**Post update: Dec 2016: Since first writing this post a number of changes have taken place.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) is no longer offering the legalisation express service for foreign translated documents. They now require 3 days to process your documents.
Additionally, some district offices (amphur) are now putting a maximum limit on the amount of couples they marry in one day; some also require you to make an appointment.
This means that you should now plan for 4-5 days to get this process completed.
I strongly suggest reading through the latest comments from other readers at the end of the post to get the latest updates.
Whether you’re a foreign national marrying a Thai national, or a foreign couple coming to Thailand to get married, you’ll need to jump through three hoops before you can legally register your marriage.
The marriage will only be recognised under the law of your home country if it is valid under Thai law. In other words, simply having a ceremony in Thailand doesn’t mean you are legally married.
It is very possible to complete the process of getting the correct documentation together in one day, and that’s the goal of this post. However, I advise leaving a two-day window aside to complete the process just in case you run into a problem.
Remember, if you are both foreign nationals, you will need to consider this process for two.
Should I Hire an Agent?
This post focusses on completing the process yourself without an agent. Personally, I prefer to handle things myself, having complete control over efficiency and organisation. Also consider that having an agent doesn’t eliminate the first step of the process, and costs considerably more. Quotes range from 2,000-5000+ Baht for the agent’s fee. Expect to pay around 4,500 for the actual process itself.
Okay, let’s get started:
Step 1: Going to the Embassy for Affirmation
To complete this process in one day, as we are intending to do so, you need to be up early. Wake at 7am and aim to be at the embassy as close to 8am as possible.
You must first go to your embassy to obtain an Affirmation of Freedom to Marry in Thailand. You will need your passport, and if you’ve been married before, make sure you have documentation to prove that any previous marriages have been dissolved/terminated (an appropriate death certificate or divorce certificate).
Certificates issued in a third country outside UK and Thailand must be certified by its respective Embassy in Thailand. This certificate, if not in English, must be accompanied by an English translation. Only the original evidence or an official certified copy will be accepted – photocopies will not be accepted under any circumstances.
NOTE: Also take a photocopy of your passport with you when you leave the house. You will need this for Step 3.
You should print the affirmation form out from the embassy website before you go, and fill in the relevant sections. Depending on your native country, you probably won’t need to make an appointment with the embassy, but check prior to planning this process.
IMPORTANT: A change in this process means British nationals DO need to make an appointment to get an affirmation. The consular accepts appointments 08:00 – 11:00 on Monday – Friday.
The cost depends on the embassy, but will be around the 3,500 Baht mark. It’s 2,860 Baht at the British embassy. Yes, it’s an expensive stamp. we provide this service to British nationals only.
**Do not get there 10 minutes before closing. You won’t be seen and you certainly won’t make the one day deadline we’re on. Get there as close to opening time as you can and get it done quickly. This will leave you in good stead to complete steps 2 & 3 in the same day.
Step 2: Translation: English to Thai
If it is still before 9.30am then you are on schedule.
You now need that affirmation translated into Thai. This will cost between 200-500 Baht depending on where you go. Now, here you have two choices. The majority of embassies are in and around Wireless Road. If you walk to the top of Wireless (back toward Pleon Chit BTS station) and up over the bridge onto the other side of the road, you’ll be outside a language school called Language Express. Go past the school and turn right. Along this side road you’ll find a number of reputable translation services.
**Don’t dilly dally, choose a translation centre quickly and make it clear you are on a deadline. You need to be out of here by 10.15am. They should be able to do this within 45 minutes, but if not, let them know you can pay a little extra.
Alternatively, get in a taxi and go straight to Chang Wattana to the Department of Consular Affairs. This might be preferable because the traffic will be dying down just after rush hour. This journey will cost around 150 Baht. Do take the tollway (60 Baht) if the driver suggests it.
You can get a translation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, although it may cost more because the touts will be aware you have no choice but to pay to have your documents authenticated there.
You must reach Chang Wattana by 11.15am, because the same-day express service is only available to applicants who apply before 12 noon (UPDATE: Express service not currently available).
Tell the taxi you want to go to, “Chang Wattana pass-a-bort off-ice!”
Show him the address in Thai: สำนักงานหนังสือเดินทาง ถนนแจ้งวัฒนะ เขตหลักสี่
If you have a smartphone with a decent size screen, show him on this Google Map.
The Legalisation Division
Department of Consular Affairs
123 Chaeng Wattana Road,
Laksi District, Bangkok 10210
Step 3: Thai Consular Affairs Authentication
You are almost there. If you need a translation for any of your documents, get one downstairs as you go in. You will be approached as soon as you enter by touts for the translation services, so do a bit of bartering starting at 200 Baht. But again, don’t dilly dally, get it done with the company offering the fastest service and move on.
Once you have the translation, go to the 3rd floor – up the escalator, turn right and up the stairs. Go to the desk straight ahead of you and give in your affirmation, translation and photocopy of your passport to the lady at the desk. Tell her you want the Express Service. She will give you a form to fill out and sign. Do this at the desk so you don’t lose your place in the queue.
Now proceed through the white door over on the other side of the room; the lady will direct you. Here you will get your documents checked by someone who looks very official. Once you get the okay, you will be asked to take a seat and wait to be called. Keep your eye on the queuing system, you can’t afford to slip up now.
Once called, you will pay 800 Baht for the express service and you will be given a time to collect your authenticated documents. It could be one hour it could be four. It all depends on how busy they are.
Once you get these documents back you have completed the process. Keep everything safely together in the envelope given to you by the embassy back in Step 1. This is what you will present to the Amphur office (government office) of your choice when you go to register your marriage after the ceremony. Of course, you can register your marriage before the ceremony, it’s up to you.
What Marriage Documents to Take to the Registrar
When you go to register your marriage at the government office, you will need to take the following documents:
- Your passport – 2 copies
- Your visa – copy this too
- Your fiancee’s ID card (for Thai nationals only) – 2 copies
- The Letter of Affirmation of Freedom to Marry (the original & the certified translation, plus copies of both)
- Your fiancee’s Tabien Baan (house log) (Thai nationals only) – 2 copies
- You will also need two witnesses. The Amphur can provide these but if you have two volunteers it’s easier.
One Last Thing !
You may also wish to obtain a sworn translation of your marriage certificate into your native language so that it can be used as a legal document back home.
Congratulations! I wish you a long, happy, marriage.