Private Motorcycle Import

Motorcycles – Thailand Private Motorbike Importation:

Not easy. A lot of trouble & for 99% of people not worth the time, trouble or cost. So buy local & save yourself heaps of time, worry & probably money. However if you insist, and think you can out smart the system, then consider these facts.

  1. IMPORT PERMIT. You need two Import Permits; (1)  from the Foreign Trade Department to import an assembled vehicle (car or motorbike) & (2) from the Industrial Standards Institute.
  2. CUSTOMS DUTY: The Customs Tarif Item heading is 87.11; & the total rate of Customs duty i+ Excise + VAT is 77.04% of the value of the vehicle. The value of the vehicle includes the freight. Customs have a list of big bike values & if your invoice does not “match up” then they apply their own market value. There is no easy cheats way out – you have to pay, & you will pay heavily. Take a look at the official Thai Customs website for more detailed info & to scare yourself.
  3. REGO HOMOLOGATION TEST: Once you get your bike cleared by Customs you should get it licensed. A homologation compliance test is needed first. The cost for this is 27,000 baht & may take several weeks / months to set up if you don’t use a broker (& a broker costs more). The standard is Euro4, the highest in the world & almost no carburreted bikes will pass this test. The bike needs to pass the strict emission test before it can be registered. No emission pass = no legal registration. After that it’s only a few hundred baht a year for rego, plus insurance.
  4. UNASSEMBLED BIKES – the cheat’s way in by the “back door.” These come in by the container load as 2nd hand parts & are only subject to 30-40% customs duties. It is a bit of a huge racket. These were the bikes that you usually saw on the roads of Thailand without a number plate. However these are technically illegal & the police will delight in finding you riding one. But you can’t leave the country on an unregistered motorcycle & you will struggle to get any satisfactory insurance.
  5. LICENSED BIG BIKES: Any licensed big bikes you see could be either legally imported (BMW, Ducati, KTM, Triumph, Yamaha) with full duties paid, or registered grey imports – previously unassembled ones brought in as parts.
    The cost for a grey import rego used to be anything from 35,000 baht up, depending on whom you were dealing with. Most of the books were recycled, with the bike having engine & frame numbers re-stamped to match up with an old book / bike that was previously registered. However this old corrupt system does not seem to operate anymore (2016.)
    If you buy a bike that is not registered record the engine & frame number to keep an exact record of your bike model for ordering parts later on when it does not have the same engine & frame number, as may get re-stamped if you’re trying to go the cheats way.
    Now there were dealers who used to claim their books are not recycled; how they managed this I don’t know but the crunch always came when you either had to renew your bike rego or transfer the place of registration &/or ownership. Some of the time it worked, but many times it does not – the renewal / transfer is not approved. Sometimes this is because the bike might be registered as 20 or 30 years old but it is only a few years old, the number of cylinders or capacity are wrong. These are all little traps you need to watch out for when buying a registered bike. If you never sell the bike or change the place of registration you might never have a problem, but if you’re buying, then check it all closely, especially if you are going to change the place of registration from one province to another. Your local officials might like to be official & pay attention to what you’ve supposedly got in the book.

In Chiang Mai Khun Nat at Piston Shop is helpful sorting out bike registration.

Still unsure? Then read some of these GT Rider Bike Import experiences and comments

The GT Rider advice: buy new locally & get a legal registered bike & registration book, with no fear of having a dodgy book & getting your beloved bike seized.

New bike dealers in Thailand are


The GT Rider