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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51 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?

  18. Colin Greenwood says:

    Hi Chris: My son was born in Australia in 2003. In 2005 my Thai wife and I attended the Thai Embassy in Canberra to obtain Thai passports for both our kids, both born in Aus. They were also both issued with Thai Birth Certificates, that both state place of birth as Australia. During the application process a Thai address was needed to be entered, so they entered my wifes parents address in Phrae in Thailand. This has meant that they both now appear on the house registration certificate in Phrae. The Army attended that address shortly after my son turned 17, to find out where he was as he was supposed to update them given he is now of age for compulsory military service in Thailand. We all wish now, to cancel or revoke his Thai birth certificate and have his name removed from the house registration certificate, so in the event he travels there for family visits etc, he is not arrested and has to go through hell to have it sorted out. The easiest thing would be for him to never set foot in Thailand again, but even a plane that he is on that may transit through Thailand may present a problem for him. The Thai Army office, upon being presented with all his Australian documents, waved my sister in law off and said he has to cancel, but it is not apparent how to do that. There are mentions of revoking Thai citizenship between the age of 20 and 21, but he I dont believe he ever became nationalized, unless that was done by default.
    I hope you have some advice for me.
    Thanks. Colin

  19. Natalie says:

    Hi Chris,
    I wanted to ask if I were to fly from Bangkok to Hawaii with two passports – Thai and British, and is going to connect my flight in Japan, which passport should I show to the officer/airline in Japan? Also, would a Thai passport of 5 months before the expiration date from the departure date be of a no worry? Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Natalie,

      If you are headed to the US, then after you’ve cleared Thai immigration, just use the British one – assuming that is the passport you’ll be using to enter the US on.

      A Thai passport with less than 5 months on it will not be a problem. Given everything happening with COVID though, it may be prudent just to get a new passport before you leave, given how quick and painless it is.

  20. Boo says:

    Hi Chris,

    I am Thai but lived in the US for many years and have become a US citizen. I married an American with 3 girls and divorce now. I didn’t know that I could get my kids a Thai birth certificate so that they could have dual citizenship until this year. My oldest kid is 16 and she wants to have Thai citizenship so that she can move over there to live with my sister for a couple years.

    So, I applied for a Thai birth certificate for my kids to the Thai embassy in NYC. They said I need to give them a copy of the children’s father’s ID and passport. Well, that’s the problem. My ex husband and I have a joint custody and I asked my ex about his ID and passport for this. I explained it to him very well with all the good reasons for the kids’ best interest but he has refused to give me his documents because he thinks it is stupid and useless at this point. He doesn’t want her to live far away from him. The other younger kids don’t want anything with Thai citizenship either, that’s what he said.

    Anyway, I still want my kids to have it so that they can inherit a parcel of land my late parents left behind if there’s something happened to my sister and I in the future.

    What would I do in this case? What is your suggestion? If I file a lawsuit against him about this, I’m not sure if I would win either. Plus, going to the court would cost me a lot that I can’t afford to hire an attorney. Thanks in advance for your time and suggestion!

    • Hi Boo,

      Unfortunately I’m not in a position to help on this.

      If the father is unknown then there are mechanisms to have that recorded on the birth certificate, but that is not the case. I suspect you are just going to have to hope that he can assist in providing the documents. And if he can’t, then maybe ask the embassy if there are any work arounds. I suspect there are, but you’ll need to get the embassy to outline what they are.

      Maybe when your oldest is 18 she can initiate to process herself, and your husband will be more willing at that point?

      Good luck with it all and sorry I can’t be of more assistance.

      • Boo K. says:

        Thank you for your suggestion. My ex-husband doesn’t want to give his documents to me or my eldest daughter at all. Sadly, he has nothing to do with Thailand at all especially his ex-wife is Thai. Plus, the Embassy also wants his consent for this because she is under 18 years old and we have a joint custody too. So, my kid probably has to wait until her dad is dead someday just to get a hold of his documents. What a sad situation that I can’t get my kids a Thai birth certificate because of my difficult ex-husband! Thank you again for your time and help, I appreciate it a lot.

        • Yes, sorry to hear. Unfortunately your story isn’t one which is unheard of. One mistake in my previous message, the age of majority in Thailand is 20 as you know, so I suspect your daughter will have more options at that point given she won’t need the parents consent. Fingers crossed things change in the meantime for you and your daughter.

  21. Sally says:

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks so much for your very helpful articles. I have a question about Section 22 of the Nationality Act linked to above, which states that a person of Thai nationality who has been naturalized as an alien shall lose Thai nationality. If, as you’ve shown above, Thais who naturalize abroad can generally retain their Thai nationality, who (or under what circumstances) does this apply to? Thanks

    • Hi Sally – thanks for your question. I want to stress this is a totally non-lawyer answer, but based on my own research and that of a few others, the simple answer is it doesn’t automatically apply to anyone. Though the clause is there, there are literally zero instances of section 22 being referenced in the royal gazette – which needs to happen before Thai citizenship is taken away from someone.

