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ResourcesFamily LawMarriage RegistrationAre Fingerprints and a Police Clearance Needed to Marry in Thailand?

Are Fingerprints and a Police Clearance Needed to Marry in Thailand?

Transcript of the above video:

In this video today, as the title suggests, we are talking about marriages in Thailand and specifically police background checks and fingerprints. Why am I bringing this up? Well some rather interesting information came to my attention via the Phuket news, their official website is www.thephuketnews.com and the title of this recent article published Saturday February 24th, 2018, the title is "It's a crime: Foreigners Marrying Thais Now Subject to Fingerprints Taken for Criminal Background". I'm going to quote directly from this article. I am not going to quote the entire article. It's quite long but the, but I'm going to quote a few sections from it, sort of make some comments on what's going on here and then from there basically do a little background information on how marriage works and how these developments could substantially change the process for getting married in the Kingdom. Byline Phuket: Officials in charge of registering marriages in Phuket have confirmed that they have begun scanning fingerprints of all foreign men who register to marry a Thai woman so that they can have criminal background checks conducted. The regulation change which was issued by the Department of Provincial Administration, or the DOPA, head office in Bangkok in August 2017, was revealed this week after a foreigner contacted the Phuket news asking for clarification on why he was required to have a criminal history check so he could marry his Thai fiancée. Skipping ahead and quoting further, “the marriage registration model issued by the DOPA in June 2015 says, and I quote, "the department of Provincial Administration considers that marriage of foreigners to Thai citizens will have effects on socio-economic conditions where in some cases of the marriages of a Thai woman and a foreign man, some foreigners will use a marriage certificate to apply for a visa to extend their stay in Thailand, work without a permit and other illegal activities. Some officials have also been found to be involved in this”, said the notice. In order to prevent this, the Department of Provincial Administration sets a model in the case of a foreign man registering to marry a Thai woman which are to be strictly enforced by each District Office" it said. The Palad at Phuket’s Muang District Office explained that, “criminal record checks are one way which all District Offices in Phuket have enforced the model set by the department". So I am going to stop quoting there. Again, I truly urge viewers that are checking out this video to go ahead and go over to the phuketnews.com and check out that article in detail because there is more in there, there's more nuance. A couple more things to keep in mind.

This may just be a Phuket phenomenon, they are essentially interpreting the broader regulatory framework as a practical matter in their own locality and this is what they have come up with as far as implementing measures best designed to tackle what is perceived to be a problem of foreign men marrying Thai women and then sort of using the marriage as a basis for exploiting certain loopholes within the bureaucratic system, especially things like visa extension and working without a proper work permit. So clearly there is a regulatory framework on this, there is a policy that has been implemented and each of the local regions seems to be, or at least Phuket, seems to be taking the position that fingerprinting and background checking folks associated, folks looking to get married, is going to be one way to go ahead and try to stem the tide of sort of bad actors, it may be sort of akin to a policy extension with respect to so called “Good Guys In, Bad Guys Out” . I can't say for certain this is all just speculative. Here's another thing to think of. This may just be today be something going on locally in Phuket, but it may happen more broadly throughout the country. It may be that Phuket is just the first to implement what is an overarching enforcement policy that's yet to take effect in other parts of the country or the entire country, so this may become something that's just required as part of every marriage here in the Kingdom. It wouldn't strike me as particularly odd to require this. There are other things in the country that require individuals that require police background checks in order for individuals of foreign nationality to obtain those benefits: things like permanent residence for example; things like naturalization to Thai citizenship require police background checks.  Marriage presumably, isn't something that quite has the same impact as either of those two immigration situations but it is a permanent, or presumably it's a permanent institution that one’s engaging in and it is something that can permanently create benefits for the foreigner involved so I can sort of see the policy logic behind the notion of saying "look we're going to basically require criminal background checks in these matters because one of the big results is, is  you can get ongoing marriage visas as a result of simply being married to a Thai and for that reason we don't want this to be used as  a sort of an avenue of circumvention for sort of sidestepping the requirement for criminal background checks in other more permanent immigration categories. So will this be implemented nationwide remains to be seen although I think it's not altogether illogical to sort of infer that this may have broader implications. That being said we will keep you updated on this channel as further developments occur.