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 one’s 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 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!

Your first Thai passport 

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.

Registering your name on the house registration in Thailand

The expectation however is that for the purposes of getting subsequent Thai passports – and to get your first Thai ID card, the name of the overseas born Thai citizen will be added into the house registration at an address in Thailand, either by the person themselves, or in the case of minors, via a parent or other authorised representative doing so on their behalf.

When coming to Thailand for the first time, if the embassy has issued you with a new Thai passport, then you should enter Thailand on that passport. Once stamped in, you can head to a district office to be registered on a house registration or ‘tabieen baan’. 

Normally most overseas born Thais opt for being registered on the tabieen baan of family members, and ideally the same house registry as your Thai parent. While it isn’t strictly necessary, it does help make the process a lot easier. Generally, for this, you’ll need to go to the district office personally with the following documents:

  • Thai birth certificate issued by the embassy
  • Thai passport which you entered Thailand on (if you have it – otherwise a copy of your foreign passport will be fine)
  • Copies of your Thai parent’s Thai ID
  • A copy of your non-Thai parents’ passport or other official ID (in many cases this will have to be officially translated as the tabieen baan will require the Thai spelling of this parent’s name)

Also needed will be two Thai citizens who can vouch for your identity. This will likely include the ‘house master/เจ้าบ้าน’ who has control over the tabieen baan document, and one other person. It helps (though not compulsory) that they are relatives. In more remote areas you may also be asked to being the village head.

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

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.

270 Responses

  1. Steve says:

    Hi my wife was born in Thailand, what steps need to be taken for her to get a Thai I.D. ?

    • Hi Steve,

      I write this assuming at least one of her parents was a Thai citizen at the time of her birth, or both of her parents were foreigners but with Thai permanent residency.

      She needs to find the district office where she is registered at and ask a Thai ID card to be printed. She should bring along her Thai birth certificate and any and all other forms of Thai ID she might have, as well as copies of her parents ID.

      Depending on how much proof she has, she may be asked to provide a DNA match to a close Thai relative to prove her relationship to a Thai citizen, but that is very uncommon, particularly if you have strong documentary evidence linking you to a Thai parent and have family witnesses vouch for you.

      Cheers
      TC

  2. Alexander says:

    I have a question in which I hope you can assist me.
    I am born in the Netrhelands and am a Dutch resident, Father Dutch and Mother (passed away) was a Thai. I have a Thai Birth Certificate and now also want a Thai ID, So I can Buy a house and have a Bank account in Thailand in the future. is it correct I now have to register myself in a Thabien Baan with for example my thai aunt whom lives in Thailand in order to get a Thai ID? and if so, what are the steps in this Procedure? Go to the City Hall where my aunt resides in and register myself in her household? How long does this take? as i am going to Thailand soon, but only for 3 weeks. Will the procedure to obtain my Thai ID Card be long? I`d like to know so I know exactly what to do Without coming short of time. ANd do I also need my Dutch ftahers Birth Certificate or copy of his passport translated in Thai with me? because according to Thai law my parent are not married (as oversea marriged is not legally resgistered in Thailand).

    Hope you can provide me with some advise, would be uch appreciated!

    • Hi Alexander,

      Thanks for your message. So you have the steps correct (and it is covered towards the end of this article as well with a link to the official Thai website). You will need to go to the Ampur (district office) and ask for an ID card to be made. I suggest you get your Aunt to go now and ask for a list of documents you will need for someone who is born overseas. One misconception, if you parents are married in the Netherlands that will be recognised in Thailand. Also given your mother has passed away, this may or may not complicate things. What I’d bring along is the following:

      – Both your parents ID’s
      – Any and all of your mothers Thai ID (old passports, ID cards etc)
      – Your mother’s death certificate. (Note, the Thai embassy in the netherlands can also issue you with a Thai death certificate – while I’m not sure this is 100% needed I suspect it might be useful).
      – Your Dutch passport
      – If you have a Thai passport you should bring that too. Given you are overseas the Thai embassy in the Netherlands should be able to issue you your first one. You should ask.

      Your aunt should also ask which of the documents need to be offically translated. Unfortunately there is a bit of a backlog in Thailand at the moment getting documents translate and then certified by the ministry of foreign affairs, so you might want to try to get as many things as possible done in advance before you arrive.

      Anyway, hopefully this is helpful.
      TC

      • Alexander says:

        Hi,

        Thank you very much for your reply.

        I already have all documents of my (passed away) mother, such as her ID card, passports and even the official documents in which she changed her first name a few times (because the believe of bad karma).
        My mother passed away in Thailand, so I also have her Death Certificate made in Thailand. The reason I thought oversea marriage is not registered in Thailand was because when my mother passed away my father could not arrange anything regarding the death certificate, as he was told that according to thai law he was not her husband, and so my aunt had to arrange all, but perhaps they just found that an easier too deal.

