The title of this post has a double meaning for me. Firstly I have been married before to someone other than Gaun and secondly I have previously married Gaun on Valentine’s Day 2014! It’s a good thing I like my weddings because I have had a few of them 🙂
The wedding celebration I enjoyed last year was the unofficial one that is basically a statement of commitment for the local community, family and friends. It was great fun and you can read about it HERE. This is as far as many Thais ever get to marrying. There is no legal basis to the marriage and either party can walk out although the distribution of any assets must be an interesting negotiation. The one with the biggest machete wins maybe.
Today on the auspicious day of Loi Krathong, which you can read about HERE, Gaun and I completed a ceremony to officially marry under Thai law, which is also recognised internationally. I thought I would combine sharing the day’s events with details of the process required to formally marry a Thai national in case the situation ever comes your way.
Firstly you have to get clearance from Thai Consular Affairs in Bangkok to marry and if doing this yourself please visit my extensive post HERE to see what’s involved and the pitfalls. I stuffed up in the home straight for this process and didn’t get the final documents so we recently flew back to Bangkok to have another go. My post on our brief holiday in Bangkok can be found HERE.
Just to make sure the the process is understood in case you haven’t read my previous post the following is taken from the Australian Embassy website in Bangkok:
It is a Thai Government requirement that steps 1- 3 must be completed in Bangkok
Step 1: Statutory declaration and Death/Divorce Certificates
All Australians marrying in Thailand must complete a pro-forma Statutory Declaration. It is a Thai government requirement that this be completed at the Australian Embassy in Bangkok (it cannot be done in Australia, elsewhere in Thailand, another Embassy, or online). Under the Australian Consular Fees Act a fee of AUD $20 per document.***.
If previously married, an original divorce or death certificate must be provided to the Embassy and also to the Thai authorities to prove you are no longer married. The Embassy in Bangkok can certify your original documents. A fee for certification is payable for this service AUD $30 per document***.
***Fees: The above fees are payable in Thai Baht cash. The fee is linked to the AUD/THB exchange rate and is re-aligned each month. For current THB fee information please contact the Consular Services Section by phone or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 2: Translation
You must have your documents translated into Thai at a private translation agency. There are many in Bangkok who can do this in one or two working days. Fees vary. The Australian Embassy cannot recommend any particular translation agency.
Step 3: Certification by Thai Department of Consular Affairs
After the documents have been translated they must be authenticated by Thai authorities. This takes 2 working days and a fee is payable. For information on this service you should contact:
Department of Consular Affairs
123 Moo 3, Changwattana Road
Kwang Toong Son Hong, Khet Laksi
Tel. (02) 981 7171 Office hours: 08:30 – 15:30
Step 4: Marriage at the Amphur Office
When you have completed the above requirements, you should visit any District Office (Amphur) to formally register your marriage. You may wish to take an interpreter to facilitate communication with the Amphur officials. You may need to make an appointment before proceeding to the Amphur. If you are marrying at a resort location, your celebrant or wedding planner will be able to advise you on the location of the nearest Amphur office.
This time rather than struggle through the time consuming bureaucracy myself I employed a translation service to do the hard yards for me. I included their details in my Bangkok post but I have extracted them here to bring everything into the one place:
Statutory declaration and divorce papers all stamped at a cost of 2,000 THB (at the Australian embassy) we headed back to Silom Road and International Translations, a place that had been recommended by a friend, who will deal with Thai bureaucracy for me rather than battle it out as I tried to do last time. This is a very small operation situated adjacent to the Sala Daeng BTS exit on the left if you have your back to the river.
The office is on the second floor and will shortly be accessed through a restaurant, which they are building at the moment, facing onto Silom Road. You currently walk through the building site.
These people will do the translation of the now stamped statutory declaration and divorce papers at 600 THB a page (1,800 THB) and lodge them with Thai Consular Affairs, which is located close to Don Mueang airport, collect them when done and post the approved document to my home. The total cost including all Thai government fees was 4,450 THB. I will report back with an update on their final performance and the requirements to complete the marriage process at the local amphur (council) office in Si Bun Ruang.
Updated 23 November 2015:
I can’t give International Translations a 100% recommendation. We hadn’t received the paperwork after two weeks. When I rang them they had held onto the forms because they thought we still owed them 200 THB, which we had already paid. They were most apologetic and we received the paperwork three days later but a simple phone call would have solved the problem a lot earlier. This is most likely a once off but in my case things didn’t go as smoothly as they might.
Once you have the clearance documents to marry from Consular Affairs then you will need to visit your local Amphur (Council) Office to have the marriage formally registered. You will need to take along the following with copies:
- The original clearance forms stamped by Consular Affairs;
- Your divorce papers/death certificate of previous partner if relevant (I wasn’t asked for this but best to be sure);
- Your passport (copy all relevant pages – best to copy anything with a Thai related Immigration stamp plus your photo page of course);
- Your Thai partner’s ID card;
- The blue Thai house book and farang yellow house book (if you have one);
- If your Thai partner has been officially married before then their Thai divorce papers will be required; and
- Two Thai witness (make sure they bring their ID cards). The Amphur office will dig a couple up for you if you are Thai friend-challenged!
I think that’s it. Best to make two copies of everything although I got a few copies back. It is easier to do this than to mess around with the local photocopy centre that’s usually somewhere close to most government buildings in the case the Amphur wants additional copies.
I decided that we’d get dressed up more formally for the occasion. I am old fashioned and believe it is appropriate to present yourself well as you are representing your country and foreigners in general. Although you may not have a high regard for bureaucracy here you are dealing with people who have standing in the community and should be shown respect outwardly anyway. You may well find that it is they that don’t have a lot of respect for you and after seeing some of the farang they have to deal with I don’t blame them. Anyway it’s my wedding day so why not be a bit formal?
We arrived to an empty Amphur (called Khet in non-Isaan Thai) office. Maybe everyone was out getting ready for the evening celebration of Loi Krathong.
As always (in my experience) I found Thai bureaucracy to chug along pretty smoothly as long as you have done your homework and have all the required documentation. In our case the process took an hour and was completely painless. Gaun had decided not to change her name, which saves work in getting a new ID card and house book. Allow more time if your partner (or you!) want to change names formally.
The cost for this whole process? 20 THB or A$0.80! Not too draining on the family budget.
We aren’t having a big celebration like last year but there will be a family and local friends Thai buffet at our place on Sunday. If you’re in the area………
In true Gaun style with the wedding over she was into the garden in her good clothes cutting down banana shoots and leaves to make the krathong for the three of us (including Peng her daughter) to float at the lake in Nong Bua Lamphu tonight. A topic for a later “Isaan – the Small Stories” post (number 10).
A little insider’s secret, which has special meaning considering the topic of this post. If you are single and no longer want to be when you take your krathong and launch it make a prayer to Buddha or whoever for a partner. If your krathong bumps up with and travels with a krathong floated by another single person of the opposite sex (or not depending on your preferences maybe!) then you will find a partner in the coming year. If you can find a partner of the quality of my Gaun then you’ll be doing pretty well. Good luck.
Thanks for reading.