Getting married in Thailand

Marriage in Thailand
Updated 2022-05-06 14:02

The kingdom of Thailand is a stunningly beautiful wedding destination. The crystal clear beaches, lush green wildernesses, and captivating places make it one of the best places to tie the knot. If you are planning to get married in Thailand legally, it is important to know the legal matters regardless of who you are marrying – a local or a fellow expat.

Whether you want to run away and ride off into the sunset or gather your loved ones on a beach in paradise, Thailand can offer you the ceremony of your dreams. You can even exchange vows in a hot air balloon or underwater. Thanks, to Thailand's rich culture and beautiful scenery, the possibilities are endless.

However, it is important to understand the legalities and processes involved, depending on whether you are marrying a Thai national or another foreigner. Securing legal assistance from a local attorney is arguably the easiest way of ensuring that your marriage is legally recognized in Thailand and overseas.

How to register a marriage in Thailand?

Whether you are two foreigners getting married in Thailand or a foreigner marrying a Thai national, get ready to deal with quite a bit of paperwork — and several embassy visits.

Here's a quick guide for registering your marriage in Thailand:

Step one: find out if you can get legally married in Thailand

Naturally, the first thing to do is to make sure that you can legally register your marriage in Thailand. Here are the official requirements:

  • Both you and your partner need to be over 17 years of age — or of marriageable age according to the laws in your home country. However, the court may allow you to get married even if you are below the marriageable age if there are valid reasons for it.
  • Both partners shouldn't be in blood relations in the direct ascendant or descendant line or be brothers or sisters of full or half-blood.
  • You and your partner should not have the same adoptive parents.
  • Both parties should not be legally married to other people at the time of the registration of the marriage. Women who are divorced or widowed will need to wait 310 days before the new marriage takes place — but there are several exceptions to this case (divorced couple getting re-married, a court order allowing the woman to get married, etc.).
  • You also need to have stayed in Thailand for at least three days prior to marriage registration.

Step two: collect all the required documents

The next thing you will need to do is gather all the documents needed to register the marriage.

Here's what these are.

As a foreigner, you will need to prepare the following:

  • A copy of your passport and your arrival stamp
  • An affidavit from your embassy confirming your current marital status. This is sometimes referred to as an Affirmation of Freedom to Marry. All affidavits must be translated to Thai and be certified by an approved Foreign Ministry translator.

A local will need to prepare the following:

  • Identification Cards of both parties
  • The House Registration Certificates of both parties
  • Person filing has previously registered marriage - If divorced, proof of divorce must be shown; in the event of spousal death (the applicant is a widow or widower) proof must accompany the application
  • Accompaniment by witnesses

Step three: register the marriage

In Thailand, both parties must accept the other in matrimony before a registrar, who will record the marriage. You will need to sign the register and sign your consent on a marriage certificate, as well as give a verbal declaration in the presence of at least two witnesses.

If one of you is a Thai national, an application to register your marriage can then be filed at any district office in the country. This will cost THB400 and can be done by the couple or by the registrar if organized in advance.

If the woman is Thai and changes her surname, she will be required to file for a new identification card within 60 days.

If you are both foreigners, you will need to present yourself in person with your passports at your home embassy in Thailand. You will be required to complete declarations attesting that you are single and free to marry in accordance with Thai law, and a consular officer will then register the marriage. You will need to have the completed declaration translated into Thai, and you will then need to take all the required documents, translations and passport copies to the legalization division of the Department of Consular Affairs for it to be signed. This usually takes two days.

Once this has been done, the documents and translations are then ready to be submitted to the District Registrar, who will register the marriage and issue the marriage certificate in Thai.

It is advisable to allow time for the paperwork to be processed in Bangkok to avoid any stress, so this is a great excuse to explore the country further.

Marrying a Thai national in Thailand

If you are a foreigner who wishes to marry a Thai national, you may quickly become aware of the Thai dowry system, commonly known as sin sod, which is deeply rooted in the culture. You will need to negotiate this with your bride's parents, but lots of dowry prices are set very high and range from THB100,000 to THB1 million. However, the good news is that it is usually a symbolic gesture, and many parents choose to return this to the married couple after the wedding as a way of helping them to start their new life together.

It is important to note that marriage between a foreigner and a Thai national does not automatically entitle the foreigner to an unlimited stay in Thailand. At best, it simply renders the foreigner eligible to apply for a marriage visa. It is also important to be aware that marriage to a Thai national does not entitle a foreigner to personally own land in Thailand. If a foreigner buys a piece of land with their spouse, they are required by law to sign a declaration stating that they do not have any rights over the property and that all funds used in the transaction belong to the Thai spouse.

