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Munich

Import of Buddha Statues into Thailand

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Hi,

Does anybody of you have experience with the import of Buddha statues to Thailand?

We are going to relocate as soon it is possible and we were told by the moving company, that the import of our smal Buddha Statues is not allowed, as we do not have an Export licence in the first place.

What shall we do?

A way to aply for licence?

We got 4 Statues about 30 cm high, in  our house since 20 years, and beeing moved arround the world.

Thx

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Do you not have any crosses or similar to import as well?

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Posted (edited)

- Importation of antiques or objects of art, whether registered or not, require permission from the Fine Arts Department, Ministry of Education.  

http://www.customs.go.th

Edited by orchis

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Munich,

 

If you are going to move here for retirement, you are allowed a one time exception for all personal belongings. You can declare them as handicrafts and if you are smart, use a freight company like Schenker who will deliver door to door and take care of all forms for you. Having said that, you can still run into difficulties as Thai customs are notorious for trying to get whatever fees they can from anyone if the opportunity arises. But you might have another problem if you want to take them out of Thailand in the future. 

 

So, what I recommend for you is to get in touch with the Fine Arts Department in Bangkok, look them up on google, and tell them your situation. The fees for import or export license are low and if you interact with them personally, you will not be overcharged by an agent. I've done both, import and export and there is always a risk when it comes to Buddha statues. Buddha heads are problematic. It is 100% illegal. A complete Buddha statue poses no problem. No body parts are allowed to come and go. But as I said, you can always try sneaking them in and out, but you have to weigh the consequences. If they are antique and expensive, the risk is higher for you. 

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The Thai Embassy in your present country has at least one person authorized to check if they are allowed to be imported into Thailand.

Unless they are "special" he will issue the said Licence for about 500 BHT.

This does not automatically allow you to export them again

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A friend of mine imported some statues on the customs exemption (Thai returning back from UK), and the shipping company wrapped them up and marked them as something innocuous like 'furnishings' (I can't remember quite what but something like that). Lampshades or object d'art look the same if wrapped up a certain way with bubble wrap and cardboard or put in a box like a tv. 

 

There is always a possibility of someone undoing all the wrappings to check what it is, but as I understand, that seems to be an uncommon occurrence, and if done through an agent, they should be able to sort out any difficulties at the other end if something untoward does happen. 

 

If the statues are for religious purposes, that usually helps and if you are going through the upfront route by getting an import licence, it would be worth explaining why you wish to bring them.

 

It obviously can be done as it does seem that statues are regularly shipped from India to Thailand by Buddhist and Hindu temples without difficulty (or presumably nothing insurmountable).

 

 

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Just now, natway09 said:

The Thai Embassy in your present country has at least one person authorized to check if they are allowed to be imported into Thailand.

Unless they are "special" he will issue the said Licence for about 500 BHT.

This does not automatically allow you to export them again

That's useful to know. Not something they seem to advertise widely


 

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> @Munich - did sent you a PM

To access your PM-messages just click the letter-icon next to your profile when logged into the Forum.

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Sounds a bit like the crazy Corby woman who tried to smuggle drugs into Bali a few years back.

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On 7/3/2020 at 8:09 PM, orchis said:

- Importation of antiques or objects of art, whether registered or not, require permission from the Fine Arts Department, Ministry of Education.  

http://www.customs.go.th

is a Buddha statue a work of art ? 

Is it an antique if not old ?

Most Buddhas i see are mostly modern tat, not valuable art or antique

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@Munich

 

I saw that someone had linked to my thread from 2014.

 

Our shipper (in South Africa) said that he would not put the statues in the container and that the whole container might be sent back to South Africa, if the statues were found.

That last part is completely untrue. The container would not be sent back.

 

Here's what I would do now, after six years in Thailand.

 

 - Firstly, 30cm-high statues are not what the Department of Antiquities are looking for. We have several statues of that size, in wood, and they went into the container without a problem from the shippers. The statues that were a problem were 1-1.5m high, made of stone, and were crated individually because they weighed hundreds of kg. If you don't have any of the latter type of statue, you're fine. 

 

 - if you are bringing a container into Thailand, with large, stone statues, I would pack the statues in the container and simply leave their description off the list of contents altogether, or describe them as anything other than artifacts. Make sure the statues are packed with some metal objects around them, to confuse the shape if x-rays were used to check the container.

 

 - Despite what some have said about the one-time free importation of household goods, you will probably be made to pay something by the shipping company at the docks in Thailand, for release of your container. This is Farang Tax, and you just have to pay up, though you can negotiate the fee/bribe/scam down to a reasonable level.

 

 - In the very unlikely event of the statues being found and an issue being made of it, the most likely thing is that you could arrange an on-the-spot fine (bribe). Thai bureaucracy is very corrupt, as you know. They will probably suggest that a tax is payable.

 

 - If all else fails, you might lose the statues and you might be fined, but with small statues, that is extremely unlikely.

 

I wish I had known all this in 2016!

We left our statues in South Africa. I still miss them, as they had traveled with me for 25 years, from Bali to the UK, then to South Africa, and I was looking forward to having them in a Buddhist country.

 

Just take the statues with you, and be happy!

 

Good luck!      🙂

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Tapster said:

@Munich

Just take the statues with you, and be happy!

...

I did sent OP a lengthy PM two weeks ago with basically same recommendations, as well as some other helpful tips based on my own experience.

But he PM has not been opened.

I really don't understand people that ask for help/advice on a Forum, and don't even bother to check the responses they get.

 

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