Thailand is not without a reason among the most popular tourist destinations worldwide – but more and more people do not only want to spend their honeymoon under palm trees, but also to get married right there. Visiting Thailand does not necessarily belong to the everyday life of a wedding photographer, but the demands are piling up in recent years. In principle, a marriage in Thailand is possible without problems. This applies both to a marriage between members of German and Thai nationality as well as a marriage between two Germans or a German and a foreigner. However, the process is not quite inexpensive and includes numerous administrative procedures.
A church or a Buddhist ceremony in Thailand is actually only possible in a private setting. Those who – as in the photo – invite a higher blessing, are of course free to do that. However, the only authority that can perform legally binding wedding ceremonies in Thailand is the district office. A solemn ceremony is not to be expected. The district office is not the place where a wedding photographer will photograph Thailand as the most picturesque place and marriage is quite a formal process. An early reservation is also not necessary – once all the formalities listed below are done, the couple simply goes to the office and will be married immediately.
First of all, every couple with a German member needs a certificate of no impediment. The registry office of the reported or the last place of residence has jurisdiction for this. Its task is to officially confirm that there are no grounds, which would prevent a marriage, for both of the partners. Because both partners are “checked” in a certificate of no impediment, a single certificate for a German couple is sufficient. Then the embassy gives a consular certificate to each of them, which is required by the registrar in Thailand. Various documents are required for a certificate of marriage eligibility. These are a valid identity card or passport, registration card, birth certificate and in case of a previous marriage, a proof that it was officially disbanded. Thai nationals basically need the same documents from their district office, plus a bachelorhood certificate. However, the documents must be legalized by the embassy first. In this process, the embassy only verifies the authenticity of signatures and not the content – an authorized translation is therefore not necessary. But it will be needed for the certificate of no impediment and for that reason should be already done at an early stage.
It is important that the German offices only accept translations that were made by a state-approved and sworn translator. Whether the translation was made in Thailand or in Germany is irrelevant. The legalization of a single signature depends on the Thai authority and may take up to two months or longer to complete. Charges vary between 25 Euro and 50 Euro per document, depending on the certificate, and must be paid in advance together with a telephone flat rate of 100 Baht. For the delivery of documents that can be taken over by a representative with power of attorney, it must be specified what follows after the legalization: They can either be picked up, forwarded to a German authority or be sent by post to the German partner.
For the processing of applications and the issuing of marriage eligibility certificate, the registrar’s office in Germany needs translations by sworn translators. The embassy itself does not verify any existing translations or offer services. When all the papers are collected, they will be submitted to the German registry office. However, the officials may request additional documents at its discretion – it is therefore advisable to regularly ask again if further documents are required. After the verification, the registry office issues a certificate, and with a mandatory questionnaire, the German partner can get a consular certificate in the German embassy in Bangkok. Caution: There is a maximum time limit of six months and the honorary consuls are not authorized to issue. The process takes about four days, then the consular certificate still needs to be legalized by the Thai Foreign Ministry. Now the couple can marry with the certified, bilingual consular certificate in any registry office.
A marriage in a special place – for example on the beach or even just in a monastery – is also theoretically possible. Here it is really a dream come true, not only for the couple, but of course for the wedding photographer in Thailand as well. There are, however, no fixed, official rules, and planning requires an individual agreement with the registrar. According to the experience, many couples are willing to make catering weddings, but pay relatively high fees for it.