R1200GS Adventures in Thailand. I found a 2009 and it cost about 880,000THB; which was about the price I paid for mine when I bought it new. Other GS's that I found were just about as expensive. I created an Excel spreadsheet and put all of the Thai customs formulas into it. I came up with a total duty cost of about 360,000THB. I had someone independently create a spreadsheet and he came up with about he same cost. Again, the actual cost was just under 250,000 THB

    I did consider selling my motorcycle in Germany, but the challenge was that I purchased the motorcycle, a US specification motorcycle, through the BMW Military Sales program (that apparently no longer exists) and thus paid no German VAT or amazingly the 6% import fee. Additionally it was registered in the U.S. Army Europe system and not in the German system. If I sold the motorcycle to a German then they would have to pay for the VAT and the import fee, making it cost ineffective to a German. (NOTE: If the motorcycle was a German specification motorcycle that had been previously registered in the German system then I would have probably sold it, taking the money and purchasing a motorcycle here in Thailand.)

    I could have sold it to a US service member or US Government worker in Germany, but there aren't many riders in that demographic that can afford the motorcycle in Germany and those that can take advantage of the BMW Military Sales program by paying a lower MSRP and no taxes. Thus, given my estimates I decided to attempt importing the motorcycle. (NOTE: If had been stationed in the U.S. upon retirement then I would have probably sold it, taking the money and purchasing a motorcycle here in Thailand.)

    Luck. I don't discount luck but I believe in detailed planning and thorough execution of the plan.

    After I had finished all the paperwork and received my import license from the Department of Foreign Trade, I visited the Thai Customs Customer Service in Klong Toey. I presented all of my documents and photographs of my motorcycle to the customer service representatives and asked them how much the custom's duties and fees would be explaining that I needed to know that before I told the shippers to ship my household goods (HHG) and motorcycle.

    I also stated to the Thai Customs customer service representatives that there was no reason a reasonable duty estimate could not be given. I explained that I was concerned about the potential for corruption if an estimate could not be given. I told then that I refused to pay corruption fees. They were very professional and agreed.

    They said that they were not the ones to assign the duty costs for the import stating that authority resided with the customs officer in charge of the respective import warehouses. One customer service representative called a customs officer at the Port of Klong Toey, a few minutes away, and arranged that I visit him. After leaving the Thai Customs Customer Service office I immediately went to see this customs officer.

    When I met with the customs officer I explained what I was attempting to do and presented all of my documentation. I repeated the same things that I had stated with the officials at the Department of Foreign Trade and the Thai Customs Customer Service. He took all of my paperwork and after a short period of time told me that the total cost would be under 250,000 THB. I was astonished given my own estimate. I asked him if that was really what I would pay and he stated that would be exactly what I would pay if my shipment came to one of his warehouses. He added that if it went to another warehouse in the Port of Klong Toey or even the main Port of Laem Chambang he could not guarantee what I would pay. He gave all my paperwork back to me along with his contact information. (NOTE: I had heard all sorts of horrible stories about Customs at the Port of Laem Chabang which concerned me. The other issue with Laem Chabang is that if I had an issue with anything there it is much father away from the Thai Customs Headquarters in Klong Toey.)

    I got the answer I wanted and contacted the shippers. The shippers stated that my shipment was scheduled to go to the Port of Laem Chambang. I explained that it was critical that my shipment go to the Port of Klong Toey and I provided the warehouse numbers under the customs officer that I had spoken to.

    Weeks later when my shipment arrived in Klong Toey, I found out that it was going to another warehouse not under the customs officer that I had given me the duty estimate. I checked to see if the destination warehouse could be changed (to one under the customs officer that I had worked with) and I was informed that was not possible. I visited the warehouse where my shipment was scheduled to be delivered and spoke to its customs officer. I restated the whole story and provided all the documentation again. She seemed confused. I found out that she was newly assigned there from the Port of Laem Chabang. I asked her if I could talk to the other customs officer, who was in another warehouse and she politely agreed. I went to the other customs officer and he returned with me. He spoke with the newly assigned customs officer and in fact showed her the spreadsheet on his phone that he had made for my motorcycle weeks before. She took his spreadsheet and used it, as such the cost was the same as the original estimate.

    On another note regarding motorcycles in Thailand and in particular BMWs. I have found in the three plus years of my motorcycle being here in Thailand that there are virtually no parts in stock at BMW dealers for my motorcycle, which is kind of understandable given its age. It takes about 50 days to get a part from Germany. With that said, my Thai colleagues in the BMW Motorcycle club of Thailand (BMWMCTH) suffer the same issues with their much new BMWs. Another issue is the quality of mechanical service. It is not easy to find a qualified, certified, and experienced BMW mechanic, even at a dealership. The BMWMCTH members are constantly frustrated with this.

