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.

127 Responses

  1. Andrea Galassi says:

    Hi Chris, my father was born in thailand in 1961 and immigrated to the US in 1977. He had his Thai passport renewed in the DC consulate in 1981 and it expired in 1987. He is now trying to renew his passport and get thai documents. He doesn’t remember ever having a Thai ID card or Thai ID national number, however, I was wondering if you would happen to know if it was a requirement in 1977 to have a Thai ID national number to obtain the Thai passport? Unfortunately, the LA consulate is unable to look him up using his name and they are requesting this Thai ID number or his Thai House Registration which he also doesn’t have. His brother is still in Thailand and could assist obtaining documents there if needed. Do you have any recommendations? or is this something that would need to be pursued in Thailand? Thank you so much for your insight!

    • Andrea Galassi says:

      His expired passport doesn’t have a 13 digit Thai ID number, but it does have a 5 digit number with this format “B XXXXX”

      • Wai Kit says:

        Hi Chris, my father is Malaysian and mother is Thai. I was born in Malaysia and had my Thai birth certificate issued by the Royal thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
        I knew that in order to obtain the Thai ID card, I need to register my name to the “Tabian Baan”.
        My question is
        1. Do I need to register my name to my mother’s “Tabian Baan”, or can I register my name to my girlfriend house in Bangkok ?
        My mother is currently in Malaysia, and I am staying in Bangkok.
        2. I had my DNA test from Songkhla Hospital and Thai birth certificate(without the 13digit number) with me. What any other document do I need in order to register my name to tabian baan and obtain the Thai ID card?
        3. Can the process done without my mother? She can’t travel to Thailand due to the pandemic.

        • Hi Wai Kit,

          To be honest needing the DNA test for someone in your situation is pretty unheard of. You just need you thai BC, Malaysian PP, and copies of your mother’s ID. There shouldn’t be any need for her to visit.

          Also no need for you to be registered where she is, records are all centrally accessable so they can cross reference. You will need the house master present to allow you to be entered to on their tabieen Baan as well as an additional Thai citizen witness to vouch for you.

    • Hi Andrea. So your dad needs to locate where his house registration is, either it was moved (perhaps to his brothers) or perhaps more likely to the central house registry. To be honest it will probably require a visit the the offices of the latter (https://www.bora.dopa.go.th/index.php/th/) where they will probably be able to trace back your dads details.

      His old passport will be useful and they will likely reissue him with a new ID number using the current ID numbering system and from that be moved to a regular house registration (eg his brothers). All this is most easily done in person but with COVID perhaps your father can sign a power of attorney for his brother to check things out on his behalf.

  2. JR says:

    Hi,

    Definitely read thru this page a bit, but I’d prefer just to ask it to you (Chris, it seems, since you’re THE man who respons to everyone 🙂 ) personally, since that is just more clear for me.

    I’m 31,, born and raised in the Netherlands, got a Dutch passport, dad (passed away) is Dutch, but my mom is Thai. My dad brought her to NL when she was pregnant with me. But before the age of 21 I never went for the dual citizenship (face-palming myself right now).
    So I wonder if there’s still a possibility for me to apply for one, or no? (without having that Thai birth certificate).
    Also with the loss of my father, not sure if this is an issue or not.
    FYI, my mom still lives here in NL, and still has her Thai passport though.

    Apologies for probably asking a question you already have answered to before, but I thank you for the time you take.

    Cheers

    • Hi JR,

      The long and short of it is you will need a Thai BC, issued by the Thai embassy in the Netherlands. I’m not sure why you think you needed to have done that before 21. You can get it at any age so long as you can prove you have a Thai parent.

      That your dad has passed shouldn’t be an issue. It may be that the embassy will want to see his death certificate at most, but mostly they will want to see your mums Thai PP and other documents if she has them (ID card etc). Best ask the embassy there exactly what you need, but it shouldn’t be an issue by the sounds of it. You should be able to apply for a Thai passport at the same time.

      Cheers
      Chris

      • JR says:

        Thanks for the response Chris! 🙂

        Lovely to hear. I will definitely get on this asap.

        I guess I fell victim to the typical ‘expat fear mongering’ type of words that made me think I couldnt possibly get one after the age of 21, and other stuff.

        1 more question, if you don’t mind.

        Speaking the Thai language. Is that something that needs to be required too?

        • Hi JR,

          Given you are Thai from birth, there is no requirements of any sort beyond proving you are a child of a Thai citizen. So as long as you have the paperwork, you’ll be fine.

