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Legal Matters in Thailand

The information in this section contains basic guidance about Thai laws and how the legal system functions in the Kingdom of Thailand.

Important: It is not a substitute for legal advice. If you get into trouble, you should contact a lawyer who is qualified to practice law in Thailand.

What Happens if You Break Thailand Laws?

You will be subject to the relevant judicial system if you get caught breaking the law in another country. For example, in Thailand:

Thai authorities will not accept 'being a foreigner' or 'claiming not to know the local laws' as valid excuses. In other words, if you are staying in Thailand you will need to accept the consequences of your own actions.

Understanding the Thai Legal System

The foundation for the legal system in Thailand relates to civil law. As such, and according to criminal law, an accused is innocent until proven guilty.

In addition, the burden of proof rests with the public prosecutor and a defendant must be given the benefit of the doubt.

What if an accused gets convicted of committing an offence? If so, the person(s) is subject to the punishment as prescribed by law (e.g. the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code).

What if You Get Arrested?

The same criminal law applies to Thai citizens and to foreigners who commit crimes within the territory. Thus, an administrative or a police officer can make an arrest upon the issuance of an arrest warrant issued by the court.

But, a warrant would not be needed for an arrest in certain extenuating circumstances or mitigating factors, such as when:

After making an arrest, the investigating officer has the authority to detain the alleged offender for a period of up to forty eight (48) hours from the time the person arrives at the police station.

Even so, the law requires that the alleged offender is placed into the custody of the court if the investigating officer cannot complete the investigation within this timeframe.

Important: Thailand is an INTERPOL member country. As a result, severe offenders might be subject to an INTERPOL notice.

Doing Business and Working

In most cases, if you are a foreign national working in Thailand you will need to have the appropriate visa. You may also need to read further publications about:

To avoid common scams, it is best to make the visa arrangements through your employer or contact the nearest Royal Thai embassy for expert advice.


If you enter the kingdom for volunteering work, the organisation will need to have a legal registration with the Thai Ministry of Commerce (MOC).

The volunteer organisation also needs to provide you with a recommendation letter for visa application and to get a work permit.

Financial Rules and Regulations

Thailand's monetary and financial systems are basically governed by the Bank of Thailand (BOT). The BOT has a wide range of responsibilities within the Kingdom.

In Thailand, as with other places in the world, it is possible to make (and lose) your money. But, there are some general banking guidelines you should be following.

Marriage and Divorce

Property and Land

Property for most Thais is simply a place to live - their home. Hence, treat Thai people and their needs with respect when searching for property in Thailand.

Retiring in Thailand

There are several steps to follow if you plan to retire in Thailand, depending on which country you are coming from. You can select the appropriate country at the Royal Thai Embassy for further guidance about getting a visa.

British Nationals

Another section explains more about healthcare in Thailand for British people who are moving or living overseas.

For example, you can find a list of care homes and extra information relating to mental health support for British nationals. It's also important to have the appropriate travel insurance cover when travelling to Thailand.


In most cases, British nationals can claim the UK State Pension or the new State Pension if they decide to spend their retirement in the Kingdom of Thailand.

There is no automatic payment for Armed Forces pensions. But, you might have an "unclaimed Service pension" if you served for more than two (2) years and are older than fifty nine (59) years of age.

Important: Another section contains important information about tax when you live abroad if you are classed as a United Kingdom resident for tax purposes.

Living Will and Lasting Power of Attorney

According to the British Embassy in Bangkok, unless a Thai court formally approves the executor of a Last Will and Testament, it's unlikely to be recognised in Thailand.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) can help British nationals find a lawyer in Thailand to get further legal support.

Compared to the UK, the legal requirements for a Will and an LPA are not the same in Thailand. Even so, the United Kingdom will recognise a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) issued in Thailand (according to certain regulations).

Studying in Thailand

Some foreign applicants will choose to study at one of the famous Thai Universities, attend a seminar, or complete an internship.

First, you would need to apply for a Thai ED visa for a stay of ninety (90) days, and then extend it for a period of one (1) year from the date of the initial entry into Thailand.

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