Why get married in Thailand?
We wanted to do something different for our wedding. We wanted a small event in a tropical setting without breaking the bank. I don’t know how we decided on Thailand, but when we did it just made sense. The next question was…how? Neither of us knew Thai, nor did we have any friends or relatives there. Fortunately, information was available online and we pieced it together to help us understand what we needed to do in order to get married in Thailand. We want to share with you our experience of getting married in Thailand in this post. We hope you find this guide useful. If we left anything out, please leave a comment and we will be happy to answer your questions.
We wanted our wedding to be legalized in Thailand instead of simply doing the ceremony there and going back to the U.S. to have it legalized. We were advised that this was a complicated process, but we wanted it to be authentic so we went ahead and did it anyway.
Getting married in Thailand as U.S. citizens is fairly straightforward. In a nutshell, it requires documents be stamped by the U.S. Consulate, translated in Thai and legalized at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs before submitting the paperwork to the local Amphur where a marriage certificate will be issued. When you get back home, simply have the documents translated to English and you’re set.
Now here’s a step by step set of instructions to explain how to get married in Thailand in more detail:
How to get married in Thailand as U.S. citizens:
Make an appointment with the U.S. Consulate in Chiang Mai or with the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok for “notarial and other services” using the online appointment system.
We visited Chiang Mai, so we made an appointment with the U.S. Consulate there. Print the affidavit of eligibility to marry form and fill out items 1-9 at home, beforehand. Each of you will need a copy. Remember to not sign the documents until you’re told to do so at the U.S. Consulate during your appointment.
If you don’t already know, the best way to get around the city is via the red taxis called “songthaews”. We showed our driver a map of where the Consulate was and he took us there. Upon arrival at the Consulate, you will be asked to go through a security checkpoint where you will have to forfeit your electronic devices. Check in at the window and be prepared for a short wait. Once your name is called, explain that you are in Thailand to get married and present your paperwork. After answering a few questions, you will be asked to sign the document in front of the consulate official. You will also be asked to pay a processing fee of $50 USD/person. They accept U.S. dollars, Thai baht, and credit cards. You will leave with the documents you came with, signed and stamped.
This is the address to the U.S. Consulate in Chiang Mai:
Consulate General of the United States of America
387 Wichayanond Road, Chiang Mai 50300, Thailand
This is the address to the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok:
American Citizen Services Unit (ACS)
U.S. Embassy Bangkok
95 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Find a translator to get a certified translation of the signed and stamped affidavit in Thai.
Get the affidavit and translation legalized at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs Legalization Division.
Up the street from the U.S. Consulate in Chiang Mai, there is a translating agency that will be able to perform the service you need. We opted for a translation agency that our Airbnb host recommended near the trendy Nimman Street. We were only in Chiang Mai for four days, so we were pressed on time. We opted for an express translation service that included having the paperwork taken to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs where they can be legalized. The process took 2 days and we paid around 4000 baht for this premium service. If you are willing to deliver the translated documents to the ministry yourself, you can save at least half that cost. Just keep in mind that the bureaucracy and language barrier could make this step a time sink, so it may be best to pay more for a premium service and save yourself the hassle and time. Also keep in mind that if the translated documents have errors, you’ll have to ask the translation agency to correct it before resubmitting it back to the Ministry.
Register your marriage after your ceremony at the local civil registrar office in the Amphur (government building) to make your marriage official.
With your signed, U.S. stamped, translated, and Thai-government approved affidavit in hand, you are now ready to register your marriage at the local Amphur near your wedding ceremony. We flew from Chiang Mai to Krabi where we had our wedding ceremony near Railay Beach. We employed the services of an officiant, even though it was not necessary to make the marriage legal. We were fortunate to have the help of our wedding photographer at the Amphur and would recommend that you have a Thai-speaking representative to help the process go smoothly. We were also fortunate to be the first ones at the Amphur after their lunch break and avoided the long lines that the people who arrived 20 minutes after us met. The Amphur provided 2 witnesses required for the wedding certificate and we were asked to pay a fee of our choice for their services. The whole process took nearly an hour. You’ll be asked to confirm names and sign a few documents. When we left the Amphur, our marriage was legally recognized in the Kingdom of Thailand and we had the paperwork to prove it – all in Thai.
Have your marriage certificate translated to English.
Congratulations! Now that your marriage is official in Thailand, it is official in the U.S. as well. The last step to do in this process is to have your Thai wedding documents translated back to English so that U.S. government agencies can read it. We have not yet done this step yet. Anyone know of good translators in Seattle?
That’s all there is to it! Now go and book your flights and accommodations and gear up for an adventure of a lifetime.