Thailand: Customs Law Amendments No. 16/17

Last Updated: 5 June 2001
Article by Pimvimol Vipamaneerut

The Thai Legislature has recently enacted two pieces of legislation amending the Customs Act B.E. 2469 (1926) (hereinafter, referred to as "the Act"). In this article, I will discuss the rationale behind these amendments and explain the ways in which they have reformed Thai customs law.

I. Amendment No. 16

Amendment No. 16 (The Customs Act (No.16) B.E. 2542 (1999)) Came into force on November 26, 1999. It augments Section 27 and modifies Section 32 of the Act.

The rationale behind this amendment was to suppress widespread tax and customs evasion. The Thai Legislature hoped that the following changes would make life more difficult for smugglers on the sea by expanding the definition of illegal actions, as well as by creating broader measures for confiscation of vessels involved in prohibited activities.

Section 27 of the Act is generally concerned with the smuggling of goods into and out of Thailand and/or the evasion, or attempted evasion, of Thai customs duties. This provision specifically holds that it is an offence for any person to import or export (or assist in the import and/or export) any uncustomed, restricted or prohibited goods; note also that any person who receives such goods is deemed to have committed an offence.

Amendment No. 16 augments Section 27 of the Act by adding a provision that attempts to suppress suspicious types of activities (which are likely to lead to smuggling of goods) outside the port areas of Thailand (Section 27 ter). To elucidate, this section reads that no vessel shall load any goods in the sea outside port areas without (i) reasonable grounds for doing so, or (ii) permission from a competent officer. The master of the vessel or any other person involved in violating said provision faces the threat of imprisonment and/or.a hefty fine 1 , whilst any goods found aboard the vessel will be liable to confiscation by the relevant authorities.

Unlike Section 27, which was merely broadened by Amendment No. 16, Section 32 was completely repealed and replaced by the amendment.2 Section 32 deals with vessels used in relation to smuggling and the confiscation of offending vessels’ goods. The original version exclusively referred to and specified sanctions only for those vessels not exceeding 250 tons in weight used in smuggling activities. The current provision prohibits the same 3 , yet goes even further. Under the new section, the Court is empowered to order the confiscation of a vessel used in relation to smuggling (including its goods) over 250 tons in weight, according to the "circumstances of the offence". This means that the weight or size of the vessel is no longer determinative, as it once was. Any vessel involved in smuggling activities and its goods, regardless of weight, may now be confiscated 4 .

Under the amendment , the new section will also hold a person accountable even though goods involved in illegal activities do not belong to him or her, so long as circumstances are such that the said person knew, or had reason to suspect, that an offence was being committed, and failed to act, or rectify the situation, or to take precautions to prevent such goods from being connected with the commission of the offence.

II. Amendment No. 17

Customs Act (No. 17) B.E. 2543 (2000) (hereinafter, "Amendment No. 17") is the most recent amendment to the Act, brought into force on January 1, 2000. It contains numerous provisions which alter various fundamental parts of the Act.

Most significantly, the definitions of "true market price" or "price" under Section 2 of the Act were repealed and replaced by Section 3 of Amendment No. 17. The Amendment No. 17 now refers to "customs price" or "price" and provides new definitions of the terms. These amendments were required to bring Thailand’s customs laws into compliance with the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs 1994 (the "GATT"). Since Thailand has become a member of the World Trade Organization and a signatory to the GATT, it was necessary that our customs laws be modified accordingly. Before these changes, "true market prices"5 were used as the basis for the assessment of duties on imported goods in Thailand. Under the new law, "customs prices"6 are used in the assessment of duties on imported goods. The new law modifies procedures, bases and conditions on how to assess the duties on imported goods.7

In addition to these changes to fundamental definitions in the Act, Amendment No. 17 adds Section 11. 8 Section 11 states that the customs price shall include insurance charges, as well as transport, stevedoring, and handling charges connected with the transported goods to the port or place of importation. In cases where no such charges exist, the Director General has the authority to fix the value of such items. Provision for the inclusion of insurance and other such charges into the customs price was not part of the original Customs Act.

