Temporarily Importing Your Own Motorbike Into Thailand
No ride is ever as good as the one on your own bike, is it? So unless you’re already on a RTW ride, here’s a rough guide to doing it on your own machine. You can either fly or ship your bike in, but unless you’ve got loads of loot and / or are desperately short of time, your best bet is to ship it to S E Asia.
Shipping your bike to Klong Toey is generally not recommended.
Singapore used to be the preferred place to ship your bike to and get it cleared quickly, but red tape & “modern” strict vehicle laws & high fees have made Sing a problem for quite a few riders with older bikes. So, nowadays the preferred place to ship a bike to is Port Klang, the port for Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia. From KL then it is only a day’s ride to the Thailand border. Penag / Goeorgetiwn is also ok, but much slower than Port Klang. Once you are in KL you can get your bike checked out & serviced at Sunny Cycle the number adventure bike shop & service centre in S E Asia.
Flying Your Bike in, is an option, and for this Suvannaphum (Bangkok) airport is not bad. You can clear your bike through customs in 1 day if you are fast and efficient, otherwise allow 2 days before you can ride away. Click here for a report on how easy it is. Note that if you are coming from Europe, Lufthansa have a special system for motorcyclists, which allows you to ride your bike fully loaded with luggage and some fuel (less than a litre) onto a pallet and into a container for delivery. At the other end you simply ride your bike out, easy. It is not expensive for what you get; both you and your bike depart and arrive on the same flight!
Note if you’re flying your bike into Bangkok that Customs will not clear the bike if you don’t have a tourist visa. If you’re temporarily residing in Thailand on a visa other than a tourist visa, Customs will not release the bike.
CARNET DE PASSAGE
This is an international vehicle travel permit, which is normally issued by your country / state’s Automobile Association. Note, in North America it is done by the Canadian Automobile Association, as there is no issuing office in the USA! A carnet is recognized in both Singapore and Malaysia, but not in Thailand, although the Thai customs will sometimes stamp the carnet anyway.
Singapore subject to local insurance and vehicle standards you are normally granted temporary import based on your period of stay (visa length) up to a maximum of 3 months. For more info contact Automobile Association of Singapore.
Malaysia subject to local insurance and vehicle standards you are normally granted temporary import based on your period of stay (visa length) up to a maximum of 3 months. For more info contact Automobile Association of Malaysia.
Thailand Thailand has its own vehicle temporary papers that are issued on arrival at the border.
Subject to local insurance you are normally granted import for the length of your visa (one, two or three month), up to a maximum of 6 months.
The overstay fine is 1,000 baht a day, with a maximum fine of 10,000 baht for up to 6 months overstay; plus a stern warning not to do it again, or you will lose your bike. What happens after 6 months- not sure. But I’ve seen a few warnings given out to other riders over the years, & it’s embarrassing to be around at the time!
Note that nothing is actually stamped in your passport. The Customs temporary import form is a separate document, recorded in the Customs computer, but not at all connected to the immigration computer.
Quite a few riders keep their bikes in the country on a temporary import, overstay, pay the fine, then take the bike out, ride back in again, to repeat the whole process yet again.
Note also that the temporary import form, signed by you, stipulates a huge fine (more than the bike is worth) should you not take the bike out as agreed.
Laos generally allows a 7-10 day temporary import at the border, with a maximum of 1 month possible, plus extensions. Overstay fines are set at US$5 a day, but experience has taught me that the total fee is often negotiable & negligible.
Cambodia does not use the Carnet, although it may sometimes be stamped and /or the officials find the form helpful for completing their documentation.
INSURANCE Is the only catch, but cheap temporary local insurance (<US$50) is available “at the border” in Singapore / Malaysia / Thailand / Laos. Depending on the insurance you get, it can be acceptable in the neighbouring country; so it is not a problem to deter your from bringing your own bike. The 800 baht Thai “border” insurance works, as can be testified by a certain BMW GS1100 rider from Singapore (in April 98) – his hospital bills were paid for, after he T-boned a pickup.
Insurance Costs Thailand: As a rough guide, maximum 3rd party insurance costs 1,600 baht a year.
Insurance Costs Laos: As a rough guide, maximum 3rd party coverage in Laos costs me 1,500 Thai baht a year. Minimal 2 week coverage costs 150 Thai Baht. This is with AGL & is available at most international border crossings. Click here for AGL Laos insurance rates.
Documents Required Entering Thailand – Motorcycle Temporary Import
1. Evidence of ID & ownership
2. Bike Registration
1. Customs Temporary Import / Export
2. Immigration TM2 Information of Conveyance
3. Immigration TM3 Crew List
4. Immigration TM4 Passenger List
Completed copies of all of these documents are required for each border crossing by motorbike. Fill out these before you arrive at the border & your crossings will be a lot easier. Complete all documents in duplicate.
If you’re arriving on a non-Thai registered bike, you must hand the duplicate copy back in as you leave. If you’re leaving on a Thai registered bike, you must hand the duplicate copy back in on your re-entry to Thailand.