[INSIGHT] HOW TO TRAVEL BY CAR IN AND OUT OF THAILAND VIA THE BUKIT KAYU HITAM BORDER FOR MALAYSIANS

LATEST UPDATES:

18 JUNE 2019: Malaysia and Thailand have agreed to commence 24-hour operations at Immigration, Customs, Quarantine and Security (ICQS) Bukit Kayu Hitam and Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Sadao starting from midnight (June 18). The 24-hour operations will be conducted for a three-month trial period, involving only cargo and goods movement carried by trucks and heavy vehicles. (Reference: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2019/06/496899/malaysia-thailand-run-24-hour-icqs-operations-midnight)

Ever since my last trip to Thailand, a few people had asked me about the procedures to drive across the border. Ever since the implementation of “drive-thru”s at the Bukit Kayu Hitam/Sadao border in October 2017, driving into or out of Thailand couldn’t be any easier, even for first-timers. Unless you are traveling by foot, van or bus, which requires you to go through the immigration counters to stamp your passport individually, driving your own vehicle would be hassle-free. However, there are some points to be noted if your day of visit/departure fell on weekends or on long Malaysian public holidays. There could be a long queue but it might not take more than an hour to settle all the entry/departure documents.

Firstly, even before you and your group members think of traveling out of Malaysia, please check everyone’s Immigration Status to avoid any embarrassment at the Immigration Check Point (Find the reasons here). Visit Immigration Department of Malaysia’s site, enter your Nombor Kad Pengenalan (IC number) in the text field, click the “Semak” (Check) button and if the status appeared as “Tiada Halangan” (No Restriction), you’re clear to travel. Important Note: Do prepare a photocopy of everyone’s passport as some hotels might keep the passports as a deposit when checking in. My advice is to pay whatever deposits required (normally it’s between THB500 and THB1000) and hold on to your passport wherever you go.

Though lots of vans and buses would be arriving at the border as between 5.00am and 8.00am (Malaysian Time) or departing between 11.00am and 2.00pm (Thailand Time), these crowds won’t affect your driving through. The opening time at the borders is at 6.00am (Malaysian Time) or 5.00am (Thailand Time), and the closing time is at 12.00am (Malaysian time) or 11.00pm (Thailand Time). Do plan your traveling time wisely and make sure you’re at least 2-3 hours at the border to avoid being denied exit.

There are two ways you could get all the documents needed – either by downloading them and fill them up yourself or just get an agent to settle all for you at a minimum fee. Since you would be needing the Compulsory Motor Insurance (CMI) and also the TM6 (Arrival/Departure Card), I would recommend the latter.

Here’s the summary of the documents checklist:

A. For Malaysian drivers with car ownership: (9 Documents)

1. TM2 (Information of Conveyance Form): 2 copies (inbound & outbound) – remember to sign on both copies
2. TM3 (Passenger List Form – only needed when there are passengers): 2 copies (inbound & outbound) – remember to sign on both copies
3. TM6 (Arrival/Departure Card) – sign on 2 places
4. Passport (Valid for at least 6 months)
5. Malaysian Driving License or International Driving License
6. Grant/Vehicle Ownership Certificate (VOC) – Bring the original, in case the certified true copy is not acceptable due to some unforeseen circumstances
7. A printout of your Road Tax Details to prove that it’s not expired (can be printed out at any nearest JPJ at RM20 per annum – it’s not a must but do try to get the JPJ’s stamp to authenticate the printout)
8. Compulsory Motor Insurance (CMI)
9. Simplified Customs Declaration Form (SCDF) – Obtainable at another building after stamping your passport at the Thai Immigration Drive-Thru. More information below.

B. For Malaysian drivers without car ownership: (11 Documents)

1. All documents above
2. A copy of Authorization Letter from the car owner or company if company car (backup an extra copy)
3. A photocopy of the owner’s passport/identification card or company’s Form 24 & 49 (backup an extra copy)

A sample of an Authorization Letter as below:

To make the transitions clearer and smoother, let’s look at the pictorial guide to enter Thailand as below:

STEP 1: Get all your documents in proper. I would recommend that you engage the expertise of an agent, at a minimal cost, to avoid all the confusions in filling up the form. One ideal place would be Chuan Bee Kedai Kopi & Insuran (GPS: 6.427042, 100.428644), Tel: +604-924 1368 (6.00am-7.00pm) in Changlun, Kedah, as it’s less crowded. While the agent prepares all the necessary document, you could get some breakfast, ease yourself or even exchange some Thai Baht at a competitive rate (compared to other states in Malaysia or Thailand), A 9-days 3rd Party CMI will cost you RM15 (please do inform the agent if you were to stay more than a week but within the 30-days period to travel into Thailand without visa), while the processing fees for your TM2, TM3 and TM6 forms will cost you another RM10 or more, depending on the number of passengers you are chauffeuring.

