If you want to avoid spending 4 or 5 days in Bangkok visiting embassies and filling out paperwork, you can always opt to have a low-key registry office wedding in your home country (which makes everything legal and binding) and have a wedding blessing or ceremony in Thailand. If that isn’t an option, then you will need to ensure you follow the correct legal procedures once you are in Thailand.
In Thailand, a religious ceremony by itself does not mean you are legally married. Any marriage in Thailand must be performed according to Thai law and in addition, paperwork and legal formalities have to be completed to ensure the wedding is recognized in your home country. Although it might sound unromantic, in Thailand you are only legally married once the wedding has been registered at the District Office (Amphur). It’s possible for couples to organize everything themselves although many opt to use the services of a specialized wedding planner.
Outlined below are the various steps you will need to take if you are marrying in Thailand.
Marrying In Thailand
If you want to get married in Thailand but you are not a Thai citizen, you need to visit your own country’s embassy or consulate in Thailand. For the vast majority of people, this will mean staying a few days in Bangkok although some countries have consulate facilities in other cities in Thailand, notably Chiang Mai, who might be able to process much of the paperwork for you. Wedding planners may have arrangements with embassies to speed the process up, but generally speaking you should allow 4 or 5 days in Bangkok to sort out the paperwork and legalize the marriage.
- Ensure your passport is up to date and has a minimum validity of 6 months.
- Embassies, consulates and government offices close on Thai public holidays.
The Role of Your Embassy
It is important to note the limitations of the help available from your embassy although this may vary slightly from country to country. Your embassy in Bangkok is not authorized to perform marriages or carry out translation services for you.
Affirmation to Marry
Thai authorities require that each and every foreign national wishing to marry in Thailand obtains an affirmation of freedom to marry. In most cases this affirmation cannot be obtained in your home country; you will need to apply to your country’s embassy in Bangkok. The affirmation is a form that basically confirms that you are legally free to marry. The affirmation (which should be typed out) has to be signed in the presence of a consular official from your embassy. The normal procedure is that you then return the following day to collect the affirmation which will have been countersigned by an official from the embassy. Your embassy will charge you for this service. The embassy will require your passport and evidence of termination of any previous marriages (i.e. divorce certificate, death certificate). You should take the original documents and not photocopies.
Translate the Affirmation
Once you have obtained the ‘affirmation of freedom to marry’, the form needs to be translated into Thai (your embassy will not do his for you). There are a number of translation services and offices to be found near the main embassies and typical cost is around 700 to 1,000 Baht (£11- £16/ $20-30 USD).
Authentication from Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Now that you have the affirmation to marry and the Thai translation, you need to submit these forms to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (see address below) which is located in the north of Bangkok close to Don Muang domestic airport . The ministry authenticates the forms and returns them to you the following day. A fee is payable for this service and normally an extra ‘express fee’ can be paid to have it completed the same day. Since May 2003, it’s been possible to submit the forms by post instead of going in person.
Legalization and Naturalization Department
Department of Consular Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
3rd Floor, 123 Chaeng Wattana Road,
Tung Song Hong, Laksi District
Tel: 02 575 1056-59
Hours: 08.30-14.30 Mon-Fri
The District Registrar (Amphur Office)
Once you have all the paperwork complete you need to visit the district office which is similar to a town hall or registry office. In Thailand it is known as the ‘amphur’ (called ‘khet’ in Bangkok). For the marriage to be valid under Thai law it must be registered at the amphur office. A religious ceremony on its own is not recognized as being valid under Thai law. Please be aware that you are officially married on the day that you register at the amphur office.
There is not usually any need to make an appointment, but you will need your affirmation and translated documents. You should also go with somebody who can speak Thai. Note that the marriage registration can be filed at any amphur (District Office) or Minor District Office in Thailand regardless of the birthplace of the couple; you do not have to have this done in Bangkok. As a foreigner marrying in Thailand you will be required to submit a copy of your passport and the authenticated affirmation and the certified translation. If you have a Thai partner they will be required to submit their Identification Card and their House Registration Certificate. Once the marriage registration is completed, each party will be given a copy of the Marriage Registration Certificate as confirmation.
Thai Marriage Certificate
The Thai marriage certificate will be in Thai only. Couples may wish to obtain a sworn translation of the certificate from a translation bureau so that the document can be used for legal purposes in your home country.
Thai Law for Marriage
For the marriage to be recognized in your home country, you should take into account your own country’s marriage laws as well as those of Thailand. The requirements of Thai law are listed below.
- A couple must be of legal age (17 years) upon filing for marriage registration, otherwise permission must be granted by a court.
- Permission from the parents is required for parties under legal age.
- Both parties must not be registered as married to anyone else (multiple marriage registration is prohibited).
- The parties must not be direct blood relatives nor be sister or brother through either parent.
- Adopting parents shall not be permitted to marry their own adopted child.
- No service fee is required whatsoever.
- A widow or divorcee will be permitted to remarry not less than 310 days after the previous marriage has expired, unless:
- has given birth to a child
- remarrying the same person
- not pregnant, as certified by doctor (in case of early remarriage)
- approval to remarry from a court is obtained
Information above is taken from watdee.com