Thai military service for dual citizens

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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174 Responses

  1. mark nesbit says:

    Hi chris,
    my son was born and lived in thailand for his first 2 years, he then moved to the uk where he has been for the past 18 years(20 now). He has been sent conscription papers to his grand parents house in thailand where he was registered at birth. he travels on british passport, so first of all is there any need to worry about him being conscripted if we travelled to thailand and if there is which is the best way of going about it, he is currently at university in the uk.

    • Hi Mark,

      He’s got a couple of options – one is that someone can submit the paperwork for him, but once in, he can also request for a deferment based on his university studies in the UK. The embassy will be able to guide you on that but it would probably involve his grand parents submitting his paperwork to the conscription office first on his behalf. Deferments till age 25 or 26 from memory so long as he in further study. So for me this is the ‘belt and braces’ approach while studying at least for the next few years.

      Another option, is simply to not report. Strictly speaking, reporting late is against the law, but the penalties are quite small if done voluntarily at a later date. As this link from the Thai Embassy in Washington DC shows – the procedure for reporting late depends on at what age they report. Up to the age of 20, they are essentially put into next years lot for receiving a call up and are expected to report for the lottery at age 21, with a maximum fine of 300 baht if done voluntarily, but there is a potential of three months imprisonment, fine, or both, if ordered by a court.

      Doing so between ages after 21 mean that process is fast forwarded but essentially you are expected to report for conscription in the immediate year following – which involves being assessed as qualified as part of the process. As per my article, once 30, you are immediately disqualified upon reporting.

      To your concern about being caught. To my knowledge immigration databases historically haven’t flagged Thai citizens when they haven’t reported (this certainly never happened to me and people that I knew). Traveling on a non-Thai passport will mean that there is little chance for a link to be even made and I suspect plenty of people do just that. Obviously all of this is to be viewed as non-legal advice but based on practical experiences of mine and quite a few others.

  2. David says:

    Hi Chris,
    A quick background history of me is that I have lived in thailand for 4 years of my life since I was born there, but I had moved to England due to my moms marriage to my english step dad. I have lived here for 16 years now and I recently had my 20th birthday on 3rd of jan. My question stems on the fact, will I be required to report to the thai embassy about this conscription draft? As I am a thai born, but I have yet to receive one of those letters for the conscription. Will I be arrested if I were to go back to Thailand with my thai passport? I was also thinking of perhaps staying in thailand for a year when I reach age 27, I’m guessing that option is not available for me anymore? Due to the resident thing. Which is a shame as majority of my thai family are there.

    Moreover I have heard some rumours about their soldiers criteria. I didnt exactly win the genetic lottery as I am 5f2, so will that exempt me from being conscripted or they simply just dont care about height and just take just about anyone? I have also heard about paying a fee to the recruitment officer, a short of 1k pounds to take you off the conscription lottery. Is that perhaps true? Because if I can do that, I wont have to join the thai army and I still get to keep my thai passport. As much as being a soldier intrigues me, I would much rather be a british soldier as i grew up here.

    • Hi David,

      So thanks for your question. So I can’t given any comment regarding what the army look for from a health perspective, and I’m not (as a rule) talk about acts which may be considered illegal.

      Given you haven’t received any call up letter could be for a number of reasons (e.g. your name may have come off the house registration or that previous attempts to contact you have been unanswered). In your case, there is no need to report to the Thai embassy (they don’t handle conscription anyway) and given you haven’t received any formal notification to be called up, technically you can’t defer due to studies (which is what the embassy can handle).

      Short visits to Thailand will generally be fine, and even those lasting for a few months. It will always be a grey area on when you are in Thailand ‘full time’, but having a job, studying and getting your ID card back – as well as being there around the conscription date in April is probably the easiest measure. As per the article, in the year you turn 30 then you are not eligible to be called up.

      I hope this is of help.

  3. Matthias says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’m a 17 years old german-thai citizen currently living in Thailand. I’m planning to move out from here when I graduate next year and probably won’t move back to Thailand anymore. But I might come back here for some holidays sometimes. My question right now is, will I get into trouble if I enter Thailand between the age of 21 and 30 with my German passport and what do I do after turning 30? And another question is, will I get into trouble abroad for not joining the thai military conscription?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Matthias

      I can’t give you any specific answers – but broadly if you aren’t resident in Thailand during those years and are unable to attend the lottery day for valid reasons, then you will be okay. Short visits are fine, but moving back permanently will obviously re-activate your obligation. You also don’t say whether you have received any paperwork from you local sasadee yet, in which case formal deferrment due to study overseas is probably something you need to look into.

  4. Ker Ma says:

    I am planning on moving to Thailand and eventually becoming a Thai citizen. I was born in Thailand but as a refugee with no Thai birth Certificate and both my parents were born in Loas. I am wondering if I become a Thai citizen, will my sons be required to report for conscription when they reach appropriate ages? My husband is an American born with US citizenship. I also have US citizenship as of right now.

    • Hi Ker,

      Thanks for your message. That you were born in Thailand doesn’t mean that you are eligible for Thai citizenship. One of your parents needed to be a Thai citizen at the time of your birth to pass on citizenship to you. As such, for you to naturalise as a Thai citizen, you will need to go through the normal process of living and working here, gaining PR and then eventually citizenship (see this article here).

      Assuming you go down that path, and both your sons are made PR and then naturalised alongside you, then they won’t be required to do military service as naturalised Thai citizens.

  5. Secret says:

    Hi, I am an Australian male that is the son of a Thai father and Australian mother (i am illegitimate, still have good contact though and maintain visits).
    One, would my illegitimacy hinder citizenship; and, two, if I did get citizenship, would it be worth it considering I might want to live in Thailand for a period of time and also the fact there is conscription.
    Also, does wealth help you avoid conscription?

    • You don’t say where you were born but I’m assuming you were born in Australia. For you to be recognised as a Thai citizen legitimization needs to occur via either your parents marrying or your parents agreeing to formally legitimizing your birth via courts. Failing that I think you can advocate yourself via DNA testing etc but with all of the above I’d consult a lawyer.

      And this legitimization will need to happen before the Thai embassy in the country you were born issues you with a Thai birth certificate (though check with them on what documentation will be needed in the case of parents not being married).

      In terms of being exempted from military service, wealth per se doesn’t change things, and I’ve outlined the main legal channels in the article available to you. The best one in your case is simply not to be formally registered on a house registration until you are 30.

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