          Good luck with it all!

          • JR says:

            Thanks again Chris.

            Got your page bookmarked, so I’ll leave a comment on here if I get all things done.
            Kudos to you for making this site and being so responsive to everyone 🙂

  3. Shawn says:

    I’ve searched your site pretty extensively trying not to ask a repeat question but I’m not quite seeing my exact situation. My mother is Thai, my father is American. I was born in Thailand but we left when I was 2 months old so I have no recollection. I know I had a Thai birth certificate, It was shown to me as a kid. There was a Thai version and an English version. However nobody seems to know where it is anymore. Probably lost in many many moves over the years. To exacerbate the situation, even though I (should) have many living relatives in Thailand, my mother is estranged from her family there (hasn’t talked to them in 40 years) and won’t talk about any of them to me no matter how much I ask. She has since become a U.S. citizen. She still has an expired Thai passport. I am a U.S. citizen by birth, and from what I can tell I am a Thai citizen by birth as well because my mom is a Thai citizen. I’d like to re-establish/document my Thai citizenship as I currently have nothing to that effect. The only thing potentially available to me is my mom’s expired Thai passport. I read elsewhere online once, that without documentation I had to go back to Thailand and get a relative to testify that I am Thai. But I’m not sure I can get my mom to do that (she doesn’t really want to go back) and I don’t know my relatives there (names, where they are, anything). Is it at all possible to show up at the Thai embassy with my mom’s expired passport and my birth certificate showing she is my mom and get the documentation I need? Or am I stuck having to do something much more complicated? Thanks in advance. Your site is an excellent resource. Every few years I do some searching about this and last time I did your site did not exist. Perhaps this time I can make progress.

    • Hi Shawn,

      Thanks for your message and I’m glad you are finding the website useful. In my opinion, the long and the short of it is you will need to get replacement evidence of your birth certificate which is the basis for the rest of the citizenship document trail.

      Thailand doesn’t issue replacement birth certificates per se, but does via documents attesting to the same thing and/or an extract of birth signed by the district office.

      At a minimum, you are going to need to know the district where you were born, and the district office for that area is where your birth certificate was likely issued. You’ll need relevant details, such as your parents names, your mothers maiden name, her Thai ID details, date and location of birth as evidence. You’ll also need two Thai citizens to vouch for you. They don’t necessarily need to be family members from my understanding, but certainly people who know you and can vouch for you (maybe some friends of your mums?).

      I also understand you can assign a representative to do it (lawyer, a person your know/trust etc) so they will need to have a power of attorney signed by you. Ultimately the district office needs to be convinced you say who you are, but I think off the back of your mum’s Thai ID (which will no doubt link to your details) and you knowing the main details on your birth (as outlined above) you should be fine.

      All the best and feel free to circle around if you have any more questions.
      Chris

      • Shawn says:

        Thank you, that’s what I was afraid of, but good to have affirmation. I don’t _think_ my mom has a Thai ID (at least not anymore), though I did just learn that she does have her Thai birth certificate.

        • Hi Shawn,

          No worries.

          One thing I want to stress. Your mum’s old Thai passport is a valuable document in your quest, given all Thai passports contain their Thai citizen ID number. So I’d make sure you have copies of that, as that ID number will probably be crucial in joining the dots to find out where exactly your birth was registered and proving your Thai nationality links. Similarly, her Thai birth certificate should contain her ID number as well, given they are issued at birth. Good luck with it all.

  4. Drake says:

    My mother had me in America with my father then they got a divorce. I believe my mother got rid of her Thai citizenship for a American one but now she is deceased. Is it possible for me to have a Thai citizenship

    • Hi Drake,

      Its unlikely your mother renounced her Thai citizenship before she naturalised as a US citizen, as it is a process in itself and requires that renunciation to be officially published in the royal gazette here in Thailand. Most likely, she simply stopped using her Thai travel documents.

      It is very much possible for you to have Thai citizenship – technically you have it already but you have to get the paperwork to back it up. You need to gather as much of her Thai paperwork as possible that you may still have in your possession. Old Thai passports, IDs, birth certificates etc and then liase with the Thai embassy in Washington DC so that you can be issued with a Thai birth certificate.

  1. 27 November, 2020

    […] Yes, it does. A child born to a parent with Thai nationality is automatically a Thai citizen by the Thai government regardless of the place of birth. There are also no generational limits on how far this right can be handed down. As such, you have the right to a Thai birth certificate, and passport, which is outlined in our article “Thai citizenship when born overseas”. […]

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