Tips for international express shipping from Vietnam to Thailand

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In recent years, trade between Vietnam and Thailand has been on an upward trajectory. Thailand currently stands as Vietnam's largest trading partner within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). With a shared target of reaching US$25 billion in bilateral trade by 2025, the two countries are on track. 2022 alone saw their combined trade figures reaching US$21.2 billion, marking an 8.74% increase from the preceding year.  

Such robust trade metrics signify the diverse goods being shuttled between these two Southeast Asian giants. Given this, express shipping has become a pivotal element, enabling businesses in Vietnam to efficiently send parcels to Thailand and vice-versa. For businesses aiming to leverage this lucrative corridor, we'll discuss what you must do to ensure a seamless international shipping experience to Thailand. 

1. Familiarise yourself with the necessary shipping documentation 

When transporting goods between Vietnam and Thailand, ensuring you have the correct documentation in place is essential. General customs clearance procedures for imports into Thailand necessitate some key documents, including but not limited to: 

  • Air waybill (AWB): An AWB is required for air shipments (whereas sea shipments necessitate a bill of lading). Several details are included in the AWB, such as: the shipper’s and the receiver’s address and contact information, the shipment contents, weight and dimensions etc. 
  • Commercial invoice: This document outlines the specifics of the transaction between the buyer and the seller. It should detail the product's value, terms of sale, description, and other crucial information. The commercial invoice is vital for determining customs duties and taxes. 
  • Import entry form: This is the primary document required by Thai customs to clear shipments. It provides a snapshot of the contents and details of your shipment and is foundational to the clearance process. 

The value of accurate and complete documentation 

While the list above includes standard documents, different types of goods might have additional or unique documentation needs. For instance, items like food products, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, healthcare products, cosmetics, hazardous substances, animals, and certain agricultural products may require an import or export license and authorisation from the relevant authorities.  

Bear in mind that a misstep in documentation can quickly escalate into a logistical nightmare. Without the import entry, for example, your goods will be kept in a Customs bonded warehouse for up to 45 days upon arrival in Thailand. Furthermore, in cases of import licensing errors, you may need to either forfeit your goods or pay a fine equivalent to the combined value of the goods, duty, and applicable tax

For businesses new to the international shipping process, DHL Express Vietnam can guide you through the process, ensuring all relevant documents are in order. This proficiency minimises potential delays, helping your shipments to arrive as quickly and hassle-free as possible.  

2. Familiarise yourself with Thailand import duties and taxes 

Once your imports reach Thailand, customs duties are applicable. Imports into Thailand are subject to customs duties and taxes as outlined in the Customs Act and the Customs Tariff Decree. Crucially for enterprises in Vietnam, all goods undergo classification under the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System. Further aligning with regional standards, Thailand also embraced the ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN) 2017, effective January 2022. 

One valuable point to consider when shipping to Thailand is the de minimis threshold, which stands at THB1,500. If your shipment's combined cost, insurance, and freight (CIF) is valued below this threshold, you can bypass import tax, offering potential cost savings. The de minimis is essentially a value cut-off, under which no duties or taxes apply to the imports. 

While there is currently no standalone free trade agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and Thailand, businesses can still benefit from preferential rates under the framework of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA). This not only means reduced tariffs but also enhanced market access, providing a competitive edge for Vietnamese products.  

3. Identify what can or cannot be shipped 

Thailand has stringent customs regulations when it comes to the import of specific goods. These regulations categorise items into prohibited goods and restricted goods. 

Prohibited goods are items that are completely banned from importation or exportation in Thailand. Attempting to bring in such items can lead to severe penalties, including fines, imprisonment, or both. Examples of these goods include narcotics, counterfeit or Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) infringing items, counterfeit currency, and certain endangered animals or those listed under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). 

On the other hand, restricted goods are items that, while not banned, have restrictions. Their import or export requires a specific permit from designated Thai governmental agencies. Without the requisite permit, these items may be seized, and importers might face penalties. Here are some examples of restricted goods and their corresponding issuing authorities in Thailand: 

  • Plants: The Department of Agriculture is the regulatory authority. 
  • Vehicle parts: Regulated by the Ministry of Industry. 
  • Food, medicine, cosmetics, supplements: Oversight is by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 
  • Radio devices and telecommunication equipment: Managed by the Office of The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission. 

Vietnamese businesses looking to import into Thailand should be acutely aware of these distinctions to avoid potential legal complications and financial repercussions. Always ensure the necessary permits are acquired for restricted items and avoid shipping prohibited goods entirely. 

4. Use proper packaging and labelling  

Finally, make sure to prioritise your shipping packaging prior to your goods’ delivery to Thailand. The correct packaging not only protects your items, especially if they're fragile or sensitive, but also optimises space, potentially saving on shipping costs. Accurate and clear labels, on the other hand, facilitate a smoother and quicker customs clearance process. Thai customs officials rely on these labels for a snapshot of the shipment's contents, ensuring they align with the country's import regulations.  

For example, if you are importing processed foods into Thailand, it is essential that your labels clearly display key information like the product's name, description, net weight, and its manufacturing and expiration dates. The label must also incorporate the manufacturer's or importer's contact details and the product or label's registration number.  

Most labels need to be in Thai, with the exception of alcoholic beverages, as well as medical and dental items. Bear in mind that the Thai Food and Drug Administration may seize products that don't meet these labeling standards. 

Start shipping to Thailand via DHL Express Vietnam 

Overall, navigating international shipping requires a partner that embodies expertise, reliability, and efficiency.  

As a frontrunner in global logistics, we understand the urgency that businesses sometimes face and offers a range of delivery windows to cater to your express shipping needs: 

  • End of day: Ensures that your shipment is prioritised and reaches its destination swiftly by the end of the next business day. While this might seem like a standard option, with DHL Express Vietnam's efficiency, it often means the parcel arrives earlier than expected, but certainly by the close of business. 
  • 9:00 AM: For shipments that need to reach their recipients first thing in the morning. 
  • 12:00 PM: Ensures delivery by noon, giving businesses half a day to process or utilize the received goods. 

Besides, there are several other aspects that make DHL Express Vietnam a preferred choice:  

  • Expertise in last-mile delivery: We are renowned for our efficient last-mile delivery services. Even in the remotest parts of Thailand, DHL Express Vietnam ensures timely parcel delivery, thanks to its extensive network. 
  • Global reach with a local touch: With operations spanning over 220 countries and territories, DHL Express Vietnam offers hassle-free international shipping and is well-equipped to handle the intricacies of cross-border transactions. 
  • Customer-centric approach: DHL Express Vietnam offers user-friendly tracking systems, responsive customer service, and solutions tailored to business needs. This customer-first approach has cemented DHL Express Vietnam’s reputation as a leading international logistics provider. 

Whether you are shipping documents or parcels, we can get them delivered right to any doorstep or business in Thailand. Simply open a business account with us to start exploring how DHL Express Vietnam can help your enterprise! From the moment you initiate a shipment, our dedicated team is on hand to provide guidance, address concerns, and keep you updated every step of the way.  

As you consider expanding your shipping horizons, remember that we aren’t just your trusted partner for Thailand; you can also explore our services when shipping to Taiwan or arranging an express delivery to Singapore.