Thai citizenship for foreigners married to Thai spouse

Chris Larkin

Long time resident of Bangkok. Married, three daughters. Managing director of CLC Asia (www.clc-asia.com). Lots of interesting knowledge and experience built up over time which I hope can be of use to people.

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74 Responses

  1. Robert says:

    Dear Chris, many thanks for providing all this information on Thai citizenship! Greatly appreciated. One question about the document check list: does it also require a “Criminal background check” from the applicant’s home country (legalized and translated)? This document is required for a permanent residency application. If it is not needed for citizenship, that would really save a lot of time. Thank you, Robert

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Best news ever for me and my family. Thank.you so much, Chris.

  3. Vlad says:

    Hi, Chris, Thank you for clear guide, I have just two questions:

    1) This year I have PND-91 for 3 years, consecutive NON-O Family extensions for 6 years, but I confused about Work Permits: My first WP on current job was issued 15 NOV 2017, for 2 years, my renewed WP was issued in 29 AUG 2019 for another 2 years. Will be OK to apply this year (DEC 2020) as my “calendar” WP will be more than 3 years in DEC 2020?

    2) What about charity donation, may you please recommend where in Bangkok I can get the certificate of Donation? Is the Thai Red Cross OK or any other charity? I plan to donate soon but get a headache to find such Charity.

    Thank you again

    • Hi Vlad,

      Yes, the end of 2020 will be three calendar years, and technically you’ll be eligible then. If I were you, I’d start consulting with SB and preparing the paperwork in the leadup to December so that you can formally apply then. Otherwise, if you skip into January 2021 you’ll need the tax return for 2020 done before they’ll let you apply.

      As for charity, as long as they can give you an official receipt, then anyone is fine. Thai redcross is a good one. Temples, schools etc, anyone who is a registered charity.

      All the best.

  4. Nasif says:

    Hi Christ

    Many thanks for useful articles. I have some questions if you can answer.
    1. How to present them my education certificates? Need translate in thai and verify from embassy and MOFA?
    2. I live in Pattaya, do i need to apply in bkk by moving my tabien baan there? Or can i apply around Pattaya?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Nasif,

      Best to speak to special branch on what you need translated. I suspect it will be most things not already in Thai, and yes, verified by MOFA. Applying in Bangkok is always the best strategy, so moving your TB there will save alot of hassle dealing with less experienced offices.

      All the best with your application.

  5. Oz says:

    Hi Chris,

    First of all, thank you so much for this very informative post regarding the Thai nationality. I’ve been trying to hand in my PR applications twice, but they wouldn’t take however it almost looks like applying for citizenship might be easier? I feel confident that I would score pretty highly on the first 3 categories with a Master’s degree and 42 years of age that should be roughly 18/25 pts? I’ve been working for the same company for 10 years so I guess that would also cover the security of the work and the salary is north of 200k, but not sure how they count the security of the job?

    Regarding the yellow tabien bahn, I have had one for 3-4 years I think, but in your example, it shows 20 pts, but later in explanation 5 pts? Could you elaborate on this one, please?

    The last 3 will be a bit of mystery, I think my Thai reading is better than conversational one, however, I can hardly write anything. So for sure some work to do there.

    Should I contact some law firm to assist with the application process and if yes, is there any that you would recommend?

    • Hi Oz,

      With regards to the tabieen baan, having it means a minimum 5 points. The longer you have it, the more points you get, up to a maximum of 20 points.

      The language ‘test’ is a little subjective from all accounts, but even your level of stated Thai will win you a minimum level in that area (at least) and perhaps more depending on how good your reading and conversation is assessed.

      If you are at the point of thinking you are near qualified, my best advice is to head down to special branch and have a chat, and they can give you some information on the documents you’ll need to produce and they will give a good feel for whether they are prepared to accept your application. You don’t mentioned how long you’ve been married for or if you have kids. But it is 3 years married of no kids and 1 year married if you do.

      Do you need a lawyer? No!!!

      This is something you will most likely need to handle yourself as most of the documents are yours anyway. A good assistant maybe, but no a lawyer.

      All the best.

