Driving into Thailand - Bukit Kayu Hitam Border Crossing: Document Checklist and Procedure

Bukit Kayu Hitam Border Crossing: Document Checklist and Procedure for Malaysian Drivers

Bukit Kayu Hitam Border Crossing Document

Since relocating back to Malaysia over a year ago, driving back and forth between Penang and Chumphon, Thailand – where the fiancee’s home is located, has pretty much become a regular thing to do.

I used to take Train 46, until I decided one day that I could no longer put up with wasting so much time waiting and transferring to get from Point A to Point B, and that it was time to put my new car to good use.

Anyway, for those crossing the Bukit Kayu Hitam border (otherwise known as the Danok border from the Thai side) by car for the first time, it can be a little apprehensive especially when you’re doing it alone with no one else in the car to help look or ask around. But don’t worry, so long as the necessary documents are in place, the whole process should usually be hassle-free.

Driving into Thailand - Bukit Kayu Hitam Border Crossing: Document Checklist and Procedure

Having driven a number of times between Malaysia and Thailand via the Bukit Kayu Hitam border, each time I would learn and get more and more familiar with how things should be done. Therefore, I just thought to summarise in this entry, the list of documents a Malaysian driver would need to prepare and the procedure to go through in order to do the Bukit Kayu Hitam border crossing into Sadao, the district bordering Malaysia’s Perlis in the Songkhla Province.

Before crossing the Bukit Kayu Hitam border, first of all it’s crucial to know when the border gate is open or close.

Please note that at the Bukit Kayu Hitam/Danok border, the opening time is 6am (Malaysian time) or 5am (Thailand time), while closing time is 12am (Malaysian time) or 11pm (Thailand time).

In June 2017, it was reported that the Malaysian and Thai immigration authorities at Bukit Kayu Hitam would extend operational time from the existing 18 hours to 20 hours, then 24 hours in stages. Unfortunately to date, there hasn’t been any progress yet.

On the amount of Thai Baht one needs to have before travelling into Thailand, read “Confusion Explained: 10K Baht in Cash Needed for Malaysians to Enter Thailand“.

Document checklist for Malaysian drivers

For a Malaysian to drive or even ride into Thailand, below is the complete list of documents required at the Sadao Immigration Checkpoint (Thai side):

A. If vehicle is under your name:

  1. TM2 Information of Conveyance Form – 2 copies | Download
  2. TM3 Passenger List Form (only needed when there are passengers) – 2 copies | Download
  3. TM6 Arrival/Departure Card
  4. Passport – valid for at least 6 months
  5. Malaysian Driving License or International Driving License
  6. Grant/Vehicle Ownership Certificate (VOC) – or a certified true copy of either one
  7. Simplified Customs Declaration Form
  8. Copy of road tax – ensure it is not expired
  9. Compulsory Motor Insurance (CMI)

B. If vehicle is NOT under your name:

  1. TM2 Information of Conveyance Form – 2 copies | Download
  2. TM3 Passenger List Form (only needed when there are passengers) – 2 copies | Download
  3. TM6 Arrival/Departure Card
  4. Passport – valid for at least 6 months
  5. Malaysian Driving License or International Driving License
  6. Grant/Vehicle Ownership Certificate (VOC) – or a certified true copy of either one
  7. Authorisation letter from the vehicle’s owner and copy of the owner’s passport/identification card | Download sample letter
  8. Simplified Customs Declaration Form
  9. Copy of road tax – ensure it is not expired
  10. Compulsory Motor Insurance (CMI)

Where to get some of the above-listed documents?

For TM2 Information of Conveyance Form and TM3 Passenger List Form (only if there are passengers with you), you may download and print them out.  You need two copies each.

Below is how the TM2 form should be filed out, if you decide to do it yourself:

Driving into Thailand - Bukit Kayu Hitam Border Crossing: Document Checklist and Procedure
TM2 – Information of Conveyance Form

For TM6 Arrival/Departure Card, also popularly referred to as the “Thai immigration white card”, you can get an agent to fill it out for you inside Caltex at the Gurun R&R or at one of the restaurants cum rest areas beside the main road towards Bukit Hayu Hitam after Changlun.

They normally charge a small fee of RM2, or if you would like to get just the card and fill it out on your own, most agents would ask for RM1 when honestly, you can get it for free at the Sadao Immigration Checkpoint.

However, to avoid the hassle of having to get down from your vehicle just to ask for the TM6 card, I would advice you to get it beforehand. After all, the Sadao Immigration Checkpoint can get really busy and congested with vehicles especially during peak hours.

Driving into Thailand - Bukit Kayu Hitam Border Crossing: Document Checklist and Procedure
TM6 – Thailand Immigration Arrival/Departure Card

The Simplified Customs Declaration Form, also known as the temporary vehicle import and export form, will be generated and given to you at the Customs Declaration Counter, so you need not prepare this beforehand. I will explain more about this later.

As for the Compulsory Motor Insurance (CMI), you can purchase it from one of the agents in Changloon or at other areas of the Malaysian border for around RM20. This means that if you get into a road accident in Thailand, the CMI will cover a certain amount of medical compensation.

I once purchased the CMI in Danok after passing through the Sadao Immigration Checkpoint, but at a much more costly price of 350 Baht. Later, I learned that there is a way cheaper and better alternative. More information on this below.

Driving into Thailand - Bukit Kayu Hitam Border Crossing: Document Checklist and Procedure
Thai compulsory third-party motor insurance.

