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Thai By Descent - Can I Be A Thai Citizen?


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Hi Everyone.

I know this topic has probably been done to death - but my circumstances have an unusual twist which I cant seem to find anywhere else.

I would really like to move permanently to Thailand in a few years. Let me know your thoughts on whether I should start jumping through all the hoops to get Thai citizenship, or whether its hopeless...

I'm currently 37 years old, born in Australia to mother and father both naturalised Australian citizens.

My Thai born mother is currently 76 years old and still living in Australia. My Singaporean born father passed away 6 years ago.

When my mother became a naturalised Australian in the late 1960s, she did not renounce her Thai citizenship - she just let her Thai passport expire.

My mother left Thailand permanently when she was in her 20s (late 1950s). Whenever we have been back to visit (several times) it has always been on her Australian passport as she didn't think she could renew her Thai passport.

I've been advised by the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Australia that I can obtain Thai citizenship by descent by providing the following:

1. My Australian birth certificate (to show that I was born to a Thai national ie my mother)

2. My mother's Thai birth certificate

3. My mother's current Thai passport

4. My mother's current Thai national identity card

5. My mother's current house registration book

Therein lies my problem. I have #1 at the moment and that's it.

Re #2, she doesn't recall ever having one - although I figure she must have had since she was issued with a Thai passport. I could probably take my mum to the Amphur in Khon Kaen (she was born in a little village near there) to get a new copy of her birth certificate (or an official statement from them confirming her birth was registered there). Fingers crossed they kept good records back then!!

Re #3, her last Thai passport expired in the 1970s. I think she might need her house registration book and national identity card to get a new one. Am I right?

Re #4, she doesn't recall ever having one - although I figure she must have had since she was issued a Thai passport. How would she go about getting (another) one?

Re #5, she hasn't lived in Thailand for over 45 years. Her name probably dropped off the house book years ago (although the house she was born in is still in the family - her older sister's family took it over). I am led to believe my mother's name should be on a central register somewhere (Bangkok?) but how does she get re-added to a house registration book, and to whose could she be added?

Help. Any/all advice is greatly appreciated :)

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I understand it is a totally personal choice however I'm interested to know why you would feel the need to take up Thai citizenship? Is it the " Call of the Old Country"? Or some other reason such as trying to by-pass Visa regulations?

If it is to by-pass visa regulations, you may find it easier and more beneficial to take up a Singaporean passport. Thailand and Singapore are members of ASEAN, I think over the course of years ASEAN will develop into the same system as the European Union, with the right of residence being granted to members of each state. It's already the case that members of ASEAN countries don't require a visa to visit each others countries.

Singapore is also a member of the British Commonwealth, and international travel on a Singaporean passport is easier than on a Thai passport. Singaporeans also get preferential treatment in regards to Visa applications to China. This is relevant as China looks like it is edging towards membership of ASEAN, and it most certainly will be the dominant economic force in the Pacific Rim, if not the world, in the near future. China is looking to sponsor a massive Economic Development town in Bangkok, as well as fund a high speed train link from Guangzhou through Chiang Mai and on to Bangkok.

As an aside, there is an anomaly in British law that the right of residence is granted to the paternal line, not the maternal line. I know of South Africans of British descent being refused visas to reside in the UK as their mother was British. If their father was British it would have been granted automatically.

As Singapore is a Commonwealth country, many of their laws are based upon British law. If I was you I would write to both the Thai and Singaporean Embassies in Australia and start the ball rolling in both directions, then make a decision as to the best passport to take up at a later date.

Personally, I wouldn't be amazed if Australia took up membership of ASEAN too. Economically it would make sense for the country to do so, the only downside which may prevent it from happening would be the threat of mass immigration, which is a sensitive subject in Australia as you know. I reckon Australia will look to negotiate a type of associate membership with ASEAN which will give many of the free trade benefits but restricts the flow of people. Have a look at this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASEAN_Free_Trade_Area

That being the case, by the time you look to move to Thailand, you may find that the Geo-Political landscape is dramatically different and you will not have to take up the passport of either Thailand or Singapore.

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If one of your parents was a Thai citizen at the time of your birth, you are a Thai citizen.

In the past a woman often lost her nationality and gained the nationality of her husband when marrying foreigner. I'm not sure about Thai law int his respect, but as you moher still had a Thai passport I guess she was and is still Thai.

I suggest contacting the Thai Foreign Ministry, consular service about what to do in your case. Their webiste is in Thai only: http://www.consular.go.th/

Indeed there is a central register in bangkok where your mother should be registered. It is common that one is registered at the household book of a relative. But per above, I suggest contacting the consular service. They are there to help you.

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If one of your parents was a Thai citizen at the time of your birth, you are a Thai citizen.

In the past a woman often lost her nationality and gained the nationality of her husband when marrying foreigner. I'm not sure about Thai law int his respect, but as you moher still had a Thai passport I guess she was and is still Thai.