Celebrating your marriage in Thailand

Now that you are done with all the red tape, here comes the fun part. Thailand is a popular wedding destination — and there are lots of reasons why. Thailand is home to breathtaking landscapes: from beaches to mountains and historical cities and temples. As a popular spot for destination weddings, Thailand also offers a variety of ways to hold your ceremony. You can get married on the beach, in the mountains, at a resort — and more.

While you can definitely dive into the fun process of organizing the wedding yourself, using a wedding planner or agent will make things substantially easier — especially if you don't speak Thai.

If you want to hold a Buddhist ceremony, it's best to refer to someone with local knowledge to help you out. Upon consulting a wedding planner, you will be offered several wedding package options, which differ according to the region of the country you will be getting married in. In most cases, a typical Thai wedding package offered by most venues includes a blessing by Buddhist monks, a merit-making ceremony, the rod nam sang or water ceremony, sai monkhon or white string ceremony as well as flowers and garlands.

Alternatively, you can also arrange for a Christian, Hindu and Muslim weddings in Thailand.

Good to know:

A merit-making ceremony is the offering of flowers, food, money, etc., to the monks.

Rod Nam Sang is the part of a wedding ceremony that goes something like this: the bride and groom's hands are tied with a flower chain, and the guests take turns pouring water on their hands from a special shell taken from the sea. As they pour the water, they give the newlyweds blessings and advice for the new stage of their life.

Sai Monkhon is considered to be the most heartfelt part of the Thai wedding ceremony. It involves the bride and groom kneeling next to each other with their arms resting on a small padded table and their hands held in a prayer position. Then, the eldest member of the family will put on a traditional headpiece called “Mong Koi”, previously blessed by monks. This signifies an eternal bond between the newlyweds.

Wedding etiquette in Thailand

The majority of Thailand's population are Buddhists — which means there are certain do's and don'ts to observe during your wedding ceremony.

Buddhist monks are one of the highest tiers of Thai society and should be treated with the utmost respect. If you want to make a donation, keep in mind that you can't give the money directly to them — instead, you should place your financial donation into an envelope and place it on a tray. You shouldn't sit cross-legged in front of monks — instead, kneel with your feet behind you. During the wedding ceremony, the guests would sit kneeling on the floor while the monks sit on chairs or a raised platform so that their heads are at a higher level compared to the guests'.

If you are having a traditional Thai wedding, don't hesitate to ask for help — Thai people will happily show you the correct way to do things. With that, it's always a good idea to do some research prior to the wedding so that you know what to expect and to show your respect to local traditions.

Getting married in Thailand: FAQ

Do I need a visa to get married in Thailand?

This depends entirely on your country of citizenship and related visa requirements. Citizens of most Western countries can generally come to Thailand without a visa provided their stay is less than 30 days. In this case, all you need is a return flight ticket. If you do need a visa to come to Thailand, you can apply for one at your local Thai embassy or consulate.

Find your local Thai embassy or consulate.

There are no residency requirements for getting married in Thailand.

How long will the marriage registration paperwork take?

In most cases, all the paperwork related to marriage registration should take between four to five working days. If you use a wedding planner or agent, things may go even faster. Make sure to take into account public holidays in Thailand.

Is it possible to get married first and get the paperwork done later?

Your marriage will only be legal when you officially register it at the Amphur Office in Thailand. However, there is nothing wrong with having a ceremony first and making it official later. Note that a religious wedding ceremony by itself doesn't make the marriage legal.

If my partner is Thai, do I need to pay a dowry?

Sinsod, or dowry, is an offering (usually money) you give to the bride's parents to show them that you can provide for her. This is an important part of Thai wedding culture — however, whether or not you will need to follow this tradition depends on your new Thai family. In any case, it's a good idea to be prepared.

How much does it cost to get married in Thailand?

The actual costs of registering a marriage in Thailand are very low — under 4 THB ($0.12 USD). However, getting the paperwork ready will incur additional expenses.

If you use an agent to get all your paperwork done, expect to pay anywhere from 15,000 to 18,000 THB ($460 to $550 USD) — this doesn't include the documents that you will need to procure from your home country or embassy. You will also need to consider translation and legalization costs.

When it comes to the cost of your wedding celebration, here it's entirely up to you. There are lots of ways to organize a wedding in Thailand: from throwing a party at an upscale beach-front resort to having some quiet time with family and friends over a homemade feast. You will find that lots of hotels and other venues across Thailand offer comprehensive wedding packages that include a wedding planner, catering and more.

Useful links:

Thai Embassy - Marriage

Thai Embassy in the USA

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.