Marriage in Thailand

Marriage in Thailand can be a complicated matter. It requires a lot of paperwork, verifications and compliance with the country's legal parameters.

For foreigners, the first step is to take the affirmation and translated documents to your embassy in Bangkok to be authenticated. This will normally take two days.

Legal Requirements

The legal marriage is the one registered at the district office (called 'amphur' or 'khet') and this is what makes your wedding legally binding. Religious ceremonies are not recognised as being a part of the legal marriage by the Thai authorities.

Affirmation of freedom to marry

You will need to obtain an affirmation of freedom to marry from your embassy or consulate in Bangkok. Your embassy may charge for this service.

The Affirmation of Freedom to Marry must feature a notary stamp and be translated into Thai by a local translator. Then bring all these documents to the Amphur to register your marriage. A Marriage Certificate will be issued which is internationally valid and legally binding. It is also advisable to negotiate a premarital agreement with your partner before the ceremony as this can protect you should your marriage fail. It is not possible to register a common law or de facto marriage in Thailand.


For foreigners, the process begins by obtaining a clearance from your home country’s embassy or consulate in Thailand called an ‘affirmation of freedom to marry.’ Once you have it, take it to a reputable translation service and have it translated into Thai. Then, bring the translated documents to your embassy for authentication.

Family approval plays a large role in Thai wedding culture and many couples have to convince their parents that the marriage is in their best interest. In addition, it is common for grooms to offer a dowry (sin sod) to the bride’s family to show respect and acknowledge their social status.

It is also a good idea to draft a prenuptial agreement before you get married, to protect your assets should the marriage sour. This should be done by a lawyer and must abide by the laws in your home country and Thailand. Having all the paperwork ready can save you some hassle at the district office or 'amphur' in Thai, where the marriage is registered.


After the paperwork has been verified and translated, both parties must file their affirmation at a local District Office (Amphur) or Minor District Office. As long as you have the translated affirmation and the sworn translation for the Thai document your marriage will be recognised as legally binding in Thailand.

A senior member of the family usually conducts the ceremony. The bride and groom kneel down while the elder speaks a few words and anoints their forehead. A conch shell filled with water is then poured over their hands by guests who wish them good luck.

Traditionally arranged marriages were common and even now, many families are looking to marry their children into other families of higher social status. This is often reflected in the practice of sin sod, which is the equivalent of a dowry in Western countries. This is normally done by the groom's family and can be a large amount of money.


After marriage it is important to understand that a marriage in Thailand will only be legally recognised in your home country if you follow Thai legal procedures. This will normally mean completing some paperwork at your Embassy or Consulate in Bangkok.

You will each require a notarized Affidavit (normally called an Affirmation of Freedom to Marry) and this must be translated to Thai. The translation is normally done by a qualified Foreign Ministry translator.

You will then need to take these documents along with a passport photo to your local district office (known as an 'amphur' or 'khet' outside of Bangkok) where you will register your marriage in accordance with and following the procedure led down by Thai Law. The couple may be required to interview together with the registrar before their marriage is registered. This can be quite a stressful time for foreign couples. The process can also be lengthy. In some cases it can take up to two weeks for the registration process to be completed.

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