Shipping Costs And Options For Us To Bkk (actually Going To Do This)

Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by Imported, Oct 4, 2016.

  1. Imported

    Imported New Member

    Greetings to all. I'm an American who has lived and worked in Bangkok for 7 of the last 10 years and after a year away, I'm moving back this month for another long-term job assignment. I started riding in Thailand 3 years ago and since have done about 30k km to many different parts of the country. I started with a 2013 Ducati Monster 795 and now have a 2014 Diavel that is waiting for me in my friend's garage.

    Due to uncertainty with where I'd be living next and my proclivity to spend first and ask questions later, I also bought another new bike in the US last year. I am now seriously looking at shipping this bike to Thailand either as a temporary or permanent import. Despite all the warnings and difficulties associated with this process, I believe it will be worth it because the bike is a fully built-up import in Thailand and priced over 200% it's US price, and since it's now 2 model years old the taxes will be lower if I do a permanent import.

    I'm looking for feedback from anyone who has recently shipped a bike to Thailand, or seriously attempted to do so or considered it but decided not to. Right now I'm getting shipping quotes from various companies, and I also have a BKK-based agent who will help with things on that side. Please share any recent experiences or related insights you may have.
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  3. M1Tanker

    M1Tanker Member


    I don't check this forum that often. I do check other motorcycle or Thailand related forums.

    With that stated, 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 (Customs English)
    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.
    • Like Like x 1
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2016
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Impressive that you followed it right through - congratulations.

    Now the $64 question how much do you think it cost to get the bike here & registered?
    Do you have a total figure at all?

    Do you have any break down on costs to share?

    Would you do it again?
  5. M1Tanker

    M1Tanker Member

    I just retired from the U.S. Army and this move to Thailand was paid for by the U.S. Army. I just had to pay the customs duties. With that stated, due to an error in a Department of State policy, I was originally not allowed to ship the motorcycle with my household goods. I checked into companies that had experience in shipping motorcycles from Germany, where I stationed and subsequently retired, to Thailand. The four estimates that I received around August 2015 were (2,440EUR; 2,730EUR; 1,250EUR; and 2,330EUR) to ship the motorcycle from Germany to Thailand. After researching the Department of State policy and contacting the Thai government I was able to get the Department of State to correct its policy and then the U.S. Army shipped the motorcycle at no cost to me.

    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. I did consider selling my motorcycle in Germany, but the challenge is that I purchased the motorcycle, a US specification motorcycle, through the BMW Military Sales program and thus paid no German VAT or amazingly the 6% import fee. 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. 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.

    When I did pay my duties I ended up paying less than 250,000THB.

    Would I do it over again? If I owned a German specification motorcycle that I had paid VAT on, I would have tried to sell to a German. If I was stationed in the US, I would have tried to sell it to someone there. I have owned it since new. I have gone to the Isle of Man TT races and ridden it through all of the highest passes in the Alps with it. I like it but it is just a machine. Given the same circumstances though, I would have done the same thing. It really was a lot of research and work.

    What I have written is a very very short version of the account.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    It really sounds like a bike you love & can't part with because of so many memories & good times.

    If you want to post a photo or two the bike would be cool.

    What bike(s) are you actually riding?
  7. M1Tanker

    M1Tanker Member

    I wouldn't say that I love the motorcycle, I like it but it is just a machine.

    It's a 2008 BMW R1200GS Adventure.

    I haven't posted before and it looks like all my photos are over 1MB. The max size is 250KB.
  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    To upload a photo direct you GTR the size is limited to 250 KB, but if you have the image on a photo gallery site all you need do is insert the hyper link to the image.
    Good luck & thanks for posting all that info - much appreciated.
  9. M1Tanker

    M1Tanker Member

    • Like Like x 1
  10. Imported

    Imported New Member

    M1Tanker, thank you for the extremely helpful and clearly written posts. I am in a somewhat similar situation in the sense that I have a US-origin 2015 Ducati 1299S, a model not assembled in Thailand and sold here for a whopping THB1.8m, that would be economically very inefficient to sell after only 1.5 years of ownership--the worst of the depreciation is behind me.

    Regarding my plans and situation, I am on a fresh 12 month work visa and work permit, and it is highly likely that I will be living in Thailand for 2-3 or more years (I've already lived there for 7 of the last 10). I speak Thai and I have some "hi-so" and government contacts so some of the obstacles foreigners face may be easier for me (or maybe not).

    I believe I will ship the bike under *temporary* import, which will give me six months, and then go through the permanent registration process at the end of this period (which appears to be allowed). However further research on the temporary import rules is needed. In my view this will give me time to figure things out on the ground, and maybe find a particularly cooperative customs agent. It will also put six months more depreciation on the bike to help with the duty.

    I plan to use a Bangkok-based importation agent -- KPS Bangkok Shipping and Logistics - KPS International Trade Thailand CO LTD. -- to help with the paperwork and customs on the Thailand side. I would be curious to hear M1Tanker if you also used an agent or did everything yourself. I'm being quoted THB 15,000 for this inclusive of all aspects of the paperwork.

    Right now I'm seeing shipping quotes from NYC to BKK in the range of $2,000 to $3,000, including crating. I find this surprisingly expensive compared to quotes I looked at last year to ship to Tokyo (where I was then based). Bangkok is further but not that much further. It appears with my relatively lightweight machine (370 lbs dry) it is not much more expensive to ship by air JFK to BKK than it is to ship by sea.

    This is as far as I've gotten. Any further thoughts or experiences would be very helpful.
  11. M1Tanker

    M1Tanker Member


    I recommend to anyone considering attempting to permanently import a motorcycle into Thailand that he build a spreadsheet using all of the cost calculations on the Thai Customs website (Customs English). The newer the motorcycle, the less of a discount is given by Thai Customs. One also needs to seriously consider what a realistic sales price of his motorcycle could be and if sold then taking that money and applying it to a purchase of a motorcycle in Thailand. It is a matter of costs, plus time and suffering.

    According to the aforementioned Thai Customs website, permanent importation of a used/secondhand vehicle, is allowable with a valid work visa and work permit. I recommend verifying that with Department of Foreign Trade, a different Thai government organization.

    I can't comment on whether or not in country personal contacts will help. I had none. Knowledge and continuous and thorough communication are helpful. Speaking Thai is certainly a good thing. With that said, government bureaucratic language and vocabulary are unique. I don't speak Thai (although my goal is to speak Thai to a highly mediocre level) and early on in my move to Thailand I realized that having a local Thai friend come with me to any government office was more of a hinderance to communication than a help. First, the local Thai's legal vocabulary in English, if not in Thai as well, is limited to non-existent. I could probably say the same about many Americans as well. Second, and more importantly, it gave the government official an easy way out because he could speak to my Thai friend in Thai. I frequently had no idea what was being communicated. What worked for me, is to go alone to Thai government offices, and I visited many and many more than a few times. Going alone forced that government office to get the best English speaker they could who was knowledgeable in that department's function to communicate with me the processes, rules, regulations, and laws.

    I did use KPS International Trade. The were helpful to a point. Send me a personal message and I'll elaborate.

    The costs that you provided from NYC to BKK are inline with quotes I received for shipping from Germany to Bangkok. Again, these costs (all costs) need to be considered in decision making.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Bump for the guy who just contacted me asking importing his own bike.

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