Thai dual citizenship – is it legal?

Can Thai citizens hold dual citizenship?

An aged old question which is often asked, but usually with contradictory answers. This in part stems from the fact that the law has changed a number of times over the years, and partly because people’s impressions of what the law says is rooted in rather outdated understandings of the law as it stands today.

Furthermore, if people do go and read the Thai nationality act, they often read sections which don’t apply to them, further confusing their understanding of the dual citizenship issue.

Without going too deeply in to the legal minutiae, the basic fact is that it hasn’t been illegal for a Thai citizen to hold more than one citizenship since 1992. Below, we outline some common questions and answers on this topic.

Are Thai’s allowed to hold dual citizenship?

The simple answer is ‘yes’.

As such, a Thai who is born with another nationality, a person who naturalizes as a Thai, or a Thai who takes a foreign citizenship are generally allowed to maintain their Thai citizenship without issue. We examine a number of different categories below.

1. Dual nationals with a Thai & foreign parent

If you are in this category, you probably are identified by most in Thailand as Luk Khreung (ลูกครึ่ง) – literally ‘half-child’ a colloquial term used for those with mixed heritage.

a) Do children have to ‘choose’ a citizenship at age 20?

Simply put: ‘No’.

This is a misconception, based partly on old, now extinguished legislation, as well as a misreading of how the law now stands.

Prior to the 1st of March 1992, Thai law did indeed state that a decision to chose must be made between ages 20 and 21 and that if a decision was not made, then Thai citizenship would automatically be forfeited.

However this law has since been repealed as of the third version of the Nationality Act (1992) where the automatic loss of Thai citizenship for not making a choice was removed.

b) So what happens when I turn 20?

In essence, nothing.

The current Act gives a child, born to a Thai and foreign parent, the opportunity between ages 20 and 21 of renouncing Thai citizenship, if they so wish.

Section 14 of the current Act says:

“A person of Thai nationality, who was born of an alien father or mother and has acquired the nationality of the father or mother according to the law on nationality of the father or mother, or a person who acquired Thai nationality under Section 12 paragraph two or Section 12/1 (2) and (3) is required, if he desires to retain his other nationality, to make a declaration of his intention to renounce his Thai nationality within one year after his attaining the age of 20 years, according to such forms and in the manner as prescribed in the Ministerial Regulations”.

Many people read the above passage and take it to mean that a child born with dual citizenship MUST file renunciation papers within one year of their 20th birthday. However one should note there is no penalty for not making a declaration to renounce.

Context is critical here – the second version of the Nationality Act in 1992* DID have a penalty for people not choosing inserted after the above mentioned passage. The short lived 2nd edition of the act stated:

“If no notification is made within the said period of time, that person is deemed to renounce Thai nationality, unless the Minister shall given an order otherwise for each particular case”

However, this was done away with in Version 3 of the Act which came into force on 1 March 1992, and has remained the same the subsequent 4th and 5th versions of the Thai Nationality Act.

*As an interesting aside, it is worth noting the respective dates of the second and third revisions to the Thai Nationality Act. The 2nd version was gazetted on the 9th of February 1992 while the 3rd version was gazetted on the 1st of March 1992. One can only speculate why the law had to be changed so quickly, but one can assume that this being Thailand, some well connected families who held dual nationality objected to the wording of the 2nd version of the Act and forced Minister of the day to change the law – which he did quite quickly!

c) The 2017 constitution

The 2017 constitution implemented by the military government provides further certainty to those who have acquired Thai and foreign citizenship from their parents.

Section 39 of the Thai Constitution stipulates, “Revocation of Thai nationality from anyone who is Thai from birth shall be prohibited.”

Given most, if not all, Luk Khrueng (ลูกครึ่ง) derive their Thai citizenship by birth from a Thai parent, then the constitution provides a further safeguard from the state taking their Thai citizenship away on a non-voluntary basis.

2. Thai women taking on their spouses nationality

Prior to the 1965 version of the Thai nationality act, Thai women who took up the nationality of their foreign spouses automatically lost their Thai citizenship.

Nevertheless, some people still think this is the case. As such, there continues to be a lot of confusion particularly for men or women who move overseas to be with their spouses and eventually take up their spouses nationality. But similar to those Thai dual citizens who were born with another nationality, the choice is voluntary:

“Section 13 – A man or woman of Thai nationality who marries an alien and may acquire the nationality of the spouse according to his nationality law shall, if he or she desires to renounce Thai nationality, make a declaration of his or her intention before an official according to the form and in the manner prescribed in the Ministerial Regulations.”

