There have been some new posts made on this topic that you should read if going through this process:
- The details relating to the document translation service we ended up using in Bangkok can be found in this post HERE
- Our successful formal marriage at the local amphur office can be found HERE
- A reader’s challenging story of achieving a Bangkok marriage can be found HERE
The post below details the paperwork and process needed for an Australian to marry a Thai national based on the legal requirements of Thailand. I can guarantee that this is the best post on the subject because unlike the others, which mostly seem to paraphrase each other, this post is based on actual experience and includes forms, photos, logistical details and warnings to a level that no one else has provided before. I presume the Thai part of the process are the same for any nationality so if not an Australian this post will still have some relevance.
This is obviously a very specialised subject and maybe of little interest to the bulk of people who follow this blog. However if you are an Aussie wanting to formally marry your Thai partner in law and not “just” the community wedding I describe HERE, then this is the exact process you will need to go through.
You will need:
- Your passport;
- Divorce documents if married previously;
- A copy of your passport – photo page;
- A Statutory Declaration – provided by Australian embassy – copy in this post;
- An Application for Legalization – provided by the Department of Consular Affairs – copy in this post;
- A Thai script address for the Consular Affairs to show the taxi driver – provided in this post;
- Money for processing – 1,470 THB*, if you have divorce documents to the Aussie embassy, 900 THB for translation and 1,000 THB to lodge documents at Thai Consular Affairs; and taxi fares;
- It will take 2 days from lodging until you can collect the approved documents. We lodged Tuesday and could collect Thursday. Even if all goes well you will be in Bangkok for two nights. You may need more time – read on.
* The Australian embassy fees are based on the exchange rate so will change.
Remember what I describe here is only to get the correct documents that you then present at the District Office or Amphur to have the marriage registered. That is a separate process again.
The very basic information provided by the Aussie embassy can be found HERE. PLEASE NOTE: What they, and most other sites, don’t tell you is that when you come to lodge your documents with the Thai Department of Consular Affairs you will need to include a copy of your passport. Get one ready now because it saves finding the photocopy machine in the Department’s building when you get there. Another document is also required that they don’t tell you about but I will talk you through that when we get to that bit.
STEP 1 – The Australian Embassy
Firstly the whole process is done in Bangkok and only Bangkok and involves two separate bureaucracies the Australian Embassy and the Department of Consular Affairs, an offshoot of the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
My first recommendation is that you arrange to be in Bangkok for a full working week. You could be lucky and get away with three days but don’t count on it. I suggest you arrive on Monday and book a return ticket once you have the approved documents in your hand. We didn’t and got into trouble as you will read later.
We flew into Don Muang airport, which most domestic airlines will do.
The taxi fare from the airport to the Australian Embassy, address under map, will cost you around 220 THB. The taxi driver will ask you for toll fees separately, which in our case was 50 THB and 60 THB. Other taxis may take a different route so the toll cost may be less but not more.
Once in South Sathorn Road hopefully the taxi gets it right and you end up in front of some gates that look like this:
Entry is through a Chubb security area on the left. You will be scanned and bags will be taken from you and handled separately. Once inside you are back home and it looks like this:
You walk straight ahead down a long path towards the Chancellery building, which is at the end on the right.
You will be scanned again on the ground floor by, in our case, a rather forbidding female security guard. I nearly confessed even though I hadn’t done anything. Up two flights of steps and then turn to the right to the passport and document section. It is signposted so you can’t get lost. The waiting area is small with three armored glass staff cubicles. The documents are on the right as you enter the room. Take a number.
If you have been married before as I have then you will have your Divorce documents with you. The embassy needs to stamp these plus you need to fill out a statutory declaration, which for some reason the embassy doesn’t include on its website. I can help you there and you will find it here Stat Dec. Even if you don’t use my copy you will at least know what information they expect you to provide.
When your number comes up give the consular staff the documents and your passport. They will do their thing, which in our case only took 10 minutes, and then relieve you of 1,470 THB to witness the statutory declaration, stamp it and and two divorce papers. The easy part of the process is over and you are free to rejoin the rest of Thailand.
Step 2 – Consular Affairs.
In the sort of Canberra bureaucratic silliness that I know so well having been one for 17 years, the embassy provides you with the address for the Thai consular Affairs as:
Legalisation Division, Department of Consular Affairs
3rd floor, 123 Moo 3, Changwattana Road
Kwang Toong Son Hong, Khet Laksi
…….which is all good but give this to the average Bangkok taxi driver or my wife Gaun, who can’t read English text, and you are in trouble. Not helped by me asking for the address in Chaengwattana Road as we would pronounce it from the spelling. Oh no you silly farang. Blank stares from taxi driver. The Thai pronunciation is something along the lines Gang Wattana. Now why can’t the embassy full of Thai/English speakers put an address on their website with the Thai script for the Consular address for people to show taxi drivers???? Don’t get me started.