      • Oz says:

        Thank You, Chris, for the clarification on the Tabien Bahn. I guess that would be something between 5-10 pts there then it’s going to be tight. Regarding the donations, do you know what counts? I’ve been helping several NGOs over the years, however, I never asked for any receipt so I have no way to prove it. I guess in the future I need to ask for some kind of evidence? Also is any NGO good enough for this?

        Oh yeah and married 3.5 years and no kids, so just about tick that box.

  6. Richard Noble says:

    Hi Chris – thanks ever so much for this excellent resource. Quick question – how do I get a certificate of legal age? I phoned the UK embassy and they didn’t know what it was.

    Thanks!

    • If you are close to applying, best speak to special branch who will process your application. They will be able to tell you what document will suffice in the case of a British national to prove that they at the age of majority.

      All the best with your application Richard!

  7. Sam says:

    Hi Chris, thank you for providing this useful information. On this page, you state that this process applies to a foreign husband, and it seems the legislation states that too. Is there are different process for a foreign wife? I have been married to my Thai husband for 8 years and he owns property in Thailand. We also have a child together who is a dual citizen. We currently live outside of Thailand but just considering plans for the future and citizenship pathways. Many thanks!

  8. Danny D says:

    Hi Chris,
    Am I required to physically be in Thailand while working? What if I work for that company that sends me abroad to represent them?

    • Hi Danny,

      You need to have a current non-immigrant visa and work permit continuous for at least three years before you apply (and then maintained while you wait for approval). This leads to your question – strictly speaking – probably yes, but being outside for extended periods of time shouldn’t be an issue so long as you have the paperwork.

      Being overseas will create some issues. As you know, you’ll need three years of tax returns as part of your application, and if you are not resident in Thailand for tax purposes, then you won’t have the required evidence unless you pay all your income tax in thailand.

      The other issue is logistics. You typically get very little warning about your interviews. Generally, you’ll only be given a few days notice to be available for interviews which happen through the process, so if you are stuck overseas, then this may create issues in you getting back in time.

      • Danny D says:

        Thanks for your reply.
        Yeah, the tax issue is puzzling…
        You mentioned there are interviews throughout the process – are there multiple of them? I thought I only get to go to the final one.

        • There will be at least three interviews – your first formal one at special branch, one with the NIA and the final one at the Ministry of Interior.

          • Danny D says:

            Thank you, Chris.
            My understanding is that in order to become a tax resident of Thailand, I need to be there for at least 180 days a year? I read your previous posts, where you said that people who want to strategically aproach the issue could get registered in the yellow book and make three THB5000 donations. Since I am not going to be able to change my tax resedence untill next year as I need to pay taxes to the country of my current residence for citizenship purposes :), I guess I have some time to do what I at least can do today.
            I used to work in Thailand, for about 5 years before, had work permit and paid taxes. I am married to a thai citizen. What would you do in the case like mine?
            Thank you for your advise!

          • Yes, you will have to be back here permanently working and paying taxes before you can be eligible, but nothing stopping you getting the yellow tabieen baan now. The charity payments can be done when you move back – no rush on that!

  9. Rahid says:

    Hi Chris
    Thanks for your informative articles.
    1. Do the NIA or any other agencies visit home or office to verify information? Do you have any experience regarding this?
    2. Do we need to submit ภงด50 if i am just a staff of the company not a shareholder but my wife owns the company?

    • Hi Rahid,

      Not personally, but I suspect they might if they are worried about your bonafides and want to check your living arrangements, but on the whole I think it is rare. No need to submit shareholdings if you personally aren’t a shareholder, but don’t discount they may want to understand the business you are working for – so additional information above and beyond the list can be asked for (it happens!).

  10. Sam says:

    Hi Chris,

    I am on my first 1 year extended Non-O extended visa with WP, however I have been registered on a tabien Baan for about 6 years now. I was a work permit holder from 2014-2015, but this was with a Multiple Entry Non-O. My question is, when the time comes that I have indeed fulfilled the three year requirement, would my name being on the yellow book for more than those three years be beneficial or not in terms of adding points to my case?

    • Hi Sam,

      Yep, being on the yellow book for longer than 5 years should get you an automatic 5 points towards your 50 points needed to pass. In the article above, you’ll see I’ve noted it is one of the ‘easy’ ways of bumping up your score with minimal effort.

