This is a common question, especially for foreigners marrying Thai nationals. Ensuring your marriage is considered legally valid may be crucial if you intend to live outside of Thailand. It is also a crucial consideration for those that intend to have a destination wedding in Thailand and want to ensure their union will be legally recognised when they travel back to their home country.
Thankfully, Thai marriage registration is legally recognised in other countries. All that is required is to ensure proper registration has been done in Thailand and to have the documents translated and certified at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before you leave. This will enable them to be legally used abroad. Be sure to also check with the embassy of your home country in Thailand. Some countries may require certification of your marriage documents from their embassies in Thailand before you can report the union in the home country. Overall, Thai marriage registrations are considered legal worldwide but do make enquiries to ensure you have your paperwork in order and know what steps need to be taken.
You may also need to ensure that the rules applied in recognising marriages in your home country and Thailand are compatible. For instance, in Thailand, a couple must have attained the legal age of 17 years to file a marriage registration without parental consent. In some countries around the world, a couple must have attained 21 years to be legally married.
If you are intending to return to your home country with your new spouse who is a Thai national, you will also need to be aware that they may not automatically be granted entry or a visa. Be sure to make enquiries with your embassy beforehand if your intended spouse is not already legally allowed to be in your home country or if there are plans to switch and apply for another type of visa.
Also, if you are planning a destination wedding in Thailand, consult with your wedding planner on how to handle the necessary documentation. The wedding package should include arrangements for the wedding planner to liaise with translation providers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the required embassy. It should take about a week to complete the necessary paperwork and legalise the marriage registration.
Affirmation of freedom to marry
If you are a foreigner wanting to get married in Thailand, ensure you secure an affirmation of freedom to marry from your home country. You can typically apply for this from your home country’s embassy in Thailand. The document should be signed by an embassy official and the applicant. Once the document is prepared, you will need to have it translated into Thai and authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Having a wedding ceremony alone is not enough to legalise the marriage. The marriage needs to be registered at a district office of Amphur. Under Thai law, your marriage legally starts on the day you register it at the district office.
To register the marriage, you will need to provide the affirmation to marry documents and their authenticated translation, and a copy of your valid passport. If your partner is a Thai national, they will need to submit their Thai ID card and house registration certificate. Once processed, you will be given a Marriage Registration Certificate. This certificate will be in Thai so if you intend to use it for legal purposes abroad, obtain a sworn translation from a translation bureau.
What if I got married abroad? Will my marriage be valid in Thailand?
If you legally got married abroad, your marriage can be just as legally recognised in Thailand. However, while you do not need to register the marriage here, you will need to report the marriage at the district office or Amphur of your Thai partner’s hometown and have their status updated.
Be sure to visit the Thai embassy in the country you got married and have them certify or authenticate your marriage certificate. When you travel back to Thailand, you can then take this document to the district office to update your status. You will be issued a document called Kor Ror 22 that serves as proof of your legal marriage registration.
Getting a Marriage Visa
The process can begin before you travel to Thailand. You should apply for a Non-Immigrant O visa from the Thai embassy in your home country. It is typically valid for 90 days and you may apply for single or multiple entry visas.
When you arrive in Thailand, be sure to immediately file a TM. 87 form. You will also need to provide certain documentation including:
- Passport with at least six months’ validity
- Photocopies of your passport
- TM. 6 of departure card
- Three passport-size photographs
- Proof of finances including at least 400,000 Thai Bhat in a Thai account solely held by the applicant
- Copy of your spouse’s Thai ID card
- Copy of your spouse’s house registration or Tabian Baan
- Proof of address, including a map of the location
- Six photographs of the couple inside and outside their Thai home
- Original Thai Marriage Certificate and Affirmation for Freedom to Marry if locally married, or Kor Ror 22 document and copy of your marriage certificate or registration if married abroad. If married abroad, ensure your marriage documents are certified or authenticated at the Thai embassy in that country and have the documents translated and certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand.
When going to the immigration department to process this application, both the applicant and their Thai spouse must be present. Given the various documents that are required, it is advisable to consult with a visa agent who can review them before submission and ensure all is in order. It is not unusual for such applications to fail because of minor errors so working with a professional can help ensure the necessary paperwork is in order and maximise the chances your visa will be approved on the first attempt.