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Family Members and Marriage for Expats in Thailand

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: April 2017

Family Members

Ideally, when you immigrate to a new country, you are able to bring the rest of your family with you. This means that, while getting to grips with the unfamiliar land you have moved to, you can give each other invaluable emotional support. Of course, this may not be possible for legal, financial or logistical reasons. If you are already in the country, however,  it will be easier to arrange family members’ visas, work, school and other matters in advance.

All non-nationals must fulfil certain requirements to be eligible to reside in the country. This applies whether you and your family are all first-time immigrants into Thailand or you are a returning Thai. It is easier for your spouse and your or their children to immigrate into Thailand, and more difficult for other family members. These people will be able to apply using a standard non-immigrant visa.

There may be financial, legal or other reasons why your family members are not able to immigrate at the same time as you. For example, if you are a Thai citizen wanting to bring your non-national spouse and family into Thailand to live.

In such cases, you may need to spend some time residing and working in Thailand, perhaps remitting money to your home country to help support your family there. During the wait, you can take the time to familiarise yourself with your new country of residence. Once you have taken care of matters such as finding suitable family accommodation and looking into schools, childcare and the like, the rest of your family should find that their move into Thailand runs more smoothly.

In the meantime, family members will of course want to visit you if possible. There is a special type of non-immigrant O visa for those visiting expat relatives in Thailand. A separate one exists for visiting a Thai spouse or family members. In some cases, they will also need to provide documentary evidence that they have enough money to support themselves.

Marriage

With beautiful scenery to act as a backdrop, such as perfect beaches with verdant islands or ancient jungle monuments, Thailand is an attractive place to tie the knot. As there are no residence requirements, getting married in Thailand is possible for residents and non-residents alike. However, the procedure can be complicated, and you may need a lawyer to help you with some of the details.

In Thailand, the minimum age at which you can get married is 17 for both sexes. In addition to the standard prohibitions against those who are related, including by adoption, there are a couple of specific rules. A widow must, in most cases, wait for a minimum of 310 days after the death of her husband before she may marry. Additionally, a divorcée must provide a certificate confirming that she is not pregnant. More information is available on the Thai Law Forum.

Civil partnership and marriage for same-sex couples are not legally recognised in Thailand, though homosexuality is legal and widely tolerated. Further progress being made in this area was halted by the imposition of martial law in 2014.

The bureaucracy you will have to go through is not too heavy, though there are some local quirks. For example, you must first visit your country’s embassy in Bangkok to establish that you are eligible to marry.

Documents you will need to take include, as a minimum, are as follows:

  • passports and arrival cards
  • birth certificates
  • marriageability certificate

In all cases, if you have been married before, you must produce documentation that proves that you are fit to marry: divorce decrees and death certificates, as appropriate. All documents not produced in Thai will need certified translations.

After your embassy, documents will need to be inspected at the Consular Affairs Department’s Legalisation Division. Then you need to take them to the district marriage registrar, who, assuming all is in order, will issue your marriage certificate. The wedding ceremony can then legally take place.

In addition to the legal requirements, local customs should be taken into account. Men will normally be asked by their bride-to-be’s family to arrange for a dowry. This can be of 100,000 baht – even 200,000 or more in some cases, but note that the money is normally returned to the married couple to help them start their lives together.

 

 

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