Thai dual citizenship – is it legal?

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.

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34 Responses

  1. Teeraphat Akaravorasate says:

    I am 17 right now. I was born in the United States but both of my parents are Thai. My plan is to study abroad and live abroad. Is it possible to renounce Thai Citizenship and keep only the US passport?

    • Hi Teeraphat,

      It is possible to renounce, and will have to do it via the method proscribed by the Thai embassy in Washington DC. The question is, why are you renouncing?

      A common reason people look to renouncing is that they are worried about being eligible for military service. The fact is, if you are living outside of Thailand, or even visit for short periods, you are not eligible. After 30 (well from the 1 January in the year you turn 30) you are then exempt.

      Please have a read of this link on the military service for dual citizens. It describes the obligations, as well as the exceptions, which as an overseas born Thai, will apply to you.

      http://www.thaicitizenship.com/thai-military-service/

      If you have any additional questions, please let me know.
      Chris

  2. Chantal Appleyard says:

    Hi Chris,

    My mother is Thai and I was born in the UK and would like to apply for dual citizenship. I have no idea where to start as I’ve read so many conflicting things. Please could you advise me on what the steps are to achieve this? Is it right that I need to register myself at her house book first in Khon Kean and then start from there?

    Many thanks,
    Chantal

    • Hi Chantal,

      Thanks for your question. If you were born in the UK the very first thing to do is apply for a Thai birth certificate, and hopefully a Thai passport at the same time, via the Thai embassy in London. When you move to Thailand, you can then be put on her house registry and then get an ID card.

      It is important to remember that the Thai birth certificate is the initial document which you need, and the most important. Without that, nothing else can happen.

      Check out this article here which will take you through the process. http://www.thaicitizenship.com/thai-citizenship-when-born-overseas/

      All the best and don’t hesitate to ask any follow up questions.
      Chris

  3. Yowita Kananid says:

    Hello Chris. I am a Thai born citizen and have been working and living in Australia for 5 years continuously. I am eligible for Aussie citizenship/passport but can I retain my Thai passport. Thank you.

    • Hi Khun Yowita,

      The simple answer is ‘yes’, plenty of people migrate to Australia (and other places) and end up naturalising in those countries, and retaining their Thai nationality. The majority of records we see in the Royal Gazette (ราชกิจจานุเบกษา) of Thai’s losing their nationality, is when they voluntarily renounce it due to naturalising to a citizenship that doesn’t allow them to keep their Thai citizenship (e.g Austria, Singapore).

      Hope this is useful and all the best on your Aussie citizenship application!

  4. Somchai says:

    Hey mate, do you have a personal e-mail I could write to? I think you may be able to assist me, but I’d prefer to address this issue privately. I’m also a Thai/Australian by the way… Cheers in advance mate.

    • Hi Somchai,

      To be honest, all of the comment here don’t identify you unless you choose to identify yourself. So if possible, please post here in general terms so the advice can be of use to everyone.

      Cheers
      Chris

  5. Danny says:

    My mother is a thai citizen and my father is american. If i apply and get the dual citizenship and have a thai passport do i still need to apply for a tourist visa if i am planning to stay in thailand for longer than 60 days?

    Thanks
    Danny

  6. Mone says:

    My parents are both Thai and I was born in France. I hold dual citizenship (Thai and French). I have been living in Canada for 6 years and I am also eligible for Canadian Citizenship. Both Canada and France accept multi-citizenships. I would like to know if Thailand accepts multi-citizenships and not only dual?

    Thank you,

  7. Claudia says:

    Olá!
    I’m Claudia, Im 28.
    I always lived in Portugal, but I was born in Thailand and my mom is thai.
    How do I start the process of dual nationality? And do I have to make mandatory trips to Thailand to not lose my thai nationality once I get it? is there any test language?

    Thank you for giving up time to help others like myself.

    • Hi Claudia,

      If you were born in Thailand to a Thai parent you are already a Thai citizen by birth. You keep this status for life.

      Your Thai birth certificate will state your nationality as ‘Thai’, and most likely, you will already have a house registration as it is compulsory to register a new child within 15 days of birth. So there is no need for you to ‘apply’.

      You’ll need to get your hands on the Thai birth certificate and a copy of the house registration. If you don’t have them you should ask your parents for them.

      You should be able to take this to the Thai embassy in Portugal, who should be able to issue you with Thai travel documents which will you allow to enter Thailand as a Thai citizen. IF you travel to Thailand, you will required to get a Thai ID card which will enable you to apply for a passport (if the embassy won’t give you a full one, but only a temporary one).