As such, Section 13 of the Thai Nationality Act exists mainly for those people who are looking to take up a new nationality where laws in that country prohibit holding dual nationality (for instance Austria, Malaysia or Singapore) and require that an application to renounce Thai citizenship is made before granting their new citizenship.

3. Dual citizenship for naturalised Thai’s

For those who weren’t born with Thai nationality, then the main way to get it is to apply for it.

Generally, for those who have naturalized as Thai citizens are able to keep their original citizenship unless their original country of citizenship forbids it.

On applying for Thai nationality, Thai authorities require applicants for Thai citizenship to make a ‘statement of intent’ to relinquish their original nationality upon acquisition of Thai citizenship. This somewhat muddies the waters for some, however this statement of intent is merely that, a statement of intent at the time of application. Once the statement is made….well intentions can change.

It is questionable if such a statement holds any legal force with your home government, particularly where the home government has no issue with dual citizenship or if they require you to follow their own specific processes to renounce that citizenship. Please see our article HERE on this question.

Where it may be of consequence is if the Thai government notifies your home government of your acquisition of Thai nationality when that country forbids holding dual nationality (e.g. Singapore or Malaysia) which automatically strip that nationality upon evidence of the acquisition of a new one.

4. So is it possible to lose Thai nationality as a dual citizen?

In very rare cases it is possible for dual citizen to lose their citizenship, but this is only in the following limited situations:

a) Those who were born with Thai citizenship due to both their foreign national parents being permanent residents can potentially* be stripped of Thai nationality under Section 17 of the Nationality Act if:

  • resided in a foreign country of their parents citizenship  for more than five years consecutively;
  • if there is evidence to show that he makes use of, or has an active interest in a foreign nationality**; or
  • does anything prejudicial to the Thai state, national security or public order


b) Under Section 19 of the Nationality Act, a naturalised citizen may be stripped of Thai citizenship:

  • if it appears their Thai citizenship was grant was effected by concealing facts or making false statements;
  • makes use of their former nationality**;
  • have lived outside of Thailand for more than five years;
  • does anything prejudicial to the Thai state, national security or public order; or
  • retains the nationality of a state at war with Thailand.


The Council of State files each of the revocations and an up to date list of revocations, mainly for reasons listed under Section 17 or 19. You can search for these on the Royal Gazette website (Thai only) by using the search term “ถอนสัญชาติ”.

Sections 17 and 19 will not apply to those who were born Thai to at least one Thai parent, nor will it apply to foreign women who take on Thai nationality due to being married to a Thai husband under Section 9, given this is not considered naturalisation under the act.

*One may debate whether Section 39 of the 2017 constitution now makes this clause is now redundant.

**making use of their former citizenship appears to be based on evidence where a person has used their foreign passport to enter Thailand. All of these cases are rare, and stripping of Thai nationality must be announced in the Royal Gazette before it becomes official. There are few recordings of this are rare, though it has been enforced where one British man was stripped of Thai nationality under Section 17 for entering Thailand using his Thai nationality. That Royal Gazette announcement can be viewed here.

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I was born in Bangkok in 1967 to a Thai mother and US father. I do not have a Thai birth certificate. I have a birth certificate issued by the US Embassy, but it does not name my parents. I also have a copy of the hospital record from a book of my birth naming both parents. How do I go about obtaining a Thai birth certificate so I can proceed with the passport and Thai ID card? Both of my parents have passed and my mother tried unsucessfully for years in the 90s and early 2000s to obtain a Thai ID card for me. I now live in the US. Thank you.


Thank you so much. I’ll look into this path and hopefully move forward.


Hi. Thank you for your article. I was born in 1996 in London. My father is British and my mother is Thai. In 2001 we moved to Switzerland where I currently reside. I now hold British and Swiss citizenship and wish to apply for Thai citizenship (via descendant) and move to Thailand. Is it possible to hold triple citizenship?

Peter Lee

I disagree with the interpretation of Section 17 because the original text uses the wording “an alien father or mother”, which means only having one parent who is a foreign national when giving birth is sufficient enough to satisfy the precondition of Section 17. In the explanation of the enforcement of the acquisition of Thai nationality by birth, the Ministry of Interior clearly states that the jus soli Thai national can also occur in the case of a child being born in Thailand who has a father who is a Thai national but not established paternity, and a foreign national mother regardless of settled status, they cite that such child automatically acquire Thai nationality by jus soli meaning so the DNA proof is not required, and since only mother is foreign national, the Section 7 bis is not applicable. which creates a rare situation in having a Thai parent (but not recognized under Thai family law) but the child is considered only acquire Thai nationality by Section 7(2), which satisfies the precondition in Section 17.

