If you live or vacation in Thailand, there’s a good chance you may have to send something back home. Whether it’s a personal letter, business package, or a purchase from an incredible shopping experience, you’ll want to know where you can get the cheapest international shipping rates from the most reliable international shipper.
This shipping guide details each step in sending items from Thailand to anywhere abroad. You’ll learn how to prepare your package, assemble and fill out the correct documents, and select the best shipper. You’ll also learn about shipping policies officials use when sending your shipment outside of Thailand.
If you’re looking to send items to Thailand, check out our guide to shipping to Thailand.
Preparing a package
When preparing a package for international shipping, take extensive care while packaging items. FedEx recommends this packing process. Shipping services worldwide subject packages to a wide array of abuse, and this is especially true for international shipping from Thailand. Marking your package fragile does little if anything in preventing rough handling.
One consideration is water damage, an issue that is often not accounted for until it is too late. A good practice is to wrap any items inside a plastic bag before packaging. This helps your item stays dry.
Finally, shipping containers can get hot. Be aware of this when shipping items sensitive to high temperatures. Expect your items to reach temperatures of at least 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
There may be other times, though, when you won’t be the one preparing your package for shipping. If this is the case, it’s important to find out who will prepare your package, and by what methods. Most private shippers can take photos of your package after they’ve prepared it for shipping.
When you ship your items from Thailand, you’ll have to fill out a Thai Post Customs Declaration form. Some shippers may help you fill out the form. Without this form filled you won’t be able to ship your package out of Thailand. Be sure to fill out the sender’s and receiver’s address, the item you’re shipping, the quantity, and the value.
Although there are many private and government funded shippers available, the shipping services listed below are just a few of the more popular options you have in Thailand.
Thailand Post is the main method of delivery for most people in Thailand. They have branches in most subdistricts in the kingdom. So finding a branch shouldn’t be a hassle. But the question of Thailand Post’s reliability is often a topic of debate. I’ve never had any challenges using Thai Post, but many users have claimed they’ve had packages stolen, lost, delayed, or damaged.
These claims may drive customers away from using their services, especially if they’re shipping valuable or fragile items. Take such complaints lightly, as everyone will have different experiences. I also recommend new customers look at their shipping options and rules on the official Thai Post website.
Thailand Post offers three major services for international shipping: Registered, EMS, and LogisPost World. Registered is the cheapest, yet slowest, service and has limited tracking. EMS World is similar to express shipping from other providers. And LogisPost is for packages between 20kg and 200kg.
Thailand Post offers insured shipping with tracking but it doesn’t cover much. And it’s hard to make a claim unless you purchase additional insurance.
DHL has 10 offices located across the Bangkok. DHL offers global express shipping. But drawbacks include a lack of offices outside Bangkok and expensive express shipping. And if a package is heading to a region that lacks a DHL office, another service is used to deliver the package to the final destination, negating DHL’s tracking service. DHL Guidelines can be found here.
When shipping packages internationally, DHL offers two options: Express and Express Worldwide. The only difference between the two methods is a few hours time. So unless what you’re shipping isn’t urgent, you can opt for Express shipping. They also offer tracking on up to 50 packages at a time. If you aren’t shipping bulk, then tracking your package won’t be a problem.
DHL offers insured shipping as well. DHLY will provide you with insurance, or they will refer you to a third party insurer for bulk shipments. Here’s a list of DHL’s insurance options for you to check out.
FedEx offices are located in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Nakhon Ratchasima. They are usually reliable, quick, and have many shipping options.
FedEx offers ground, air, and sea shipping. They also have Customs Critical shipping, which puts packages on a fast track through customs. Temperature controlled shipping is also available with the Customs Critical shipping option. Tracking is available on all packages sent through FedEx.
FedEx offers insurance as an add on. If you’re interested in insuring a package through FedEx, check out their list of insurance options or refine your search in the upper right box. For shipping restrictions, check out the FedEx Thailand export restrictions.
UPS has offices in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Nakhon Ratchasima. Like, FedEx, they are a popular pick for people who want to send their packages overseas.
UPS offers the same shipping services as other providers. But what separates UPS from other shippers is their Volume Shipping option. If you export products out of Thailand regularly, and depending on the size of your shipments, you can select wither low- or high-volume shipping. In this case, your shipments would be automated and move through the shipping process quicker.
For a list of insurance options when shipping through UPS, check out the insurance options they offer.
International Shipping Services Comparison
The following is a comparison of a package sent from Bangkok, Thailand to New York, USA. This comparison shows only base shipping cost and doesn’t account for additional services. Moreover, different shipping providers may include additional services like tracking, insurance, and online shipping, so there are other factors besides price and duration to consider.
