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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33 Responses

  1. Neil says:

    Hi, Please could you help answer a question. i am married to a Thai and we have a eight year old son who was born in England. My wife wants to apply for a Thai passport for him, does this mean at the age of twenty he could be called up for Thai national service? Many thanks Neil.

    • Hi Neil,

      It will be fine for him to get the passport for visits etc.

      He won’t be called up at 20 so long as he isn’t registered on a house registration which is how the military know to send the call up letters. Even if he was, so long as he remained resident outside of Thailand between ages 20 and 30 then he would have a legitimate excuse for not reporting for the draft day.

      Hopefully this is useful.

  2. Vittawat Bunton says:

    Hi,
    Can you help further explain the exemptions for the Thai Military Draft for doing an overseas military services. I am a Dual National Passport Holder (Thai/British), both of my parent are Thai and I have been living in the UK for over 10 years now. I am currently 21 years old and had moved here since I was quite young. However, when I was 15, I went back to Thailand for a family visit and my parent registered me up for a Thai ID card (I’ve heard that it would put my name up for them to call me in for the draft).

    The thing is, if I were to apply for the UK arm force (I planned to when I turn 23), which will be 2 years of training and 3 years of commitment service. (So I will be 28 years old when I came out of the UK army). Will I still need to go back to Thailand do their military draft and will I lose any benefit/right of normal Thai Citizen would have if I didn’t do the draft.

    This would be very much appreciated if you could help me out.
    Thanks,
    Vit

    • Hi Vit,

      As you saw in the article, having done foreign military service does appear to count towards lessening your obligation for Thai military service, but the mechanisms for having this recognized officially are unknown.

      Given you are overseas, effectively speaking, reporting is impossible so as long as you remain overseas then there is little that they can do, draft wise.

      The easiest strategy for you will be simply to effectively live outside of Thailand until 1st of January in the year you turn 30, and then if you need to, report at that point as you’ll officially be too old, and let off with a small fine (max equivalent to about 10 pounds). Short visits back to Thailand before then won’t be an issue, but you should probably avoid trying to update your Thai ID card before your 30th birthday, just in case.

      Overall, you won’t lose any rights and benefits of a Thai citizen, though renewing your Thai passport may be problematic without a valid (ie up to date) ID card. But given your plans, that shouldn’t really be a worry.

      All the best with it.

  3. Naphat says:

    Hi Chris, I have just been granted Thai citizenship last week as a dependent to my father’s application(main applicant via naturalisation). However, I am turning 21 this coming month, and I have been contacted to process my tahbien and other relevant documents. In addition, the district office mentioned that I have to register for conscription. I am wondering if I have to go through the conscription draft?
    Thank you very much Chris!

    • Hi Naphat,

      Firstly, congrats to you and your father on your naturalization! I’m sure you must be relieved. May I ask, were you both PR’s before this, or was it just your father.

      With respect to your question, naturalized citizens are not required to do conscription, so I’d suggest to them they double check the rules on this.

      Regards
      Chris

      • Naphat says:

        Hi Chris,

        Thank you! I am very much relieved after waiting for years. And to your question, yes it was only my father that is PR’s, I was on a non-o dependent visa.

        Kind regards,
        Naphat

      • Naphat says:

        Hi Chris,

        Thank you! I certainly felt very much relieved. And yes, it was just y father that’s PR before this. I will double check with the district official in regards the conscription.

        Kind regards,
        Naphat

  4. Naphat says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thank you! I am very much relieved after waiting for years. And to your question, yes it was only my father that is PR’s, I was on a non-o dependent visa.

    Kind regards,
    Naphat

    Ps. the system doesn’t allowed me to reply to your comment

    • Hi Naphat,

      No worries, thanks for letting me know, and congrats again.

      In terms of the system, all the replies have to be moderated because for every one legit message I get about 10 spam posts. So I do see them, its just your responses don’t become visible instantly.
      Cheers
      Chris

  5. Jordan says:

    Hi Chris,
    I am UK/Thai but reside in the UK since birth. When I was 16 my Thai passport expired and my mum decided to not renew it, knowingly in fear of being called up to the army. I am now 22 and would like to renew my passport. I am Thai house registered but do not carry a Thai ID therefore I can make a new passport with no issues. Although, I am wondering if I go ahead and renew it will I be required to attend the drafts and potentially serve the Thai Military?