UPDATED January 2019: For Penangites, you are lucky as another agent opposite to the one mentioned above had set up a branch in Penang with the service for your Thai insurance purchase, documents filling as well as money exchange, at the same cost as their HQ in Changlun. You can now pre-buy your necessary documents based on your confirmed traveling dates.

Nudee Enterprise Sdn. Bhd @ Wisma Khoo Kah Chin (before SO Hotel), 88 Jalan Siam, 10400 Penang. Tel: +604 210 1167/+6018 614 3789 (Ms. Lee), Business Hours: 9.00am-6.00pm (Closed on Sundays and alternate Saturdays) (GPS: 5.415206, 100.320658). It’s advisable to get your documents done on weekdays.

It’s also advisable to fill up your petrol tank full at Stesen Minyak Petronas Changlun (GPS: 6.423617, 100.428028) BEFORE visiting the agent as petrol could be rather costly in Thailand. It’s only 400m or a minute’s drive away.

STEP 2: Do note that before exiting Malaysia, you might get stopped by some Malaysian border patrol personnel. Smiles always work wonders. Drive up to the Malaysian Immigration Clearance Drive-Thru at the Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security Complex (CIQS). Wind down your car window and pass all the passports to the officer in charge. It won’t do any harm to greet them to brighten up their day~ 🙂

STEP 3: While driving into Thailand, you might get stopped by more border patrol personnel (police/army) before you could reach the next drive-thru counter (Thailand). Please slow down and adhere to the law by answering with a smile.

After seeing the “Welcome to Thailand” sign, keep to your left and follow the arrow for cars towards Thailand’s Vehicle and Passenger Checkpoint. Follow the queue and wait for your turn to go to the drive-thru counter. All passengers MUST get down from the car for a face scan.

Things to take note:

1. Make sure all the TM6 (Arrival/Departure Form) are slotted into each individual passport. The Departure Form will be returned once your passport is stamped. Do not lose this piece of form or you won’t be able to leave the country.
2. Pass the two sets of TM2 and TM3 forms (inbound & outbound) to the officer. A copy (outbound) will be stamped and returned to you. You would need this piece to exit Thailand.
3. You would need to get ready some amount of Thai Baht as a token fee for their “overtime”. Please take note of the Thailand Time. It’s from 5.00am-8.30am, 12.00pm-1.00pm, 4.30pm-11.00pm plus full day fee for weekends and holidays. Basically, you just prepare the “tips” without questioning more. Chargeable overtime amount is Car/MPV THB25 and THB5 per passenger or Motorbike/Superbike THB10 and THB3 per passenger.

STEP 4: After stamping your passport at the Thai Immigration Drive-Thru, find a parking space and walk up to the “Customs Declaration Form” building/Sadao Customs House (Temporary Importation of Motor Vehicles)

1. Present your VOC, Road Tax Printout and Passport (plus the Authorization Letter and photocopy of owner’s Passport/IC, if the car is not registered under your name) at the first counter
2. Sign at two places and pass back to the last counter
3. Collect the stamped copy (to be returned at Counter 8 upon departure) – Please take serious note that if you failed to return the Simplified Customs Declaration Form within 30 days, you will be slapped with a fine of 1,000 Baht per day and up to a maximum of 10,000 Baht. There’s no law to state that you could not exit via other borders. Just make sure that you return the form there within 30 days from the date of your arrival.

Welcome to Thailand~ 🙂

You are free to travel to any part of Thailand now. From the Thai Immigration, it will take you just a few minutes to reach Dannok upon exiting, approximately 1 hour to reach Hatyai City, 2 hours to reach Satun, 2 hours to reach Songkhla City, 3 hours to reach Patthalung, 3 hours to reach Nakhon Si Tammarat, 5 hours to reach Krabi, 7 hours to reach Phuket, 13 hours to reach Bangkok, 15 hours to reach Pattaya City and more.

IMPORTANT NOTES:

1. Always adhere to the local traffic laws. Occasionally, there may be inspection spots by Thai border patrol personnel (police/army). When driving in Thailand, do keep your documents (passport, driving license, CMI, Grant/VOC & Customs Declaration Form) conveniently accessible at all time. Speed limit signs in Thailand could be rather rare compared to Malaysia. As most roads are narrow and bumpy with occasional holes, stay safe by driving at a safe speed limit of 50km/h. Do take note on the speed limit changes as it would be shown most of the time on your Waze application.

