Official Marriage In Thailand – The Ins And Outs, My Experience July 2019
Having known my Thai woman for quite a few years but never having tied the knot officially (or for that matter unofficially – I’m referring here to the “real” Thai wedding – you know the drill, dressing up, money, gold, overeating etc.), we decided to do so. At the Amphur office in Korat.
This calls for the preparation of multiple documents – a favourite Thai thing to do, translated into Thai of course. If you go to the Australian website : www.dfat.gov.au you can find all the info you need for an Aussie get married to a Thai woman, in Thailand. As a side note: This marriage is recognised by Australia, so be clear about what implications that may have in the future – before you do it. Make sure that you have established with your intended just how that will work should she wish to take advantage of that in ways you don’t want!
You will find that you need a “no impediment to marriage” document (this is prepared by the embassy) as well as the divorce document from your previous marriage, a copy of your intended’s ID card, a copy of her divorce document, and of course your passport. You will need to visit the Australia Embassy in Bangkok. The application form for the embassy visit you can download from the website above – I believe you can complete this online. I downloaded it and completed it by hand. The application form requires all your relevant details, and of your intended – this is of course not necessary in your mind as the “no impediment” document is about you and you only, but well, that’s what’s required by the Thai government, you can’t not provide it.
What you have to do is make an appointment at the embassy – do this in the website, not too hard. You then front up to the Australia embassy. This is situated in Wireless Road Bangkok. Go to the Lumpini MRT station and walk from there. The building itself has an unfriendly air about it, and the security arrangements are commensurate with what we have come to expect these days. Peter Dutton must love this place! (Aussies will understand).
At your appointment you will be attended to by friendly staff and if your various docs are in order, on payment of less than 2,000 baht you’ll get your “no impediment” document then and there – it’s written in English. No need for your intended to be present. At the end of the appointment the lady gave me an additional document, solid Thai writing both sides. She said there had been a change in the rules from April, and maybe some people in government offices “in the provinces” may not be familiar with changes as set out in this doc. More on this below.
Next step is to take your documents to a government office for authentication. For authentication to happen your docs must be translated into Thai. Therefore you need to use a translation service for 3 documents to be translated into Thai. These are: 1, your “no impediment” doc, 2, your divorce doc, and 3, your passport. Yes, they see the need to translate your passport! I used a translation service located in Wireless Road, north of the embassy, not far to walk. I used the second shop offering the service. They charged me 2,000 baht for this, and offered to take them to the government office on my behalf – although happy with their service I declined this and did it myself. A hand-written note on their envelope gave a warning of possible problems – it said that in case of a translation “mistake” detected at the office, then just bring the docs back and they will fix for free.
The government office is not far away – it’s in the Klong Toei MRT station, one stop away from Lumpini. In the station you will see a big sign on a wall – Immigration one way, Legalization office the other way – go there. It has a modern ticket system and it all works pretty smoothly. I was promised return of my documents in 2 days. I fronted up at 9 AM two days later to find that there were several “mistakes” in my docs (what a surprise!) and was told that if I got them corrected and returned them to the office before 1 PM on that same day I could pick them up on that same day. So, back to the translation service, they fixed ’em straight away, back to the legalization office by 12 noon, and was told they’d be ready for pickup by 3:30 PM. Woohoo! This is what happened, cost was small at less than 400 baht, and so by 4 PM I was a happy chappy having a coffee at the coffee shop just outside the office.
A side note on the “mistakes”. The translation guy does this job all day every day, probably would have a better knowledge of English than any of the government office employees, he’s seen and translated these particular documents many times, but saw fit to warn me about “mistakes”. He doesn’t charge for fixes, so there’s no obvious advantage for him to make mistakes on purpose. So I concluded that finding “mistakes” is merely a way of making sure the farang knows who is in charge here, and that when I say jump, then jump! Ha ha, no problem, what the government guy doesn’t know is that I’m on to him and I’m happy to indulge his little game as long as I get a result! Or maybe he does know that I know and does it anyway, ‘cos he can! Ha ha. I conclude that it’s an advantage for the government employee to show his boss how he is so good at his job that he finds mistakes all the time – one has to justify one’s existence after all. One way or another, I don’t condemn him, he’s gotta do what works for him. I learned that long ago, you never know in this culture. E.g. A few years back a teacher friend once told me that she had done 6 masters degrees, only one of them for herself, the rest she sold. I thought, what a bad person, totally without ethics. Later I realised that no, she’s not a bad person, she did what she had to do in the system to pay the way for her two daughters through university.
Next? Well, the stage is set for your trip to the Amphur office! So, up to Korat, 250 km north-east, the girlfriend takes a day off work – no, not just any day, gotta be an auspicious day, and see what happens. It’s possible for all that is necessary in the office to take place easily within one hour, but that’s not how it went . . .
The Amphur office is a place where people go to pay their rates, get their ID cards updated, house registration books updated etc. And as it turns out, where they get married – in the same space! Gotta larf, no ceremony here! All you need is 2 people, documents, and two witnesses. So we front up at 9 AM and are seen to fairly quickly at one of several desks in the office. Docs checked, all in order, sent up to the big boss’s desk at the front. The boss is an old woman and looking grumpy, 2 months before retirement apparently, and she’s in pain as she’s clutching a small hot water bottle to her right shoulder.
She takes a look at our docs, and no, this “no impediment” doc does not give all the info required – my financial details are missing! I twig and hand over the extra doc given to me at the Australia embassy, and sure enough, she hasn’t heard of these latest regulations! It’s the main office in Korat which is the third biggest city in the country! So what does she do? She just waves us away saying that she can’t help us! Two months to retirement, there’s no way she’s gonna bone up on that rubbish! Bloody ‘ell! Fortunately, the first woman refers us higher up, where we are ushered into the office of a youngish guy who is apparently the bigger boss. He’s not heard of it either, but makes a few phone calls and figures out what he needs to do . . . But hey, by now it’s lunchtime! So wait for another hour, he signs and stamps the documents, and by 2:00, 5 hours after we walked in, we’re out the door, newly printed marriage certificates (fancy, and in colour) – one each – in hand. Result!!
So there you go, not everything goes smoothly here in Thailand, some hurdles, lots of paperwork, perseverance, and . . . it happens!
The author of this article can be contacted at : [email protected]