    Thanks,
    Jordan

    • Hi Jordan,

      If you are living full time in the UK and don’t intend to reside permanently in Thailand till you are 30 then you won’t have any issue.

      You can renew your passport via the embassy, but check with them to see if you’ll need your ID card, as sometimes they can insist on it.

      Are you planning to spend an extended amount of time in Thailand? If so, that changes the equation somewhat.

  6. Kang Samanchit says:

    Hi Chris,

    I was born in Thailand but I’ve been living in Australia since I was 9 (currently 23). I have both the Thai citizenship and the Australian citizenship. I remember reporting for military service when I was younger but I’ve never gone back to actually undertake the military conscription when I turned 20.

    Do I need to worry about setting off alarms to the Thai authority when I enter Thailand? I will be using the Australian passport to enter.

    Thank you for your very informative article.

    Best,
    Kang

    • Hi Kang

      Glad you like the article.

      I don’t think you’ll have anything to worry about, particularly using your Australian passport. Most reporting for military service is done when you are 20, so not sure what type of ‘reporting’ you did when you were younger, but so long as there isn’t any letters to your registered address from the military conscription office asking why you haven’t reported then you should be fine.

  7. Ken says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’m a dual citizen of Thailand and Australia. I’ve reporting for the military service when I was younger during a trip to Thailand but I’ve never gone back to actually undertake the conscription process. Do I need to worry about setting off alarm bells to the Thai authority when I enter Thailand with my Australian passport?

    I’ve been living in Australia since I was 9 and I’m currently 23.

    Best Regards,
    Ken

  8. darren says:

    hello chris
    could you answer my question/s
    my son was born in Thailand to myself (british) and my wife thai. we were married in oct 2001 and he was born in nov 2001.his birth was registered in Thailand,with thai birth certificate, and on the house card.then in march 2002 my wife applied for indefinite leave in the uk and received it straight away.at the same time I applied for a british passport for my son.They both subsequently lived in uk ever since returning to Thailand for holiday on a british passport(my son).
    question when my son is 20 years old and wants to vist Thailand on holiday could he have to do national service because he is registered on the house card and was born in Thailand?
    question.how would he be able to inherit land/property from his mother in the future.would he have to register for thai nationality with his birth certificate/house card.before this is possible?

    • Hi Darren,

      The national service requirement – effectively – is only applicable if he is living in Thailand, so visits so to speak, are fine, so I wouldn’t worry about that.

      To inherit land etc, he’d need to be a Thai citizen obviously. There is no need to register him for thai nationality, he already is one (his Thai birth certificate will say as much) and his house registration will reflect this. In all likelihood, he will need to present a valid Thai ID care to the government agency which registers land ownership, but as a Thai citizen, this won’t be a problem to get for your son.

      Hope this is useful
      Chris Larkin

  9. Bill says:

    Hi Chris – I really appreciate this article. I was born in Thailand and lived there for about 10 or so years. I have a national ID and a Thai passport. However, I no longer reside in Thailand and have been living overseas ever since, I’m 25 now. My family and I have NO intentions of going back to Thailand as my family are all living overseas. The key thing now is that I’m really worried about my passport renewal being denied (I also lost my national ID recently). My passport will expire end of next year. Will this have an issue relative to my conscription (I’m worried I will be denied renewal of passport / issuing a new national ID that I lost). Please help!

    • Hi Bill

      The renewal of an ID card should not activate anything regarding the conscription side of things, and you should be able to easily replace it. Given you live overseas now, the Thai embassy in the capital city of your country (as well as some of the major consulates) will have the capacity to renew/replace your Thai ID card before you get a new Thai passport.

      One question – have you naturalised as a citizen in your new country? In that case, unless you need to travel to Thailand, there is no real urgency to get your Thai passport renewed so the ID issue need not be something to stress to much about.

      All the best
      Chris Larkin

      • Bill says:

        Hi Chris – Unfortunately I am still operating on my Thai Passport. The country I am currently in requires me to renew my passport in order to renew my visa (passport expires within 6 months). Therefore getting my new passport is my main concern.

        To confirm if I interpreted your message correctly, “renewal of ID card should activate anything regarding the conscription side of things”, does that mean a renewal of my ID will cause denial due to my absence of conscription? Furthermore, I do have my house documents so can that be used as substitute as my ID to renew my passport? I am personally just worried about my conscription as I am over the age of 21 and I have no intentions of going back to Thailand as I no longer live there. Thanks again Chris.