Since Section 39 already prevents the revocation of Thai nationality for every Thai national by birth, the enforcement of Section 17 should no longer be in effect. But please remember that the original text uses the term “revocation”, it is not the same term as “shall lose” in Section 22 of the Thai Nationality Act.


How about the case where a Thai acquires a foreign nationality through naturalisation? According to Section 22, he/she would lose Thai nationality. In practice, this may not be enforced without an active renunciation (to be published in the royal gazette) but the law does imply dual nationality via this route isn’t possible. I’m currently in this situation as I have acquired another nationality that requires me to lose Thai nationality. I’m in a limbo on what to do. On one hand, the new nationality has assumed i’ve automatically lost the Thai nationality and didnt ask me to renounce as proof. On the other, if I start using foreign passport to enter/exit Thailand, the Thai officials may start to notice and enforce Section 22. I know a lot of people keep it under the radar and still use thai passport to enter/exit thailand and foreign passport elsewhere. However, my new nationality could be revoked if they found out i have not done everything possible to lose the Thai nationality. Incompatible both ways it seems!

PS, i was born Pre-1992 to an alien father and Thai mother. My father naturalised soon after and so did I. Since, I know the law has changed to enable anyone born in thailand either to a thai father or mother to be Thai — to not discriminate between sexes. Does this change have a retro effect on my citizenship at birth?


Thank you! This is super helpful, your content is impressive.

  • my dad was not Thai but my mom was. at the time, the law was biased towards male so i was registered as ‘not thai’ in my birth certificate.
  • I agree with you on blind eye practice. I know Thai consulate abroad also dont want folks to renounce.

The country of my new nationality recently figured out this grey area with the Thai authorities and changed their stance from previously ‘assuming’ all thais naturalising would automatically lose Thai citizenship (due to section 22) — and therefore not requiring applicants to sign declaration and submit proof. But that stance has since changed since I received my new nationality. Luckily or unluckily, I wasn’t/am asked to renounce but i’m stuck in a grey area (as is many hundreds of thousands of Thais abroad who naturalised). If applicants were deemed to come from countries where nationality isn’t automatically lost, they can claim an exception pertaining to (financial) loss from inability to own land or inherit but the option wasn’t available because of the misinterpretation on the foreign side or, well, lack of enforcement on the Thai side. Fun stuff 🙂

Peter Lee

From my understanding, most of the overseas Thai nationals who acquire foreign nationality by naturalization generally acquire it through marriage, which, according to Thai law, is not recognized as “naturalization”. Therefore, Section 22, which indicates a Thai national who naturalizes as a foreign national shall lose Thai nationality, is not applicable in the “jus matrimonii” case. Continuing to issue these groups of overseas Thai national Thai passports is not a contradiction to the Thai Nationality Act. But turning a blind eye to the case that clearly satisfies the condition of losing Thai nationality according to Section 22 is not appropriate even if they de jure still retain Thai nationality. Because in Section 22, it is clearly stated that such a person shall lose Thai nationality. Hence, it is the responsibility of the authority (not by voluntary renunciation) to enforce Section 22 to take effect as soon as possible in the method as defined in Section 5, in which the Minister has no discretionary power to prevent them from losing Thai nationality as the law did not empower minister have right to consider “application”, it states “shall lose” so it means if it is an objective fact, declaring loss is a must unless there is evidence counter Section 22 condition in such case. This official stance could also be observed from one of the guidelines of immigration police, which states that if a person is suspected of satisfying the condition according to Section 22, the officer has a responsibility to notify the Ministry of Interior as soon as possible to start to process an investigation for further legal step. Another example of enforcement of Section 22, which I had a chance to view many years ago, is the case of the Thai Embassy in Oslo, they received notification of naturalization application from UDI, which later they decided to report back to Bangkok and start the process of declaring loss of Thai nationality according to Section 22 by naturalization for those Thai nationals who acquire Norwegian nationality by naturalization, which the document stated that it will take effect under 90 days. This is a pretty interesting case that indicates Thai nationals who fell into Section 22 are not always guaranteed to retain their Thai nationality forever, as the Minister could declare them as losing their Thai nationality at any moment.