2. You will need a mobile data plan for your traveling needs such as using Waze or Google Maps. For me, AIS is very stable compared to the next two top telcos, DTAC and TrueMove H. AIS, DTAC and TrueMove H is almost similar to Maxis, Celcom and Digi in Malaysia. You may consider using the roaming service from your telco but getting a Thai Tourist SIM Card would be more practical as they are cheaper and faster than in Malaysia. You could buy a Thai Tourist SIM Card at most of the petrol kiosks, rest areas, insurance agents in Changlun, Kedah or you could just grab one at any 7-11 shop in Sadao, Thailand. The nearest 7-Eleven is just 2-3 minutes’ drive away upon leaving the Thai Immigration or you could visit the bigger one in front of the MBI Resort. As for me, I’ve my own fixed AIS prepaid SIM Card as I travel into Thailand quite often and it’s much cheaper in a long run. Just choose your number (About THB60) at major AIS centers, eg. Central Festival Hatyai or Lee Gardens Hatyai, and top up via the machine with THB20 x 12 times and your SIM Card is valid up to a maximum of a year.

3. As for Thai insurance, all agents will only sell 3rd party CMI to foreign registered cars, meaning you’re protected against claims from other people, vehicles and property in the event of an accident that was deemed to be your fault. Damages to your own car or any injuries you or your passengers suffer WILL NOT be covered. Thus, it’s advisable to get in touch with your Malaysian insurance company to extend your Comprehensive Insurance Policy (CIP) to include the “Extension of Cover to the Kingdom of Thailand”. In addition, Personal Travel Insurance is not something that most people will add on to safeguard themselves or their passengers as most people had already bought their own insurance policy. If any of your passengers are not insured, it’s advisable to get a plan. Chubb Travel Insurance seemed to be the best so far as you could choose to be insured only within your traveling period.

That’s all you need to know for the time being. Enjoy your stay in Thailand~ 🙂

To depart from Thailand, here are the steps:

STEP 1: Before driving up to Thailand’s Vehicle and Passenger Checkpoint, please make sure that all passports have the TM6 Departure Form slotted in. Get ready the TM2 and TM3 (outbound) ready too to surrender to the Thai Immigration Officer. Follow the queue and wait for your turn to go to the drive-thru counter. All passengers MUST get down from the car for a face scan and to stamp their passports as before. As before, you would need to get ready some amount of Thai Baht as a token fee for their “overtime”. Overtime fees are applicable from 5.00am-8.30am, 12.00pm-1.00pm, 4.30pm-11.00pm plus full day fee for weekends and holidays. As before, you just prepare the “tips” without questioning more. Chargeable overtime amount is Car/MPV THB25 and THB5 per passenger or Motorbike/Superbike THB10 and THB3 per passenger.

STEP 2: After you have checked that all the passports are properly stamped, drive on to the next counter (Counter 8) to return your Simplified Customs Declaration Form (SCDF). Only the driver would need to get down to return the form as well as to write down the car’s Plate Registration Number and sign off on a book provided.

STEP 3: Drive up to the Malaysian Immigration Clearance Drive-Thru at the Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security Complex (CIQS). Wind down your car window and pass all the passports to the officer in charge.

STEP 4: After scanning your passports, drive further up to the next counter. Please make sure that you switch off your engine. Only the driver will get down from the car to show the Customs Officer(s) your purchases in Thailand. Do remember that a smile and some greetings won’t do any harm. Normally, you won’t be charged any tax for food items and some smaller items. Just don’t buy so much that it looked like you’re relocating to a new house. Most of the time, the officers would be looking for alcohol, cigarettes, stainless steel products and rice grains (allowable up to a maximum of 1kg per person).

Technically, you might want to know the Customs Import Regulations as below:

Free imports:
– 200 cigarettes or 225 grams of tobacco (more than 72 hours out of Malaysia)
– Maximum 1 liter of wine, spirits or malt liquor (more than 72 hours out of Malaysia)
– Maximum 3 pieces of new wearing apparel
– One pair of new footwear
– One unit of each portable electrical/battery-operated appliance for personal care and hygiene
– A maximum RM75 worth of dutiable food preparations
– Miscellaneous: Gifts and souvenirs up to a total value of maximum RM400 (except goods from Langkawi and Labuan, up to a total value of maximum RM500)

Note: The trafficking of illegal drugs is a serious offense in Malaysia and the penalty will be a death sentence.

Once you have cleared at the Malaysian Customs, you are free to go.