      In addition, there are many Thai’s who migrate overseas and aquire a second citizenship via naturalisation. Thai embassies literally have had decades to apply this clause – if it is indeed applicable – but never have. So while I can’t give you a legally watertight explanation, there certainly an interpretation of this section which doesn’t make it automatic, in the way Singapore or Malaysian law does when one of their nationals takes on another nationality.

      A good reference which summarises the position is this link: https://www.nationthailand.com/your_say/30325559.

  22. Sirita says:

    Hi Chris,
    My mom brought me to the US from Thailand since I was 9 yrs old. I becoming an officer here I had to become a US citizen. At 45 yrs old I want to get dual citizenship and be able to live in Thailand for a year or so with my soon to be US husband. I have a very old expired Thai Passport and my birth certificate. What is your recommendation on moving forward with this. Does it makes a difference if we get married in Thailand? We are retiring in January..so we don’t need a job in Thailand.

    • Hi Sirita,

      I’d look to speak to the Thai embassy in DC or the closest Thai consulate to where you live and speak to them. Thai passports have to be applied for in person. Outside of Thailand the embassy generally organises visits to different states where they bring the passport equipment (it is very high tech!) to take your photos and details etc.

      While you are 1000% still a Thai citizen, I suspect there may be an issue with you applying for a new passport while in the US, in that you’ll need to have an up to date house registry and ID card (https://thaiembdc.org/mobile-consular-services-2020eng/). Now, your birth certificate and old passport will have your Thai ID number (which never changes), but I would check with the embassy to see if they will able to process your Thai passport application in the US. If not, then you might want to ask for a temporary Thai passport which will let you enter Thailand as a Thai citizen.

      Once you enter Thailand you’ll definitely need to update your tabieen baan (house registration) and get a new ID card, at which point it will be super easy to get a new Thai passport at a Thai passport office.

      As for getting married in Thailand – I’m not sure if I understand your question. If you are already married to your husband in the US, your marriage is automatically recognised in Thailand. You’ll likely need to have the marriage certificate officially translated into Thai, but that is about all you need to have it validated for use in Thailand.

  23. Danielle says:

    Hi Chris,

    I am so grateful to have found your website. I am an American/Thai with both passports. I have been living in Thailand for the past year and a half.

    I am trying to visit my partner in France. Thailand is approved on the list of third-national countries allowed in the EU, but the US is not. It says on many articles that they allow in ‘residents’ of the countries of the approved list. Question 1: Does my Thai passport prove my residency in Thailand?

    It is not possible for me to enter on my Thai passport, because it would require a visa which I could not get right now. I have a flight to France in two weeks and plan to enter on my US, but showing my Thai passport as proof I am a resident of Thailand. Do you have any advice or knowledge on how to make this work?

    Danielle

    • Hi Danielle,

      I can’t speak specifically to French regulations as to whether they are banning ALL US citizens vs only people who are resident in the US (regardless of citizenship) but logic would dictate it is probably the latter.

      Simply the fact that you are travelling from Thailand and not the US should count for much, in addition to your Thai ID. Nevertheless, I’d check with the French embassy to remove any doubt.

      All the best with your trip!
      Regards
      Chris

  24. Sapphire says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thank you very much for all the information provided on this website 🙂

    I am luk khreung, born and living in the UK. I have a Thai birth certificate and used to have a Thai passport, however the passport has since expired. How do I go about renewing this (I am under 20)? Is it possible for me to get it renewed without my Thai parent present? – my parents are divorced and my Thai parent lives in Thailand.

    Also, I wish to work in Thailand over the next year. If I have a Thai passport, does this exempt me from having to acquire a visa and work permit? I do not yet have my degree, therefore would be unable to otherwise obtain a work permit.

    Many thanks,

    Sapphire

    • Hi there.

      You have two options. Until you turn 20 you’ll need both parents to sign off on the passport application. Up to 15 years of age BOTH parents need to be physically present (unless one parents has sole custody granted by a court). Between 15 and 20, both parents don’t have to be present but they will have to sign permission forms. These forms should be available on the Thai embassy website in the UK.

      The second option is to use your expired Thai passport. In normal times, its perfectly fine for Thai citizens to enter Thailand on an expired passport. Given COVID I’d check with the embassy to see if this is being allowed at the moment (there are lots of documents needed to enter Thailand at the moment, including signing up for mandatory 14 day state quarantine). Additionally, as long as COVID is an issue, basically they are only letting Thai passport holders and valid work permit holders enter the country.

      Regardless of this, once you enter Thailand on the expired passport it won’t be valid for any further travel, however, you will need to get your name on the house registration (tabien baan) as well as getting an ID card. Similar to the passport, this will need permission from your parents from memory. As a Thai citizen however you will be able to live and work in Thailand without need for a work permit.

      Anyway, all the best and good luck with it all!

  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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