Thai citizenship when born overseas

Am I a Thai citizen?

Children born overseas to at least one Thai parent are eligible for Thai citizenship, regardless of the place of birth of that parent.

There is often some confusion about the eligibility of a child born to a Thai parent overseas. The easy answer is that a child born to a Thai citizen, whether in Thailand or outside of Thailand, is automatically born a Thai citizen.

In the case of Thailand, citizenship by birth is by blood, or to use the Latin phrase “jus sanguinis” (by the right of blood). In layman terms, it means the right to citizenship through one’s bloodline or ancestry. The main exception, is when a child is born in Thailand to two foreign parents who both have permanent residence status in the kingdom at the time of birth. In that case, the child will be a Thai citizen from birth due to their parents permanent residence status.

As such, if you were born to a Thai parent overseas, or your children born overseas to a Thai parent, they are eligible to receive Thai nationality.

Apply for a Thai birth certificate in the country of birth

Thailand does not issue ‘citizenship via descent’ certification like many countries. Thai citizenship when born overseas needs to be established by a Thai birth certificate (สูติบัตร). This is the primary document proving ones status as a Thai citizen throughout their life. Without one, it is impossible to be registered on a Thai House Registration – the ‘tabien baan’ (ทะเบียนบ้าน), or have a Thai passport (หนังสือเดินทาง) or ID card (บัตรประชาชน) issued.

A Thai citizen born overseas will go through life with two birth certificates: the one issued by their country where they were born, as well as their Thai birth certificates which is issued by the Thai embassy in that country.

The first step is to apply for a Thai birth certificate at the Royal Thai embassy in the country of birth. For example, all children born to a Thai parent in the United Kingdom and on the island of Ireland must apply to the Thai Embassy in London, whereas a child born to a Thai parent in the United States must apply to the Thai Embassy in Washington DC.

Requirements for a Thai birth certificate will vary slightly depending on the embassy, however general requirements should include:

  • Full birth certificate issued in country of birth*.
  • Marriage certificates of the parents**
  • Photo’s of the applicants
  • Passport/identity documents of the parents
  • Thai ID card and house registration copies of the Thai citizen parent.

*Local birth certificate will need to be legalized in the country of birth by the appropriate body. Please contact the relevant embassy for the appropriate national counterpart.  For example in the US this will be the Secretary of State and Department of State respectively.

**Please see individual embassy requirements in the case where parents are not married, divorced or deceased.

It is generally not necessary to attend the embassy to apply for a birth certificate; however it is possible that the Father and Mother will be asked to attend the Thai embassy in person if the child was born before 1 March 1992.

Below are links for obtaining birth certificates at major Thai embassies around the globe.

AUSTRALIA

Royal Thai Embassy, Canberra

Click this link

GERMANY

Royal Thai Embassy, Berlin

Click this link (available in Thai and German only)

UNITED KINGDOM

Royal Thai Embassy, London

Click this link

(available in Thai only)

UNITED STATES

Royal Thai Embassy, Washington DC

Instruction for applying (Thai only): click this link

List of forms: click this link

Birth certificate form: click this link

Thai Consulate, LA 

List of forms: click this link (Thai)

List of forms: click this link (English)

Thai birth certificate for a foreign born child – in Thailand

In some cases, a person who is eligible for a Thai birth certificate has already moved back to Thailand using a foreign passport.

For a person who is born outside of Thailand to a Thai parent, only the Department of Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok can assist you in obtaining a Thai birth certificate by liaising with the Thai embassy in the country of birth for the child.

Details of the Department of Consular Affairs are:

Legalization Division , 3rd floor
Department of Consular Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
123 Chaeng Wattana Road
Bangkok 10210

Tel : 0-2575-1058 and 59   Fax : 0-2575-1054
Service hours : 08.30 – 14.30 hrs. (Closed on Saturday – Sunday and Public Holidays)
Email : [email protected]

Myth buster: It is important to note that your a district office (สำนักงานเขต) in Thailand CAN NOT issue a foreign born child with a Thai birth certificate. Some will claim that they can, but it isn’t possible. The reason is a local district office in every region in Thailand is only able to provide birth certificates for those who are born within their boundaries. As such no district office in Thailand will be able to issue a Thai birth certificate. Once you have obtained the birth certificate from the Thai embassy in the country where the child was born however, the district office can then register them in the family house register, or ‘tabien baan’ (ทะเบียนบ้าน).

When should one apply for a Thai birth certificate overseas?

A person is eligible for Thai citizenship when born overseas can be granted a Thai birth certificate any time. There is no time limit to do so. People have known to have applied and received their birth certificates in their 40’s!

However, please note that it can be more difficult (though not impossible) to prove your Thai citizenship without documents from the Thai parent proving such eligibility. The death, divorce, or parent absconding, or the loss of the parents Thai identity papers are all very common problems. In such cases, DNA testing back in Thailand using links to remaining relatives is the only other method of establishing one’s rights to Thai nationality, and understandably this process can be cumbersome and expensive.

As such, it is recommended to apply for a Thai birth certificate overseas as practically as possible after the child’s birth. 

Does this make me a dual citizen?

Yes it does! As such, you’ll be able to travel with two passports, both your Thai and non-Thai one, maximising the number of countries you can travel to visa free! Thailand has absolutely no issue with dual citizenship, so the world is your oyster!

Registering your name on the house registration in Thailand

Once you have a Thai birth certificate, the Thai embassy will generally allow you to apply for your first Thai passport through them.

Normally a Thai passport requires being registered on a house registration (tabieen baan/ทะเบียนบ้าน) in Thailand and for those over 15 years of age, to have a Thai ID card. This requirement is waived for the first passport someone with Thai citizenship born overseas if they apply for the passport at the same time as receiving the birth certificate.

The expectation however is that for the purposes of getting subsequent Thai passports, the name of the overseas born Thai citizen will be added into the house registration, either by the person themselves, or in the case of minors, via an authorised representative doing so on their behalf.

Information about registering on the house registration for overseas born Thai’s is available here (Thai language only).

 

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.

125 Responses

  1. Ashley M. says:

    Hi Chris,
    I’m a U.S. citizen with a Thai mother and American father. My mother and father divorced when I was just a baby, so neither of them made much effort to get my thai birth certificate. I am now 32 and attempting to obtain my birth certificate, passport, and id card. I have no contact with either of my parents, and so I’m stuck on how to proceed with the process. I did an ancestry DNA test and have found that while my mother and grandparents were born in Thailand, we have no thai DNA, it is Vietnamese and Lao. Because of this, I’m not sure that doing a DNA test to prove ancestry would work for me. Any advice on how to proceed? Also, I noticed that a few times, there was something mentioned about house registration after 30. Can you clarify what that means exactly?

    • Hi Ashley,

      Last thing first. The house registration is simply a book sized document linked to a specific address that all Thai citizens are registered in. It provides a registered address and ID number and off the the basis of it, your details can be used to get passports, drivers licenses etc. In the case of 30 years of age – that is simply the age where you are no longer eligible for military service.

      So the DNA thing. Its not any regular ancestry.com type test. Its a proper DNA test from a recognised government hospital in Bangkok which can prove you are a blood relative of one of your mothers siblings or one of her parents. It’s a process I don’t know much about apart from that and you’ll need to be in Thailand to start the process liasing (likely) with BORA to certify your Thai citizenship. So someone from that side of the family will need to agree to proving a DNA sample to prove the link.

      So, short of getting back in contact with your mum, the Thai government endorsed DNA route is the only method open to you.

      Hopefully this is of some use to you!
      Regards
      Chris

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