Thailand: Customs clarifies inspection policy

Customs Department deputy director-general Phantong Loykulnanta has emphasised customs officials will not conduct personal inspections of arriving foreign tourists at airports, even if they are carrying or wearing multi-million-baht personal items.

He said this policy aligns with the country’s reopening.

Mr Phantong said it is the department’s policy to make life convenient for tourists and not burden them.

“We will not conduct personal inspections of people, even if they carry handbags worth hundreds of thousands of baht or wear luxury watches worth several million baht,” he said.

“This policy applies if those items are their personal belongings, not items carried in for trade.”

However, officials will conduct such searches of certain tourists if the authorities are tipped off about smuggling.

Another example of when a search will be conducted is if it is clear what people are wearing are not their personal belongings, said Mr Phantong.

One such instance would be if a tourist is wearing many wristwatches on their arms, he said.

In addition, all customs officials must wear their uniform while on duty, said Mr Phantong.

Inbound tourists can walk through the green lane (nothing to declare) if they do not have items liable for duty or tax and lack restricted goods.

Among the items exempted from duty are personal belongings in a reasonable quantity that are worth no more than 20,000 baht in total and are not prohibited or restricted goods or food, a maximum of 200 cigarettes or 250 grammes of tobacco, or 250g of all types combined, and no more than 1 litre of alcoholic beverage.

Arrivals can proceed through the red lane if they have goods to declare.

The government is hopeful for a tourism rebound driving the economy this year.

The sector recently contributed 12% of GDP.

The Finance Ministry projects GDP growth of 3.8% this year, while the number of foreign tourist arrivals is estimated to be 27.5 million, up 147% from last year.