Cheapest/Fastest alternative to get CMI, TM2, TM3, and TM6 done, one-shot

If you happen stop at Petronas Changlun, and if the agent is still operating, there is a small counter right in front of Petronas’ Mesra retail offering the compulsory third-party Thai insurance. And the best part is that they also help you to fill out TM2, TM3 and TM6, all at a reasonable price of RM13 only!

I’m not getting paid for this, but their service is so amazingly competitive it’s worth highlighting – literally! Their service is what differentiates them from the rest, and I hope they continue to provide this service at such consistency.

How to go about the Malaysian and Thai Immigration Checkpoints

Step 1

After getting all the documents ready, one can then go through the Malaysian and Thai immigration checkpoints.

The whole process used to be chaotic in the past, but now that part of the Bukit Kayu Hitam Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security (CIQS) Complex has been completed, and the Sadao Immigration Checkpoint also has some new buildings, so everything is a lot more systematic and straightforward now.

Driving into Thailand - Bukit Kayu Hitam Border Crossing: Document Checklist and Procedure
Checkpoints at the new Bukit Kayu Hitam Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security (CIQS) Complex. Image credit to placesandfoods.com.

At Bukit Kayu Hitam, one will of course need to go through the checkpoint at the new CIQS Complex first.

As I usually travel alone, I would just do a drive-through when submitting my passport without having to get down. Foreign nationals, however, will need to get down to have their fingerprint read by a scanner. Most of the immigration officers there are not only friendly, but very efficient, so under normal situations there usually won’t be any jam at the complex.

Driving into Thailand - Bukit Kayu Hitam Border Crossing: Document Checklist and Procedure
Passenger handling over passport for stamping at the Bukit Kayu Hitam Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security (CIQS) Complex.

Normally vehicle queues would start occurring right after the CIQS complex leading to the Sadao Immigration Checkpoint, especially during peak hours. However, the situation has improved tremendously since last year after new buildings at the Sadao Immigration Checkpoint have been completed and utilised.

Since the end of 2017, drivers and passengers would no longer need to get down, queue up inside the Sadao Arrival Boundary Post building, and have their passports stamped and other documents submitted. Only those who cross into Danok, Sadao by foot and by tour bus or mini van will need to do so.

Driving into Thailand - Bukit Kayu Hitam Border Crossing: Document Checklist and Procedure
Sadao Arrival Boundary Post at the Dannok border.

Step 2

Drivers can now conveniently drive through the Vehicle and Passenger Checkpoint with passengers in the car to have their passports stamped, as well as the TM2 and TM3 forms submitted.

Driving into Thailand - Bukit Kayu Hitam Border Crossing: Document Checklist and Procedure
Vehicle and Passenger Checkpoint at the Danok border.

The TM6 Arrival/Departure Card is also to be handed over together with the passport. The officer will tear out and keep the Arrival part of the card and leave the Departure part in your passport. If he/she doesn’t staple it onto your passport, make sure you keep it properly as it has to be returned upon exiting Thailand.

Also, please note that the two copies (inbound and outbound) of the TM2 and TM3 forms will need to be submitted to the officer at this point. He/She will keep the inbound copy and return to you the outbound one with a stamp, so that you can submit the latter when you exit the border on your way out of Thailand.

It sure takes a bit of time for officers at respective counters to stamp passports and process documents. However just be patient and always wear your smile.

By the way, some of you may have heard that they have done away with the RM2 “tea money” practice at the checkpoint, but now drivers will officially have to pay for 25 Baht or RM3 between 5am and 8.30am, 12pm and 1pm, and 4.30pm and 9pm on working days. On weekends, the collection lasts for the whole day.

Driving into Thailand - Bukit Kayu Hitam Border Crossing: Document Checklist and Procedure
Individual counters at the Vehicle and Passenger Checkpoint at the Danok border.

Step 3

Right after the Vehicle and Passenger Checkpoint, you will have to park your car and get down to queue at the Customs Declaration Counter. Here, you will need to provide your passport and Grant/VOC to the customs officer.

Driving into Thailand - Bukit Kayu Hitam Border Crossing: Document Checklist and Procedure
Customs Declaration Counter at the Sadao Immigration Checkpoint at Dannok border.

If the vehicle is registered under another person’s name, you will need to provide his/her authorisation letter and a copy of the owner’s passport/identity card, as I’ve mentioned above.

After that, the officer will print out the Simplified Customs Declaration Form (or “temporary vehicle import/export form” if you will), for your keeping. Sign on the two sections of the form as indicated below:

Driving into Thailand - Bukit Kayu Hitam Border Crossing: Document Checklist and Procedure
Customs Declaration Form

You will keep this form safely with you during your entire stay in Thailand. The validity of the form is 30 days and upon exiting Thailand, you must return it to the customs officer together with the outbound TM2 and TM3 forms.

If you fail to return the Simplified Customs Declaration Form within 30 days, you will be fined 1,000 Baht per day, up to a maximum of 10,000 Baht.

Please also note that entry and departure have to be from the same border. If you would like to exit via a different border, you you need to inform the customs officer before she/he prints out your Customs Declaration Form.

Well, that’s it! You can heave a sigh after being given the

Customs Declaration Form and leaving the Sadao Immigration Checkpoint area.

There maybe border patrol police in certain spots, so always, always adhere to the traffic laws of Thailand. Also, keep your driving license, CMI, Grant/VOC, and Customs Declaration Form at where you can retrieve them easily just in case the patrol police officers would like to take a look.

Have fun exploring Thailand!