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. Sachrist says:

    Hi Chris!

    I am a 25 y/o male living in america, thai mother and american father. I am unsure of my citizenship status with Thailand – my mother claimed in the past that I am registered with a Thai Birth Certificate, but she was a compulsive liar and I do not keep any contact with her, although I remember her traveling to Thailand under claim of keeping up my citizenship paperwork when I was a teen. I’m a bit worried that I may be registered and under a tabien baan under her family home in thailand, and am years late for compulsory service. For what it’s worth, I have never seen any proof of this birth certificate or any other paperwork and would not be able to acquire any sort of paperwork from my mom regarding her own citizenship status.

    If it turns out I’m not registered, I understand they waive the necessity for the tabien baan for the first time passport w/ birth certificate, so would I be able to get a Thai passport and travel to thailand without worry of military conscription as I’m not a resident? Can I even get a birth certificate without my mom’s input?

    Any idea where to start with this? Should I just hold out until I’m 30 to do anything? I wish to travel to Thailand in the future and potentially own a home and live there, just not really sure how that will all be handled. Admittedly, I’m in no rush to head over there right now as I’m unable to really travel at all due to familial obligations for the foreseeable future, but I would like to keep my opportunities open.

    Thanks for your time!
    Sachrist

    • Hi there,

      You don’t say where you are born, but I assume you are born in the US. Easiest way to check is obviously check with the embassy if you’ve had a birth certificate issued to you, and if so, you’d like to get a document to replace it. If you are in contact with her family in Thailand, you could also check I guess to see if you are registered on anyones tabien baan.

      If not, you’d have to obviously start one from scratch which will obviously involve proof of your mothers Thai citizenship – so you’ll have to deal with getting that somehow. (nb. there are ways of proving citizenship back in Thailand using DNA evidence to one of your mothers siblings, but that would require their co-operation and I don’t totally understand the process myself, other than that it is long and time consuming).

      On the off chance you are indeed properly registered in Thailand, it doesn’t sound like you’ve been sent any call up notices by your family, and the lack of an ID card would make it hard for you to be registered for conscription anyway (see THIS article on military conscription rules). So no problem getting your Thai birth certificate and first passport sorted now (yes you are right about not needing a house registration for the first one issued overseas) and then sort out your house registration formally after 30.

      Hope this has been helpful!
      Cheers
      Chris

  2. Kyle says:

    So my wife is a thai citizen and we are considering getting a thai birth certificate for our son. My wife is worried about the requirements for military service in thailand when he turns 21. Does anyone have any information or experience in dealing with that issue?

    • Hi Kyle,

      Please check out our article on this issue HERE.

      Once you’ve had a read of the article and understood the dynamics, my advice is get the Thai birth certificate for your son. You’d be surprised the amount of messages I get from adult children of Thai parents born overseas who’s parents never got them one, and then death, divorce or some other life events got in the way either preventing them, or making it extremely challenging to claim their Thai citizenship rights in adulthood.

      Regards
      Chris

  3. anthony says:

    hi chris,

    i have a question concerning birth certificate, my dad is french, my mom is thai (passport/ID/tabien baan), i was born in france, every documents asked by the thai embassy are ok but the only issue is that the embassy wants my parents mariage certificate but in the the certificate my mom’s nationality isn’t thai but laos (due to error) the embassy ask me to rectify the error but my country town hall won’t change it.
    i know that asking the thai embassy won’t be of any help because they always say to look at their website which isn’t helpful at all.
    Is their another way to register my thai birth certificate, should i just tell them that i can’t change the mariage certificate, isn’t my mom’s official documents enough?

    • Hi Anthony

      Sounds like a bureaucratic nightmare!

      To be honest I don’t know the best answer here.

      One option may just be to tell the embassy that is the only paperwork available to you. Given that birth to a Thai mother automatically grants citizenship whether married or unmarried shouldn’t make a difference. You should remind the embassy of this.

      Obviously tell the embassy that your country office refuses to rectify the mistake also.

      One option which is possible in Thailand is DNA test to prove you are your mothers son. This is done in cases where paperwork has been lost etc or a parent has passed away. Im not sure if the embassy can accept such evidence – although I know in Thailand there are processes to confirm Thai nationality via DNA testing.

      Beyond that I’m not sure what else to advise given they appears that the functionaires from France and Thailand seem to be not budging.

      All the best and hopefully a good outcome eventuates.

