So you just got married, or you are considering getting married and wondering what the benefits will be in terms of your visa situation.
I often get enquiries as to whether marrying a Thai national entitles a person to citizenship, or some sort of special resident status. The blunt answer is no.
If that were the case we'd have every Tom, Dick and Harry from around the globe trying desperately to marry a Thai national to stay in Thailand. Well not quite everybody, most people have got more sense. Ha.
Jokes aside, there is some benefit, and that is the opportunity to stay on a long (er) term basis. You won't be a citizen or permanent resident, but there is a way that you can stay in the country with your wife.
And in this post I will break down this process in an easy-to-follow FAQ format.
What Is a Thai Marriage Visa?
Straight off the bat it's worth noting that there isn't actually a Thai marriage visa, though that's often what it's called.
It is actually an extension based on marriage. This is similar to the retirement visa, which is actually an extension based on retirement.
But people use the terms interchangeably. it matters not.
The general route to the marriage visa status is to acquire a Non Immigrant O Visa (based on marriage to a Thai national) from an embassy or consulate in your home country.
This can then be extended in Thailand so that you can stay on a long term basis: thus it is known as an extension based on marriage.
How to Apply for a Non Immigrant O Visa
As noted above, the most common route is to apply for a Non Immigrant O Visa at the Thai embassy or consulate in your home country.
This visa (single entry) lasts 90 days and is activated as soon as you enter the country.
You will need to do your marriage extension before the 90 days expires.
You can get a multiple entry Non Immigrant O Visa, which is valid for a year and enables you to stay for 90 days at a time.
The multiple entry visa is advantageous because if you don't end up doing the marriage extension straight away, or not at all, you can still leave and re-enter until the 1-year duration of the visa expires.
And if you time your exits and returns efficiently, you can stay for up to 15 months. You can also stay beyond 90 days (once) by extending for a further 60 days at an immigration office for a cost of 1,900 Baht.
Of course, even with a multiple entry Non Immigrant O visa, if you extend your visa using the financial requirements route (discussed below), this will allow you to stay for 1-year and require you to do 90-day reporting, rather than having to leave the country.
What Documents Do I Need to Apply for the ‘O' Visa?
To apply for the Non Immigrant O Visa in your home country, you will need the following:
- A copy of your marriage certificate
- A copy of the Thai passport/ Thai ID of spouse
- Bank statements covering 3 months and showing a monthly income of more than £1,500
*These are UK requirements taken from the London Thai Embassy website. Other countries may vary.
What Documents Do I Need for the Marriage Extension in Thailand?
- Copy of your passport
- Copy of your Thai marriage certificate
- Copy of your Thai wife’s ID card
- Copy of your Thai wife’s Tabian Baan (House Papers)
- Copy of a map to your residence in Thailand
- Copy of photos showing you and your wife together
- Copy of your Thai bank book showing 400,000 THB in your bank account; or
- Copy of your income showing 40,000 THB per month in income into your Thai bank
Note: If you are going down the income route, you will need a letter of certification from a Thai bank supported by bank statements showing your income/pension being transferred to the bank account every month for at least 12 months.
Exceptions are allowed for those who are doing the extension for the first time, as you won't have had time to accumulate that banking history yet.
I Can't Meet the Financial Requirements, Help!
Don't worry. The good news is that you can still benefit from being married and not do the marriage extension.
For many people putting 400,000 THB in a Thai bank account or transferring their monthly income into a Thai bank account is not practical.
In this case, the best route is to apply for the Non-Immigrant O multiple entry visa in your home country.
As mentioned previously, you will be issued this based on your marriage to a Thai national.
Once you have this visa you don't need to do the marriage extension based on the financial requirements – which would enable you to stay in the country without having to leave, albeit you would still have to do your 90-day reporting.
You will be required to leave every 90 days, but also as mentioned previously you can extend for 60 days – just once during the one year validity of your visa – which means that one of your stays will be five months long.
During other periods, you will be able to stay for 90 days straight, and then you will have to leave the country and re-enter to reactivate a further three months on your visa.
Okay, so it will require a bit of coming and going during the year, but if you plan a trip to a neighboring country it can actually be an incentive to do a bit of traveling and sightseeing.
The benefit of having the multiple entry visa is that should the financial requirements route become viable for you at any time during the year, you can extend and get the marriage extension.
And this is another way to stay for a longer period of time: Because you could hold the multiple entry visa for almost a year, and then before it is up and you are required to leave the country, you can go to immigration and do your marriage extension.
This would then allow you to stay for another year, albeit that you will have to do the 90-day reporting.
What Is 90-Day Reporting?
Once the marriage extension has been issued, you must report your current address to a Thai immigration office every 90 days. You can do this in the following ways:
- In person at a Thai immigration office.
- By mail.
- Through an agent who has the Power of Attorney to report your status.
Most people just go to their local immigration office. Plan a day for it and get there as early as possible to avoid lengthy queues.
What If I Am Not in Thailand to Report?
Then reporting is not required. Day 1 of the 90-day reporting window will begin when you re-enter Thailand, so you must report 90 days (or before) after this date.
Can I Leave Thailand Freely?
You can, but to keep your marriage visa extension valid you will need to obtain a re-entry permit before you leave. If you don't, your visa will be invalidated.
The fees are 1,000 Baht for a single re-entry, and 3,800 Baht for a multiple re-entry permit.
I've written a comprehensive guide on the re-entry permit. Click here to read that.
How Long Does The Marriage Extension Take?
Usually around 3-4 weeks.
Can I Work on This Visa?
A Non-Immigrant O Visa does not allow you to work in Thailand, but it does allow you to apply for a work permit.
What Happens If I Get Divorced?
In the case of divorce, the marriage visa becomes invalid and you will be required to leave Thailand.
You may be allowed to stay in Thailand until the visa expires, but you will need to report to immigration and explain the situation.
So there you have it, the Thai marriage visa in a nutshell. Got a question? Leave it below.