After a month of travel through Europe, our engagement in Wicklow, Ireland and wedding in Bali, Indonesia we arrive in Bangkok City to complete the legal part of the marriage. By far the most tedious of proceedings but also the most important. Legal marriage in Bangkok involves a three-part process; first obtain an “Affirmation of Freedom to Marry” from the British Embassy and translate it opposite, Second have the document legalised at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Third complete the legal marriage at a local registry office. Fun…? Three tedious processes making up three mind-numbing days.
1. Affirmation of Freedom to Marry (British Embassy)
For the ‘Affirmation of Freedom to Marry’ we fill out the form at home to then bring to the British Embassy. No arranged time or appointment. The British Embassy is found at 14 Wireless Road, Bangkok, a short walk from Ploen Chit Skytrain (BTS) and opens Mon-Fri for only 3 hours between 08:00am and 11:00am. Bring passport (UK) and pay the required fee (2,990 Baht). The queue takes roughly one hour. Once received the document you will need it translated to Thai. Walking back to Ploen Chit BTS station the Wave Building, 1st floor, has offices who will translate the document. Cost 300 Baht (200 Baht for translation, 100 Baht for an official stamp). Eager touts will pester you along the way. For the ‘Affirmation of Freedom to Marry’ form check the British Embassy Website. Phone (+66 (0) 2 305 8333).
2. Legalising the Document (Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
By far the worst of the three processes. My original plan was to go directly to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs after completing the translation. To do this you have to start early and arrive at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs before midday. Any later and the document will not be completed that day meaning having to return the following day. There is an alternative option where the Translation Office do the legwork. It takes three days for return but maybe worth it if working with no time constraints. I opt to hold off and instead visit early the following day. I travel from central Bangkok to the Skytrain’s Mo Chit station which is closest to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (123 Chaeng Wattana Road, Laksi). Another option is the Subway (MRT) to Chatuchak station. From here an 80 Baht taxi fare finds the offices. Straight up the stairs, up more again and here you will fill in a form and hand it to the counter along with Translated Affirmation of Freedom to Marry Document and a copy of passport. For same day return you will need to pay the Express Service Fee (800 Baht). I am told it takes 3-4 hours. I return in 3 hours to be told it will take 3 more hours. They are either way off on time estimates or they completely forgot to start mine. In total I wait 6 hours. Plastic chair. Quick bites at the Coupon Food Court. Quite possibly the dullest day of my life.
3. The Legal Marriage in Bangkok (Registry Office / Khet)
Thankfully we were already wed in Bali. Marriage days don’t come less romantic than in Bangkok khets. Queues, plastic seats, watching digits pass on a number board. For the Legal Marriage we opt for the central Khet Bangrak Registration Office (80 Baht taxi from Sukhumvit). No appointment. We turn up late afternoon and after an hour or so photocopying, signing and queuing we are officially married. The Bangrak Khet is best for Western marriages and the process is relatively simple. For two witnesses we act as witnesses for the couple in front of us while they do the same for us (quickly signature on paper). For photocopying documents there is a small print shop a couple doors down. The marriage costs nothing.