    If I were coming to Thailand and wanted to ride a larger adventure style motorcycle I would probably put the Honda Africa Twin at the top of my research list. They cost about 550,000 THB. There are a number of Honda dealerships that handle more than just scooters. With that said, Honda sells way way more scooters (the Wave and the Click) than anything else. I think Honda is the market leader in sales and in dealerships. With that said, I don’t see too many Africa Twin’s on the road here but there are some. I am also not necessarily convinced that if I were to take a Africa Twin to a Honda dealer that the mechanics actually know anything about it. They could probably work on a scooter just fine but I’m not so sure about a real motorcycle.

    Maintenance and supportability are issues for any real motorcycle (or as Thais say “Big Bike”) in Thailand. Thailand is a scooter market.















    #13
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  14. SilverBullet

    SilverBullet Been here awhile

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    Location:
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    That yellow text is completely unreadable on a white background. I would choose another color so everybody can read your posts.
    #14
  15. SilverBullet

    SilverBullet Been here awhile

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    I don't know Paul, his logic sounds very Thai to me. 555 You know the 'ask 2-3 knowlegdable people but then do what the village idiot tells you instead'. สมน้ำหน้า
    #15
    Farang Paul likes this.
  16. M1Tanker

    M1Tanker Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    105
    Location:
    Thailand
    Sorry about that. The background that I have is black.

    I haven’t checked this thread in a long time.

    Here are some additional comments.

    I like my bike but it is just a machine. The reason that I decided to import it was based on economics.

    To purchase a new BMW R1200GS Adventure here in Thailand is over 1 million THB. In 2015 when I was researching the feasibility of importing my motorcycle, I did search for used R1200GS Adventures in Thailand. I found a 2009 and it cost about 880,000THB; which was about the price I paid for mine when I bought it new. Other GS's that I found were just about as expensive. I created an Excel spreadsheet and put all of the Thai customs formulas into it. I came up with a total duty cost of about 360,000THB. I had someone independently create a spreadsheet and he came up with about he same cost. Again, the actual cost was just under 250,000 THB

    I did consider selling my motorcycle in Germany, but the challenge was that I purchased the motorcycle, a US specification motorcycle, through the BMW Military Sales program (that apparently no longer exists) and thus paid no German VAT or amazingly the 6% import fee. Additionally it was registered in the U.S. Army Europe system and not in the German system. If I sold the motorcycle to a German then they would have to pay for the VAT and the import fee, making it cost ineffective to a German. (NOTE: If the motorcycle was a German specification motorcycle that had been previously registered in the German system then I would have probably sold it, taking the money and purchasing a motorcycle here in Thailand.)

    I could have sold it to a US service member or US Government worker in Germany, but there aren't many riders in that demographic that can afford the motorcycle in Germany and those that can take advantage of the BMW Military Sales program by paying a lower MSRP and no taxes. Thus, given my estimates I decided to attempt importing the motorcycle. (NOTE: If had been stationed in the U.S. upon retirement then I would have probably sold it, taking the money and purchasing a motorcycle here in Thailand.)

    Luck. I don't discount luck but I believe in detailed planning and thorough execution of the plan.

    After I had finished all the paperwork and received my import license from the Department of Foreign Trade, I visited the Thai Customs Customer Service in Klong Toey. I presented all of my documents and photographs of my motorcycle to the customer service representatives and asked them how much the custom's duties and fees would be explaining that I needed to know that before I told the shippers to ship my household goods (HHG) and motorcycle.

    I also stated to the Thai Customs customer service representatives that there was no reason a reasonable duty estimate could not be given. I explained that I was concerned about the potential for corruption if an estimate could not be given. I told then that I refused to pay corruption fees. They were very professional and agreed.

    They said that they were not the ones to assign the duty costs for the import stating that authority resided with the customs officer in charge of the respective import warehouses. One customer service representative called a customs officer at the Port of Klong Toey, a few minutes away, and arranged that I visit him. After leaving the Thai Customs Customer Service office I immediately went to see this customs officer.

    When I met with the customs officer I explained what I was attempting to do and presented all of my documentation. I repeated the same things that I had stated with the officials at the Department of Foreign Trade and the Thai Customs Customer Service. He took all of my paperwork and after a short period of time told me that the total cost would be under 250,000 THB. I was astonished given my own estimate. I asked him if that was really what I would pay and he stated that would be exactly what I would pay if my shipment came to one of his warehouses. He added that if it went to another warehouse in the Port of Klong Toey or even the main Port of Laem Chambang he could not guarantee what I would pay. He gave all my paperwork back to me along with his contact information. (NOTE: I had heard all sorts of horrible stories about Customs at the Port of Laem Chabang which concerned me. The other issue with Laem Chabang is that if I had an issue with anything there it is much father away from the Thai Customs Headquarters in Klong Toey.)