Welcome back to Malaysia~ 🙂

 

31 comments

    1. It’s surprising that the Thai Immigration Officer did not request the forms from you. Failing to surrender the TM2 & TM3 (outbound) forms simply mean your car never exited Thailand but the people did (as in TM6). There are no rules or fines stated that they had to be returned within 30 days, except for the Simplified Customs Declaration Form (SCDF) which is A MUST TO RETURN. You could return them during your next trip or simply get someone traveling in to assist you. However, do not drag too long as it might affect your driving in with the same registered car number at whichever Thailand check-point you are using next time.

  1. I have returnSimplified Customs Declaration Form (SCDF) but the officer ask me dont need to sign off the book provided as she keep saying camera camera. Will if affect my next entry to hatyai?

    Nope… As long as the form is returned accordingly

  2. I gave all the forms back including the SCDF but I was shoved off twice when i was about to write down the car plate and sign off the book at counter 8. I asked for her clarification but she just wave her hand like halau me to just go. Is that fine? I have already return the custom form though.

    As long as the form is returned accordingly, no big issue

  3. I forgot to return the simplified custom form but i am able to get my car out from sadao and i m already in KL. Possible to return the form to them by courier? Or i have to present myself at the counter? Am i returning to thai custom side or malaysia custom side?

    1. You have to find ways, either in person or via a friend, to return the form WITHIN 30 DAYS from your entering date to the Thai custom side. Failing so, your car would be BARRED from entering in future and you would be fined as well.

      Important Note: Please take serious note that if you failed to return the Simplified Customs Declaration Form within 30 days, you will be slapped with a fine of 1,000 Baht per day and up to a maximum of 10,000 Baht. There’s no law to state that you could not exit via other borders. Just make sure that you return the form there within 30 days from the date of your arrival.

  4. Hi,

    I’m planning to go in Hatyai by car Feb 2019, Previously I drove in before the year 2014-2016. but everything seems diff now. Is it necessary to print out road tax?

    Thank you.

    Hi Ong! Just as written in the post. You’ll need to have the original VOC & passport. Do check out on the new update as Penangites can now get all other documents done in Penang, ie. TM2, TM3, TM6 filled up as well as to purchase the Thai insurance based on your traveling dates~ 🙂

    1. Nope, you cannot drive without an International Driving Permit (IDP). Only drivers holding a valid driver’s license of the 10 ASEAN member countries (Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines) can use their national driver’s license in the nine other countries without the need to obtain an IDP.

  5. Hi,

    Just want to ask, what if we miss the step four “Simplified Custom Declaration Form” when reach to Thailand? Is there any further actions do we need to do?

    1. No matter what, you’ve to go back to the Thai CIQ and submit all the necessary documents to obtain the Simplified Customs Declaration Form (though I’m not sure if they will impose any fine for the delay) and get the duplicate copy to exit Thailand. Without that, you might get arrested for illegal trespassing.

  6. Hi…is there any possibility that we can check if our car is barred from entering thailand? I once entered thailand via sadao, but i really think i forgot to submit the cdf document because when i want to get out from thai, the custom asked for the form that i don’t have, because i did not at first submitted it at sadao custom. They said my car did not enter, and no need to register when going out….but I am going there this coming feb, and i wonder if i can take my car or not…just in case some record shows…

    1. There’s no way you can find out here in Malaysia unless you drive over there and get blocked from entering. From so many cases I’ve heard, only those who had obtained the Simplified Customs Declaration Form but did not surrender the duplicate copy upon exiting, were barred from entering with that registered car, unless they paid up the THB10,000 fine. You’re lucky the army personnel did not check your necessary documents to enter and exit Thailand, but be more careful next time. Just to be safe, it’s advisable to drive in with another different car registration number.

    1. Yes, you can enter any border and exit any border. However, do make sure you’ve given back the Simplified Customs Declaration Form (within 30 days Visa-free allowed for Malaysians) or you will be slapped with a fine of 1,000 Baht per day and up to a maximum of 10,000 Baht, to enable your car to enter through any border during your next visit.

  7. Hi..if i can share a story with you and have your advice. During my return trip from Hatyai to BKH via Sadao, i did not drive my car via the immigration lane as i was confused with the process. Instead, i queue with the bus passangers and stamp my passport and return the white form inside the building. As i was getting my car back and exit , i skip the immigration lane for car and used bus lane instead. Enroute to counter 8, the officers on the lane dispersed the traffic into several lanes since the queue was so bad and there were officers standing on the lane side to collect the customs declaration form.
    I hand over the form to the officer without signing anything and when i pass the TM2 and TM3 forms to him, he said no need to give and asked me to proceed the exit.
    Is my exit from Thailand is documented properly? What if the form was not return to the counter by the officer or missing? How can i check if my visit to Thailand with car next time is a clean one or has been mark? Is there any website we can check status?

