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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187 Responses

  1. David Reed says:

    Hi Chris
    My 16-year-old daughter has applied to join the British army. They have told her that she has to get a public liability letter from the Thai Embassy, in London. If this is correct could you point me in the right direction ie who do I contact. I am the Father (British ) her mum is Thai My Daughter does have a Thai passport and UK passport She was born in England and registered as British. We all live in the UK London. I have contacted the Thai Embassy but always told to ring other numbers in the Embassy, and after 2 hours nothing sorted.

    • Hi David,

      Thanks for your message. I’ve gotten this question a few times of late, and unfortunately, I don’t have any ‘good’ answer for you. The issue as I understand it is the British army requires anyone who is a dual citizen to show evidence that they are not liable for military service in Thailand. This is normally an issue for males, who are from the age of 20, unless they have been exempted. Given your child is female, there is no requirement she serve in the Thai forces.

      Now, while this may be so, you are also dealing with two bureaucracies, in the UK and Thailand. I don’t have any clear idea what type of document the British army require to satisfy them that Thai females aren’t required to serve in the Thai armed forces. So you are going to have to ask the recruitment people on that point.

      The second issue is once they tell you what they want, how do you get it out of the Thai military? This is something that I have not seen any offical guidance for from the Thai side, so you are going to have to ask the military attache at the Thai embassy what they can provide (and I do note your difficulty in getting in touch with them).

      One idea which may or may not work is to ask the UK military if an English translation of Thailand’s conscription legislation (which I have linked in this article) will satisfy them? It makes clear that only males are required. It may not work, but I’m just trying to think out of the box here.

      The other obvious thing, and unfortunately is in the realms of diplomacy and international relations, is to concurrently raise the issue with your MP and the UK Military Attache to the British embassy in Bangkok, essentially calling for them to formally liase with the Thai military, so that young Thai/UK dual citizens who wish to join the British army have clearer guidance and procedures so as to get these clearances required by the British army.

      I’m really sorry I can’t be of more help on this, but hopefully in your daughters case, given she isn’t liable for service in Thailand, the route maybe somewhat easier than for males in the same boat.

      All the best, Chris

  2. tristan says:

    Hello Chris, I have a question I hope you can answer. I’m a 22 year old male who has been living in the U.S. ever since I was a kid and am a green card holder. My Thai passport has been expired for some time, and I have not had a chance to renew it yet after my 18th. My first question is, is it possible to renew my passport in the U.S without reporting for the Thai conscription? If so, and if I decided to visit my family in Thailand, will there be any consequences when I go through airport security in Thailand? Does visiting my family for under a month constitute living there, and thus I have to self-report? Thank you for taking your time to read this!

    • Hi Tristian,

      Thanks for your message. So you should be able to renew your passport in the US in normal circumstances, but given you are over 15 now there is an expectation that you should have a Thai ID card when you apply.

      You say you’ve been in the US since you were a child, so I’m guessing that you probably don’t have a valid Thai ID. Given this, I’d check with the consulate/embassy whether they will be able to give you a full passport without a Thai ID card. It may be the case that they only give you a temporary passport, good for a one way trip to Thailand. At which point you will need to head to your district office and get a new ID card, and apply for a full passport in Thailand.

      You also don’t mention if your family back in Thailand has received any call up notices, so its hard to tell where your name is in the process.

      Going through immigration won’t trigger any thing conscription wise, unless (and this is VERY VERY unlikely) that a court has ordered a warrant be put out on you. Looking at it another way, you’d probably know if you had a warrant out for you for skipping the draft.

      So all in all I’d say it would be okay to go back for a short time, but just realising that MAY have to get a Thai ID card in the process and deal with the district office, which may in turn put you on the list to be notified by call up (assuming you haven’t received any notification yet).

      This may also just be a good catalyst for you just to naturalise as a US citizen at this point and use the US passport to travel to Thailand until you turn 30.

    • Hui says:

      If you do not have a Thai ID and you did not renew your passport before its expiration, then you will only be issued a “certificate of identity” which is only valid for a one way trip. (Based on experience)

  3. James Depotter says:

    Hello Chris, Hope you can help me with some advice. I am 19 years old and have a Belgian nationality. As my mother is Thai, I want to apply for dual nationality. I also plan to join the Belgian Armed Forces in September 2021. If later on, I want to become resident in Thailand, do I have to do military services in Thailand? If yes, what are my options. If no, is there any procedure to follow. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi James,

      Thanks for your message. The thing to remember is that technically, given you are born to a Thai citizen parent, you are already a Thai citizen, so all you are doing is you are applying for the birth certificate which is one of the key documents you need for being put on the house registration, getting an ID card and a passport.

      In terms of military obligations, if you are overseas – as per the article above – essentially the answer is ‘no’. You only come on the radar if you decide to register on the house book and get an ID card and be living in Thailand between ages 20 and 30.

      So long as Belgian army doesn’t have an issue with you holding dual nationality, you could apply for a birth certificate at least from the Thai embassy in Brussels, and at the same time you should be able to apply for your first Thai passport which should be valid for 10 years. This will be fine for travel to/from Thailand, but for your second passport you’ll need to be registered on a house registration. Given your age, you won’t need to do this until you are 30 at least, by which point you’ll be exempt from military service. Please be aware though that if you do decide to live in Thailand before 30, then obviously you will need to report for the lottery.

  4. Anders says:

    Hello Chris. Thank you so much for this insightful article. I am a 31 year old Danish citizen with a Thai parent and currently in the process of applying for Thai citizenship. About the automatic exemption from conscription/military service once past 30 years of age, would you be able to provide a link to the specific regulations/rules where this is stated? It would be great to be able to review the exact “chapter and verse” in original Thai form. Thank you so much!

    • Hi Anders,

      The legislation is HERE. Section 39 is the relevant section which says that above age of 30 you will be assigned to be a type 2 reserve soldier which for all intents and purposes is an inactive list which all thai males find themselves on.

      I hope this clears things up.

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