Luckily for us a very helpful lady Chubb security guard who saw we were in trouble came out to the road and gave the second taxi driver, the first one had given up, the address to Immigration, which is in the same complex as Consular Affairs, written in Thai script. Now why Chubb Security has this and the embassy doesn’t is one of those weird little annoyances. I have provided the Thai script address here.
Now please remember that the address above is for IMMIGRATION not where you want to go. Immigration is right at the back of a massive combined Thai government complex on Chaengwattana Road – see below. Don’t let the taxi drop you there because I know from experience that it is a 1 km walk to where you want to be.
The Department of Consular Affairs is at the front of this complex directly on Chaeng Wattana Road. THAT’S the building you are after. Taxi fare around the 220 THB mark again plus 70 THB I think for tolls.
Step 4 – Translation and warnings
You now need to get your English forms, the divorce document if applicable and the statutory declaration, translated into Thai. If your Thai is a bit rusty like mine then you need a translator. Once you enter the front door you will most likely be approached by a translation service representative. If not look around, they are everywhere.
They will take your documents and translate them while you hang around or have lunch in the department’s cafeteria – 35/45 THB for a main course with rice. The cost for the translation is 900 THB, BUT don’t pay all of it yet – negotiate to give them say 400/500 now and the rest when you get approved documents – explained later. Get the guy’s card. There is an official sign on the second level that recommends this if they complain.
We paid the full amount, another mistake on my part, and it cost us later. Also be warned they may try and get you to sign up for a 6.00 am group approval process the next day, which supposedly gets you approval in the same day rather than the normal 2 days. I would stick with the “normal” but it depends how adventurous you are feeling. They will also tell you that this will save a lot of money as the standard fees are high. They aren’t – 1,000 THB.
They may also offer to get you married, providing you can provide a willing partner 🙂 for 6,000 THB. That is they combine the Consular Affairs approval and the Amphur process in the one production line. Up to you but you will be paying top Bhat. Normal fees are 1,000 THB here and I can’t think that the Amphur office charge much, maybe another 1,000 THB.
If you ignored my advice to get a copy of your passport done before you got to this step then the photocopy machine is on the second floor from memory.
In our case once the documents had been translated the guy took us up two flights of stairs to the 3rd floor and the processing office. I don’t know if this is part of the standard service or a one-off. This is the view you get.
Step 5 – Another form
When you look at the enquiry counter shown above turn around and you will see a counter where you can fill out forms. It is behind the lines of chairs for people waiting. At the end of it you will find a tray and in it a form called called Application for Legalization. I have provided a copy here Consular doc. Fill out the sections I have marked with a cross and you have completed your paperwork.
Step 6 – Lodging your Forms
Take your documents to the enquiry counter I have shown you above. The staff there speak some English and will check to make sure you have everything required and give you a ticket number. Go and sit down and wait for your number to come up at one of the counters to the left of enquiries.
When called the staff will check your forms and you will need to pay the 1,000 THB fee now. Go and sit down again. Eventually someone will have a go at calling some part of your name and you go up and collect your official receipt, which looks like this:
Step 7 – Collection you hope!
If you are trying to minimise your time in Bangkok then come back on the day specified. Go to the enquiry counter with your receipt and they will give you a number. Once called you can collect your approved documents from one of the counters on the far left – different to the lodgement counters and go away to organise a nice marriage OR there will be a problem with the translation as there was with ours and it will need to be corrected and you will need to re-lodge 🙁
I believe the Thai staff are very particular and even a minor fault will require correction. This is where you get payoff if you have arranged to only give the full amount to the translation service when the documents are approved. Find a representative or phone the guy you got the card from and get them to have the corrections processed. It means waiting around and then re-lodging so take a book or have another lunch.
The updated forms may well take the department another day to process – that’s what I was told. So if you arrived Monday you are now looking Thursday at the earliest. I presume if more faults are found then the same roundabout happens which takes you into Friday. That’s why I advise you to make sure you have the time to work this through. We didn’t and are still trying to get our documents processed and are finding it difficult from Chiang Mai. Don’t get yourself into the same situation.
Once your documents are approved you are only a short taxi ride from Don Muang airport if you have already arranged to get a flight out.
I wish someone had written an explanation like I have before I went to Bangkok. It would have saved me a lot of frustration and possibly money.
Good luck and thanks for reading.