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Are Children Born in Thailand Automatically Thai Citizens?

Transcript of the above video:

In recent weeks, there's been some questions that have come up with our Thai attorneys in the office. I've been sort of asked this stuff too or I've been asked to act as sort of liaison between the Thai staff and various clients. But it's basically, these issues have revolved around is one born in the Kingdom of Thailand automatically a Thai by birth by dent or simply being born in Thailand? And the simple answer is as of the time of this filming, no. You're not necessarily born Thai just because one is born in the physical jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Thailand.

So let's take this sort of, in the example format. What are we talking about here? Conceptually, well let's say you've got two American citizen nationals or any foreign nationals for that matter, but let's just say two American citizens are living and working in Thailand, they have business visas or they have some form of well, they would have met if they're living and working here and they're both American citizens stands to reason they're both going to be business visa holders. They've got work permits etc, they go ahead they have a child together, that child is born in the Kingdom. Is that child born a Thai citizen? The short answer is no. They are not more Thai citizen because Thailand primarily utilizes a nationality doctrine called “jus sanguinis” which is the law of the blood, that's a rough translation. Basically what that means is they tend to look at citizenship from the standpoint of the nationality of the parents at the time of the birth of the child. If neither one of the parents are in fact a Thai national, then the child is not in fact born in Thai national.

If one of the parents, either the male or the female, the father or the mother of the child is a Thai national at the time of the child's birth, that child is born Thai. There is one exception under the current legal framework, under the Thai Nationality Act as it so sits right now according to the Thai legal staff in our office. That exception is this - two foreign-born permanent residents in the Kingdom of Thailand, if they should have a child in the Kingdom then that child will be born Thai.

So there's this one exception with respect to those who have permanent residence in the Kingdom. If you've got two PRs and those two PRs have a biological child, that child is born Thai. So that's the only exception to this sort of overarching jus sanguinis policy.

Another thing to think about with respect to this situation such as this, well what is the child born as? Well the child simply born as a foreign national in Thailand. There are some presumptions with respect to that child being born in Thailand. For example, children born in Thailand have quite an easier time getting what's called a yellow tabian baan - that's a foreign, a house book for a foreign national in the Kingdom. This is somewhat different than pretty much everybody else. There's certain presumptions that for a yellow tabian baan ought to be issued and therefore it's somewhat more readily available under the circumstances of a foreign national born in Thailand.

It should also be noted that there have been and I'm not going to get too deep into this, there have been variations in the Thai Nationality Act over the years. So there were windows of opportunity or windows of time where if one was born in the Kingdom of Thailand during a certain period of time, where it might be possible that that individual might be a Thai national. I stressed might and might very heavily because it's going to be heavily circumstantially dependent.

The other issue with respect to that is procurement of relevant documentation pertaining to the circumstances of one's birth. One of the major issues with the so called hill tribes here in Thailand is the fact that most of those individuals have a problem producing relevant documentation pertaining to their birth or the circumstances surrounding thereto. As a result of that, those folks can't get the proper documents necessary to fully lock in the benefits, I should say of those individuals’ Thai nationality. This may be the same for a foreign national born in Thailand under previous incarnations of the Thai Nationality Act. There may be sort of similarities there.

There may even be Thai nationals that have a problem proving up their nationality that may have certain relevant Thai nationality documentation just because they haven't been physically present enough in the Kingdom of Thailand to go ahead and have certain types of identity documentation generated up in order to get things like their Thai ID Card. I’m not going into that  too deeply.

The thing to take away from this video is two foreign nationals in the Kingdom of Thailand who are not in permanent resident status, if they have a child in Thailand under the current incarnation of the Thai nationality laws, that child is not born with Thai nationality. That child is simply born with the nationality of their parents. There is one follow away exception to that which is the notion of statelessness. If the child would be born were to be born stateless as a result of being born in Thailand and not having Thai nationality immediately conferred, there are some mechanisms to allow for Thai nationality if that child is in fact stateless.

Again, the same issues are very, very prevalent in those situations where the lack of documentation becomes a significant hindrance and creates a sort of an improbability of being able to secure Thai nationality documentation. But that being said, there is a specific exemption sort of exception, catch-all exception, whatever you want to call it, for those who would be stateless if this law were applied, if the “jus sanguinis” policy were applied to strictly.

But that being said, I I and my colleagues and the firm when discussing it have never actually come across a case where nationality was conferred due to that exception. So it's quite improbable to see nationality conferred based on that basis. So the thing to keep in mind, two foreign nationals (not permanent residents) have a child in the Kingdom of Thailand, that child is effectively not a Thai national. It's simply the nationality of one or both of the parents.