        • Hi Bill,

          My mistake, I meant it ‘should NOT’ activate anything regarding your conscription. Apologies for the mist-type on my behalf and I have since fixed up my first answer to you.

          To be clear, you can renew your ID card, and get a new passport no problem. Furthermore, you should be able to do it via the Thai embassy in the country you are in, rather than returning to Thailand.

          Again, apologies for the confusion!

  10. Suradet Srisawang says:

    Hi I was born in Thailand in 2001 and moved to England in 2007, I now have dual nationality. I’m wondering if i will have to national service?

    • Hi Suradet,

      As outlined in the article, unless you are living in Thailand full time, you can effectively avoid the process. However, if you move back before you ae 30, you will be liable to report. Short visits however during this time, will be fine.

  11. Jeremy says:

    Hi Chris.
    I was born in Australia to a Thai mother, and because my mother intends me to take over her business, would I need thai citizenship to actually work there, not a permanent resident, but more like on a 3-month visa or for holiday. Would I get called up for a military draft if I went to Thailand between 20 to 30 or could I avoid conscription entirely? Would I receive jail time or fines for not participating in the army?

    • Hi Jeremy,

      If you weren’t living in Thailand permanently, then your obligation to report is diminished, as outlined in the article. Obviously if you are there living permanently between ages 20 and 30, then you’ll be eligible to report.

      Visits are fine, and as you outline, if you are only going for short stints, this won’t be a problem.

      In terms of your citizenship, under Thai law, you are actually a Thai citizen already having been born to a Thai parent, and as such, you acquired Thai citizenship at birth. What you need to do organise for a Thai Birth Certificate to be issued in your name and subsequent to that, a Thai passport from the embassy in Canberra to document this citizenship, and which let you travel to Thailand with no limit on your stay.

      Check out this article on that aspect: https://www.thaicitizenship.com/thai-citizenship-when-born-overseas/

      I can’t comment on the penalty for not participating in the draft, if caught, but as the article shows, if you report after 30 years of age, the fine is minimal, no more that AUD$20 at todays exchange rates.

      Hope this is useful,
      Chris

  12. Micke says:

    Hi Chris,
    We have heard so many different stories etc so it is not easy to know what to believe.

    Our older son (swe/thai) turn 17 next year and of course we are worried about him doing the military in Thailand.
    He’s born in Thailand and is still registered in his auntie’s house paper in Thailand. We dont have anything left in Thailand though, no property or anything. We moved out from Thailand just over 5 yars ago.

    If I understand correctly the best way is to remove him from the house paper and simply dont let him go to Thailand and register for the military next year, and just stay out of the country? (is it important to remove him from house paper?)

    You say it is no problem for him visiting Thailand as a tourist not using the Thai passport, but what happens IF he get sick ending up in hospital or having an accident and police gets involved?

    After he turn 30yrs old IF he decide to move to Thailand he will not have any problem?

  13. Tomas says:

    Hi Chris,
    I’ve recently acquired Thai Citizenship through naturalization at the age of 32. One of the first articles of order was to check in at the สัสดี and having done some reading on the subject (including reading up on your website) I was informed that even though I was over the age of 30 that the Military could always still use people who were able bodied. Now I’m not 100% sure whether that just means that I’d need to have a file with the office, or if I could be conscripted.

    I grew up in Thailand over 20 years. My mother is Thai and my father is German, I still retain my German citizenship and have lived in Australia for the last 10 years. I was born in Germany and my birth certificate was never certified in Thailand until recently. I’d like to ask you if there had been any cases you know of where an over 30 year old was conscripted or pulled into the military service. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Tomas,

      Thanks for your question. The quick answer is ‘no’, I haven’t heard of any people over 30 who were conscripted or pulled into military service. What happens if you report over 30 is you get an exemption letter and certificate stating you have passed your conscription, and were exempted due to age limits. Your name is officially put on the military list as (for the lack of a better term) a ‘reserve’. But you’ll get put in a category way down in order or precedence that there is next to no likelihood of being needed. You remain on this list until 45 years of age from memory. This is the same for all men.

      So it is merely a formality for all intents and purposes.

      Hope this is useful.

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