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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56 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.

  14. adam foster says:

    Hi there, I’m a dual citizen Thai/British I’m currently doing a degree in the UK and part of the UOTC. I was wondering as you stated above regarding Military Officers that dual citizens cannot become commissioned officers?

  15. Julien TERRENOIRE says:

    Hello,

    I’m a duel citizen French/Thai. I have been studying corporate and business law in France for 5 years now since i turned 18 (I’m now 22 years old).
    In the past, I have done the territorial defense program (RODOR) 2 out of 3 years (started at 15 stopped at 17). However, I couldn’t start the last year of RODOR because of health and heavy family issue that required me to go back to France due to court ruling.
    I would like to know if I could be exempt of the 6 month conscription for those reasons. Furthermore, my health has degraded since then and I have serious back problems. Maybe if I show a doctor’s note to the army, could they free me of the 6 months conscription.
    I hope you understand, I’m studying hard to become a lawyer and doing the army is the last thing I want after passing the bar;
    Thank you very much Mr. Larkin.

    NB: very good article !

    • Hi there,

      Sorry to hear about your medical issues! To be very honest, I’m not sure how your lack of final year Ror Dor will be treated, but I suspect you will need some sort of formal assessment in Thailand which will be acceptable for the authorities. The Sasadee will have the exact requirements, but unfortunately I’m not in a position to comment on what these are. I suspect if you have relatives back in thailand who can ask for you then you will get some better clarity than can offer you.

      As mentioned in the article however, if you are non-resident in Thailand until 30, ultimately this won’t be an issue.

      All the best with the remainder of your studies and with your health.

  16. STEVEN ROBERTS says:

    Hi, my son was born and lived in Thailand until the age of 12. He has now returned at the age of 24 and has renewed his i.d. card and was added to the Som Nao Tabian Baan (House book). We had previously been told that since he had dual citizenship he wouldn’t be inscripted into the army but are now not so sure. You say that if he voluntarily reports he would be fined between 100-400 baht as penalty which is not so much. What happens and what fines will be if he does not voluntarily report?

    • Hi Steven,

      Now he is back living in Thailand, before the age of 30, he would be expected to report for the conscription lottery. That he has dual citizenship technically is neither here nor there.

      I’m not sure what the penalties are for outright avoidance, but I’m pretty sure it can involve jail time.

      Is he looking to stay in Thailand permanently? Drop me a line at [email protected] if you have any follow up questions.

  17. Dani says:

    Hello

    I was born in Thailand in 1998 and moved with my father to back to Belgium ever since 2000. I’m 21 years old right now and would like to visit Thailand in the near future for just about a month. My dad isn’t sure whether I have dual nationality or just Belgian nationality. He is afraid I might have to go to the military once I set foot on land in Thailand.

    Would it be safe for me to visit?

    • Hi Dani,

      If you were born to a Thai parent you are automatically a Thai citizen according to Thailand’s nationality law. However to be conscripted you need to be registered in Thailand as a Thai citizen. This means a Thai birth certificate (stating you are Thai) and being on a house registration, ID card etc.

      In your case, it also means being ordinarily resident in Thailand, which you are not. As per the article – you will be fine for a visit. Where it only becomes an issue is if you are living in Thailand permanently, before your 30th birthday.

  18. Luke says:

    Hello I am Thai German (22 years old) and received my Thai passport this year. Unfortunately, I only speak a little Thai and can barely read it. How does the compulsory military service for Thais hardly speak the language? I can imagine to go to the military service.

    • Hi Luke,

      It really depends. I’ve heard people tell me that they’ve been exempted due to their Thai language skills. I’ve also been told by others their lack of language ability didn’t matter and we taken in anyway. Given that many conscripts aren’t always fully literate in Thai themselves, the ‘lack of language skills’ won’t always cut it. It will come down to the discretion of the sasadee I suspect.

      • Luke says:

        Many thanks for the answer. As I said, I could imagine going for half a year. I have to volunteer to go only for half a year. If I go to Lotto there is the chance to add 2 years. That would be too long. So if I volunteer, I’ll inevitably have to join the army. Can you tell me how foreigner children felt about this time?

  19. Pete says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’m a Thai-US Dual citizen (age 21) living in the US but am registered on the Tambien Baan. Does the “wait until age 30 to report” strategy still apply to me, even though I’m registered on the Tambien Baan already? Or will there be a harsher penalty upon reporting since I was already registered and they likely would be looking for me?

