Readers' Submissions

Thai Passport

  • Written by Anonymous
  • November 30th, 2010
  • 8 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok


My Thai wife qualifies for permanent residency in my country. However we were facing some problems.

I met my wife overseas (not in Thailand), we got married and left for my country (which is the member of EU) shortly after our wedding. I officially legalized my marriage in my country, obtained relevant document and my wife was issued a temporary residency permit. After two years in my country she has qualified for permanent residency.

When she applied our Interior Ministry officials told me that my wife has to apply for a new Thai passport because she stated in our Marriage Legalization document that she wants to keep my surname. I was naive enough to think that it would be a piece of cake and we went to The Royal Thai Embassy.

Consular matters here are handled by a quite attractive, young girl who speaks English very well. But unfortunately that is where her skills end. She is very ignorant and arrogant. <This is so typical of Thai government departments which for the most part are an absolute nightmare to deal withStick> Thai people working in my country are shit scared of her and try to avoid any dealings with her. When I explained the matter to her she told me that my wife has to fly to Thailand and sort out her passport issue over there because she has no experience in the matter! I told her that as far as I was concerned the passport issue is in the competency of every relevant foreign mission abroad. She started to be quite cheeky and told me, “Do you understand? I told you that I have no experience and I do not know what to do! By the way her boss is not any better so it would be a real waste of time to complain, especially after I witnessed some high ranking Royal Thai Embassy official take leftovers from the dinner home with her while she was attending a function!

The cheeky girl told me that my Marriage Legalization document from my country has to be translated to Thai and certified by our Foreign Ministry. I realized that this would be no joke. The first step is that my wife has to fly to Thailand go to her local Amphur, approach her local Somchai in Sakhon Nakon province, apply for a Thai Identification card, go back to Bangkok and apply for a Thai Passport! Because I suspected that some more nasty surprise could come from Somchai I asked my wife to get his number and we phoned him.

Somchai told her that she has to have also a copy of my passport, copy of my ID and affidavit statement that I agree my wife will bear my surname! This stupid document has to also be in Thai. I went back to The Royal Thai Embassy and asked the ignorant girl if she is aware of this requirement (just in case). She was clueless as I expected. Anyway, I approached a gentleman who translated the required documents (he is the only one in the country who can do that), had them certified them and brought back to The Thai Embassy as they also have to stamp it (and request quite a heavy fee for it). My government authorities did super legalization of these documents while I was waiting within about 15 minutes The Royal Thai Embassy took the money, documents and told me that they will contact me regarding the collection. They did indeed only to tell me that there is a law change in Thailand and all documents from abroad have to be translated into English! Because I know that it is pointless to argue with Thais in authority, I obliged again. This time I had to certify the document with three different government authorities. Again they did the procedure while I was waiting. It took me about 2 hours as I had to run around our capital and the offices are in different parts. After I finished I submitted the document to The Royal Thai Embassy. Again they kept them for about 2 days. Must be a real effort for them to put a stamp on them (and another heavy fee)!

Pointless to say that thanks to all that nonsense and waste of time air ticket prices went up and we were on the losing side. As anyone familiar with Thailand certainly figures out it was not the end of this saga. When my wife got to Sakhon Nakon province and visited local Amphur Somchai, he told her that she must go back to Bangkok and obtain a stamp and certificate stating that the stamps from The Royal Thai Embassy are not fake! She did it. They issued her impressive looking certificate all in Thai. I would like to mention that Somchai in the Amphur does not understand one word of English so he did not have any idea what the English translation of our documents was about. My wife did have the first translation of the document in Thai. Without it she would have been forced to make arrangements and get the translation done in Bangkok so the Thai version is really important. However, the law was apparently really changed and whoever submits any foreign document to The Royal Thai authorities has to have it translated into English (keep your Thai translation on hand or get it done in Bangkok before you go to visit relevant Somchai somewhere in deep Isaan.) Also this strange document that I agree my wife will bear my surname is apparently very important for Thai authorities because they asked for it also in Bangkok. It means if you send your wife to Thailand for the very same reason and you are not with her and she does not have this document you have another hassle!

Anyway my wife obtained a temporary Thai ID which is a yellow form and based on this she obtained a Thai passport with my surname. She knows the condition so she was waiting from 5 AM till midday in the queue. There were not so many people but Thai officials were busy reading newspapers and believe it or not, eating hamburgers! (not som tam or for God's sake, pla ra!) She has to hand over tea money to the Somchai who was apparently the most important in the hierarchy otherwise she would be forced to come back on Monday again. (She went there on a Friday). When my wife came back from Thailand I went to our Ministry Of Interior. Although they were officially not open to the public that day. the pleasant young ladies processed the documents and told me that my wife and her daughter will obtain a Permanent Resident Permit for the EU within a few weeks and before Christmas – with no tea money necessary here! To make our lives more interesting, Sakhon Nakon province Somchai had his last word. My wife bought a piece of land over there some time ago. Because she had to leave the country all the paperwork was signed by her family. She wanted to sort it out but Somchai told her that I have to come and counter-sign the papers. My wife asked him why, if I as the foreigner, cannot own any land in Thailand! Somchai told her that I have to sign the agreement that I am aware of it! Has anyone ever heard about this crap? <Yep, this I am aware ofStick> However Somchai was apparently dead serious.

What to say? I checked various Thailand related forums and find out that the same problems were experienced by some forum contributors in Washington DC! Exactly the same incompetence on the Thai mission in the capital of the USA! Some Thai guy replied him that the issue of new Thai passports and surname change is fully in the competency of The Royal Thai Embassy as he went through this procedure in London and for some reason there are competent staff at that Thai Embassy. My opinion is that any Royal Thai Embassy should issue temporary ID yellow form documents which is sufficient for a Thai Passport application and should proceed with it. Maybe some topic for the guys from Sunbelt Asia? But what is your option if those bloody idiots simply tell you that they are not going to do anything because they do not know what to do? You have to spend a fortune because your wife has to fly to Thailand. Where do you want to complain? One certainly does not have any illusions about any foreign missions abroad and the work they do but any civilized country's embassy manages to handle this simple issue. I spent many years in Africa and the sheer incompetency of Thai officials, be it in Thailand or abroad, is comparable to the incompetency I experienced over there. I must say I met very capable Thai guys at the Thai mission in Pretoria, South Africa who issued a Thai passport for the daughter of my wife born in South Africa together with a Certificate Of Citizenship and pointed out that we must do it ASAP because their contract would expire soon and God knows who would be their replacement! I did not understand at that time what they are talking about. Now I know! These exceptional guys did the whole procedure while I was waiting and my wife‘s daughter obtained her passport within 3 months. I was not married at that time so there was no need to organize any other passport. I was under the false impression that this kind of approach would be common at any Thai mission abroad. I know by now that if you experience some real competency from Thais they must work for some foreign employer or it happens simply just by the accident.


Stickman's thoughts:

I absolutely HATE any dealings with the Thai authorities or officialdom. From Immigration to the police to the tax department to any ministry, they are the most ignorant, arrogant, user-unfriendly, unhelpful, self-serving and oftentimes corrupt pieces of shit imaginable. So often what should a most simple task becomes a mission and dealing with them really is so bad that it can actually put you off living in Thailand. I am not exaggerating! They really are that bad! To make it worse, I speak good, polite Thai, dress well and am always well presented when I (have to) go and see them and they still treat me like a total jerk!