Paper-less Customs still at page one
The Customs Department’s new ‘paperless’ system started in January but a full transformation
will need more work.
Thai Garment Export Co., Ltd. is one of the import-export companies which has switched to the
paperless customs system, and is pleased with the performance.
“We’ve tried the E-Export which began last October and found that it’s quite efficient,
though the full system isn’t smoothly run yet,” said Somboon Juasathirattana, company
director. “But lots of problems occurred with the E-Import system, which started in January.”
The problems, he added, might be because most of imported products are raw
materials and they come in so many categories, creating complications in the process.
Mr Somboon pointed out that his company gained benefits from the new system and could
save up 2.5 million baht annually with the change.
“The new system cuts the time for processing documents and we work more efficiently. Now
we can connect with the Customs Department 24 hours a day via computer and we don’t have
to pay overtime for the Customs staff,” said Somboon.
He compared the old and new systems to make his point. “In the old EDI days,
documents would be printed out at the factory, which is located at Om Noi in Samut Sakhon,
35 kilometers from Bangkok. The shipping staff in Bangkok must go to the factory to get the
documents and get the products loaded. Then the company needed to get an approval
signature from the Customs officer before moving the loads to be packed in the containers at
Bang Na. Since loading garments in the containers was carried out after 4.30pm, the company
had to pay overtime to Customs staff. With the paperless system, we hardly pay for overtime.
Our work is much easier.”
But Mr Somboon pointed out that the numbers of companies using the E-Customs is low. “It
could be that the system is not fully ready and the operators are not aware of it,” he said.
“There are thousands of importers and exporters, but only about 8,000 to 9,000 have
registered for the E-Custom system. Most of them are big companies.”
The low numbers is the result of the operators being slow to act, according to Ratchadawong
Muepheng, managing director of Appsnet Solution Co., Ltd., one of the IT solution providers
approved by the Customs Department.
The Customs Department requires the operators to register before they apply to use the
paperless system. It currently runs the new system alongside the EDI (Electronic Data
Interchange) for operators not yet ready to change. To ease the operators’ transformation
period, the Customs Department also designated the Custom Broker and Counter Service to
help small companies who are not ready to be equipped with information technology on their
“The operators were slow to respond to the Customs Department’s new system after
the department made an announcement on the matter. Many acted in a last-minute rush,” said
“This last-minute action caused some delay. When the new software was set up, it needed
time for a test run. The operators also have to learn the new technology and adjust to how
they work to the best benefit for them,” added Ratchawong. “Some operators are not
confident with the new system. So they want to wait and see the results first.”
Many operators shunned the new technology for fear of high investment requirements, but
both the user and the providers said the new technology is not as expensive as expected.
“The cost for the new software was not high, just over 10,000 baht,” said Somboon.
The new software is not difficult to learn either, said Ratchawong. “The ‘Paper Soft’
application we developed is easy to use and the cost is not high.”