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  1. #1
    Newbie M1Tanker's Avatar
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    Successful Permanent Import of Used/Secondhand Motorcycle

    For what its worth.

    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 very 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.

  2. #2
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    crackerjack101's Avatar
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    Woweee good for you, mate.
    You're the first bloke I've heard of who's successfully completed such within the remit of the Thai law, well done.
    Dare I ask what it cost you, all up?

    Had you had the bike from new?
    How long had you owned it?
    From which country did you import it?

    Sorry for all the questions but it's something I've been thinking about for a while.

    Cheers.
    42

  3. #3
    Custom Title Changer
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    You must have the patience of a saint, M1.

  4. #4
    Can I still change this?
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    Nice post, but it has left more questions than answers!

    Hope this M1 dude comes back and answers what Cracker has posted.

  5. #5
    I am in Jail
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bogon View Post
    Nice post, but it has left more questions than answers!

    Hope this M1 dude comes back and answers what Cracker has posted.
    Yeah I be currious too.I used to have the hots for an r1200gsa. But got over it.
    I rode an r1100gs for about ten years here and loved it (over 100k kms), and got over it, then sold it.

    Been bying and riding bicycles since. Better buzz me thinks.

    A big techno cow like the 1200gs is indeed a thing of beauty, but you whizz through the countryside way too fast.

    Slow down and smell the fried chicken.

  6. #6
    Newbie M1Tanker's Avatar
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    I bought the 2008 BMW R1200GS Adventure (U.S. Specification) new from BMW Military Sales in Kaiserslautern, Germany and have owned it since.

    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.

    Do to the timing of things when I retired, I took it out of the U.S. Army system and I registered it into the German system. I had to take it out of the German system prior to shipping it to Thailand.

    I ended up paying less than 250,000THB in Thai Customs duties. I paid nothing in shipping costs as previously stated. I did incur costs in lodging and traveling around to numerous government offices to complete the enormous amount of paperwork required to accomplish this.

    I believe that I would not have been able to import my motorcycle if I was lacking any of the motorcycle documentation (bill of sale, original invoice, all registrations, data sheet, etc.) or personal documentation (valid passport, valid and correct visa for importing a motorcycle (NOTE: I was only allowed to import one motorcycle.), yellow tambien baan, Thai driver's license, past driver's licenses including international driver's licenses, etc..

  7. #7
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    So, 250,000 baht plus incidental expenses. Right?

  8. #8
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    A very interesting and informative post. Thanks.

  9. #9
    Newbie M1Tanker's Avatar
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    Correct. It cost me less than 250,000THB in Thai Customs duties plus incidental expenses.

  10. #10
    Newbie M1Tanker's Avatar
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    I searched many forums looking for information on permanently importing a motorcycle into Thailand prior to embarking on this effort. I found little information and what I did find was more opinion than fact.

    There may be someone here in Thailand that has permanently imported a motorcycle, or another vehicle, that may have not posted his experience. I thought I would post my experience as a source of information. I'm not saying it was easy or the next person's experience will be the same or even successful.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by M1Tanker
    There may be someone here in Thailand that has permanently imported a motorcycle, or another vehicle, that may have not posted his experience. I thought I would post my experience as a source of information. I'm not saying it was easy or the next person's experience will be the same or even successful.
    I've never found anyone who'd done it and I thank you for sharing your experience.
    It's something i've looked into but have always been put off by the bureaucracy and the total lack of authoritative advice.

    Cheers mate.

  12. #12
    Newbie M1Tanker's Avatar
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    crackerjack101, You are welcome.

    I'll also add the following to what I have written:

    I had no in country personal contacts (government officials or someone very connected) other than the Thai shipping agent, and they were helpful, to a point. They did not assist me at the Department of Foreign Trade and at times were of questionable help with Thai Customs.

    Knowledge and continuous and thorough communication are helpful and that is what I focused on. I don't speak Thai (although my goal is to speak Thai to a highly mediocre level someday) 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. Government bureaucratic language and vocabulary are unique.

    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. I visited many offices 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.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by M1Tanker
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by M1Tanker
    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. Government bureaucratic language and vocabulary are unique.

    Quote Originally Posted by M1Tanker
    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. I visited many offices 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.
    Very very good points. Not something i'd considered before. Kudos to you mate.

  14. #14
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    Quality information that M1
    Not sure many could get through it I'm sure I couldn't
    Hope you enjoy many happy and safe rides
    You deserve it

  15. #15
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    A picture of my motorcycle the day I mounted the license plate with a decent license plate frame (Not shown).

    Last edited by M1Tanker; 09-10-2016 at 08:27 AM.

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