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. Michael says:

    Hi there

    I satisfy all your requirements but speak only very basic conversational Thai. How is that s11 waiver interpreted and tested? Obviously speaking Thai would help, but do you pass the points threshold without it

    Thanks
    Michael

    • Hi Michael,

      So it’s pretty simple. If married you are effectively exempted from needing to sing the National and Royal Anthems which is what is considered as sufficient proof/threshold for needing to speak Thai.

      Though the points test remains, there is no minimum score you need to get on that particular portion of the test. As such, so long as you score strongly under the other categories, if your Thai is weak or non-existent it shouldn’t matter too much one way or another.

      Hope this provides some reassurance!
      TC

  2. Jari says:

    Hello.
    I have been living here, married with a thai lady from 2014. I have been working as a doctor in Sweden and Finland every year some months/year and from my earnings (about 2,5 million thb/ year) I have paid taxes to Thailand. I don’t have thai working permit nor have I worked in Thailand.
    Do I have the possibility to obtain thai citizenship?

  3. Christian says:

    Hello,
    I’m really grateful for the invaluable information. Lack of knowledge really is a sin haha 😂
    Well, I’ve been on 40k salary for the past 3 years and have been with the s me employer since 2016. However, my work permit discontinued for 2 months or so between May and July this year for some issues with paperwork. I got a new work permit in July after holding the old one for 6 years. Would this be an issue if I had to apply for citizenship or PR?

    • Hi Christian,

      Thanks for finding this website. So the long and the short of it is ‘yes’ it is likely to cause and issue and effectively reset the three year clock. However it is always worth going down to chat with the people at citizenship section of Special Branch and see what they say.

      Cheers
      TC

  4. Kol says:

    I know it’s possible to pay tax late for the past years.
    Since my salary for the past 3 years was little less than 40k, is it possible for me to pay tax again stating salary as 40k?

    • Hi there

      You’ll need proof of this extra income and it will need to come from a thai corporate entity paying it to you. Part of the process is to trace your income stream.

      Not sure what you do but also remember bonuses and other payment from your employer are all taxable so make sure they are added into the entire amount.

  5. Mark says:

    Hi Again,
    As I am aware that Thai government always want Thai translation of any non-Thai document.
    I need some clarity on these points. Hope you can answer or anyone who applied for his citizen in recent time could answer please
    1. Passport- Do require a Thai translation that can be done by any translation agency the same I did when apply for yellow book?
    2. Higher degree- Master is my higher degree to get 10 pints, so I need to certify and translate into Thai only Master or graduation and also lower level? Degree need to certify by Embassy. I believe my embassy will certify English copy then translate to Thai will enough?
    3. Tax return – Personal tax return P91 and Withhold tax certificate ‘50 Bis’ of last 3 year. Each year is in Thai, so is it enough?
    4. Marriage certificate + Kor ror 22 & wife’s Thai ID & Child’s birth certificate are in Thai already
    5. Donation receipt- Sorry I was not aware about donation’s receipt so when we do any donation to Temple or Hospital never saved those old receipts. Is it necessary and when do we need to submit? I notice in some comment but didn’t see in your website regarding donation. Is it require so next time I will save all receipts.
    6. Do we need any document or letter from employer?
    7. Apart from these all important document do we need any more document?
    Thanks

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