No customs clampdown at airports

The new director-general of the Customs Department has denied that customs officials have begun strict checks on incoming air passengers carrying personal items into the country.

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Somchai Sujjapongse's denial followed reports the Customs Department would strictly enforce duty-free limits at Suvarnabhumi airport, with incoming passengers having to fully declare and pay full tax on all new personal items with a total value above 10,000 baht, or they would be seized.

Mr Somchai said late Tuesday night that signs advising passengers of restrictions on importing new personal items duty free had been recently placed in the departures area at Suvarnabhumi airport, but they had been put up three weeks ago in the arrivals zone.

It was ordered by his predecessor and intended only to educate travellers about customs regulations. 

Mr Somchai said the Customs Department did not intend to start enforcing stricter controls on travellers. Customs officials at airports would continue with their random checks as usual.

Mr Somchai took over as director-general of the Customs Department on Monday under an order issued by the National Council for Peace and Order. He was previously director-general of the Fiscal Policy Office. He succeeded Rakop Srisupaat, who was moved to inspector-general at the Ministry of Finance.

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