Dual National Son and National Service

Question from a client: My 16-year old son was born in the USA, and has lived in Thailand (American father / Thai mother) for the last 10 years. He has his US birth certificate, social security number, US passport, Thai ID card, house registration, Thai passport. Just wondering what will happen when he turns 20 and has to do the Thai military draft lottery. I’m sure like most folks, he doesn’t want to end up in the military, so what are the other options? I’ve heard you can pay (50k baht?) to avoid it. What if he was living in the US, and either going to college or working, how would that work? Is his name in the system, and if he doesn’t show up, since he’s in the USA, would he get in trouble?

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisors responds:

Since your son is listed in a Thai house registration or Tabien Ban, then his name will automatically be submitted to authorities for inclusion in the military draft lottery draw. It is a lottery system where he may or may not be chosen for military service but at the age of 17, ie in one year, he must enroll in the Registrant List with the Military Registrar [known as Sassadee] at the District Office where the House Registration is located. Once enrolled he would be given a Sor Dor 9 Form. If he is not in the country, he could have a representative (usually his parent or another relative) enroll on his behalf.At the age of 20 he would have to revisit the District office to see the Military Registrar to collect an appointment slip for the lottery (Form is known as Sor Dor 35). However, living and studying overseas does provide a temporary exemption from the conscription lottery. He or you will need to present a letter of confirmation issued by the educational institute he attends, a letter of confirmation issued by the Thai Embassy or Consulate in the country that education institute is located, the Sor Dor 9 (previously obtained at the age of 17), a Sor Dor 35 (if any), and house registration. This exemption is only available to him until he reaches the age of 29. If he stayed in the US after the end of his schooling he could still move back to Thailand later and, at the age of 30, apply for an exemption based on age. If he moves back to Thailand immediately after University it is important to note that if he has a degree and volunteers on conscription day, he’ll only have to serve 6 months, if he doesn’t volunteer and is chosen in the lottery then he will have to serve two years, even with the university degree.

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