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International Relocation for Expats in Thailand

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: November 2016

Moving to another country is an exciting prospect but there is always a lot to organise. You will quickly find yourself with a near endless to do list: apply for a visa, obtain a work permit, look for work, find accommodation, move all your belongings... Coordinating all these activities and dealing with bureaucracy in two countries is demanding. The key is to familiarise yourself with what is required and start planning well in advance! In this respect, our Expat Briefing articles on Thailand offer a great starting point. 

Relocation Companies

One way to make the move easier is to use an international relocation company. Most of these companies do a lot more than just removals. They can also help you to apply for visas, look for accommodation, fulfil administrative requirements and enable you to settle into your new environment more easily. A relocation company will save you a great deal of bureaucratic legwork and ensure that your move meets all rules and regulations in the destination country. Generally these companies are worth the money you spend on them.

You can either find a relocation company in your home country or in Thailand. It is best to take some time to shop around, getting quotes from different companies, as the services offered and prices do vary. In addition, be sure to check if the company is registered with an international removal network such as the Federation of International Furniture Removers, FIDI. Some companies that offer relocation services to Thailand are:

Moving your Belongings

Packing is never much fun, so before you start, take a long hard look at your possessions. What do you really need? The more belongings you have, the more likely you are to need a removal firm. As these companies charge by volume (and by weight, for air removals), the more stuff you have, the more it will cost to move. So remember the old adage: if in doubt, chuck it out! This is particularly the case in a country like Thailand, where it is often usually much cheaper and much more convenient to buy furniture and other goods once you have arrived in the country. Moreover, imported goods may be subject to taxation.

Easy methods of lightening the load include donating to charity shops, using Freecycle and selling goods online or to second-hand dealers. Otherwise you can leave things with friends and family. Once you have finished, your removal company or insurer will normally require you to take a full inventory of your possessions in order to prepare a value statement.

If you do want to use a relocation company, a cheaper option is to use a specialist removal firm to do the removal alone. These companies can also move any pets and vehicles you have. Do not forget, however, to take out an independent insurance policy from a reputable company.  In addition, note that it will be more expensive to move to places other than Bangkok.

Specialist international removal companies operating in Thailand include:

Moving your belongings long-distance may involve both sea and land transport, meaning there is a lot to coordinate. This is especially likely to be the case if you are moving to one of the southern islands.

If you have still have some items left over, you could consider sending them. Most airlines will allow one free piece of luggage when travelling into the country. Sending items via post or express delivery services such as DHL or UPS is only feasible for small items. Heavy parcels tend to be expensive, though there is normally a maximum delivery cost.

Note well that the belongings you can move may be restricted or subject to import duties and taxes. In general, to be allowed into Thailand duty free, you must have permission to stay uin the country for more than a year.

Importing your Vehicle

Permanently importing a vehicle into Thailand is tightly restricted and very expensive. Before you can even start the process, you must have been living in the country for at least a year and hold a non-immigrant visa and work permit. in other words, to import your car, you will have to do without it for a year. In all cases, you are only allowed to import one vehicle into the country. Note further that it is especially difficult to enter Thailand by land anyway.

All in all, it is seriously worth considering waiting until you move to Thailand and then buying a vehicle there. Second-hand cars are very cheap. If, nevertheless, you are determined to import a vehicle into Thailand, you will need to know the following.

To successfully import your vehicle, you will need to supply the following documents as a minimum:

The latter must be obtained before entering Thailand, else you will be fined. For a full list of the documents you will require, see this Thai Customs Department page.

By importing your vehicle into Thailand, you may be liable to pay taxes and duties. The amount payable is based on the vehicle’s cost, insurance cost and freight, as shown in the table on the above Ministry of Commerce page.

Finally, you will need to register your vehicle. Temporary importation of a vehicle into Thailand is less of a rigmarole, but it is of course only suitable if you do not plan to stay in Thailand. Alternatively, considering the dangers that of driving on Thai roads, you could use public transport. For more details, see Driving and Public Transport.

Arriving in Thailand

After successfully relocating to Thailand, you will have to take care of several administrative matters, such as opening a bank account, registering with a doctor and registering with the tax authorities. To find out more, have a look at other sections of our Expat Briefing Website and consult the webpages of the Thai Immigration Bureau.




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