  8. Duner says:

    Hi Chris

    I hope you can help me here=)
    I am 26 years old, was born and live in Switzerland. My mother is Thai. How can I get the Thai Citizenship? Is my age a problem?

    I hope it is still possible!

    Thank you so much for your help and your lovely post!

    Best,

    Duner

  9. Simon C says:

    Hi Chris
    How about three passports? My wife is Thai and I am dual Uk and Aussie passport holder. Can my kids hold all three passports?
    Thanks

    • Hi Simon,

      Yep no problems so long as the other countries have no issues with multiple citizenship. My kids actually have three citizenship. My sister has Thai, British and Australian, and her kids have 4 (all those plus Venezuelan!).

      Hope this helps.

  10. Kai says:

    Hi Chris

    I was born in Thailand but have been living in the US for about 12 years now as a citizen. I’m turning 20 soon and I was wondering if I visit Thailand, do I need to do military service? I really want to do internships or maybe find a job there for a little while (half a year or so) and I was wondering if that was legally possible?

    Thanks!

  11. jack says:

    Hi Chris,

    I do have my thai identification card but no passport yet, when i get one, how should i use it when i get in-out canada and in-out of thailand? should I show both? or 1 for canada with the canadian passport and the thai passport with the thai?

  12. Kris says:

    Hi Chris. Thank you so much for your helpful article.
    I have both Thai and USA citizenship and have both passport.
    Is it illegal to use one passport when I depart the country and use the other passport when I arrive?
    For example, I take the flight from Bangkok to LA, I use Thai passport when I depart Thailand and use USA passport when I arrive at LAX. Is it legal okay? If you know the answer, please help me.

  13. Stephanie says:

    Hi Chris,

    I am a Thai – American national. I was born in the US, cam to Thailand with my US pp and been under a non-immigrant visa since i was 10 yrs old even though i know have Thai ID and passport. Could i somehow switch or cancel having to renew my 1 yr visa as non-immigrant and stay as a Thai national? HOw would i go about doing so?

    Your help and advise would be so much appreciated,

    Steph

    • Hi Steph,

      At some point you are simply going to have to leave Thailand on your US passport and re-enter Thailand on your Thai one to round out your immigration status. Strange, but true, that you can’t simply cancel your immigration status with immigration.

      Given we are at a rather weird time with no flights in and out of the country (and this can’t be done at land borders) simply organise your extension of stay so that it is done on the basis of being a Thai national. In terms of extension of stay, you should be able to get a years extension of stay based on being a thai citizen in your US passport (see section 2.23 http://www.samutprakanimmigration.go.th/downloads/policy777-2551_en.pdf)

      When planes are flying again, simply hop a flight to a neighbouring country and when you return re-enter Thailand on your Thai passport.

  14. Stephanie says:

    Dear Chris,

    Thank you so much for your reply. I had thought so too but just wanted to get a professional opinion. I will renew for now and try to nip this when travel is safe again. Wishing you and your family good health and safety during uncertain times.

    Sincerely,
    Steph

  15. Leroy says:

    Dear Chris

    I mum is Thai, I am born in Thailand and a Thai Birth Certificate. I am holding Malaysia and Thai Citizen. I need to renounce my Thai citizenship when I reaches 21 to retain my Malaysia Citizenship. After renouncing my Thai Citizenship, can I eventually reinstate my Thai Citizenship in the future?

    • Hi Leroy,

      Unfortunately there isn’t a clear path to reinstating Thai citizenship once it has been renounced. The only way under current legislation is that if you have renounced it to take up the citizenship of your spouse. In that situation, it is possible for the citizenship to be reinstated, but it still takes a while.

      Former Thai citizens however do have access to a special visa which allows them to stay in Thailand however, and this visa can be extended annually based on showing evidence of formerly holding Thai citizenship. So if your aim is to live in Thailand in the future, then that may be a potential option for you.

  16. Leroy says:

    Dear Chris

    Thank you so much for your advice. Really do hope that I can reinstate my Thai Citizenship after renouncing.

    Anyway, I am glad to know that there is a special VISA for ex Thai Citizens to live in Thailand, at least it is still an option. Can this VISA allow me to work in Thailand?

    • Hi Leroy – unfortunately the visa won’t allow you to work in Thailand or own land etc. They way the system is set up, the only people who have automatic work rights are Thai citizens. Not even PR holders have automatic work rights!

  17. Karl Ove Hognestad says:

    Can a person who holds another country `s citizenship be the legal owner of land and own while having adress abroads?

  1. 12 June, 2018

    […] citizenship hasn’t been illegal since 1992 in Thailand and we discuss this this article (‘Thai dual citizenship – is it legal?’) the ins and outs of Thailand’s approach to dual […]

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