I stepped out onto the slushy streets of New York City. The wind ripped through my bones. Warm air billowed from my mouth like the steam twisting and rolling out of the metal stacks on East 52nd Street. Behind me, the Thai Consulate building. In front of me, a world of opportunity.
As far as I was concerned, it was the last winter I’d be spending in America, because in my hand was my passport, and in my passport, my visa. A guarantee that Thailand would be my home for at least the next 365 days.
Applying for my Thai marriage visa was the last step in my seven-year plan to move from America to Thailand. But perhaps it was the most important. So, I want to walk you through how I did it and how, since 2014, I’ve been renewing my marriage visa every year in Thailand.
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- What Can You Do With It?
- Application Process
- From Outside of Thailand
- Application Process from Within Thailand
- Re-Entry Permit
- Extend (Renew) Your Marriage Visa
- Keeping Your Visa Active
- What Happens If Your Spouse Passes Away?
- Alternative Options
- Now, on to You
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What Can You Do With It?
A marriage visa is a renewable visa that allows you to stay in Thailand for one year per renewal.
With this visa, you’re allowed to apply for a Thai work permit and work in Thailand for a Thai-registered company. You don’t have to apply for a work visa, but your employer must give you a work permit.
There are two main requirements of getting the marriage visa: the marriage requirement and the financial requirement.
To get a marriage visa in Thailand, you need to legally marry a Thai citizen. You need show both a marriage certificate and proof of your relationship when applying for the visa.
As of now, Thailand doesn’t yet recognize same-sex marriages.
To qualify for a marriage visa, you have to show THB400,000 in a Thai bank account deposited at least two months before applying. It’s the easiest way to pass the financial requirement.
Alternatively, you need to show proof of income showing that you’re earning at least THB40,000 baht per month.
You may be able to get an income affidavit from your country’s embassy showing you’ve had 40,000 baht per month going into your home bank account as proof of finances. However, this is not the case for American, British, and Australian expats since embassies won’t issue them. And if they do, Thai Immigration won’t accept them.
This financial requirement applies for men married to Thai women only. Non-Thai women married to Thai men don’t have to show the same financial documents to get a marriage visa.
To get a marriage visa, you need to apply for a Non-Immigrant Type O visa based on marriage from the Thai consulate in your home country, like I did in NYC.
Once you’re in Thailand, you can then apply for an extension of stay based on marriage to a Thai national, which is valid for one year.
Alternatively, it’s also possible to apply for a marriage visa inside Thailand. But it can be more complicated since you need to cancel your existing visa first.
From Outside of Thailand
If you’re coming to Thailand from your home country, and you’re married to a Thai citizen, you can apply for a marriage visa at the Thai Embassy in your country.
You will first get a Non-Immigrant Type O visa based on marriage that lasts for 90 days. After that, you can extend to a one-year marriage visa in Thailand.
However, my case was different. They gave me a one-year visa right away, but instead of doing 90-day check-ins, I had to leave Thailand every ninety days and then come back in. So, I’d drive to Aranyaphrathet and cross the Thailand-Cambodia border every three months.
The process to get my marriage visa in NYC was easy and my wife didn’t have to be there. Here’s how I did it.
Because different embassies ask for different documents, and because different countries have different agreements with Thailand, contact your local Thai Embassy for their list of required documents.
In New York City, here’s a list of documents the Thai Embassy asked me for.
- airline ticket
- Thai spouse’s passport
- three 2×2 inch passport photos
- passport with six months validity
- marriage certificate translated to Thai
- bank statement showing “sufficient funds”
The cost for a single-entry marriage visa is US$80. And the cost for a one-year multi-entry marriage visa is US$200.
Your visa doesn’t go into effect when you arrive in Thailand. It goes into effect when the Thai Embassy approves your paperwork. So, I went to the Thai Embassy in New York City about three weeks from our departure date, because I wanted my visa to start as close as possible to my Thailand arrival date.
Depending on where you get your visa, it could take anywhere from two days to two weeks. When I applied for my marriage visa in New York City, it took about two weeks for the embassy to approve my paperwork.
Application Process from Within Thailand
If your marriage visa issued in your home country is going to expire, you can apply for a new visa inside of Thailand thirty days before your original visa expires.
To apply for your marriage visa, go to your local immigration office.
If you are in Bangkok, go to the Government Complex in Chaengwattana. Track down Building B by following the blue pathway on the road at the complex. At the end of the road, you’ll see a megalith surrounded by a moat. That’s where you want to go.
In the far left corner of the building, on the first floor, you’ll find the Immigration Office. Enter the office and go to the counter so they can check your paperwork. If you’ve done this before, and are sure you have everything, go straight inside and get your queue number.
You’ll wait in Section L for an officer to call your number. Be sure to have all the documents listed below. For the most recent list, check the Immigration Bureau’s website. I have to warn you though — the website’s in need of an update and some sections may not work.
Here’s a list of documents you need to get a marriage visa inside Thailand.
