Since first writing this post, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) is no longer offering the legalisation express service, which used to return your legalised documents in one day.
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.
Don't be disappointed though. You can still get all your documentation completed in one day.
I strongly suggest reading through the latest comments from other readers to get their most recent experiences.
Okay, let's begin.
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 (the trip to the embassy), and costs considerably more.
Quotes range from 2,500-5000+ Baht for the agent's fee. Expect to pay around 4,500 for the actual process itself.
Step 1: Going to the Embassy for Affirmation
You must first go to your embassy to obtain an Affirmation of Freedom to Marry in Thailand.
Your embassy will most likely require you to make an appointment to get your affirmation done. Some do, dome don't.
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 costs 2,860 Thai Baht at the British embassy.
Yes, it's an expensive stamp.
Get the earliest appointment you can, closest to the opening time of the embassy, which should be 8am.
If your embassy has the affirmation form online, print it out from embassy website before you go, and fill in the relevant sections. For the British embassy, you will need to print the form.
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.
Book an early appointment. If your embassy offers a walk-in service, get there at opening time. You certainly won't make the one day deadline we're on if you don't get there as close to opening time as you can and get it done quickly.
Step 2: Affirmation & Passport Translation: English to Thai
If it is still before 9.30am, then you are on schedule to complete the documentation process in a day.
You now need that affirmation translated into Thai. This will cost between 300-600 Baht, depending on where you go.
Due to a new requirement, as of 2017/18, you also need your passport certified by the embassy and then translated into Thai.
That means the photo page and the page above or below it, (depending on which country you are from).
The officer at Chaeng Wattana (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) will stamp your passport translation. You will then show this at the Amphur (district office) at your appointment to marry.
For the translation, you have two choices.
The majority of embassies are in and around Wireless Road, including the UK and US embassies.
If you walk to the top of Wireless Road (back toward Pleon Chit BTS station) and up over the bridge onto the other side of the road, you'll be standing 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 10.30am.
They should be able to do the translations within 1 hour. If they say they can't do it so quickly, let them know you can pay a little extra.
Alternatively, get in a taxi and go straight to Chaeng 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. This route is much quicker.
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. However, if option 1 doesn't work out, this option is a sure thing.
Tell the taxi you want to go to the “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
If you need your documents translating, 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 300 Baht. Don't stress too much over 100 Baht, just get it done with the company offering the fastest service and move on.
Note: staff take lunch at 12pm. You'll have to wait an hour until they come back on duty.
Try to get a ticket and get in the queue before they go to lunch. If you make it through processing before lunch, then great. If not, no worries.
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 and its translation, passport translation and photocopy of your passport to the lady at the desk.
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 don't want to miss your number.
Once called, you will be given a day to collect your authenticated documents and the option to have them posted to you. They no longer offer the one-day express service, so expect the pick-up/delivery date to be within 72 hours.
When you get your documents back, you have completed the process. Keep everything safely together in an envelope. You will need all these documents to 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.
If you've finished early, you could go to a local district office and book an appointment to get married. Leave a three-day window, though.
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)
- The MFA stamped translation of your passport
- 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. A note for British nationals: You no longer need to file your marriage certificate back in the UK. They did away with that requirement a few years ago.
Congratulations! I wish you a long, happy, marriage.
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