        I Do not have a Thai passport because I thought you could only acquire this after getting an Thai ID Card, I will try with the Thai Ambassador here, thank you for the tip.
        I will ask my aunt to check in advance with the Ampur as you advised.

        I still have 3 questions of which I hope you could advise me as well:

        1) How long does it take (when all documents ok) to make an ID Card, counted from the day I go to the Ampur for the first time?

        2) I am 37 years of age, how about Military Service? Is there anything I need to do/know about that? I am a fulltime working husband and father of 4 kids, so it would be impossible for me to actually to enter the Military at this point.

        3) I have a dutch drivers license, and always buy a international license (which if active for a year) in order to drive a car in Thailand. But can I overwrite it to a Thai license as well, when I have a Thai ID card?

        Once again thank you very much for your time advising me, it helps a lot!

        • The length of time could be anywhere from one to two days to a couple of weeks. It really depends on the district office and how efficient they are. Hence asking your aunt to get the paperwork sorted, making enquiries etc will minimise the time so the district office doesn’t ask for anything new to be translated at the last minute.

          For military service, please check out our article, but over 30, you are exempted.

          As for the DL, easy to change over once you have your ID. You’ll just have to resit the sight and depth perception test as well as sit through a boring safety video.

  3. Spencer says:

    Hi there.
    First off thanks for the useful article. Questions if I may.

    My mum is Thai and my father was British. He’s since passed away. Trust a death certificate would suffice documention to that?

    When you apply for your Thai birth certificate do you automatically get a Thai ID card? I understand you can apply for a passport on a same day appointment as well..

    Only now finding out I can apply for a Thai passport after 35 years..late gift?!

    • Hi Spencer,

      Sorry to hear about your dad. Yes, that should suffice but as always, best check with the embassy on it. Marriage certificates and any old ID would be useful just in case. In terms the passport, you should be able to apply for your first Thai passport at the same time. Normally Thai passports require an ID card to get one, but given you were born overseas and never had a chance to get one, they normally grant an exemption for the first passport only.

      You can’t apply for your first Thai ID card in the UK. For that, as per the article, you’ll need to return to Thailand and get registered on a house registry and then get the ID card. So long as you stay on the house registry you’ll be able to apply for subsequent Thai ID cards via any Thai embassy or consulate which has the facilities to issue them.

      Hope this all helps.
      TC.

  4. Onitsuka says:

    Hi! I am determined to get my Thai passport. I’m American and my mother was born in Thailand. The clarity which you provide over the rest of the interwebs is refreshing and invaluable. A massive thank you!

  5. Mark says:

    Hi,

    First of all, thank you very much for providing these valuable information! I have always believed that having dual citizenship was not permitted and that one was only tight to the other citizenship one has. After reading your different posts about conscirption, I still have one question in mind – which I hope you could clarity:

    I was born in Germany and only have my German citizenship. My mother is a Thai citizen from Phitsanoluk, and I currently only posses a German birth certificate. In a previous post you mentioned that it is advisable for overseas born nationals to postpone moving to Thailand after the age of 30 in order to avoid conscription. I never served in the military as Germany has suspended conscription. I am 28 years old now and I don’t have any intention to move to Thailand long-term for the forseeable future.

    Would I still need to worry about conscription or lottery if I started the process of obtaining my Thai passport?

    Your advice on this would be much appreciated!

    Mark

    • Hi Mark

      Nothing to worry about.

      The thing that puts you on the radar for military service is when you get your name put down on the house book in Thailand, something you don’t have to immediately do.

      Nevertheless it advisable to get your Thai birth certificate now via the Thai embassy while you still have your mum around, and the embassy normally allows you to get your first Thai passport at the same time (something that normally requires a house book and ID card).

      Having the birth certificate and passport will be invaluable later down the track when you do finally decide to be registered in Thailand – which will make it much easier bureaucracy wise compared with those who leave it till after their Thai parent isn’t with them any more.

      And given you will be post 30 it won’t matter anymore from a military perspective.

      TC

      • Anonymous says:

        I have my BC but the embassy doesn’t issue you with a Thai passport unless you’re registered on the house book first . They might do that for children, but not for adults.

        • Hi there – it does vary it seems. Some are willing to issue a Thai passport to first time holders born overseas (particularly if they apply at the same time as the BC). As you say, others won’t.

          In that case you’ll need to enter Thailand on your foreign passport and work to get the house registration and ID card etc. Good luck with it all!

          TC

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Thai Citizenship
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