Many expats who have been living in Thailand for a considerable amount of time decide to undergo the long process that leads to becoming a Naturalized Thai Citizen.
Obtaining Thai Citizenship through naturalization is a long and often tiring process, which requires you to submit mountains of paperwork, deal with bureaucratic office after bureaucratic office, sing the National Anthem, and – mostly – wait, wait, and wait…
However, those who have chosen to make Thailand their home, for whatever reason that may be, work or family, likely think it’s worth the effort.
However, spending time in Thailand is not the only criterion for obtaining Thai citizenship. The quality of your time, your behaviors, and your income play major roles.
What Are the Benefits of Thai Citizenship?
If you have been living in Thailand for a while, you know the benefits that come with living in Thailand. However, becoming a citizen of Thailand (not just a Permanent/Temporary Resident) comes with a host of benefits, such as:
- You can buy and own property in your name
- You don’t need to apply for a Work Permit in order to be allowed to work
- You no longer need to renew your visa
- You don’t have to apply for a Re-Entry Permit every time you have to leave the country.
- You can hold over 49% of the shares in a Thai company
Who Is Eligible for Thai Citizenship by Naturalization?
You can apply for Thai Citizenship by naturalization if you fulfill the following requirements:
- You are at least 18 years old
- You have lived in Thailand as a Permanent Resident for at least five years before applying*.
- You must have been living in Thailand for those years on the same type of visa that you have at the time of application.
- You have a clean criminal record and are well-behaved
- You are employed in Thailand
- You can understand, speak, and be able to write the Thai language*
- You can sing the Thai National Anthem Sanserm Phra Baramee
- You acquire at least 50 points out of 100 on the Points Based System of obtaining Thai Citizenship
*These are not required if you:
- Are the spouse or child of someone who received their own Thai Citizenship through naturalization
- Are the husband of a Thai wife
- Once held Thai Citizenship
- Have acted in some way that is the benefit of Thailand
In these cases, you may be able to get Thai Citizenship after three years of living on Thai Visa Extensions, even without having obtained Permanent Residency.
How to Submit an Application for Thai Citizenship?
You have to apply for Thai Citizenship at the Special Division of the Police Headquarters in Bangkok or where you are living.
- You should approach the Police Headquarters when you decide you would like to apply for Thai Citizenship in order to receive the Checklist of the documents you are required to submit.
- Submit the required documents. If all is not in order, you may have to submit additional documents.
- If everything is in order, your Thai Citizenship application will be lodged, and you have to pay the processing fee and give your fingerprints.
- You have to visit the Ministry of Interior and enter an interview in Thai as well as sing the Thai National Anthem.
- Wait for your application to be processed. During this time, Thai immigration officers will come to your home to ascertain that the details you provided are correct.
- If your Thai Citizenship application is approved, you have to take the Citizenship Oath at the Police Headquarters.
How Long Does a Thai Citizenship Application Take to Process?
The processing time for Thai Citizenship applications is between 6 – 12 months starting from the time that you submit your completed set of documents.
How Much Does the Application for Thai Citizenship Cost?
The application costs for Thai Citizenship are as follows:
- 10,000 Thai Baht per application for applicants who are of age (over the age of 18)
- 5,000 Thai Baht per application for the children of applicants and those who are not of age
- 1,000 Thai Baht for the Certificate of Naturalization
- 2,000 Thai Baht per application for Recovery of Thai Nationality
What Documents Do I Need When I Apply for Thai Citizenship?
The documents you have to submit for a Thailand Citizenship application change for every circumstance. It is the authorities at the Police Headquarters in which you apply that are in charge of providing you with the complete checklist of documents. However, Thai Citizenship required documents include:
- Copies of your passport
- Copies of your Alien Book
- Copies of your Residence Certificate
- Copies of the House Registration
- Copies of your Work Permit/s
- Pictures of yourself
- Proof of having Personal Income Tax
- Proof of employment along with company documents
- Marriage and/or birth certificates if you are married/have children
- Copies of the identity documents of two Thai citizens who can guarantee for you
- Any additional documents you are required to bring
Keep in mind: The officers in charge of handling your application can ask for any documents as they see fit, even after having submitted them. You should always be polite and respectable since the outcome of your citizenship does count on them.
Scoring criteria for Thai Citizenship
When deciding whether you are fit to receive Thai Citizenship, the Thai authorities assess you through a scoring system, measuring the following:
- Age (ages 40 – 50 will receive the maximum number of points)
- Education (Ph.D. holders receive the maximum points)
- Monthly income
- The type and length of residence in Thailand (worth the maximum points if you have the required residence, the House Registration Book and the Alien Certificate)
- Knowledge of the Thai language
- Knowledge of Thailand in general
- Personality. The officers in charge of handling your application also assess your personality and how you act, dress, and talk.
Can I Have Thai Dual Citizenship?
Yes, you can. The Thai Government does not require you to renounce your prior nationality after obtaining Thai Citizenship. Similarly, if you apply for the nationality of another country while holding a Thai passport, you can still keep both citizenship/passports.
Of course, this is true for as long as the other country of nationality also allows dual citizenship. If you have the citizenship of a country that does not allow dual citizenship, you may have to renounce your prior citizenship before becoming Thai, and vice-versa.