5 months to import used cars into Thailand before ban hits

Classic cars at Bangkok’s Jesada Technik Museum.
Classic cars at Bangkok’s Jesada Technik Museum.

Want to bring that DeLorean from America to impress the Thai ladies with? Better do it soon.

Starting Dec. 10, Thailand will no longer allow imports of used cars to reduce pollution, curtail smuggling and improve road safety.

Those planning to bring second-hand cars into the kingdom will need to obtain approval from the Foreign Trade Department by Dec. 9, the agency’s chief executive announced yesterday. After that, no used vehicles will be allowed in the country.

Once the importer provides the ministry with the necessary documents, Adul Chotinisakorn said, the ministry will take no more than 25 days to evaluate the request.

Those that violate the ban face penalties of up to 10 years in prison or a fine equal to five times the value of the imported goods – as specified by import law. The vehicle could be seized as well. Motorcycles are not covered by the ban.

But with an estimated 1,000 used vehicles already being imported illegally each year, by the department’s estimate, it’s unclear how the ban will make much of a diff.

Adul said another agency would handle imports of other kinds of second-hand vehicles such as ambulances and cranes.

On top of combating the volume of smuggled vehicles, the import ban, published in the Royal Gazette last month, also came in response to growing demands for solutions to the hazardous air pollution increasingly blanketing Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

This year saw Bangkok shrouded in smog, while Chiang Mai was for weeks the world’s most polluted city, according to measurements of ultrafine particles called PM2.5 that have been linked to risk of heart attack and stroke.

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