Thailand and online marriage abroad
Are marriages online done in the United States according to US law recognized as a valid marriage in Thailand?
In short- YES! It can be. But there are some conditions that must be met. Thailand’s marriage laws and those conditions are written below.
PART ONE - the Thai law for marriage
The term “online marriage” or web conference marriage is not written in the law yet. The concept of online marriage only started in 2019 and the law has not been updated since then.
Marriage in Thailand is governed by the Civil and Commercial Code book 5, sections 1435 to 1535. A marriage (section 1457) can take place only if the man and woman (who are at least 18 years old) agree to take each other as husband and wife, and such agreement must be declared publicly before the Registrar in order to have it recorded by the Registrar. Marriage in Thailand is created and completed on formal registration and inclusion in the government’s marriage register.
- Section 1457: Marriage under this code (civil and commercial code) shall be effected only on registration being made.
- Section 1458: A marriage can take place only if the man and woman agree to take each other as husband and wife, and such agreement must be declared publicly before the Registrar in order to have it recorded by the Registrar
PART TWO - Is online marriage legal in Thailand?
For Marriage celebrated abroad (outside Thailand) with a Thai national, under conditions of marriage
- Section 1459. A marriage celebrated outside Thailand between two Thai people or between a Thai national and a foreigner may be effected according to the form prescribed by the Thai law or by the law of the country where the marriage took place. If the couple desires to have the marriage registered according to Thai law, the registration shall begin with the Thai Diplomatic or Consular Officer.
It simply says that your marriage celebrated outside Thailand shall be valid according to the form prescribed by Thai law or by the law where the marriage was celebrated. If you wish to register your marriage celebrated abroad according to Thai law, then the registration shall begin with the Thai Diplomatic or Consular Officer.
If being legally married abroad, there is no need to register your marriage again in Thailand, but a need to report and update the status of the Thai national. A visit to the Thai Embassy in your location will be required to have your marriage certificates authenticated or certified. (See Part Four for guidelines)
If your marriage will not be recognized under Thai law as it does not meet all the Thai conditions, the legal concern lies more on the property, child custody and inheritance in Thailand.
The basic rule is that a marriage entered into abroad will be recognized in Thailand provided that all legal conditions prescribed by Thai law or where the marriage took place. For guidance on LEGAL CONDITIONS to register marriage in Thailand, see PART THREE. A marriage contracted abroad which is valid under the law of the country where it took place, is recognized in Thailand as a valid marriage. This means that online marriage is considered valid and legal in the US, which is the place where it took place and accepted by US law, should be recognized in Thailand as a valid marriage.
PART THREE - conditions for valid marriage in Thailand
Condition to register marriage in Thailand
According to the legal conditions to register marriage in Thailand, the following conditions must be met in order to get the marriage recognized in Thailand. Make sure you meet all these conditions:
Section 1448. A marriage (in Thailand under Thai marriage and Family Laws) can take place only when the man and woman have completed their seventeenth year of age. But the Court may, in case of having appropriate reason, allow them to marry before attaining such age.
Section 1449. A marriage cannot take place if either the man or the woman is an insane person or adjudged incompetent.
Section 1450. A marriage cannot take place if the man and woman are blood relations in the direct ascendant or descendant line, or brother or sister of full or half blood. The said relationship shall be in accordance with blood relation without regard to its legitimacy.
Section 1451. An adopter cannot marry the adopted.
Section 1452. A marriage cannot take place if the man or woman is already the spouse of another person.
Section 1453. In case of the woman whose husband died or whose marriage has become terminated, the marriage can only take place if not less than three hundred and ten days have elapsed since the termination of her previous marriage; unless
- a child has been born during such period;
- the divorced couple remarry;
- there is a certificate issued by a qualified doctor who is a lawful physical practitioner in medicine showing that the woman is not pregnant;
- there is an order of the Court allowing the woman to marry.
Section 1454. In case of marriage of a minor, the provisions of Section 1436 shall apply mutatis mutandis (more or less).
Section 1455. Giving consent to the marriage may be made:
- by affixing signature of the person giving consent in the Register at the time of registration of the marriage;
- by a consent document stating the names of the parties to the marriage and signed by the person giving consent;
- by verbal declaration before at least two witnesses in case of necessity. The consent having been given cannot be revoked.
Section 1456. In case where there is no person having the power to give consent under Section 1454, or if the person refuses to give consent or is in the position of being unable to give consent, or the minor cannot, in such circumstances, ask for the consent, the minor may file an application with the Court for giving consent to the marriage.
Section 1457. Marriage under this Code shall be effected only on registration being made.
Section 1458. A marriage can take place only if the man and woman agree to take each other as husband and wife, and such agreement must be declared publicly before the Registrar in order to have it recorded by the Registrar.