    I got the answer I wanted and contacted the shippers. The shippers stated that my shipment was scheduled to go to the Port of Laem Chambang. I explained that it was critical that my shipment go to the Port of Klong Toey and I provided the warehouse numbers under the customs officer that I had spoken to.

    Weeks later when my shipment arrived in Klong Toey, I found out that it was going to another warehouse not under the customs officer that I had given me the duty estimate. I checked to see if the destination warehouse could be changed (to one under the customs officer that I had worked with) and I was informed that was not possible. I visited the warehouse where my shipment was scheduled to be delivered and spoke to its customs officer. I restated the whole story and provided all the documentation again. She seemed confused. I found out that she was newly assigned there from the Port of Laem Chabang. I asked her if I could talk to the other customs officer, who was in another warehouse and she politely agreed. I went to the other customs officer and he returned with me. He spoke with the newly assigned customs officer and in fact showed her the spreadsheet on his phone that he had made for my motorcycle weeks before. She took his spreadsheet and used it, as such the cost was the same as the original estimate.

    On another note regarding motorcycles in Thailand and in particular BMWs. I have found in the three plus years of my motorcycle being here in Thailand that there are virtually no parts in stock at BMW dealers for my motorcycle, which is kind of understandable given its age. It takes about 50 days to get a part from Germany. With that said, my Thai colleagues in the BMW Motorcycle club of Thailand (BMWMCTH) suffer the same issues with their much new BMWs. Another issue is the quality of mechanical service. It is not easy to find a qualified, certified, and experienced BMW mechanic, even at a dealership. The BMWMCTH members are constantly frustrated with this.

    If I were coming to Thailand and wanted to ride a larger adventure style motorcycle I would probably put the Honda Africa Twin at the top of my research list. They cost about 550,000 THB. There are a number of Honda dealerships that handle more than just scooters. With that said, Honda sells way way more scooters (the Wave and the Click) than anything else. I think Honda is the market leader in sales and in dealerships. With that said, I don’t see too many Africa Twin’s on the road here but there are some. I am also not necessarily convinced that if I were to take a Africa Twin to a Honda dealer that the mechanics actually know anything about it. They could probably work on a scooter just fine but I’m not so sure about a real motorcycle.

    Maintenance and supportability are issues for any real motorcycle (or as Thais say “Big Bike”) in Thailand. Thailand is a scooter market.
    #16
  17. Farang Paul

    Farang Paul A Late Convert

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2013
    Oddometer:
    143
    Location:
    Krabi, Thailand
    M1 Tanker - I have 2 BMW's a 1200 GS and a F800R. Never had a problem with parts. Entirely depends on your service agent.
    Hadyai is very good - Phuket is awful, but may improve now they have sacked Siam Motorrad.
    So glad you were able to import your bike successfully. Others should be aware that your prices are out of date. You were looking before GS's were assembled here and the subsequent significant drop in prices, which in turn has reduced the second hand prices. Plus, prices here in second-hand market rarely come close to the asking price, particularly where farangs are involved!
    #17
  18. M1Tanker

    M1Tanker Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Thailand
    Paul,

    Glad that you have never had a problem getting the parts that you needed.

    Yes those prices that I state are from the 2015 timeframe, as such, current prices may differ.
    #18
  19. Bradmeister

    Bradmeister Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Oddometer:
    28
    Location:
    Bangkok
    Well, it's been a Rough road to travel, with importing my 2008 K1200S, and as this was never made or sold here, I have to pay, If I want to Ride it.

    The Port is Key, and if your shipper is using a private port like, say: TST (Thai Sugar Terminal), get ready to bend over as well as open your wallet!

    Klong Toei is the Best Port of Call as it's an everyday 24 hour port. But if the company you have hired is not paying the big bucks to get in an early que....... well, it may be diverted elsewhere.

    On another note,, StaRting January first, all Used Motorcycles, Cars, Tanks, tractors, and trucks will be prohibited from coming into Thailand. Did anyone catch the Farmers protesting at the Ministry of Commerce a few weeks ago? They are not happy campers! No more used Japanese farm equipment. You buy New!

    Yes, I was just at the DFT yesterday, doing the dance for my Bike, so the info is Hot off the Press! Get your bike in now before the end of the year or forever be without it!

    Cheers
    #19
    BangkokSpanner likes this.