    1. There’s no way you can check your status outside of Thailand. For your information, the TM2, TM3 and TM6 forms are to be returned to the officer in charge of stamping your passport, while your Simplified Customs Declaration Form to the officer at Counter 8. However, in your case, it’s safe with the officers. Not submitting the TM2 and TM3 forms are still not as critical as not submitting your TM6 white card and Simplified Customs Declaration Form.

    1. It’s already stated in detail in the post. Please refer to the section “B. For Malaysian drivers without car ownership: (11 Documents)”

  8. Hi there, thank you for your write up. its really helpful. ive few questions since im planning to drive up to Hatyai soon.
    a. is it compulsory to bring along a copy of the road tax?
    b. is copy of the car grant enuf? certified true copy enuf? or original still needed?

    TQ

    1. Hi Syah,

      There’s something you would need to know about the documents needed for Thailand’s border crossing. Individual personnel tends to follow their own T&C instead of the standard SOP, especially at a different border crossing. You may have the photocopies of your documents BUT IT’S BEST TO BRING ALONG ALL THE ORIGINALS. You won’t want to waste your time queueing so long and then get barred from entering Thailand, right?

      Some of the “unforeseen” entering issues faced before by Malaysians:
      1. The counter would not accept any photocopies with or without the certified stamped copy by the respective police station nationwide.
      2. The photocopy has to be certified stamped ONLY by the Pengkalan Hulu police station, which in short you would still need to verify against your ORIGINAL COPY.
      3. The registered car is barred from entering as the driver forgot to return the Simplified Customs Declaration Form (SCDF) upon exiting Thailand from his previous trip, unless they pay up the THB10K fine.

      Regards,
      Author

  9. Best walkthrough ever, verified on 20/21 Apr 2019.

    Wonder why the Thai custom didn’t ask for the TM2/3 outbound form after stamping and getting my 40baht OT fees when we returning to Malaysia.

    But I did return the SCDF at counter 8, and I saw others, just stop and drive away without returning SCDF. They must not know about it.

    1. I encountered the same scenario when I exited on 16 June 2019. After returning the SCDF at counter 8, I realized I forgot to return the TM2/TM3 outbound form at the passport stamping counter. I just stopped my car beside and walked back to the counter with my passport to verify and then returned the TM2/TM3 form to avoid any future issues. The worst part was that when I asked some Thai officers, they just asked me to drive off. LOL! Anyway, I pity those who did not surrender their SCDF as they will be barred from entering again with the same registered car unless they pay up the THB10K fine. That’s RM1,347.71 at today’s rate of 7.42!

  10. Hi,

    I’m working in Thailand with one year visa and work permit.
    And i’m thinking to drive my car to Phuket.
    Any maximum day can we drive in Thailand even with visa and work permit?
    Is it compulsory that i need to exit and enter TH again every 30 days?

    1. Wow! It’s not that easy to get approval for a year of Thai visa plus working permit for foreigners unless you’re engaged by any of Thailand’s MNC. Just like a Thai married to a Malaysian (5 years visa is given), you can drive in and out of Thailand multiple times without worrying about the 30-days visa-waiver restriction. As long as you’ve got the one-year visa sticker stuck on your Malaysian passport, there are no restrictions if you travel within the visa period. However, you would need to upgrade your Malaysian car insurance policy by adding in “coverage is inclusive of the Kingdom of Thailand” as well as purchasing 3rd-party Thai insurance for a year.

  11. Hi, may i know is there any issue for a 7 seaters to be filled with 7 adults and 2 kids ?
    Will there be any problem with insurance and local authority ?

  12. Hi. Very informative article. Just curious should I plan to drive my starex with 8-9 friends, is normal procedure as car/mpv still applies or I have to follow tour van permit regulation? Some say it’s private mpv, should be treated as normal car. But the question arise since starex is 11- seater, thus should be follow the tour van/bus regulation where we need to apply tour permit, insurance and hire local driver on the other side. Please clarify. I thank you in advance

    1. Hi Hafiz. If the car ownership is under your name, then it’s a private MPV. You can drive through the normal lane. I’ve followed my friend via his Hyundai Grand Starex twice and we had 7 persons including the driver. No issues encountered. Just make sure u have the TM1, TM2 and TM6 filled up in details.

    1. Hi. I was rejected once via Ban Prakob/Kota Putra (Durian Burung) even before closing time and had to detour via Bukit Kayu Hitam. I did not have any issue at all.

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