      Cheers
      Chris

  11. Wallace says:

    Hi. Great articles that you have been so kind to pass on. Do you or your company assist in any Thai Citizenship applications? I am sure all forms, applications, etc have to be in Thai. I should probably get all the points required as I have been a PR for 20 years, have a Thai wife, children, house, car, BS and MS, work permit, high salary, speak Thai reasonably well, etc. I am also curious on the need for Proof of Legal Age. I am over 60 so that is kind of stupid actually.

    • Hi Wallace,

      The proof of legal age thing is a strange one i must admit – but I think its overlooked if its clear you are past the age of majority. As for services, we don’t actually, but that is the purpose of the website, so people can do it themselves. I’m of the firm belief that there is no need to hire expensive lawyers etc who simply charge money for no real value add (on this matter at least). While the paperwork hunt can be onerous, a good secretary or EA is the most you need, but most people who can speak a bit of Thai can get the documentation themselves.

      There is no application form per se that you have to fill in. Once all the documentation is gathered and Special Branch have determined you have what they need, they organise a formal appointment where they mainly fill out the official application.

      If you decide to go ahead with it all, good luck but I suspect you’ll be a very qualified applicant who won’t have too much trouble.

  12. E. Z. Duzzit says:

    Thanks for the information!

    I work for an offshore company, and therefore do not have a work permit with a Thai company. Immigration is aware of this.

    My question is if the work permit would still be required in my case?

    Thanks again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Yes, a work permit is one of the non-negoitable documents you’ll need in order for your application to be accepted. There is no way around this if you are a applying on the basis of being married to a Thai wife.

  13. JP says:

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for all the valuable information on the website.
    Have you come across a reputable language school in Thailand that you might recommend? I would like to attempt to bump my Thai language proficiency from where it currently is (i.e. atrociously basic) to at least the level where it must be for a citizenship application ot be successful.
    Hopefully more than that, actually, as I’d hope to rake-up more points by displaying fluency above and beyond what is required. I am good at learning languages generally (although I never attempted a tonal language before…), but I have found that my individual efforts at home with a book and CD did not get me very far, and my wife and entire native speaking entourage cannot help much, it appears.
    I definitely would need a more structured approach, with proper tutors.
    Thanks in advance for any insight you might be able to share.

    • Hi JP – none in particular unfortunately. I know the AUA have a very strucured approach which suits some and puts off others, so may be worth checking out. Other than that I hear Chulalongkorn run a very rigourous course which suits people who have the time to commit to it.

      All the best with it all!

  14. Supu says:

    Hi Chris. I’m applying for citizenship this year and your website has been a great resource. Just one question – The whole process takes many years. So what happens if circumstances change along the way? For example: a child is born; you change jobs or retire; your passport expires; you move to another province.

    • Hi Supu,

      If you are a male applying, technically you’ll need to remain working all through the process as they will want to see your work permit and tax documents through various stages. Having kids etc will be fine. But don’t retire or stop working until you have gotten the citizenship!

      All the best.

  15. MD says:

    Thank you for this information. I am currently in the process of applying for Thai Nationality. I am almost at the final stage with the Special Branch. About NIA interview, it might not be required in all cases, this is what I heard. Rather, there will an interview in Saphan Khwai area, in some building related to the intelligence department. What do you think?
    another question; is there any idea about questions in interior ministry interview?

    • Hi there,

      Yes, I think the NIA interview is now located at their building (I need to update this in the article). I haven’t heard of people not having to do it. In terms of questions, they vary but it you should be fully prepared to outline your history and the reasons you want to live in Thailand. It generally isn’t any more complex than that and it isn’t something to be terribly stressed about. You will have had similar questions already at special branch.

      Good luck with getting the application in!
      Chris

  16. Ken says:

    Hi, for the work permit/thai company section, if i own a cafe or company with my thai wife and with valid work permit for 3 years (with tax record), does this qualify? Instead of working for a thai company. Many thanks.