Item: Legal Document
Weight: .5 kg
|Thailand Post Registered Mail||10-14 days||air||104 baht|
|Thailand Post EMS World||3-5 days||air||850 baht|
|DHL||3 days||air||1,177 baht|
|FedEx||3 days||air||2,491 baht|
|UPS||3 days||air||1,400 baht|
Often packages shipped from Thailand take longer to arrive at their destination as a result of customs holding packages. Thailand is a major source country for a variety of drugs, contraband, and counterfeit items, and as such, many countries hold packages arriving from Thailand for longer that usual times. These packages are more diligently search for banned items as well. For instance, packages arriving at the USA from Germany will make it through customs faster than items arriving at the USA from Thailand.
To avoid any additional customs delays, be sure to include the following info on all international packages leaving Thailand:
- country of origin
- shipper’s name and address
- description of item in English
- quantity of each item in package
- purchase price in currency of package’s destination
These items are banned from being exported from Thailand:
- fake royal or official seals
- counterfeit trademark goods
- fake currency, bonds, or coins
- goods with an improper Thai flag design
- obscene literature and pornographic materials
- IPR infringing goods e.g. musical tape, CD, VDO, computer software, etc.
When shipping your package from Thailand, your package may be held up in customs at the port of arrival. In America, for example, your package could stay in customs until they’ve thoroughly checked that it contains no illegal items. If you want your package to go through customs as quickly as possible, there are two steps you could take.
- Follow U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s import guidelines.
- Check that the shipper is part of the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism Program, or CTPAT.
If you’re having trouble locating your shipment, contact the shipper or the Customs and Border Protection.
If you are looking to ship large amount of goods, or perhaps moving the entire contents of a home, then you’ll need to look at freight forwarding and container shipping.
Container shipping involves shipping goods via a freight container usually aboard a freighter ship. Container shipping is best suited for individuals who are looking to ship a significant quantity of goods or individuals looking to ship a vehicle, motorcycle, building materials, or other large items. When choosing container shipping, you have two major options:
- LCL = Less than Container Load
- FCL = Full Container Load
LCL involves buying partial space in a container usually per 1 mÂ³ cubic meter. As such, it is cheaper as you are only paying for a small area of a much larger container. This is great for individuals who have items that are too large to ship via standard international shipping but are not a large enough quantity to warrant an entire container. The major drawback of LCL shipping is that you must wait until the entire container is filled and ready to ship. Therefore, you may wait months just until the container is filled and ready to ship before having to wait additional time for the actual transportation of the goods.
FCL involves filling an entire shipping container usually with at least 30 mÂ³ cubic meter of goods. Although the price is significantly higher, you will have more control over when and where the container is filled and shipped.
The total price for shipping with a container depends on how much of the container you fill. Most shipping companies offer half containers at 20 feet long, or LCL, and full containers at 40 feet long, or FCL. Prices vary by shipper. But a 20 foot container leaving Bangkok and arriving at New York City costs about $800. While a 40 foot container leaving Bangkok and arriving at New York City costs between $3,500 and $4,000. Adding insurance to either container type would run you another $50 to $100. All taxes are calculated by the value of items you ship. For an estimated price on what it’ll cost to ship your items using a container, check out this handy container shipping calculator.
Since most shipping companies use a shared shipping vessel, container shipping times range from four to eight weeks. It’ll be hard to find a shipper who can get your bulk container shipment from Thailand to the designate port any sooner.
Those considering container shipping will have to begin by choosing a freight forwarder. A freight forwarder is a firm that acts as an intermediary between you (the customer) and a commercial freight shipping company. A freight forwarder will offer a full range of services, consisting of sourcing a freight shipper, negotiating shipping prices, preparing the correct documents, tracking the shipment, storing the shipment, and helping with inland transportation.
A freight forwarder does not actually ship your freight. They are an industry broker who will help you navigate the complex facets of international freight shipping. They have industry relations with many shipping services and extensive knowledge of shipping logistics.
We recommend using Freighnet’s freight forwarding directory to locate a suitable freight forwarder. On that site, you’re given a list of freight forwarders in Thailand to choose from. Most of the forwarders don’t list shipping costs or times on their websites because of the many variables. But they calculate packages in one of two ways:
- Gross, or real, weight of the package
- Dimensional weight
If you’re shipping a palette of feathers, for example, the shipper would charge you by dimensional weight. Otherwise, they’d lose money because the real weight is so light. If you wonder what the cut-off is between real weight and dimensional weight, contact the freight forwarder.
When it comes to shipping times, it’s best to contact a freight forwarder to see what option is best for you. Shipping by air and sea are not always the quickest and slowest methods, respectively. Sometimes shipping by sea will be quicker than shipping by air.
Avoid these common errors when shipping to ensure your product arrives at its destination safely and on time:
- shipping prohibited items
- packaging items incorrectly
- failing to account for duty and VAT
- setting inaccurate shipping weights
- selecting the wrong shipping service
- misunderstanding custom’s procedures
- failing to include the required paperwork
- filling out addresses and forms incorrectly
By following this guide, you should be able to mitigate as much risk and unnecessary spending as possible. So whether you are an expat living abroad, a tourist on a shopping spree, or someone doing business in Thailand, you will be well equipped to handle any of your shipping needs, and you’ll be sure to get the best deal possible.