Furthermore, I would like to express a different point of view according to the understanding of Section 39 of the Thai constitution that could prevent the loss of Thai nationality by naturalizing abroad, which I disagree with. Because the same wording shall be interpreted as the same term that is already defined and is used in other laws (Systematische Auslegung), in which the original text uses the term “revocation” (ถอน) instead of a broader term “loss” (เสีย), corresponding to the term used in Section 16, Section 17, Section 18, Section 19, and Section 22 in Thai Nationality Act, separating from “renunciation (Section 13, Section 14, and Section 15)”, “by operation of law by acquiring alien identification paper (Section 21)” and “lose by naturalization as foreign national (Section 22)”. Hence, according to my understanding, Section 39 of the Thai constitution only prevents the case of Section 17, in which a jus soli Thai national can be stripped of Thai nationality, creating an inequality of natural-born Thai nationals under the thought of jus sanguinis national has a closer tie than jus soli national according to legislator’s intent. Crucially, the legislator’s intention of the Thai Nationality Act tends to “prevent the duplication of nationality caused by own free will” (naturalization), as described in several Thai materials. Several law faculties teaching materials that talk about the Thai Nationality Act in Thailand describe the loss of Thai nationality by naturalization abroad (not including the case that takes foreign nationality of a spouse) as a measurement to avoid the duplication of nationalities, and it already expressed a clear intention of declaring foreign state has a closer legal bond than Thailand, such a person is willing to change from Thai nationality to foreign nationality, so it is appropriate to declare them, lose Thai nationality in respecting to their will of changing nationality. It is hard to explain why, if the Thai authority would like to legally liberalize the Nationality Act, it still chose to retain Section 22 unchanged until today and not change it in the 2008 and 2012 amendments.

Peter Lee

The legislation stipulates that the loss of Thai nationality shall occur upon the event of naturalization in another country (Section 22) and requires that this change in nationality status be officially declared by the Minister of Interior (Section 5). Then, it is the duty of the relevant authorities to report such cases to ensure the law is enforced. If the embassy or officials neglect to report the acquisition of foreign nationality by a Thai national, they are not fulfilling their legal responsibilities, and this could be considered a violation of their duties. It is “Unterlassen” (Inaction) and quite common under the Thai bureaucratic system in reality because it is some sort of “administratively burdensome”. In my opinion, the principles of “Berechenbarkeit” (Predictability) and “Voraussehbarkeit” (Foreseeability) are essential in enforcing the law by administrative bodies to match public expectations. Leaving a gray area of selective enforcement by “Unterlassen” is pretty harmful and considered as arbitrarily administered, as many Thai nationals, who thought they might not lose Thai nationality after naturalizing as foreign nationals, may lose their Thai nationality at any moment if the Ministry of Interior is willing to push the acknowledgment of the change of nationality process afterward. It is entirely legal for the Minister of Interior to declare them to lose Thai nationality by Section 22 without pre-notification. The only way to prevent this is amending the law text to omit the text “Thai national who naturalize as foreign national” in Section 22.
If everything is strictly enforced and matches the expectation of the public on the enforcement of the law by the legislator’s intent and law text literally, this law effect is nearly the same as “automatically forfeit of Thai nationality after being acknowledged by Minister of Interior without the need to submit any application”. This is why IND (Netherlands) initially thought that a Thai national who applied for naturalization other than being a spouse of a Dutch national “automatically loses Thai nationality” after naturalization (according to the material available in early 2022). But after they figure out the Thai authorities do nothing about it unless such a person initiative applies for renunciation (which is also not appropriate as they shall lose by the effect of change of nationality, not by renunciation), they change the information to require the applicant submit their proof of losing Thai nationality.

Regarding the Thai passport, if their change of nationality still needs to be acknowledged according to Section 5 but still do not declare their Thai nationality is forfeit in the gazette, they still have Thai nationality in theory. Hence, issuing them Thai passports is not violating the law, but taking the stance of “Unterlassen” for acknowledging the change of nationality violates the rule of law principle.


Hi —

I am Luk Khreung and I was born in Thailand but grew up in the US. I currently hold a US and a Thai passport. Since I have dual citizenship, can I get my son Thai citizenship / passport even though he was born in the US? I read online somewhere that since I am a Thai citizen my son would be granted Thai citizenship by blood right.

Thai Citizenship
error: Unfortunately, due to unscrupulous scammers who try and copy this content and pass it off as their own, this is protected and not available for cut and paste.
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