On 5 March, the Thai government announced that customs agents will begin asking travellers to declare their electronic devices upon leaving the country, including connecting flight passengers
According to Taiwan News, the measure is aimed at preventing people claiming commercial goods as private property in order to avoid paying taxes on the devices.
Once declared, the serial numbers and photos of the electronic devices will be recorded and taken for future references.
The items include laptops, cameras, watches, necklaces, and even smartphones.
Travellers will need to have two photos of each item, proof of purchase, serial numbers, and fill out a paper form in duplicate
According to Bangkok Post, ample pre-flight time is also needed to have the forms stamped, certified, checked, and returned.
This is to make sure that travellers can prove the items are for personal use, or else they may be taxed by customs agents.
After going through this procedure, travellers will not be required to pay customs duty on registered electronics.
Thai Customs Department chief Kulit Sombatsiri defended the requirement, claiming that it is only "suggested" for passengers to do so to prevent random searches upon returning to Thailand
According to Bangkok Post, Kulit said the department merely "suggested" travellers to declare electronic devices so that there is "official proof that they have done so".
This will "prevent problems arising" if travellers are randomly searched when returning to Thailand, so they can immediately prove the items are personal property.
His statement came after the requirement sparked criticism on social media, as it is perceived to cause problems for outbound travellers. Taiwan News also reported that questions have been raised about privacy, and whether or not such measures are truly necessary.
Thai Customs Department deputy director general Chaiyut Kumkun said the controversial requirement is not new
Although the requirement was listed in Customs Announcement No. 60/2018 and signed by Kulit on 26 February, it was part of an old regulation under the 1926 Customs Act.
The act has since been replaced by the 2017 Customs Act. Hence, a new announcement had to be issued covering existing details and the changes made.
For more information on the requirement, you can refer to the Thai Customs website here.