- 2×2 inch photos
- an application form – form tm7 (download)
- copies of your TM.6 departure card
- copies of every page of your passport
Proof of relationship
- copy of spouse’s Thai ID card
- Thai marriage certificate or oversea marriage certificate*
- form ค.ร. 22 (if married overseas)
- forms ค.ร. 2 and 3 (if married in Thailand)
- Thai children’s birth certificates or children’s birth certificates translated to Thai
- family photos (you, your spouse, and children) at your house
- 2 pictures from outside the house
- 2 pictures from inside the house
- photos with you and your kids at school, if applicable
- copy of Blue Book Thai address page with spouse’s name
- hand-drawn map showing how to get to your Thai residence form the nearest major highway
Proof of income (men only)
- bank book
- a letter from a Thai Bank showing 400,000 baht in savings**
- copy of your bank book’s most recent updated page showing the THB400,000. It must be deposited two months before the application date***
- copy of your bank book’s front page with your name and account number
Additional document if you are working in Thailand
- work permit
- employment certificated that clearly states that your monthly salary is over 40,000 baht a month
- annual tax filing report (Phor Nhor Dor 91)
- your employer’s business registration certificate and a list of shareholders (Bor Aor Jor.5) certified within six months.
*You can get your Thai marriage certificate at any district office in Thailand.
If you do not have a Thai marriage certificate, you may need to get your marriage certificate translated into Thai. You then have to bring the translated certificate to the Department of Consular Affairs in Chaengwattana to have it approved and stamped. Once the DCA approves your translated marriage certificate, you can take it to the district office in the city you live in, and they will print for you a certified Thai marriage certificate.
**KrungThai Bank was the only bank willing to let me open an account under my name on my existing marriage visa from the Thai Embassy in New York City.
***When you copy your bank book, make sure the date of your last transaction is on the day you’re going to apply for your visa. So, withdraw or deposit a few hundred baht to show some activity on that day. But make sure you have the THB400,000 required balance.
If you can read Thai, or your Thai spouse is willing to put in some leg work for you, MFA also has a detailed explanation of all the documents needed. Their website is more up-to-date than the Thai Immigration Bureau’s.
It costs THB1,900 baht for the marriage visa application.
You will be asked to come back within 30 days to receive you visa results and get your one-year stamp.
If you want to leave Thailand and you plan on returning, make sure you get a Thai re-entry permit. To leave and return one time, you’ll have to pay THB1,000 for your single re-entry permit. If you plan on leaving and returning multiple times, you’ll have to pay THB3,800 for your multiple re-entry permit.
You also have an option to get a multiple re-entry permit immediately after you apply for a marriage visa.
Extend (Renew) Your Marriage Visa
Each year you’ll go through the same process listed above to extend your marriage visa.
If you don’t have 400,000 baht to show in a Thai bank account, you may be able to renew your visa at a Thai Embassy in a neighboring country.
I have friends who go this route. And they’ve told me if you go to the Thai Embassy and drop off your paperwork in the morning, they’ll give it back to you by the next evening. But if you’re booking a round-trip flight, I’d leave a few days for some breathing room.
Two popular places to renew your Thai Marriage Visa are Phnom Phen, Cambodia, and Savannakhet, Laos. Each city is only a short plane ride away from Thailand and each has a Thai Embassy. The embassies in both places ask for the same documents, which are listed in the section above.
Keeping Your Visa Active
To keep your marriage visa active, you need to do 90-day check-ins at immigration, stay married to your spouse, and apply every year under the same process mentioned above.
What Happens If Your Spouse Passes Away?
If your spouse passes away, immigration won’t renew your marriage visa when it expires. But if you have children, you can switch your visa to an อุปการะบุตรไทย, or ubogarabut Thai Visa. There’s no official name for the visa. But I like to call it the “Take Care of Thai Kids Visa”. Some may call it as a guardian visa.
If you plan to stay in Thailand permanently, it’s a good idea to plan for getting Thailand permanent residence in advance.
If you aren’t legally married to a Thai citizen, you can always get a Thailand Elite Visa.
If you have Thai kids, you can apply for a dependent visa. All the requirements are exactly the same, except you can deposit the THB400,000 into your Thai account as close as the day before you apply.
If there’s anything you don’t want to do when it comes to marriage visas, it’s overstay your visa. If you overstay your visa you can be jailed and blacklisted from the country.
A neighbor of mine got caught doing this and was banned from Thailand for 10 years.
Related article: Thailand Overstay: Rules, Fines, and Penalties
The reapplication process for overstaying your visa is the same as when you apply for or renew your visa. But you’ll have to pay the fine for overstaying your visa. They’ll give you separate paperwork to fill out. You’ll have to sign and agree to their terms, and you’ll only know those terms if you can read Thai.
The fine for overstaying your visa is 500 baht per day.
If you’ve overstayed your marriage visa and apply for a new visa, you’ll get your results in ten to thirty days.
Now, on to You
Despite what you read online, applying for or renewing your marriage visa is a straightforward process. And as long as you have all the documents and financial requirements, you shouldn’t have any issues.
And remember, this guide only scratches the surface of applying for or renewing your marriage visa. For other questions about qualifications, the application process, financial documents, and re-entry processes, it’s best to seek a reliable legal adviser.