Thai citizenship for foreigners married to Thai spouse

Thai law provides an expedited path to citizenship for those who have deep connections to the country through marriage. Put simply, you can apply for citizenship without first having to hold Thai Permanent Residency for five years.

Foreign men married to Thai citizens are biggest category of people who are potentially eligible for Thai citizenship, but often don’t know it, or they think that the requirements are higher than they actually are.

To be sure, this path doesn’t apply to everyone (even if you are married). However, if all of the following points apply, or will apply to you at some point, then you are at the starting point of a realistic and attainable path to Thai citizenship.

  • Lived in Thailand consecutively for three years on valid non-immigrant visa extensions;
  • Have had three years of consecutive work permits from a Thai based employer;
  • Have a minimum income of 40,000 baht per month and have paid tax for three years on that income; and
  • Are married to a Thai citizen.

If this isn’t you (i.e. not working in Thailand for a Thai employer, or on a retirement or education visa), then at present current legislation doesn’t provide any realistic paths to citizenship.

If you are working here and planning to stay long term, but not marred to a Thai national, then check out Thai permanent residency, which you can apply for after a full three years of uninterrupted work permits. After holding PR for 5 years, you will then be eligible to apply for Thai citizenship.

If you are a foreign woman married to a Thai husband, then please read this article, as legislation applies differently for the wives of Thai husbands.

WHAT THE LEGISLATION SAYS

The Thai Nationality Act (2008) states:

Section 10:

An alien who possesses the following qualifications may apply for naturalization as a Thai:

(1)    becoming sui juris in accordance with Thai law and the law under which he has nationality;

(2)    having good behavior;

(3)    having regular occupation;

(4)    having a domicile in the Thai Kingdom for a consecutive period of not less than five years till the day of filing the application for naturalization;

(5)    having knowledge of Thai language as prescribed in the Regulations.

 Section 11:

The provisions of Section 10 (4) and (5) shall not apply if the applicant for naturalization as a Thai;

….

(4)   is a husband of a person with Thai nationality.

Interpreting the amendments

The changes made to the Thai Nationality Act in 2008 have opened an easier and expedited path to foreign men who are married to Thai citizens. The key ‘shortcuts’ are outlined in Sections 11 of the Act above and in plain english mean:

  • Having permanent residence in Thailand is no longer required – so you are eligible after 3 years living in Thailand
  • You are exempted from singing the Thai national anthem or the Royal anthem (Sansoen Phra Barami/สรรเสริญพระบารมี)

Although Section 11 refers to waving the Thai language requirement, in practice this has meant that the singing portion of the test isn’t applied to those married to Thai’s. Speaking Thai is certainly useful as far as the points test goes, and it be used to further boost your overall score which will determine your eligibility.

So this is me, what do I do next?

Married to a Thai citizen, three years work permits, tax returns and earning more than the 40,000 baht per month income – you are all of these. So what are the next steps?

Applications for Thai citizenship are made via the Royal Thai Police Special Branch rather than immigration. The full details of how you can do this all yourself are contained in this following article here.

Thai citizenship

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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222 Responses

  1. Mark says:

    Hi, Thanks for these kind of full information.
    I am living in Thailand since past 7 years with my Thai wife and kids. I always think that very difficult to become a Thai citizen and must know Thai language (read + write).

    Now I noticed based on your provided information and I can see sure I will get 50 points (Age- 10, Education- 10, Profession- 25, Residence- 5)
    More point will come with these (Language, Knowledge, Personality)

    Hope you can help with my few queries.
    I started work in Thailand on WP start from March 2020. I left job in Feb 2021 move to new job in March 2021. New company transferred WP from old company in February 2021 but I started new job after gap of 1 week in March 2021.

    1. After complete 3 years on WP, Can I start process in March 2023 or in March 2024
    2. Is any time set by government when i can only apply for citizen between those months only? (Oct to December)
    3. I have all salary slip but never apply for personal tax credit. How and where I can apply for previous 1-2 years? 2020 and 2021
    4. Now I also noticed that person can get few tax deduction when buy Life insurance and do donation. Will it effect on tax calculation when apply for citizen?
    5. We are not in Bangkok, so can I apply in my current province or only need to apply in Bangkok?

    Thanks in advance
    Regards

    • Hi Mark,

      Glad you’ve found the website useful.

      – In terms of your ‘gap’ it seems small enough that it might be okay, but that is always down to the final decision of the officals.
      – Citizenship can be applied for any time of year, not just the end of the year like PR.
      – You will need to go to the tax office and ask for copies of your previous years tax returns – they supply these all the time and you will need them for the citizenship application anyway
      – Gross income is considered, so don’t worry about deductions
      – Bangkok is the best place to apply. Chonburi, Phuket, Surat Thani and Chiangmai are also places where people have had success.

      Hope this helps!
      Chris

  2. Jav says:

    Great article!

    I think that you need to be married to your Thai spouse for at least 3 years before applying to the citizenship through marriage. Can you confirm?

    Thanks

    • Hi Jav

      It’s three years without children but you only need to be married one year if you have kids.

      Note, this doesn’t take away the need for three years of work permits, tax returns etc.

  3. Jay says:

    With respect to pursuing Thai citizenship, what possible reasons would a North American citizen decide to pass on this prospect? Never mind about additional costs and effort to obtain over a PR, but what happens afterwards that may involve obligations or conflicts with original country of birth? Thanks in advance.

    • To be honest, not sure there would be any. There are probably a couple of hundred thousand Thai-US dual citizen I’d not more. If there was any friction there we’d probably have heard it by now. For most, I suspect it’s the best of both worlds.

  4. Blake says:

    Very interesting read, thank you very much for the information. Do you know if it would be possible to obtain citizenship without possessing a work permit but still paying taxes on income in Thailand? I work remotely for a company based in Canada and am married to a Thai woman and we have a child together. If I pay taxes for 3 years would I be able to apply for citizenship without having a work permit?

    • Hi Blake

      Glad you’re finding the website useful.

      In regards to your question, unfortunately three years of thai work permits are required and the income needs to be earned from a thai company entity – all with requisite taxes paid.

      TC

  5. James says:

    Great article which really simplifies the process with information that has proven quite difficult to find and provided in English to boot! Would you happen to know whether an F Visa for work is valid rather than a B visa when applying for citizenship. I meet all the criterias such as Thai spouse, have lived here 30+ years with a salary over the required amount. The only obstacle has been the immigration office saying an F visa isn’t valid and only a B visa would suffice. Would you happen to know anything about this and whether there’s a possible solution. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi James,

      You need to chat to police special branch as to if they will accept an F visa – immigration have no role to play in granting citizenship so I’d take whatever they say with a huge grain of salt.

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