I suggest contacting the Thai Foreign Ministry, consular service about what to do in your case. Their webiste is in Thai only: http://www.consular.go.th/

Indeed there is a central register in bangkok where your mother should be registered. It is common that one is registered at the household book of a relative. But per above, I suggest contacting the consular service. They are there to help you.

The OP's mother was a naturalized Australian at the time of birth, she was naturalized in the late 60's and the OP was born around 1974. The OP may find that the Australian authorities will be holding a record of her mother's birth certificate and original passport as these were most likely required during the naturalization process. Maybe she would be better starting there and hopefully she will be able to obtain copies from the Australian Public Records.

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Having gone through this myself to get the Thai ID, what the Embassy told you is correct. First you need to obtain her birth certificate. There is no "centralized database" in Bangkok. You have to go to the local village records of where she was born. They still keep the records in bound books. Once she has obtainer mad her birth certificate, she needs to get a Thai ID card, and needs to be placed on a housebook. She may or may not have been removed from the housebook, but ask her to ask her sister or whoever is living there to put her on the housebook. After that you can apply for the Thai ID with your mother's birth certificate, and Thai ID. You will also need two Thai citizens to swear and attest that you are a Thai citizen.

Keep in mind that all of this is done at the local level. So you will have to go to Thailand to do it (get birth certificate, get her her Thai ID, then go get a Thai ID from the local registrar on which she is on the housebook). It took me 3 years to finish the process. Alot of the local officials won't know what to do, so expect the run around as well.

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Thanks for your comments theblether.

Its a combo of "call of the old country" as you put it, together with removing visa regs so I can stay indefinitely as well as buy my own property to live in.

I'll give the AUS authorities a go, although I think their paperwork will likely be a ticked checkbox on a form next to "birth cert and translation sighted" :(

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Thanks for your reply and info submaniac. It gives me a glimmer of hope :)

Before I can get my own ID card, I presume I'll need my Thai birth cert? So for me, that would be in between obtaining my mother's birth cert, ID card, and house registration and obtaining my ID card, right?

Yes you will. If born in Australia, only the Thai embassy in Canberra can issue you a Thai birth certificate.

This is usually done of the strength of the Thai parents documentation. At the same time, you can apply for a Thai passport.

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Having gone through this myself to get the Thai ID, what the Embassy told you is correct. First you need to obtain her birth certificate. There is no "centralized database" in Bangkok. You have to go to the local village records of where she was born. They still keep the records in bound books. Once she has obtainer mad her birth certificate, she needs to get a Thai ID card, and needs to be placed on a housebook. She may or may not have been removed from the housebook, but ask her to ask her sister or whoever is living there to put her on the housebook. After that you can apply for the Thai ID with your mother's birth certificate, and Thai ID. You will also need two Thai citizens to swear and attest that you are a Thai citizen.

Keep in mind that all of this is done at the local level. So you will have to go to Thailand to do it (get birth certificate, get her her Thai ID, then go get a Thai ID from the local registrar on which she is on the housebook). It took me 3 years to finish the process. Alot of the local officials won't know what to do, so expect the run around as well.

Slight correction, the centralised DB is the 'tabieen baan klang'. My mother, after moving to Australia in the 1970's had her name put onto it after she fell off whatever house related Tabieen Baan she used to be on.

When she came back to get her first Thai ID card in 35 years in 2006, she basically had to go out to the offices (somewhere!) in BKK to get her name shifted back. Took a couple of trips and all her (very) old Thai ID. It took a couple of visits.

Edited by samran
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I understand it is a totally personal choice however I'm interested to know why you would feel the need to take up Thai citizenship? Is it the " Call of the Old Country"? Or some other reason such as trying to by-pass Visa regulations?

If it is to by-pass visa regulations, you may find it easier and more beneficial to take up a Singaporean passport. Thailand and Singapore are members of ASEAN, I think over the course of years ASEAN will develop into the same system as the European Union, with the right of residence being granted to members of each state. It's already the case that members of ASEAN countries don't require a visa to visit each others countries.

Singapore is also a member of the British Commonwealth, and international travel on a Singaporean passport is easier than on a Thai passport. Singaporeans also get preferential treatment in regards to Visa applications to China. This is relevant as China looks like it is edging towards membership of ASEAN, and it most certainly will be the dominant economic force in the Pacific Rim, if not the world, in the near future. China is looking to sponsor a massive Economic Development town in Bangkok, as well as fund a high speed train link from Guangzhou through Chiang Mai and on to Bangkok.

As an aside, there is an anomaly in British law that the right of residence is granted to the paternal line, not the maternal line. I know of South Africans of British descent being refused visas to reside in the UK as their mother was British. If their father was British it would have been granted automatically.

As Singapore is a Commonwealth country, many of their laws are based upon British law. If I was you I would write to both the Thai and Singaporean Embassies in Australia and start the ball rolling in both directions, then make a decision as to the best passport to take up at a later date.