    • Hi Ken,

      As long as it is a legitimate business and you have all the requisite documentation including an income paid by your company to yourself above the income threshold, then yes, you should be eligible. Given that you are applying this route, there will should expect to have your business documentation reviewed as part of the application.

  17. AB says:

    Hello,
    very useful information – thank you. I have been married to a Thai national for 27 years and can meet most all of the point requirements, I wonder about the employment in Thailand, though (although my job is very secure). I work for the UN, of which Thailand is a member, but my work is not based in Thailand. I have held a yellow household registration booklet for the past 11 years and have made Thailand my home since 1988. Are there provisions addressing those who work as International Civil Servants?

    • Hi AB,

      I’m assuming that you are a male and your wife is Thai. Not being based in Thailand for work and with no ongoing extensions of stay I think it might be a bridge too far.

      Even if you have been consistently based in Thailand since 1988 (eg working ‘out of’ the UN regional HQ here)- I suspect they will want to see the proper extensions of stay from the UN role for 3 years leading up to application. However, I’m not sure how Special Branch would view the lack of work permit and tax payments which come as part of being a UN employee. But if you were, it wouldn’t hurt to go and ask them if there is a special dispensation for people in your situation given they aren’t required under Thailand’s own laws.

  18. J Bird says:

    Hi Chris, I’d like to thank you for this great resource, it has been a tremendous help for me. I have a question regarding the Thai name (link in the text does not work btw) – when you choose this name, is this going to become your new legal name, ie. will be listed instead of your current one in all the legal documents once you get citizenship?

    • Hi there – glad you are finding the site useful! Also thank you for letting me about the broken link. It appears to have changed so I’ve updated it with the offical DOPA one which hopefully won’t change.

      No, you don’t have use your new Thai name. Getting it is a formality for the purposes of getting citizenship – so no stress there unless you really want to change it on all your ID documents.

      All the best with your application!

  19. RJ says:

    Hi Chris,

    A fantastic site with valuable information you have set up here; Thank you.

    Would you recommend using a Lawyer to assist with the Thai Citizenship process, or is it easy enough to do ourselves?

    Thanks.
    RJ

    • Hi Rene,

      Totally recommend doing it yourself. Lawyers don’t really add too much value to this process and the main bulk of the work will be for you to gather the required documents, most which you will probably have already. The best thing to do is go down to the special branch and chat to the officers there. They will give you a complete list of documents needed. There aren’t any applications to fill in etc. Once you have gathered all the correct documents, the special branch people will actually fill out the required forms etc, so no legal expertise needed on that side from you either.

      All the best with your application!

  20. RJ says:

    Hi Chris,

    One more questions; When you apply for Thai Citizenship do they test your Thai at time of application or does this come at a later date?

    Cheers
    RJ

  21. GW says:

    Hi Chris – very interesting information re citizenship. Does the marriage have to have been registered in Thailand (for one year marriage with kids)? My Thai wife and I have an Australian marriage certificate from 2001, but have never registered in TH. Every aspect i can cover in terms of continuous WP and taxes for over 20 years, and I am listed as father of our two sons in the blue Tabien Baan book.

    • Hi GW,

      So you’ll definetly need a couple of different things for this, which essentially having your marriage registered here (note this doesn’t’ amount to getting re-married).

      -A certified translation of your Australian marriage certificate. Once you have this, you can go to your district office and apply for a:
      -Form Khor Ror 22 (คร .22) ทะเบียนฐานะแห่งครอบครัว which is essentially a document registering your marriage status here based on your wedding certificate from Australia.

      Both these documents will be needed from our experience, along with you being on a yellow tabieen baan.

      Hope this helps.
      Cheers
      Chris

  22. GW says:

    Thank you very much Chris. Invaluable information. Regards GW

  23. Jason says:

    Chris – I’ve been married for 10 years to a Thai woman and have been living in Thailand for over 20 years. I worked for a Thai company & had a work permit/paid taxes, etc. for the first 13 years, but have not worked for the past 8 years, & don’t plan to, as I saved up enough for retirement. Is citizenship still a possibility, or do I have to be currently working? Thanks!

    • Hi Jason,

      Thanks for your message! Bad news unfortunately in that your current non-working status doesn’t make you eligible based on the system that exists now.

