Integrity Legal

12th Jul 2009

I was speaking with a Thai-British Dual national recently who only just obtained documentation reflecting his Thai nationality. There are some interesting misconceptions regarding Thai Nationality. One of the first major misconceptions is the idea that one is not Thai until they obtain a Thai Identification Card or a Thai passport. In point of fact, if one is born Thai, then regardless of whether they obtained a Thai ID card, they are Thai from birth.

There is also a mistaken belief that if one is born to a Thai mother outside of Thailand, then the child is not a Thai national. Again, this is not the case. Any person born to a Thai mother is Thai. Another very interesting aspect of Thai law regarding nationality is the idea that any person born of two immigrants in Thailand is Thai. This provision should not be misconstrued, under Thai law an immigrant is one who has what we call Thai permanent residence. Therefore, a child of two Non-Immigrant visa holders (Thai B Visa, Thai O Visa, Thai ED Visa, etc.) will not be born a Thai national. However, in the past what is now known as Thai permanent residence was given out quite frequently to those entering the Kingdom and as a result, the offspring of those immigrants were given Thai nationality from birth.

After reading through the provisions of the Thai nationality act, it is clear that specific legal mechanisms were created for Thai women to renounce their Thai Citizenship. Women could renounce their citizenship if they were taking the citizenship of their foreign husband (other provisions in the act were created to allow Thai citizenship to be reclaimed after renunciation should the Thai woman deem it necessary). However, there are no provisions providing for male renunciation of Thai citizenship. This begs the question: Can a Thai-born man renounce his Thai Citizenship? The answer appears to be: No.  The policy reason behind this bar on renunciation probably stems from the fact that male Thai nationals are subject to conscription for military service. Therefore, the bar on renouncing Thai citizenship seeks to limit the ability of those who may wish to avoid military service, but it creates some confusing scenarios where a Thai man seeks to obtain another nationality. There are certain countries that require renunciation of one’s prior citizenship before naturalization, but where the Thais do not recognize the renunciation it creates a situation in which a person is unable to renounce his citizenship. This then creates a precarious legal predicament because if one is required to renounce previous citizenship, but cannot do so, does this bar them from taking another citizenship?

(None of this post should be considered legal advice. For such advice contact an Attorney. No relationship with an attorney is formed by reading this post.)

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One Response to “Thai Nationality: Can Thai Men Lose Their Thai Citizenship?”

  1. jerry says:

    I have a thai wife and we had a son born in Thailand almost 5 years ago. we have been in the USA for 2 years. My wife will become a citizen in 2 years and our son will also be a US citizen. we do not plan on moving back to Thailand. How does he not become a Thai citizen and therefore not return when he is 18 to the military lottery? He will not speak Thai nor will he know anything about Thailand.I need to get his Thai citizenship revoked. HOW???

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