How to become a Thai citizen is a question I'm regularly asked. People with plans for retirement wonder if they might be awarded citizenship after a number of years living in Thailand, and what the process is to achieve this status.
The reality is that it's not an easy process, and one most expats give up on once they see the requirements.
However, if you're willing to jump through the hoops, Thai citizenship comes with the perks of being able to buy property, own any type of business, and apply for any kind of job. Not to mention fast tracking through the airport in the “Thai” queue.
If you have your heart set on “being Thai”, here's exactly what you need to do to become a naturalized Thai citizen.
Thai Citizenship Requirements
You can apply for Thai Citizenship if you meet the following requirements:
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You must have lived in Thailand as a Permanent Resident for at least five years. Or, if you are a male married to a Thai female national, you don't need PR but do need to have had 3 consecutive visa extensions on the same visa.
- You must have a clean criminal record and no history of trouble with the police.
- You must be employed in Thailand.
- You must be able to speak and write Thai.
- You must be able to sing the Thai National Anthem.
- You must score at least 50 points (out of 100) on the Points Based System.
* Note that some of these things will not be required if you fall into one of the following categories:
- You are the spouse or child of someone who obtained Thai Citizenship through naturalization
- You are the husband of a Thai wife
- You at one time held Thai citizenship
- You have performed a duty that has been of major benefit to Thailand
- If you fall into one these categories, you may be able to obtain Thai Citizenship after three years living on visa extensions, and without having obtained Permanent Residency (PR).
Thai Citizenship Scoring Criteria
In the requirements above I mentioned the points-based system. This is designed to assess how suited you are to receiving Thai Citizenship. The criteria covers age, education, income and even personality, would you believe.
- Age: If you are aged 40-50 years old you will receive the maximum number of points in this category.
- Education: Ph.D. holders will receive the maximum points in this category.
- Monthly income (money talks, as always).
- The type and duration of residence: maximum points will be earned by those who have been a resident for a long time and have a House Registration Book.
- Your level of knowledge of the Thai language.
- Your knowledge of Thailand.
- Personality: The officers handling your application will assess how you act, dress, and talk. (Don't walk in wearing a pair of Speedo trunks and sipping on a Chang Beer:)
What Documents Are Required?
The officers at the Police Headquarters where you apply will provide you with a checklist. This may have some additional documentation I haven't listed here because, as always, these things are subject to change.
- Copies of your passport.
- Certificate of legal age, certified by your embassy and translated into Thai.
- 5 copies of your Residence Certificate.
- 5 copies of your Alien Book.
- 5 copies of the House Registration.
- 5 copies of your Work Permit.
- Evidence of education for the applicant and any children: overseas degrees/certificates must be certified by the relevant authority in the home country.
- Letter confirming employment: should include your position, length of time employed, and salary information.
- 12 pictures (2 x2.5 inches) of you dressed in a suit with necktie. Females must be dressed politely.
- Proof of personal income tax return for the previous 3 years.
- Proof of employment or proof of company ownership.
- Proof of corporate tax return for the previous 3 years.
- If married 5 copies of the marriage certificate (Kor Ror 2 and Kor Ror 3).
- If you married overseas you will need Kor Ror 22 from your local district office. This is a recognition of your foreign marriage.
- If you have children, 1 copy of the child(s) birth certificate. If there has been a name change then you must provide copies of the documents relating to that.
- 2 copies of the personal ID card or Alien book of the married partner.
- Proof of money in the bank by way of a bank certificate: not less than 80,000 Baht.
- Proof of a donation to charity of not less than 5,000 Baht. This should have been done some time ago and not just recently for the sake of the application.
- Copies of the identity cards of two Thai citizens (your guarantors). These persons must not be relatives.
- A letter showing your intent to renounce your foreign citizenship (if this needs to be the case).
Additional documents may be asked for at any time during the application process.
How to Submit Your Thai Citizenship Application
The application is made at a Special Division of the Police Headquarters, either in Bangkok or your home province.
If everything is in order, your application will be accepted and you will have your fingerprints taken. You will then pay the fee.
You will be given an appointment to visit the Ministry of Interior to attend an interview conducted in Thai. If you pass, you will be asked to come back again and sing the National Anthem.
At some point during the application process, immigration officers will come to your home to ascertain that the details you have provided are correct.
You will also have to take the Citizenship Oath at the Police Headquarters, for which you need to appear smartly dressed and holding a candle, flowers and incense (I'm not kidding). You will have to swear allegiance to the King and Thailand.
Once this is all done, you will have to wait for the result of your application from the Ministry of the Interior.
How Long Does it Take to Obtain Thai Citizenship?
The application processing time takes 6-12 months from the date you submit your documentation. This is not set in stone, though, as a number of things pertaining to your application could delay this process.
Can I Have Dual Citizenship?
Yes. You don't need to renounce your home country citizenship and go full Thai. You can become a dual national and hold two passports. That said, before applying, do check with your home country if you are allowed to hold dual citizenship.
How Much Does the Thai Citizenship Application Process Cost?
When you consider the cost of obtaining US or British Citizenship, which runs into thousands of Dollars/Pounds, the cost of Thai Citizenship is very reasonable:
- 10,000 Baht for applicants who are 18+
- 5,000 Baht for the children of applicants (per child)
- 1,000 Baht for the Certificate of Naturalization
Having read this, I'm sure you can now understand why very few expats end up obtaining Thai Citizenship. It's a long route with a number of hoops to jump through.
Some people find aspects of the process to be a tad unnecessary, while others might argue that it's a good barrier to entry and ensures those who apply are serious about their intent to be upstanding citizens.
Have you been through the process to get Thai Citizenship? Or are you thinking of doing it? I'd love to hear your thoughts.