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. William Ezell says:

    Hello again everyone,
    Will Ezell here again. I was born in 1984. So as per the nationality act of 1992 it says to:

    “prepare a statement requesting the birth certificate per the nationality act(ISSUE 2) BE 2535 (1992)”

    What exactly should i do?
    If it helps i am applying through the Los Angeles Consulate via mail as it is Covid regulations.
    Also, should i apply for my passport or ID during the same application? Is this possible?’

    Thanks a million again!

    Will

    • Hi Will

      So it sounds like you are applying for a Thai birth certificate based on the fact you are born to a thai parent. Each embassy has its own proceedures depending on the country so in the case of the US there are a few steps involved including (from memory) getting your US birth certificate certified by state and federal agencies. So please follow the exact instructions of the LA consulate.

      In respect to the thai passport, all thai passports require that you attend in person – not easy if you aren’t near an embassy or consulate and near impossible during covid.

      In normal times, if you weren’t close to an embassy or a consulate then normally the embassy would organise mobile consulates at specific dates across the country and could could attend in person then to get a passport issued. Given covid though you’ll need to speak with the embassy to see how they are handling new passport applications.

      Good luck with it all.

  2. William Ezell says:

    Hello! Currently in the process of getting a Thai birth certificate. My mother is Thai my father is American. I was born and raised in the US but plan on moving to Thailand next year as my mother is moving home to retire after living here so long. My question is: I have an American name now but my parents have been divorced forever, but can I embrace my Thai heritage and take a Thai name on my Thai birth certificate to honor my mother’s family name?

    • Hi William,

      To be honest, in the first instance, my answer is ‘I’m not sure’. It may be that the embassy require that your name follows your US birth certificate just as a process formality, but that is just a guess on my part. Rest assured though, even if that is the case, once you have established your ID card in Thailand and are recorded on a house registry, it is very easy to change your name. In fact, Thai people do it all the time and sometimes multiple times during their life for various reasons, some serious, many not so serious. So if using a Thai name is a goal, then at the end of the day it won’t be an issue – but in the first instance at the embassy, I’m not sure what the answer will be.

  3. Szaye says:

    Hi, I was was wondering, when renewing my Thai passport at the UK embassy (when travel is allowed and the embassy opens up again of course), will I be expected to be fluent in Thai? I was born overseas to one Thai parent and am about to turn 20, which I believe is the age where I don’t need my parents to be present at the embassy, and so although I can speak some Thai and can write my full name in Thai, I’m unable to speak the language fluently or read any Thai due to growing up in the UK. Will that be a problem, or would it be better for me to bring my Thai parent with me even if I am 20? My parents and I would greatly appreciate some help if you are able to answer this! Thanks!

    • Hi Sayze, thanks for your message.

      There is absolutely no need for you to speak any thai at all. Your rights to citizenship are not dependent on being able to speak thai and the embassy staff are all pretty good at English.

      Just be aware however that unless you have a current Thai house registration and thai ID card it might be tricky to renew your passport as an adult. I know that overseas born thais can be issued their first passport without an ID card, but I recall reading that they are needed for subsequent passports.

      If that happens however there is no great stress. Thai citizens are allowed to travel back to Thailand and enter on an expired thai passport. Once back, you can register for an ID card and then easily renew your passport.

      Hope I’ve been of help.

  4. Edward says:

    Sir

    Thank you! This information is priceless!

  5. Edward says:

    Sir

    Your site is very informative but I am still a bit confused about some processes. BLUF: My mother is a Thai Citizen and has a Thai passport. I was born in Thailand and have a Thai birth certificate. What other documents need I have to apply for Thai Passport in the U.S.? What else is needed to establish citizenship?

    • Hi Edward.

      You don’t have to do anything further.

      Being born in Thailand to a Thai parent you are already a thai citizen and your birth certificate will say as much at the top.

      Being born in Thailand too means you have your name registered in a house registration (‘tabieen Baan’) somewhere as well.

      You would have likely departed Thailand on a thai passport when you left there.

      Normally for an adult to apply for a thai passport (either in Thailand or overseas) you need a thai ID card. You don’t say whether you’ve got one. If not, the embassy may not be able to issue you with a full passport, but if you have details of your house registration, have your old passport still they may be able to issue you with a temporary passport good for a one way journey to Thailand (but please check with them). If they are unable to, you can still enter Thailand on a US passport.

      Once in Thailand you’ll need to go to the district office where you are registered, obtain the ID card, at which point you can apply for a full thai passport. If you had entered on your US passport you’ll also need to leave, by air, and then renter on your thai passport. Pre-Covid this would involve a short hop to a neighbouring country and then come back.

      Hope this is helpful.

      • Edward says:

        Very helpful sir! I do not have a Thai ID as I left there as an infant. Would the house registration information be on the transcribed birth certificate…I have original BC and its English transcription…

        • Hi Edward,

          Your birth certificate only shows the district office where your birth was registered, but at birth you would have been issued with an ID number. I’m not sure if you’ve got any relatives back in Thailand but if they took a copy of your birth certificate to the district office they may be able to find out where you are currently registered. I’m guessing it’s either on one of your relatives house books, or if not, your name would have been shunted to the central database usually reserved for those with no fixed address in Thailand. If the latter is true then the embassy won’t be able to issue you a full passport and you’d need to travel back to Thailand to have your name put back on a house registration document at a regular address (which can be anywhere so long as the person in charge of that property approves).

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