There are two sides to a marriage in Thailand. The legal amphur (registry office) marriage and usually a buddhist ceremony or "village" wedding for show. For the purpose of the visa application info I will concentrate only on the legal marriage requirements for now. Janny and I will be having a small village ceremony on my next trip in September and I'll post about that when the time comes.
The process for a UK national to marry a thai within Thailand really is quite simple and in theory can be done over a couple of days. There were some delays with our marriage which I'll explain but the process basically involves the following stages:-
1) Affirmation of Freedom to Marry - needs to be stamped by the UK Embassy in Bangkok
2) Translation of the stamped Affirmation - have the affirmation translated into Thai
3) Affirmation authenticated by the MFA - the translated affirmation then needs to be certified at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs
4) Amphur wedding - Produce the certified affirmation & other documents at any local amphur office where a marriage certificate will be issued.
As mentioned above, there were some issues which delayed the process for us but we still managed to have everything completed within four working days. Our experience went like this:-
Before leaving the UK, I prepared my affirmation from a template which can be found on the UK Embassy website. It's just a case of retyping the affirmation in the same format and adding your own personal details and printing it off. I also included a photocopy of my passport page. We took an early morning flight up to Bangkok from Phuket midweek on a Wednesday. After checking into our hotel we headed straight to the UK Embassy on Wireless Rd at 10.00am. Due to the security checks and a small queue at the entrance it took a little while to enter the embassy grounds so I would suggest going as early as possible. The affirmations are taken at the consular section which is located to the right as you enter the embassy. I took a number in the waiting area and waited to be called. When my number was called I signed the affirmation and handed it in with the photocopy of my passport and paid the 2860baht fee. I was told to return after 14.00 the same day to collect the stamped affirmation.
After collecting my stamped affirmation that afternoon I took a walk around and found a decent looking translation office not too far from the embassy. I paid 450baht to have my affirmation translated and was told it would take an hour to complete. The guy in the translation office tried to sell me their wedding package to do the entire process for us but there really is no need to pay for something thats easily done yourself. I returned an hour later to collect the affirmation (which must also be stamped and dated by the translator). By this time it was around 16.00 so within the first day I had my affirmation stamped and translated.
It was a this point that I found out that the MFA were closed on the following day because of a public holiday and so we lost a full day and were not able to have the affirmation certified. I would advise checking for public holidays before travelling, especially if you have limited time in Bangkok.
After losing a full day on the Thursday, at 8.00am on Friday morning we took a taxi to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lak Si. The MFA was already busy when we arrived and headed up to the legalization dept on the 3rd floor. As you enter the MFA building go up the escalator and then up another set of stairs. At the info desk they asked me what I needed and was given a form to fill in. I completed the form, another copy of passport is required at this point too, and they asked if I needed the affirmation back that day, which I did. We were then given a number and told to go to the supervisors office. The supervisor had a quick glance at the form and scribbled something in thai and told us to return to the waitng room where we were given another number. After waiting an hour and a half my number was called and I handed in the affirmation and paid the 800baht same day service fee (standard 400baht I think). I was told it would be ready at 12.00pm and so we went back into town as Janny had her English test scheduled for 11.00am (English test to be covered in another post). By the time we returned to the MFA it was around 12.45 and I went to the collection counter. Problem number two, there was an issue with the translation of my surname and the MFA would not accept it. The told me they needed a new translation and directed me to the bookshop within the MFA building whom offer a translation service. I had to hurry down and wait another hour to have a new translation done (another 400baht) and then hand it in again. Following another long wait I was finally given my certified affirmation, but by now it was after 15.00pm and the amphur offices close at 16.00, no time to do the amphur wedding. We already had flights booked back to Phuket for the Friday evening and so we couldn't complete the amphur wedding in Bangkok.
Back in Phuket we had no choice but to wait for the local amphur to open on Monday following the weekend. We arrived mid afternoon (our own fault due to a few too many the night before) and the amphur was very busy, mainly with locals renewing ID cards. We waited two hours only to be told that they did not have enough time to issue the paperwork and to return the following day. We returned at 9.00am the following morning and again had a long wait before we were seen. We handed over the certified affirmation, my passport, Jannys ID card and tabien baan (blue house book) along with copies of everything. The staff asked me how old I was and where I came from and we signed a few forms. We paid 40baht and were given two copies of the marriage certificate and a paper required for Janny to changed her family name. And that was it......married!
So to sum up. Although there is a fair amount of running around between the embassy, translator, MFA and amphur, the process is quite straightforward. If I could have done anything differently I would have checked for public holidays in Bangkok before we made the journey and also allowed more time for errors like our translation issue. If not for the public holiday we could have done the entire process in three days, two at a push but allowing for three should cover everything.
Total cost was 4550thb including:-
UK Embassy affirmation fee: 2860thb
First translation: 450thb
MFA certification same day service: 800thb
Corrective translation: 400thb
Amphur fee for 2x marriage certificate: 40thb
Other costs to consider are: taxi fares when travelling to and from the MFA, cost of making copies and also some amphurs charge a fee for the staff to act as witnesses but we were never asked to pay a fee.
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