Friday, December 20, 2013

Making it Legal.

All weddings in Thailand are symbolic – the registration/legalization of a marriage is always separate to the religious ceremony, which for Thai people is normally Buddhist.  If you are coming to Thailand for your wedding, you can either legalize the marriage at home before or after your trip, or you can make it legal while you are in Thailand.  
Our weddings follow the same structure whether they are made legal on the day or not and all of our couples receive a certificate that contains their vows, to sign immediately after the ceremony.  This certificate is purely a keepsake, it is not legally binding.  If a couple go through the Thai legalization process, then a “Balat” (registrar) will attend and take signatures in his book at the same point as the certificate signing.  He will then also present 2 more certificates which are the legal Thai marriage certificates.  

Shane and Sarah with the Samui Balat and their 2 Thai marriage certificates

Faraway simply arrange wedding ceremonies – however we offer a legal service to assist couples who want to go through the formalities in Thailand, by making the process a little simpler.  For a foreign person to legally marry in Thailand, their embassy must release a stamped Affirmation of Freedom to Marry.  If your country does not have an embassy in Bangkok then it may not be possible for you to marry here.  There are also certain policies or regulations in some countries that may disallow marriage in Thailand.  Most of our clients are British, Irish, Australian or New Zealanders and we know that the process is pretty straight forward for them.  If you are from another country then you should first of all contact your embassy to find out if it’s possible for you to marry here, and what you are required to do.

Our legal representative in Bangkok takes care of everything on the Thai side of things.  She cannot enter your embassy or apply for your Affirmations on your behalf but will meet with you outside your embassy in Bangkok, make sure she has all the correct paperwork and will take it from there.  The appointment at your embassy must be at least 6 working days before your wedding.  This detail is the one which can catch people out as embassies are closed weekends and bank holidays, meaning an earlier arrival in Bangkok is needed.    The good news is that you only need to be in Bangkok for one day – we recommend arriving the day before your appointment to be safe, as most embassies only have morning appointments. But you can book your onward journey anytime from that evening.

Once your paperwork has been processed, our legal rep will have the affirmations translated into Thai and then submit everything to the Thai Ministry of Foreign affairs. Once they return the completed paperwork, this is sent to our office on Koh Samui. Faraway then passes the details to the local registrar or Balat. The details will be taken down in the register and also entered on to the national computer system.  The Balat will be booked and he will bring the register and certificates to the wedding.  After the signing we will take one of the 2 Thai certificates and have it sent to Bangkok for translation into English, and these will be posted directly to you.  The 2 Thai certificates are the only ones that will ever be produced – you cannot obtain more copies at a later date.  However, the translations can be reproduced unlimited times should you need this legal documentation in the future.  

Most of our weddings in 2013 were not made legal in Thailand.  Sometimes, couples get legally married in secret before the wedding and prefer to give the impression that the wedding is in fact a legal one which is easily done as the wedding itself looks and feels exactly the same.

Nathan and Karina with their 2 witnesses, signing the Faraway keepsake certificate after their ceremony

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