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Marriage in Thailand - Registration and the Wedding Ceremony

Thai marriage is distinct as it consists of two parts – a wedding ceremony and Thailand marriage registration. Unknown to many foreigners, it is the marriage registration that gives their marriage legal effect in Thailand. Some foreigners just make it to the first part. That is why they are surprised to know that Thailand has yet to recognize their marital union for failing to register.

Wedding Ceremony

The Thai wedding ceremony is rich with traditions and rituals. Blessings must be sought first from the divine and the parties’ families before the couple can get married. Dowries are given, prayers are said and celebrations are held to mark the beginning of the couples’ union.

Marriage Registration

The registration of the marriage with the “amphur”, “amphoe” or “khet” (local district office) is where the legal aspect of a Thai marriage starts. It is the registration which legalizes the couple’s union.

For foreigners who are aware of this, they opt to register their marriage directly and have the wedding ceremony afterwards. By doing this, they will no longer be doing any act after the wedding ceremony that would further legalize the union.

For couples marrying abroad, marriage registration may be done at the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate, instead of the “amphur”.

In case a Thailand prenuptial agreement has been entered into, the couple must register it at the same time that their marriage is registered. The fact that a prenuptial agreement has been registered together with the marriage must be noted by the officer of the local register.

Knowing the general concept of a Thai marriage is helpful in understanding further the conditions and requirements of marriage. These conditions and requirements are enumerated under the Thai Civil and Commercial Code.

Conditions for Marriage

1. Parties must at least be 17 years old
a. If both parties are minors, they must seek parental consent. Under special circumstances, the court may issue an order allowing persons below 17 years old to marry
2. Parties must not be insane or incompetent to enter into marriage
3. Parties must not be related by blood in the direct ascending or descending line, or be brothers or sisters in full or half blood
4. The adopted parent cannot marry his/her adopted child
5. Parties must be free to marry or without any subsisting marriage For widows and divorcees, a subsequent marriage may only be entered into 310 days after their husband’s death or termination of the divorce proceedings. This special eligibility requirement is dispensed with when:
1. A child is born during such period;
2. A divorced couple remarries;
3. A court order exists allowing the woman to get married; or
4. A certificate from a qualified doctor stating that the woman is not pregnant is obtained

Requirements for Marriage

Marriage may only be celebrated when the following are present: For Thai nationals:

1. House Registration Certificate
2. Proof of death of previous spouse or divorce decree, if applicable 3. National ID Card

For Foreigners:

1. Certificate of Freedom to Marry
2. Translated copy of the certificate of Freedom to Marry
3. Death Certificate of the former spouse, if applicable
4. Divorce Decree of the spouse’s previous marriage, if applicable
5. Copy of passport
6. Copy of arrival card

The conditions and requirements above may be simple. But for marrying couples of different nationalities, it is best to consult a lawyer. Engaging the services of a lawyer will guide the couple as to whether agreements should be made. These agreements include, but are not limited to, entering into a prenuptial agreement. This is because couples in mixed marriages have different conditions for marriage which they may want to observe or incorporate into a special arrangement.

This article was provided by Siam Legal, an international law firm with offices in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Pattaya, Phuket, and Samui. Siam Legal publishes legal guides to registering a marriage in Thailand on its website.

Siam Legal International
Interchange 21 Building, 23rd Floor, 399 Sukhumvit Road
North Klongtoey, Wattana, Bangkok 10110
Tel: 662 259-8100

Thailand Lawyer

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