It’s important to note that under the new laws, the Custom Department Director-General has the authority to set the prices of the customs goods as he or she deems fit, in circumstances where the price of the goods is evidently low or unlikely to be an accurate .reflection of their true value, even though the price of the goods has been fixed according to the definition of "Customs Prices" in section 2 of the Act.

Amendment No. 17 alters another fundamental aspect of the Act - the appeal procedure for those appealing against duty assessments. Instead of lodging an appeal with the Director General of the Customs Department, as was the former practice, importers/exporters may now appeal directly to an Appeal Committee. The Appeal Committee is comprised of the Director General (Chairman), a representative from the Ministry of Finance, a representative from the Office of the Juridical Council and five to seven other members appointed by the Director General. The amendment also sets out the particulars of the Appeal Committee’s administration, such as the procedures for vacating office or appointing new members, members’ terms of service, Committee powers and decision making authority, etc. All things considered, the new law intends to create a more fair, efficient and transparent procedure than that formerly instituted.

Amendment No. 17 also clarifies one of the provisions relating to records keeping. Whereas under the Act, section 113 sets out the method of preparing all entries, records, books etc. relating to customs formalities, the amendment (as Section 113 bis) provides that the duty to keep and store such records (etc.) lies with the importer, exporter, ship agent, the agent of the ship agent or any other person designated by the Director General, as the case may be; that any such person must keep such record for a period of not less than five years from the date of importation or exportation in case of the need for inspection. If any of the above persons fails to comply with this provision, he or she is liable to imprisonment and/or a hefty fine.9

In addition, Amendment No. 17 sets out the powers of the Director General, or that person assigned by him or her, to carry out an investigation in circumstances of a violation or a failure to comply with the provisions of the Act, or where an offence relating to Customs has been committed.10 No such rules were spelled out before Amendment No. 17 came into force, and even though the Director General or his/her authorized representative may have exercised these powers in practice. It’s important to note that powers of the Director General (or assignee) are now legislatively mandated.


1 The section provides that imprisonment may be for a term of up to two years, or a fine equal to quadruple the price of the goods, or a fine of Baht 100,000, whichever is higher.

2 Section 32 repealed and replaced with section 4 of Amendment No. 16.

3 The section reads: "Any vessel of not more than two hundred and fifty tons burden, car, cart, vehicle, package or any other container, that is found to have been used in the removal, concealment or carriage or any uncustomed, restricted or prohibited goods, shall all be confiscated…"

4 Note also that all goods (even those which are not uncustomed, restricted or prohibited, so long as they are

contained on the same vessel with the prohibited goods) are liable to be confiscated in the event of any violation

of Section 32..

5 "True Market Value" or "Value" of any goods shall mean the wholesale cash price (exclusive of duty in the case of imports), for which goods of the like kind and quality would be sold without loss at the time and place of importation or exportation, as the case may be, without any deduction or abatement.

6 The word "customs price" or "price" of any goods,

  1. in the case of exportation, means cash wholesale price for the sale of goods of the same category and type without suffering a loss at the time and place of exportation without any deduction or reduction whatsoever, or
  2. in the case of importation, means price of goods with an aim to collect duty according to any of the following prices:
    1. selling/buying price of imported goods;
    2. selling/buying price of identical goods;
    3. selling/buying price of similar goods;
    4. deductible price;
    5. computable price;
    6. reversible price.

However, the bases, procedures and conditions regarding the application and the fixing of price under (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), and (f) shall be as prescribed in the Ministerial Regulations.

7 Ministerial Regulations No. 132 B.E. 2543 (2000) issued under Customs Act. B.E. 2496 (1926) governing bases, procedures and conditions respectively application and fixing of custom price.

8 Section 11 had been formerly repealed by the Customs Act (No. 9) B.E. 2484 (1939)

9The section provides that imprisonment may be for a term of up to six months, or a fine of Baht 50,000, or both.

10 Note that in cases where a juristic person is deemed the offender in question, in order that the responsible parties may be brought to justice, the Director General may also prescribe liability against the managing director/partner, or the person responsible for the operations of said juristic person..

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions