Farang Thai citizens: Caucasians and foreign national acquiring Thai Nationality – Citizenship

One of the biggest questions that lingers among foreign residents in Thailand–wannabe and legit alike–is in regards to the possibility of legally and eternally residing in the proclaimed Land of Smiles. For these farang (ฝรัง = Caucasian-white ethnic people in Thai language), as well as other non-Thai ethnic groups in Thailand, obtaining Thai citizenship would relieve them of heavy burdens and aches such as land and property ownership obstructions, and it would also free them from having to deal with visa and immigration officers on a regular basis; An emancipation from the dehumanizing regulations and policies in place regarding foreign nationals who wish to live and work in the kingdom.

Depending who and where you ask, you’re likely to get various answers to whether farangs, and all non-Thai, foreign and locally born individuals are able to obtain Thai citizenship.

The biggest misleading answer you might get is that it is impossible, and that Thailand’s foreign and domestic policy makers are too threatened by foreigners to ever allow one to become Thai, etc. etc.

Others will tell you the opposite–that it is not only possible, that many have done so already. Yet when you inquire about those ‘far and few’ lucky ones, it’s not so common that you’ll actually get many specific references naming who and how–either its some relative of a friend of a friend who read it on a forum thread, or just some unnamed rich guy.

For those wondering and dying to know the true answer, behold: It is confirmed, non-Thai ethnics, particularly farang have obtained Thai citizenship in the past, and as of now, no Thai law exists barring foreign nationals to obtain Thai citizenship. There is an actual procedure and process in place which you can review here:

Obtaining Thai Citizenship

As anyone might guess, the prospects for a foreigner to obtain Thai citizenship is probably a lot more slim in comparison to a Thai national’s prospects of becoming a citizen in many foreign countries i.e. immigrant marriage visas, but then again we all must remember that though Thailand is a country comparable to France (in size, population, and growth rate) , at the same, it lacks the resources and capital of such first worlds to handle and sustain large migratory populations to the same level and standard of its western counterparts–for what little that means.

As we digress…

One of the most famous foreign born nationals who has obtained Thai citizenship (apparently not the only one) is William Ellwood Heinecke, an American born, 59 year old (as of 2008) elite businessman in Asia. The guy’s story is quite interesting considering he came to Bangkok in 1963 at the age of 14, and apparently, only 4 years later, started his own office cleaning business at the mere age of 18.

Well, his fortune only gets better from there, but check out the link above for more details of his climb up to the top of the Asia business world with Thailand as his medium. Lets just say that the first person to open a Pizza Hut in Asia– followed by ventures that came to have franchises such as Swensons, Dairy Queen, Burger King, and its very own creation, Pizza Company under its massive revenue generating umbrella–is not just an ordinary guy who had luck working on his side during his citizenship application process decades ago, of which was finalized in 1991, when Mr. Heinecke officially became a Thai citizen.

And there are others, but as of now, we’ll have to wait until more confirmed reports uncover themselves from hiding. Feel free to post references or information about others that either one personally knows about, or has seen elsewhere who has successfully and unsuccessfully been through it.

Be sure to check out the Thaivisa Forum thread on the subject as well. And, if you haven’t already, read about the Siamerican’s citizenship validation process. Though the Siamerican’s route was via inheritance through his Thai parent, the Thai-American legalization process is completely relevant for all those who consider entering the Thai system.

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10 Responses to “Farang Thai citizens: Caucasians and foreign national acquiring Thai Nationality – Citizenship”

  1. Struggle to become Thai citizen Says:

    Here is a good article-discussion about a missionary girl who was born and raised in Thailand, with Thai as her primary language and culture, yet had much struggle in the process to be recognized as a Thai, simply because her parents were American (missionaries). Xenophobia ?

  2. Thai Nationality Act Says:

    Here is the Thai Nationality Act in detail (English) covering who and who can not be Thai and the circumstances relevant.

  3. Thailand's richest Says:

    well, according to this, Mr. Heinecke is Thailand’s 16th richest individual-family.

    William Heinecke

  4. Silpa Bhirasri Says:

    Sipa Bhirasri ศิลป์ พีระศรี is considered the father of modern arts in Thailand. He was the founder of government-art focus, Silpakorn University. And you guessed it, he was born a farang. His original name at birth in Florence Italy in 1892 was Corrado Feroci. At the age of 31, he was invited to teach western sculpture for the department of fine arts of the Ministry of Palace Affairs–the predecessor of Silpakorn University.

    He became a Thai citizen in 1944, changing his name, aparently just to avoid arrest by the Japanese. Nevertheless, he is quite a celebrated individual in the Arts circle of Thailand. His birthday, September 15 is even considered a holiday, Silpa Bhirasri day.

    Some of his famous works include the Rama I statue at Memorial bridge, as well as the Rama VI statue at Lumpini park, and probably the most recognized landmark, Democracy Monument–all these three are in Bangkok.

  5. Structural Engineer from UK Says:

    According to this page, Robert Boulter, a UK born and educated farang, became a Thai citizen in 1988, after living in the kingdom since 1972. He is a structural engineer.
    Bob boulter

  6. Ronachai Krisadaolarn (Ron Cristal) Says:

    And here is another (presumably American born) farang who officially became Thai in 1998, though apparently spent some 30 years in Thailand before getting to the point of citizenship. His profession-field appears to be in corporate law.

  7. Allen Long Says:

    Here’s a google video that an applicant for Thai citizenship posted. Worth watching!


  8. Bangkok Post discussion Says:

    Here is a nice discussion-debate to read-follow if you are a foreigner considering becoming Thai

  9. matt austen Says:

    I flew out of Bangkok yesterday and noticed a farang with a Thai passport in line for customs. He looked to be in his 30′s – 40′s and looked 100% farang.

    Lucky him!

    I’m afraid I can’t add anything else, sorry.

  10. Bartkeinath@yahoo.com Says:

    My wife is 1/2 Thai, born in the us and 38 yrs old. Her mother is Thai, and US moving here in the 70′s and owns land in Thailand. My question is if my wife can obtain dual citizenship and be able to inhrit the land or purchase her own. Then, can my daughter (1/4 Thai and American born ) be able to as well, etc. etc. My wifes complete maternal side of the family is still in Thailand (uncles, aunts, first cousins, etc…. her grandmother and grandfather are recently deceased)

    Where does one start this process and how?

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