Integrity Legal

14th March 2010

An often asked question among foreign nationals in Thailand is: Can we get married in Thailand? More often, the question is posed with some variation. For example: Can two Americans get married in Thailand? Or, can two Canadians get married in Thailand? Finally, a common question: my fiancee is British (or any other nationality) and I’m an American, can we get married in Thailand? All of these questions can be answered relatively quickly: Yes, provided all parties meet the legal requirements.

Thailand marriage registration can be very quick when compared to certain common law jurisdictions. In many States in the USA, there is a statutorily prescribed waiting period between marriage license obtainment and marriage solemnization. In Thailand, there is no such delay. In many ways, the Thai civil administration system is much more streamlined when compared to the common law system, particularly that of the United States. In the US, the separation of powers and federalism create a system in which different sovereigns have different methods of registering a marriage. In Thailand, the system is uniform and marriage records are kept at the local Amphur Office (or Civil Registrar’s Office). The Amphur keeps copies of Marriage Registration information as well as household registration information known as a Tabien Baan.

Obtaining a household registration for a foreigner (known as a Foreign Tabien Baan or a Yellow Tabien Baan) can be difficult, but marriage registration for foreign nationals really depends upon the country of nationality. Thai officials require that foreigners prove their marital status by obtaining documentation from their Embassy or Consulate that is accredited to Thailand. For those from common law jurisdictions it can be relatively easy to obtain such documentation, but other civil law jurisdictions can cause difficulties. It may be best for those interested in registering a marriage in Thailand to check with their Embassy or Consulate to ascertain how long it would take to obtain certain necessary documentation (Most notably, an affidavit of an ability to marry).

Although it is not something that some people wish to discuss at the time of marriage, the issue of divorce in Thailand is important. Thai Courts may or may not take jurisdiction over a divorce involving two foreign individuals married in Thailand and therefore jurisdiction for a later divorce proceeding may depend upon other factors. Finally, in any conversation about marriage registration it should be noted that a Thai Prenuptial Agreement will only be enforceable if it is registered at the same time as the marriage.


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