Getting Married (Officially) in Thailand

Marriages in Thailand commonly have two parts: the official legal part and the ceremony. That is, completing the legalities of getting married can and often is done at a separate time than the ceremony (weeks or months apart, either before or after). The ceremony is often a religious traditional activity. Some people have the ceremony without ever completing the legal part, while some forgo the ceremony and just sign the papers. Here I describe what I did to complete the legal part of my marriage with Wan. There are three steps (in my case): obtain a Statutory Declaration from the Australian Embassy confirming I am allowed to get married (i.e. not currently married); get the Stat Dec legalised at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and register the marriage at a District Office.

Statutory Declaration at Australian Embassy

A Statutory Declaration is needed from the Australian Embassy, where the person intending to get married must confirm they are legal to do so. Go to the Australian Embassy with your passport, the names and addresses of two people in Australia, your intended wife's name and details (including her ID number) and cash (in Baht). If you have already been married then you may need other evidence of divorce/death. The embassy has the necessary single page form: fill it when you arrive. Take it to the counter, where it will be checked and signed and pay the 620 Baht notarization fee. Takes about 15 minutes in the embassy. The form is in English. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs require the form to be translated into Thai. There are several shops on Soi Suan Plu just around the corner from the Australian Embassy towards Immigration (Suan Plu is also a good place to park and eat). DON'T go to these translation shops. I did, and that was my first mistake. Read on to find out why. I got a translation done there, costing 500 Baht and taking under an hour. Cost: Statutory Declaration at Embassy: 620 Baht Translation to Thai: 500 Baht Time: 90 minutes

Document Legalization at Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Once you have the Stat Dec (and translated copy) they need to be legalised by the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). The MFA is located on Changwatthana Road, Laksi, in the Government Complex (near Immigration and many other government departments). Check the precise location on Google Maps. If driving (along Changwatthana Rd, westbound) then it is the 2nd main building after Changwatthana 7 (the road that leads to the big Immigration building). There is a free car park at the back and by the side - the entrance is just before the MFA building (if you go past the MFA building then you'll need to do a couple of u-turns and try again, like I did the first time). Entering the building (either from the car park or main road) go up the escalators to 2nd floor, and then directly in front is an information desk. To the left are some stairs. Go up them to the 3rd floor and you are at the legalization department. There is a desk (with an entrance sign) and to the left are 6 window booths, numbered 1 to 6 (there are another 4 window booths, 7 to 10, further around). Go to the desk and they give a form (in English) to fill in with name, passport, address and list of documents you want legalised. Fill it in and take it back to the same desk. They asked if I want same day service (which I understand is 800 Baht and you may need to wait around most of the day). No - I'm happy with the 3 day service. They give a printed ticket number which you wait to be called/displayed. I sat down and looked around and then noticed my number being displayed. Surely it can't be my turn - there are 70 odd people sitting down. It said window 8 and then they called my number of the speaker, so it was me. Gave them the forms and the 400 Baht. They entered some details and returned the forms with the 400 Baht and told me to take it to window 1. This was a bit confusing - window 1 (as with all windows) is calling/displaying numbers. But just go up there and hand over the documents and money. She said she will call my name for a receipt shortly. About 2 minutes later she called my name and I collected the receipt. In total, 15 minutes inside MFA (plus 1hr driving between work and MFA). I returned the next day to collect the form, asking at the desk where to go to collect and they directed me straight to the nearby window (no queue number or waiting needed). When the officer found my forms she explained that there was a mistake in the translation - a date had the wrong month in Thai. She said I'd have to go back to the translation agency and get it fixed. But that was more than 1 hour drive away! This is why NOT to get the translation near the embassy or far away from MFA. I recommend getting the translation completed at the shop on the ground floor of the MFA building. They charged 500 Baht for less than 1 hour service. If there is any mistake you can immediately go to them and they will fix it (presumably for free and within 10 minutes). After getting the newly translated copy I returned to the same counter in the legalization department. Since it was a new translation (rather than the old form being fixed) they said it would beready in the afternoon. I opted to return the next day to collect. Luckily there was no additional charge. I collected the legalized documents the next day within about 10 minutes. Cost: Document Legalization: 400 Baht Extra Translation: 500 Baht Time: 15 minutes to submit and another 15 minutes to collect if translation is correct; for me an extra 2 hours of waiting and 3rd trip to MFA because of the mistake.

Registering the Marriage at District Office

Now all the documents are ready, you get married at any District registration office (that register births, deaths, marriages, name changes etc). I chose the Bangkadi District Office on Tiwanont Road in Pathumthani as it is 5 minutes from work. You need: The last two items may differ depending on the District Office you attend. In our case a translator was very useful (Gai, a friend from SIIT). Even though Wan could translate for me, having another person is useful. Wan and Gai could discuss the more complex things and then explain to me (like do you want a pre-nup, will surnames be changed). I had two additional witnesses - the translator can be one of them if needed. I suspect we could have simply asked someone else who was at the office waiting to be a witness. But my witness (Yim) also acted as photographer! The procedure wasn't too hard. Lot of filling in forms and waiting while the officers entered and checked the information. There was some discussion about whether Wan should change her name, but we had already decided beforehand what to do (not change). After about 90 minutes we had the two signed certificates and a few photos celebrating our marriage. Cost: 0 Time: 2 hours


Overall, apart from the mistake with the translation, the process for getting legally married in Thailand was quite easy. We did it over several days, but it could be possibly done over 2 days. Total cost should be 1520 Baht.