Thai military service for dual citizens

Chris Larkin

Long time resident of Bangkok. Married, three daughters. Managing director of CLC Asia ( 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. James says:

    Hi Chris,
    I was born in Thailand (currently 17yrs old) and have held Thai citizenship since birth. I also hold a Thai ID card and I’m also on a house register. I have resided in Thailand since birth but I am currently in the process of getting my UK citizenship. As soon as I get my UK passport I will be leaving Thailand to live in the UK. I will most likely be leaving the country right before I turn 18 (June 2021) and I only plan on coming back for holidays (at least until I’m over 30)
    My questions are
    1) Will it be possible for me to be exempt from conscription?
    2) If so how exactly do I do it? Do I move myself to the central house register and not come back to live in Thailand until I’m 30?
    3) And what happens if the military sends a letter to my house while I’m in the UK? (I have not received a letter from them yet)
    4. What happens if I receive a letter before I leave Thailand?
    Thank you!

    • Hi James,

      Thank for your message – you don’t mention if you’ve done any Ror Dor, but I’m assuming you haven’t hence, the question.

      I can’t answer your questions in detail as I don’t know the exact ins and outs of the call up process, but the central house registry is designed for people who are moving overseas for a long period of time, which sounds like will be you. You should chat to your district office on how to exactly do this, but here are a couple of links to regarding the central registry, one from the Thai embassy in Washington DC (here) which talks about it being appropriate for Thai citizens moving overseas for an extended period and another more general one (see here). You’ll see from both articles that certain things like getting a replacement Thai ID card or full passport are restricted once on the central house registry, so before you do so I’d also make sure you get an updated Thai ID as well as a new 10 year passport before you make the switch.

      As our article describes, the eligibility side of things also partly a function of being able to attend the conscription process. Being on the central house registry is evidence of this. Obviously being overseas permanently makes this difficult, and essentially what you are doing is ‘kicking the can down the road’ until you are 30 when you are no longer required for conscription purposes which sounds like what will happen to you.

      • James says:

        Thank you so much Chris, this has been incredibly helpful to me.

        Just a few more questions then.
        1) When would you recommend me to switch to the central house register? Before I leave Thailand or after I get a 10 year passport (Which is only possible to do after I turn 20)
        2) What exactly do I have to do once I’m 30?
        3) Just to confirm, a 1 month visit will be fine right? (as long as I try to avoid April)

        • Hi James,

          Short visits will be fine.

          In terms of moving your registration, you should do this after you have gotten a new passport (and if necessary, update your ID card to push out the expiry date) as you won’t be able to get either done once you are on the central registry. Obviously at some point you are going to need to be back on a proper house register to get a new passport and ID card, but if you are living in the UK full time you might want to just consider using your UK passport for short trips to Thailand if you are unable to renew a full Thai passport while you are away in the UK.

          • James says:

            So Who/Where do I go to when I turn 30 ? And what do I tell them?
            Is the year I turn 30 or after my birthdate ?

            And again, thank you very much for answering my questions!

          • You are in the free and clear from the 1st of January in the year you turn 30, but if you want to be doubly sure, just wait until you are 30.

            In terms of where you go, it is to the Sasadee in the district you are registered in and tell them you are wanting to report so you can obtain the exemption certificate. They should be able to process it at any time, not just during the conscription period.

            To be honest, I’ve never needed the conscription exemption certificate for anything, except for when I needed it for my wife’s Thai citizenship application. Others I’ve spoken to have never got it, and as far as I can tell, unless you are looking to take a government position, having one wont affect your day to day existence.

  2. Rob says:

    Hi Chris do you have any contacts I could email for any information about travelling to Thailand short term (3months) and not getting forced to do Thai military service soon entry and exit

    • Hi Rob,

      I don’t unfortunately. If you are worried about it being in Thailand while under 30, have you considered getting an extension of stay based on ancestry?

      Note also that short term travel at the moment with COVID is precarious at best. A mandatory 14 day quarantine is compulsory for all citizens and non-citizens. Flights are scarce and there is an embassy mandated procedure to get on one of them, regardless of nationality. Going back to NZ will also be an issue.

  3. Johno says:

    Hi Chris,
    I was born in Thailand and moved to UK when I was 2 years old – I have dual nationality but my Thai passport has expired. I’m now 18 and want to join the UK army but they are asking for a Service Liability letter which as I understand it essentially confirms that I am no longer eligible for Thai national service. I have tried the embassy in London but they are unable to assist. Similar to Spencer’s question (30th August 2020) I’m at a loss as to what to do next. I wondered whether you has any further advice for me?

    Many thanks

    • Hi Johno,

      I’m afraid that I don’t really have any particular advice on this given my non-exposure to the issue. Its a shame, but not unsurprising, that the Thai embassy in London is of little help as you’d think they’d have come across this issue. I’d perhaps try emailing the UK defense attache at the British Embassy here in Thailand – perhaps he may have some guidance on the matter.

      The only other two options I can think of are rather extreme: Short of trying your luck with the conscription lottery in Thailand, then the only other option is renunciation of your Thai nationality.

      Sorry I can’t be of more help on this.

  4. Dennis says:

    I’m 26 trying to apply for a Thai passport in LA. I have Thai and American birth certificates. Will I be able to use it to stay in Thailand for like 2-3 months without any issue of military conscription? Would I have to do the house registration for my first passport?

    • Hi Dennis,

      So if you were born outside of Thailand they are generally able to issue you your first Thai passport without needing to be registered on the house registration and ID card. For a short trip like that, you’d generally be fine I would think – though ultimately it is a grey area. Not however though that if you lose your passport while in Thailand, you will need to register yourself on the tabieen baan and get an ID card to get a new Thai passport as you’ll need to be stamped out of Thailand on that passport (its the way the immigration system works). So look after your US issued Thai passport carefully!

  5. Rob cole says:

    And what do you class as a ‘short visit’

    How many months would you say?

    • Hard to say, but the key think I would think is not to have your name on the house registration and maybe not be here during the April conscription period when you are supposed to attend if you can.

      • Robert cole says:

        Is there anything that legally forces someone to have their name on house registration? E.g getting a thai national ID card?

        • All Thai citizens are supposed to have an ID card from the age 15 onwards, so that automatically puts you on the radar. The quirk in the system obviously is that you can’t apply for an ID card unless you are based in Thailand, so someone like you falls outside the processes. Another quirk, based on anecdotal evidence is once you register post 21 years of age, the military officials probably won’t bother you as the process for sending out call up letters automatically happens at 17, so you are in another gap in the system (please don’t take that as advice for being able to avoiding obligations that are necessary before the age of 30).

          Once you are on the house registration system however, there is a way to move your name off a specific address to a ‘central’ DB (ทะเบียนบ้านกลาง) designed for Thai citizens who live overseas.

          • Robert cole says:

            I’ve heard that also being a monk can make you exempt from the military draw? Is this true? And do you know how long you have to be a monk for? Because I would much rather prefer that

          • Hi Robert,

            Please note I’ve updated the article and my reply regarding the monk issue. Please check out the updated version of the article where I outline which types of monks get exempted. Hopefully this clarifies things for you.

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