Getting Married in Bangkok, Thailand - What You Need to Know
Is it difficult for foreigners to get married in Thailand? I want to marry my Thai girlfriend.
No, it isn't difficult but it is different from getting married in most Western countries.
How is it so different?
Well, for one thing, you can't be legally married in a church or temple...much less on top of a mountain or in a swimming pool. You can have a ceremony in any of these places, but the only way to be legally married is to do it at a government office.
Do you mean I must have a marriage ceremony at a government office?
No, you do not have a ceremony, but the office will register and proclaim you as married. They will give you and your wife a marriage certificate...actually they give you two certificates!
Do you mean that there isn't a ceremony?
Yes, that is right.
Then how do I get married?
The focus is on a document you must prepare and give to a government office – the office is called an Amphur office and all districts have one or more. The document itself is rather simple.
In the document, which we can call an affirmation, a declaration or an application, you state your desire to get married and answer some personal questions.
What kind of questions do I answer? How do I know what to say?
You get the document from your embassy. Almost all embassies have a standard document they give their citizens to complete. It is usually no more than one page in length.
The material required varies from embassy to embassy, but the major focus seems to be determining that you over the legal age to marry and are not currently married.
You might be asked to list references, your occupation, birth place, or names of your mother and father. If you indicate that you have been married in the past, you will have to include information indicating that you have secured a divorced or that your former spouse is now dead.
You might be asked by your embassy to supply death certificates or divorce papers.
After I complete the document at my embassy what do I do next?
Well, you must get the document notarized at your embassy. This is basically a simple formality. You will probably have to pay for this, somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 baht.
Then you must get the document translated into Thai. This is simple. Anyone can do it, but someone capable should be selected.
Then you must take the two documents along with your passport – which should have any type of visa in it indicating you are in the country legally - to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
At last check , the ministry is located at 123 Chang Wattana Road, Laski District, Bangkok 11120, phone 02-575-1056 -59, 02-981-7171.
An official will certify your documents. There is a nominal charge for this. When you go to the ministry, be sure to take copies of the required documents.
Okay, after I get this document certified at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are my prospective wife and I ready to go to the Amphur and register it?
Well, you should make sure that everything is in order for your wife, also. She must have a valid ID card and if she is under the age of 20, she needs notarized statement from her parents.
There are also various items she, as a Thai citizen, must have correctly registered, such as house ownership.
If she has been married before, then she must be able to supply the authorities with appropriate notarized documents to prove she is able to legally remarry.
When she goes to the Ministry, she should also have copies of these documents as well as originals.
Well, is there anything else? I am afraid there might be.
Some sources mention something called a Certificate of Residency. It is not clear that this is required. You must ask your embassy if you need this document. If you need this document, you get it at the Immigration Office.
If I need this document, what is it all about?
Well, it seems to be more about an opportunity for the authorities to exam your prospective wife than anything about yourself, she must accompany you and have her ID card. You must take two pictures of yourself and your passport.
But be sure to verify with the embassy that you need to do this. If you must do this, you can do it at the same time you visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as it is near the Immigration Office.
Okay, will we be ready to go to the Amphur office after I get this taken care of?
Yes, but remember to take original documents and copies when you go. Make sure your prospective wife has her documents.
The authorities might ask you to produce divorce or death certificates if either of you have been married before, so you should have the originals and translations.
The authorities do not always ask, however. Of course, you will have to pay a fee, but it is not large.
How long does this take? Do we need an appointment? Does it matter which Amphur office we go to?
One can usually transact one's business in 30 minutes and one does not need an appointment. Try to go before 3:00 PM. There is some confusion about the matter of which office to go to.
Some authorities say one must go to the Amphur office where your prospective wife is registered and others say one can go to any office.
It is probably best to go to the where the prospective wife is registered as the office will already have most of her documents on hand.
Can we get our certificates the same day we do this?
It is possible but you probably must wait a day or two.
So how long does this entire process take?
You should be able to do the paperwork in three days. The process should take no more than five business days if you must return to the Amphur office to get your certificates.
So, will my girlfriend and I really be married after this?
Yes, you will be, and your marriage will be internationally recognized. Then, if you wish, you and your wife can have a church or temple ceremony. And hopefully, a good honeymoon...at the beach on a high mountain.