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.
For those born overseas, there are three main options to register yourself as a Thai citizen. These are listed easiest to hardest (for reasons I’ll explain below).
- Applying for a Thai birth certificate via the Thai embassy in the country you were born.
- Applying at a district office in Thailand – where option (1) is not possible.
- Applying at a district office in Thailand using DNA testing in the event that (2) is not possible.
Once you have done one of the above, it will be possible to then get registered in a house book/tabien baan from which you’ll be able to get a Thai ID card and Passport.
Option 1: 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 becomes increasingly difficult to get registered on a Thai House Registration – the ‘tabien baan’ (ทะเบียนบ้าน) – which is needed to be able to then get a Thai ID card (บัตรประชาชน) or a Thai passport (หนังสือเดินทาง) 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.
1.1 – Thai birth certificate for a foreign-born child (applying 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. They will do this by liaising with the Thai embassy in the country of birth for the child. The requirements will be exactly the same as required by the Thai embassy in question, however the Department of Consular Affairs will also request that any non-Thai language documents need to be translated into Thai first – something that doesn’t need to be done when dealing with the embassy directly. Details of the Department of Consular Affairs are:
Legalization Division, 3rd floor
Department of Consular Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
123 Chaeng Wattana Road
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]
Links for major Thai embassies are outlined in the FAQ section at the end of the article
1.2 Registering your name on the house registration in Thailand
The expectation is once the embassy has issued you with your Thai birth certificate 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).
Option 2: Applying at a district office in Thailand
In some cases, a person born to a Thai citizen overseas won’t be able to gather the documents necessary to satisfy the requirements from at the Thai embassy in the country they were born. In this event, district offices in Thailand will be responsible for registering an overseas born Thai citizen onto the national citizenship database and issuing an ID card.
This option should not be confused with option 1 or 1.1 above as at the end, you will have a Thai ID card and house registration, but you won’t have a birth certificate issued.
At the heart of all this, is proving you have a Thai parent at the time of your birth. Doing so, under Thai law, entitles you to citizenship too.
The thing to understand about this option is that while there is a list of documents that a district office will ask for, there is a level of discretion that the district office has in determining whether an applicant is genuinely entitled to Thai citizenship or not, and the head of the district office will be required to sign off on any request. Unfortunately, recent controversies about foreigners illegally getting added to Thai house registrations (effectively giving them Thai citizenship) means that a district office will be wary, or downright refuse to even consider getting your name on a house register via this method. So while on paper it may actually sound easier than Option One above, people may find themselves stonewalled by district officers refusing to assist.
And even if they do decide they can assist, be prepared to accept that the burden of proof may be significantly higher than Option One above, and the district officer will have discretion in asking for more if they aren’t satisfied that you are indeed the child of a Thai citizen.
- Your foreign birth certificate translated and stamped by Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Your foreign passport
- Copies of your Thai parents ID card and tabien baan
- Copies of your non-Thai parents ID
- The ID card of the Thai citizen who’s house registry you will be put on
- A copy of the house registration book that you will be put on
- Three 2×2 inch photos of the applicant
- Two Thai witnesses to certify your identity and relations to a Thai citizen parent.
Option 3: DNA tests
In many ways, this option is an extension of Option Two above. As mentioned there, given the standard of proof is quite high, district officers may ask for blood tests to be done to definitively prove your relationship to a Thai citizen parent.
Fortunately, in recent years the Thai government has become quite active in assisting this group of people, allowing DNA testing to be used to match an applicant to another Thai citizen relative. Given this is a process in and of itself, we have outlined the steps in an article Thai Citizenship using DNA Testing for those who, for whatever reason, are unable to take advantage of the standard ‘paperwork routes’ to Thai citizenship.
Question: What are the websites for major Thai consulates and embassies around the world that can issue Thai birth certificates?
Royal Thai Embassy, Canberra
Click this link
Royal Thai Consulate General, Sydney
Click this link
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
Royal Thai Embassy, Berlin
Click this link (available in Thai and German only)
Thai Consulate, LA
List of forms: click this link (Thai)
List of forms: click this link (English)
IRELAND & UNITED KINGDOM
Royal Thai Embassy, London
For all births in the Republic of Ireland, N.I., and the UK click this link
(available in Thai only)
Question: At what age can I get a Thai birth certificate?
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.
Question: Someone told me even though I was born overseas I can apply for a Thai birth certificate via a district office in Thailand
No, this is a myth. 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.
Question: Why is applying for a Thai birth certificate overseas the best option?
This is for a couple of reasons:
- A Thai birth certificate issued overseas is instantly recognized as a document entitling you to Thai citizenship by birth and any government office you deal with will treat it as such. It is very difficult for them to refuse to add you to a house registration with this proof.
- Since 2023, all Thai citizens who apply for a birth certificate via a Thai embassy will also automatically get a Thai ID number allocated to them. This literally means you are ‘in the system’. Upon going to Thailand, any district office will automatically be able to put your name into a house book easily and without fuss.
Question: 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!
Question: How do I now get a Thai passport?
If you are born overseas and applying via the Thai embassy there, 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.
However, if you choose one of the other methods above that doesn’t involve applying for your Thai birth certificate via the embassy, you’ll need to return to Thailand, get your name on the house registry/tabien baan and have a Thai ID card issued before you can apply for a passport (which can be done quite easily in Thailand).