by Laurence Civil
We have all seen images of bride in a white dress billowing in the breeze, bare feet in the sand, believing it’s what’s meant to be by getting married in Thailand. That’s the celebration—the actual wedding ceremony is less glamorous: it’s the moment the couple signs the paper in a district office. Getting there involves a specific legal process which can look daunting, but nothing should stand in the way of true love. Here is what you have to do.
- For a foreigner to be eligible to marry in Thailand, he/she must be 17 years old or of marriageable age in his or her home country
- Blood relatives who have either or both parents in common, or who have the same adoptive parent, aren’t eligible
- If either party has been previously married and is now divorced or widowed, that party needs the original copies of appropriate documents
- Thailand doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages
- Thais: Identification card and house registration certificate
- Foreigners: A copy of the passport and arrival card (TIM) and an affidavit expressing eligibility to be married that has been certified by the embassy(ies) of the bride’s and groom’s nationality(ies), translated into Thai by a translator approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)
There are three steps to obtain the affidavit:
The foreigner needs to take his/her passport and arrival card to the consular section of his or her embassy in Thailand—which will be in Bangkok—and complete a declaration attesting that he or she is single and free to marry in accordance with Thai law
The foreigner takes the document issued by the embassy to have it translated into Thai by a translations office approved by MFA.
The original affidavit, its official Thai translation, and the applicants’ passport have to be taken to the legalization division of consular affairs department, where the consular official’s signature will be authenticated; this normally takes two days
Unless less the foreigner’s embassy has a consulate outside Bangkok, such as in Chiang Mai, there is no alternative to having the documentation phase done in the capital, which takes on average of four working days. Once this has been done, the original documents and translation can be submitted to the district registrar wherever in Thailand the couple wishes to marry.
If the bride is Thai, after the wedding she is required to file for a new ID card in her new married name within 60 days.