Personally, I wouldn't be amazed if Australia took up membership of ASEAN too. Economically it would make sense for the country to do so, the only downside which may prevent it from happening would be the threat of mass immigration, which is a sensitive subject in Australia as you know. I reckon Australia will look to negotiate a type of associate membership with ASEAN which will give many of the free trade benefits but restricts the flow of people. Have a look at this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASEAN_Free_Trade_Area

That being the case, by the time you look to move to Thailand, you may find that the Geo-Political landscape is dramatically different and you will not have to take up the passport of either Thailand or Singapore.

For me, it is the ability to live and work in Thailand unencumbered by visa regulations. The Thai passport is also very handy for travel around SE Asia providing me visa free access to most countries, whereas my Australian passport would require me to apply for a visa. Apart from that, I also get to own land in Thailand, and setting up a company which I own was a sinch. Having a Thai ID card makes the bureaucracy very tolerable, given that your ID number is linked up to all sorts of government provided services. With an ID card, you can accomplish anything.

ASEAN is a long way from achieving EU-like free movement of persons. That is decades off in my opinion.

For the OP - a Singaporean passport would be next to useless for living in Thailand - it provides no special rights above and beyond an Australian passport. Actually, it would be worse for the OP to get a Singaporean passport, as they have VERY strict laws on dual nationality, and she would be required to renounce her Australian citizenship before being allowed to have a Singaporean passport issued to her.

In fact, the Australian passport does hold some benefit in terms of Thailand - as there are provisions under the Australian-Thai FTA which give preference for majority ownership in Thailand of companies in certain sectors, as well as being able to have longer term work permits issued to professionals in certain fields.

Edited by samran
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I'm not an officially documented Thai yet... but, my mother's situation is nearly identical to yours. In our case it was necessary to get my mother's identification straightened out first. We went to the Amphur in Chonburi she used her 40 year old expired Thai passport, copies of tabien baans from the late '60s, and sworn testimony of her family. A few days later they called her in to pick up her new ID card. I couldn't understand all they were saying, but it seemed pretty easy. We were unable to get anything done in the US at the embassy. Later, back in the USA, we used the ID card to get her a new Thai passport. We could have just as easily gotten that in Thailand but just ran out of time. You are Thai, but just have to get your mother "re-documented" before any movement will occur for you.

Once your mother is straightened out, the rest of your process is pretty standard.

We'll be going back to Thailand in a few weeks to try to work on my citizenship situation. I'll definitely post my experience in case it can help anyone in the future.

Good Luck and keep trying.

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Your experience so far gives me hope :)

Just wondering the gist of the sworn statements, how many you provided and infront of whom they were sworn in Thailand?

You're a step ahead of me though - I don't have any copies of old Tambien Baans :(. Fingers crossed one will turn up when I go through the old document file again.

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Your experience so far gives me hope :)

Just wondering the gist of the sworn statements, how many you provided and infront of whom they were sworn in Thailand?

You're a step ahead of me though - I don't have any copies of old Tambien Baans :(. Fingers crossed one will turn up when I go through the old document file again.

My mom left Thailand in '70, it sounds like your mother left a few years prior to that. I would think that there would be a record of her somewhere.

When we visited Thailand last year we went to the Amphur in Chonburi. We scheduled an interview with the "ampur boss lady" to try to get my mother's ID situation straightened out. My mom and I brought with us (her mother) my grandmother, her brother (my uncle), my wife (Thai national - I'm still not sure why her statements were relevant).

4 interviews were given, my mother, my grandmother, my uncle, my wife.

I have a copy of the interview notes, but I cannot read them. My Thai reading skills are quite poor. I also have a document that I signed which makes it appear that I was interviewed as well (I definitely was not though).

From what i can tell they appear to be standard questions. What's your name, how many brothers and sisters, what are their names, when did you go to the USA, where do you work?

I'm happy to post them, but they contain personal information that needs to be cleansed first.

Not sure if it helps, but the interview is labeled: (ป.ค.14) Looks like a standard form. I'm sure that someone has seen one of these before.

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  • 2 months later...

In the past a woman often lost her nationality and gained the nationality of her husbnd when marrying foreigner. I'm not sure about Thai law int his respect, but as you moher still had a Thai passport I guess she was and is still Thai.

This did indeed use to be the case in Thailand, the UK, the US and many other countries but I think it was already no longer automatic under Thai law in the late 50s when the OP's mother went to Australia. (Most Western nations discontinued the practice soon after the Second World War and Thailand followed suit not long after.) Unless there was an order confirming cancellation of her nationality published in the Royal Gazette, which is extremely unlikely and easy to check online, she is still Thai.

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I believe most European countries abolished such laws in the late 1960's if not early 70's, as result of the European treaty on Human Rights and treaties on gender equality. My mother married a foreign national in the early 1960's and had to give up her nationality as a consequence. She regained it in the 1970's when she divorced and applied for her old nationality.

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