      Wish I could have had better news for you.

  24. AN says:

    Hi Chris,
    I’m presently being “maintained” by my Thai child. Have been so for 6 years now. Is there a way to citizenship for me?

  25. Chris says:

    l have been visiting Thailand for 6 years, before retiring and moving to Thailand. I have resided here and married. I have no need or desire to work due to my age. With the current pandemic it would facilitate my departure and reentry to Thailand if I held Thai citizenship. Do you have any suggestions as to whom I should petition to get the law changed to facilitate retirees getting citizenship?

    • Hi Chris – the Ministry of Interior is in charge of citizenship applications and they are probably your best bet. I’m very sympathetic to your plight, but petitioning for granting long term pensioners citizenship rights is a non-starter. Most countries don’t do it, and in Thailand’s case is akin to simply buying citizenship given that all you need to qualify for a retirement visa is 800,000 baht or $26,000 odd dollars in the bank.

      I am much more sympathetic to spouses of Thai citizens being granted long term residency rights as a matter of course however. That is a basic human rights issue and I think an argument along those lines is something that will gain more traction. I will note that citizenship law as it stands is a movement in that direction, but as you say, the work requirement is a non-starter, particularly for those who no longer need to work for the sake of it so you are best off (in my opinion) targeting the removal of that particular clause.

      I will also note that all the major western chambers of commerce regularly advocate for this very issue, but with little progress.

      All the best with your efforts.

  26. Zin Myint Lwin says:

    Hi Chris, I love the way you explain and it really helps me a lot.
    I met all the criteria except for marriage registration. I have a Thai wife but haven’t registered yet. If I start registering from now, how long of a married period do I need to submit a citizenship request, I mean, is 6 months period of married possible, or I have to wait until 1 year?

  27. JJ says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thank you for all this.

    I have 8 years of work permits and meet the salary requirement, I am married to a Thai and have a new born child and I speak and read / write thai. I hold postgraduate degrees from University.

    I just got the yellow tai baan 6 months ago when reading your website and my marriage certificate was just registered 2 years ago even through we have been married for 6 years.

    Can I apply now based on these facts or do I need to wait until the yellow book is at 3 years even though my work permits are 8 years?

    • Hi JJ,

      Thanks for your message. No need for you to have the yellow book for the 3 years, you can literally have it issued the day before you apply. The only thing holding it for an extended period of time will do is add to your points tally, which may be useful for those who are borderline eligible.

      Hopefully that helps and good luck with the application!

  28. JJ says:

    Thank you Chris – this is very helpful. One more question – I did increase my salary in thailand now – will I get the points level based on the current salary or will it based on an average over the last few years? I am trying to ascertain if it’s worth my while increasing my salary in Thailand for the purpose of the application.

    Many thanks for all this again. I am going to visit the police this week and start getting ready for the application.

    • Hi Jack,

      You have two choices, doing it based on this years salary, or last years salary (see out scoring criteria article here. Being married, an average monthly salary which will get you max points (25 points) is THB60K if based on this years verified salary, or THB80K per month if using last years salary.

  29. Nils Bastedo says:

    I went to the police station and they told me that I have to give up my Swedish citizenship to become a Thai citizen. I don’t really want to start arguing with the officer based on what I have read online, but this seems to be a gray area. How should I proceed?

  30. Mike says:

    Hi Chris, Is the job, work permit and taxes paid required in all circumstances? I have been living in Thailand full time since 1988, registered marriage in 1997, permanent resident since 2006, presently 64 years of age. I previously had work permits and paid taxes for 15 years, but have been retired for the past 12 years. Do I have any hope for citizenship, or do I need to get a job? Thank you.

  1. 31 July, 2020

    […] following is a detailed list of documents required when applying for Thai citizenship which you’ll need when applying to the naturalization unit of the Police Special […]

  2. 7 August, 2020

    […] for citizenship via marriage to a Thai wife or permanent residency requires you to score a minimum of 50 out of a possible 100 points before […]

  3. 10 August, 2020

    […] go down the Thai Permanent Residence path before being eligible for applying, while those who are married to Thai citizens can skip this stage. For those who are born to Thai parents, or have kids for whom one of the […]

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