  4. brendan says:

    hi Chris
    apologies if this has already been asked but i couldn’t find an exact reference.
    my girlfriend is thai , her daughter was born in the uk and is 20 years old , her daughter had a passport when she was a child, over 10 years ago . we went to the thai embassy with divorce certificate , letter from her ex , her daughter has a thai birth certificate from when she got her child passport , so nearly all the documents but they asked for a thai house registration document . could you kindly advise us as to how we could get this thai house registration . we were told we have to go to thailand to get it . many thanks

    • Hi Brendan,

      So the house registration document, or tabieen baan in Thai, is booklet which registers a Thai citizen at an address in Thailand. If you are born in Thailand you are normally registered on one within 15 days of birth (normally your home address) and that registration is needed so you can get a Thai ID card and Thai passport.

      For those born overseas, obviously you can’t be registered on a tabieen baan at birth. Thai embassy’s overseas normally grant a waiver on the requirement to be registered on the tabieen baan for the first passport application from the embassy, with the expectation that when you travel to Thailand you head to the district office where you live (or where relatives live) and get your name put on the tabieen baan.

      Sounds like your girlfriend’s daughter has never been registered on a tabieen baan, and and as such, administratively they have their hands tied in issuing a full passport. Your GF and daughter will need to travel to thailand and get her registered.

      The good news is that Thai citizens are normally allowed to enter Thailand on an expired passport. This is in normal times, but given covid, I’d check with the airline and the embassy. The embassy however should be able to issue the daughter with a certificate of identity/temp passport good for a one way journey to Thailand. Once there, you can register for the Tabieen Baan, get an ID card (compulsory for anyone over 15) and apply for a full passport. Your GF’s daughter will need her Thai BC, any other Thai ID she might have (eg old passports), copies of her parents ID’s and two Thai citizens to vouch for her (which is essentially the same as being a witness to confirm someones identity).

      Unfortunately there is no way around being in Thailand for the tabieen baan registration.

      Hopefully this clarifies things for you.

      • brendan says:

        thanks very much Chris .
        this is very helpful and i very much appreciate your reply .

      • brendan says:

        hi Chris .
        my girlfriend is under the impression that she needs to get a letter from the thai embassy in london to show the house registration office to say that they will not give her daughter a passport in london .

        could you kindly tell us if we need this as we do not want to travel to thailand only to find we don’t have the correct documents

        we will have her daughters :
        thai child passport
        thai birth certificate
        mothers birth certificate
        mother tabieen baan
        divorce certificate

        is there anything else we would need ?

        thanks again

        • Hi Brendan,

          So I’ve never heard of needing a letter from the embassy to get the tabieen Baan. I guess getting one can’t hurt, but don’t be surprised if the embassy hasn’t heard of this requirement either. The embassy issued Thai birth certificate and first, now expired passport, are normally enough in terms of what is needed for the tabieen baan registration (in terms of embassy issued documents).

          As said in the previous post, ask the embassy if a certificate of identity/temp passport is needed for your daughter to travel to thailand at the moment, or if the expired Thai passport will be sufficient for her to enter thailand as a Thai citizen (note – entering on a Thai passport is essential otherwise your daughter will be considered a foreigner for immigration purposes – see this link HERE which explains this).

          The only thing I see missing from the list is the fathers passport and ID and house registration (if the father is a Thai citizen). Even though divorced the tabieen Baan has a space for both the parents names. Having the birth fathers name doesn’t confer any rights which conflict with the court order, it’s merely an administrative thing which they’ll need.

          • brendan says:

            once again , thank you very much for taking the time to reply to me Chris . it has been most helpful

            all the best

  5. Jane Salunyar says:

    Hi Chris,

    I am a New Zealand born citizen with a Thai mother. I think we have all of the documents we need for my parents to be able to apply for my Thai birth certificate at the Consulate in NZ (I was born 1985), but they live very far away so I am wondering.. Since I am currently in Thailand already, is it possible for me to skip getting a birth certificate / citizen ID , and just go straight to getting my first Thai passport? The goal at the moment is to be able to stay in Thailand. At the moment I’m here on a Covid Amnesty Visa but I’m not sure how long they will keep renewing it for.

    Thank you in advance for your advice!

    • Hi Jane.

      So the thing to understand about the thai citizens registration system is that without the birth certificate you don’t get on the tabieen Baan. Without the tabieen Baan you can’t get an ID card and without an ID card you can’t get a passport. So the birth certificate is really the foundation document for everything.

      Give you are in Thailand already as I’ve stated in the article you can liase via the Consular affairs department (based in Bangkok) who will work with Wellington to issue your birth certificate. If the embassy in Wellington need anything from your parents it should be possible for them to do it by post, so no need for them to attend the embassy.

      In the mean time, you should apply for an ancestry visa (see HERE.

      Note that will give you a renewable years permission to stay but you will still be considered a foreigner and need a work permit etc and have to do 90 day reporting, but it sounds like that could be a good interim option for you.

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