Section 1459. A marriage in foreign country between Thai people or between a Thai national and a foreigner may be effected according to the form prescribed by Thai law or by the law of the country where it takes place.
If the spouses desire to have the marriage registered according to Thai law, the registration shall be effected by a Thai Diplomatic or Consular Officer.
Section 1460. In case where there exists special circumstances that make the marriage registration by the Registrar unable because either or both of the man and woman were in imminent danger of death or in the state of armed conflict or war, if a declaration of intention to marry has been made by the man and woman before a person of sui juris (A person managing his/her own affairs, like making a contract.) living there, who would have noted down as an evidence such intention, and if the registration of marriage between the man and woman was affected therefore not later than ninety days as from the date of first possible opportunity to apply for registration of marriage with production of the evidence of the intention in order to have the date and place of declaration of intention to marry and the special circumstances recorded by the Registrar in the Marriage Register, the day on which declaration of intention to marry has been made to the said person shall be deemed as the date of registration of marriage.
The provisions of this Section shall not apply to the marriage that is void if it should take place on the date of declaration of intention.
If your marriage celebrated abroad meets all those conditions stated above, your marriage should be registered as legal and valid in Thailand.
PART FOUR - how to register your online marriage in Thailand
To register your marriage in Thailand, the first step is to have your marriage certificate be authenticated/legalized by the Royal Thai Embassy where the marriage took place.
Authentication of US Documents
Thailand is not a member of the Hague Apostille Convention and any official document to be sued for Thailand will receive a Certificate from the Secretary of State. Your US marriage certificate must be certified by the United States Department of State and must be legalized by the Royal Thai Consulate in Los Angeles, if you wish to register your marriage under Thailand law.
The Royal Thai Consulate-General, Los Angeles will only authenticate official US documents which are issued or have already been certified by the United States Department of State. (Information on document certification by the Department of State can be found at http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth)
- Required Documentation
- Legalization application (1 copy) (Download)
- Original Document that requires authentication, which has already been certified by the U.S. Department of State
- Thai National ID Card or valid Thai passport, or in the case of a non-Thai citizen, state-issued ID/driver’s license or valid passport
- Return Self-Address Envelope USPS Express Mail.
$15 per official seal. Payable only with a money order or cashier’s check to the Royal Thai Consulate-General, Los Angeles. Cannot be paid with cash, personal check, or credit/debit card.
- By mail:
- Have your filled legalization petition form.
- Valid original Thai National ID Card/ Thai passport (for Thai nationals) or Valid Original foreign passport or state-issued ID/driver’s license/ (for other nationals) or Notarized a copy by Notary Public in case do not wish to send to the Embassy the original.
- Notarized your signature by a notary public (Download) or using the Notary Public Form provided by the Royal Thai Consulate-General, Los Angeles
- Return Self-Address Envelope USPS Express Mail.
- Mail-in all of the documents in No. 2 along with notarized by-mail required documents, and the necessary fees in a stamped envelope with your return address clearly written on it to the Royal Thai Consulate-General, Los Angeles
- The Royal Thai Consulate-General, Los Angeles will take 5-7 business days counting from the day it receives your mailed documents. The amount of time it takes for you to receive your official documents back depends on stamp costs and the type of mail service used. The Royal Thai Consulate-General, Los Angeles is not responsible for any mail that is lost in transit.
PART FIVE - Procedure to register your marriage in Thailand
Generally, Marriage registration in Thailand can take two forms. It could be a foreigner getting married to a Thai or a foreigner getting married to another foreigner. Thai marriage registration is not overly complicated however the paperwork needed might feel too much for some. When the marriage is registered in Thailand, many if not all the documents have to be translated into Thai. Most expats and visitors to Thailand normally hire a law firm to do all the paperwork for them and complete the process faster and easier.
Once in Thailand, the Thai national needs to visit the district office in her/his hometown to update the status and obtain Kor Ror 22. The said document shall serve as proof of your legal marriage registration.
For Thai National registration in Thailand
- An application for registration for legal marriage in Thailand can be filed at any District Office or Minor District Office nationwide regardless of the birthplace of the couple.
- If the marriage registration is filed at the District Office located in the female’s birthplace (where the name is registered on the House Registration Certificate), the title used with the forename and the last name of the female will be changed by the District Officer.
- If both parties are unable to file for marriage at any District Office or Minor District Office, the couple can submit a request to the Registrar to register their marriage at any location under the supervision of that District Office.
- Marriage shall be effected only on registration being made. After registration is completed, a Marriage Registration Certificate will be issued to the couple as evidence of marriage registration in Thailand.
While we guarantee that online marriage is legal according to the laws in the US, it is not certain that the Civil Registry and Immigration Services of your home country will recognize such a union as valid. They may require further verification and additional documents, if deemed necessary.
Disclaimer: This article is general in nature and it is not intended to be relied on as legal advice. You should seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the subject in this article.