Call for Vehicle Owners to Pay Import Duties

The head of the General Department of Customs and Excise warns vehicle-owners who fail to pay import duties will face fines of about $21,200.
Traffic on a street in central Phnom Penh on November 10, 2021. Picture: stringer
Traffic on a street in central Phnom Penh on November 10, 2021. Picture: stringer

Cambodia’s customs director is urging vehicle owners countrywide to pay import duties before the June 30 deadlines or face being forced to pay fines.

Kun Nhem, director general of the General Department of Customs and Excise, said in a press conference on Wednesday that he was unsure how much a vehicle owner will be fined but he brought up past cases of about $21,200 on average.

“This is an appeal to vehicle owners who have not paid imported duties to hurry up to pay by June 30, 2022,” Nhem said.

“From July 1, 2022 onward, the General Department of Customs and Excise won’t have any obligation to receive taxes for existing vehicles domestically,” he added.

Nhem said the General Department of Customs and Excise will cooperate with the national Military Police to crackdown on unpaid imported duties for vehicles after June 30.

Unpaid vehicles which will be under crackdown after June 30, left-hand drive vehicles will be forced to pay duties and be fined, Nhem said.

Right-hand drive vehicles will be removed into spare parts because they are banned goods in the country, he said. “There are two options after the crackdown. Vehicles will be broken into spare parts and the other option is they will be totally destroyed,” he said of the right-hand drive vehicles.

He said the government had only allowed the use of existing right-hand drive vehicles in the country to drive in 2016, but ordered a complete ban on their import.

However, he added that the imports didn’t stop.

“We know already, along our border which uses right hand drive vehicles, especially with Thailand, the border is hundreds of kilometers, there are hundreds of illegal checkpoints, so, the stop of imports of right-hand drive vehicles has not been 100 percent."

“Some could still get into the country and are driven in different forms and use fake documents,” he said.

By April 30, 2022, a total of 6921 left- and right-hand drive vehicles have come forward to pay duties, he said, adding the taxes are worth $59.37 million.

San Chey, executive director at advocacy group Affiliated Network for Social Accountability Cambodia, said there should be great cooperation with the police and the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAC) for a mass crackdown on vehicles using police and army plates for private purposes.

“We still think that people are using vehicles carrying police and RCAF plates for individual purposes, not serving public interests, but for private interests. They are seen being used in family trips but carry police and RCAF plates,” Chey said.