Marriage in Thailand consists of two distinct parts: the wedding ceremony and the marriage registration.
The ceremonial part of a Thai marriage begins with the giving of the “Sinsod.” “Sinsod” is the practice of paying dowry in Thailand. It is a symbolic act that shows not only the groom’s respect for his bride’s family but also his financial and capabilities.
Buddhist rituals also characterize traditional Thai marriages. In weddings presided by Buddhist monks, prayers are said and food are presented to Buddha images to ask for abundant blessings for the new couple.
Lately, western traditions have found their way into Thai marriages. In cities like Bangkok, families now find themselves fusing tradition and modern ceremonies in celebrating marriages.
The marriage registration at the local register (known as the amphur, amphoe or khet) is the legal aspect in a Thai marriage. It is actually the marriage registration, not the wedding ceremony, which marks the legal start of the marriage. This is also the reason why some practical couples opt to have the marriage registration alone, without having to go through a ceremony, to signal the start of their lives together.
Conditions of Marriage
A. Both parties must at least be 17 years old. If one or both parties are minors, the parents must first express their consent to the marriage. The court may issue an order allowing persons below 17 to enter into marriage, but only under special circumstances.
B. Both parties must not be adjudged as insane or incompetent.
C. The parties must not be blood related in the direct ascending or descending line, or be brothers or sisters in full or half blood. The said relationship shall be in accordance with blood relation, without regard to its legitimacy.
D. An adopter cannot marry the adopted.
E. Both parties must be free from any subsisting marital bond.
Special requirements for Thai widows and divorcees:
Widows and divorcees may only enter into another marriage 310 days after their husband’s death or after the termination of the divorce proceedings, except if:
A. a child is born during such period;
B. the divorced couple remarry;
C. a certificate is issued by a qualified doctor stating that the woman is not pregnant; or
D. there is a court order allowing the woman to remarry.
Required documents for Thai nationals:
A. Identification papers (Thai National ID)
B. Certificate of house registration
C. In cases where the individual is a widow or divorcee, proof of the spouse’s death and/or the divorce certificate
Required documents for foreigners
A. Clear copies of the passport and arrival card
B. Eligibility to marry or certification of the foreigner’s status
C. Translated copies of the eligibility to marry
D. Proof of death and/or divorce of the former spouse if the foreigner is a widow/er or divorcee
An Additional note to Consider:
While everyone would wish for a lifelong marriage, the reality of a divorce is no longer a fictional concept. This is especially true for mixed marriages, or marriages between a local and a farang (foreigner).
It is always a good decision for marrying couples enter into a prenuptial agreement before they register their marriage in Thailand. Asset distribution and spousal support, which are focal issues in divorces, no longer need to be an additional burden during that very difficult period.
Thailand requires a prenuptial agreement to be in writing, signed by both spouses and by at least two witnesses and entered into the Marriage Register at the time of the registration of the marriage.