    Also, I’ve read that there is a weight exemption—the figure I saw floating around was a BMI greater than 35—can you speak to the validity of this? Also was wondering if it was purely based on BMI, or if body fat percentage would be taken into account? I’m a pretty heavy dude but a lot of muscle, if I tried to bulk up to 35 BMI while still maintaining good fitness, would I still receive an exemption the same way a 35 BMI mostly fat obese person would?

  20. Penny says:

    Hi.
    I am married but seperated to a Thai. My son is 12. I had him in the Uk but flew back to Thailand when he was 8 weeks old. He had a Thai passport and his birth was registered in Thailand. When he was 6 months old I seperated from his dad and returned to the UK. I do not know if he was put on a house book and dont know how to find out. I dont want to stop him being able to travel to Thailand when he is older for fear of being arrested. How can I check? Am I right in thinking that if he is not registered then he will still be able to visit Thailand between the ages of 20 and 30 if he wants to? Thank you so much for your advice and knowledge regarding this

    • Hi Penny,

      You’ll really need to check with his dad/other relatives to see if he has a house registry in Thailand. One hint may be to look in his Thai passport – does he have an personal ID number in it? If so – given all Thai’s are allocated an ID number when they go on a tabieen baan – then he is likely registered ‘somewhere’.

      The larger issue will be getting him a Thai passport. Unless you have full custody then he will need the signatures of both parents until he is 20 to get one.

      As for travelling to Thailand between ages 20 and 30, he will be fine. He won’t be arrested or anything on landing. The obligation comes up when he is back and normally resident in Thailand during those ages and doesn’t attend the conscription day as per his call up letters. If he is normally resident in the UK or elsewhere, it effectively won’t be an issue.

      Hope this helps.

  21. Alex says:

    Hi,

    First of all, this post is amazing and offers some very thorough info.

    I’m 19 and I have always wanted to become a Thai citizen. Well just a Thai passport really. I live in Australia and go to Thailand for holidays of up to 6 weeks and my mum is Thai.

    I know that you stated that I should be fine from military service and I’m in no means questioning you, but where did you get this information? Just want to cover myself.

    Also if I go to Thailand and enter with my Thai passport, will I be pulled over by immigration officials?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Alexander,

      What is outlined above is a plain reading of the rules, speaking to others, plus the fact that I’ve been through the process myself. Like you I’m an Australian born, and have Thai-Australian dual nationality.

      You’ll be fine coming in and out of Thailand using the Thai passport.

      All the best for your travels!

  22. Pongsathon "Gob" Katanyoo says:

    Hi Chris
    I have a question about a thing i’ve been worried about.
    I am origanally from Thailand but i’ve lived in Denmark since I was 6. Today im 21 and have a address in Thailand, were my family in Thailand receive a letter to the millitary draft with my name on it. What do I have to do to get out of the millitary service? I have a permanet residence permit

    – Gob

    • Hi Gob,

      I think you receive the letter alot earlier than 21, so you may have dodged a bullet. If you do receive one however, best to liase with the embassy to organise a deferral, particularly if you are still in study. The other thing to perhaps do, is move your name to the central registry for the time being.

      http://www.consular.go.th/main/th/faq/7392/80338-6.-ผู้มีชื่ออยู่ในทะเบียนบ้านกลางต้องดำเนินการอย่า.html

      • Pongsathon "Gob" Katanyoo says:

        Hi Chris

        Thansk for the answer.
        Yes my mom told me I receive the letter before turning 21.
        But I was in Thailand last year with my mom to deferral it, because at the time I was studying. They told everything was fine and that was it basically.
        But the situation right now, is that i’m done studying and my mom told me that we will have to get back to Thailand to figured out how I can avoid it. I really want to try a way to avoid the lottery because I can’t speak the language anymore or even read.
        What should I do?
        – I have a permanet residence permit in Denmark will it help me? But I do not have a citizenship or Danish passport.
        What do you recommend me to do? – My mom told me it is best for me to get a Danish citizenship and danish passport…

        – Gob

        • Hi Gob,

          As per the article, if you are unable to attend then there is allowances for this, so the best thing to do is simply remain outside of Thailand (from a residential perspective) till you are 29. Fortunately you no longer need evidence of military deferral papers to keep getting Thai passports, so you can still travel on it.

          Getting Danish citizenship won’t take away the obligation unless it also involves you renouncing your Thai citizenship, but it sounds like something you don’t want to do.

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