Marriage and Birth bureaucracyPosted by Hodge on Feb 22, 2008 in Life, Rants • 1 comment •
I recently got married, and my Wife is from the Lisu Hill Tribe (originally from Tibet, and have migrated – walked – to Northern Thailand in recent years). We had the ceremony in her village, the Shaman informed the Ancestral and Nature Spirits that we are married, and we’re happy, our families are happy, the village is happy – in fact, everyone is happy. Except for the government.
If we want to be recognised (yes, that’s correct – no “z”) as “legally” married, we have to obtain an anonymous signature, from somebody neither of us have ever met – and what’s more, we have to pay for it! To be fair to the Thai government, there are no costs involved in obtaining the marriage certificate from the Amphur (city council), but there’s a horrible chain of, not surprisingly since the British Government are pretty tight-arsed, non-free bureaucracy from the British side. First, I have to download a document from the British Embassy’s website, which I then have re-type in the exact same format (since they can’t even be bothered to supply an editable document) declaring that I am not currently married, and can legally marry. I then have to take this document in person to the British Embassy in Bangkok (bear in mind that I live in the Jungle of Northern Thailand, and that I absolutely despise Bangkok), and pay someone 3500 baht to sign it. That’s about £50 or $100! For an anonymous signature, that probably takes approximately 2 – 3 seconds. Now, that’s a wage bracket I’d love to be in! Not only that, but I have to wait 24 hours for the dude to sign it! More expense require to stay a night in Bangkok.
When the consul has finally decided that it’s worth his time to sign it (and it should be for 3500 Baht), I have to take the document and get it translated (another 4000 – 5000 baht), and signed again… for another fee.
So, once I’ve paid someone I’ve never met to tell me I can get married, we can finally go to the Amphur and be registered as married. Yay!
My Wife is also pregnant, and due to give birth in a month 😀 and I would like to register my Child’s birth with the UK registry office. If He/She is born in the UK, then this would be free. However, He/She will be born here in Thailand, so once again, I have to pay for someone to tap a few keys and click “Add to Database”, followed by “File -> Print” for the UK Birth Certificate. I honestly wouldn’t mind paying reasonable administration fees, but I have to pay 15,000 baht! 15,000!!! That’s £242.52 at today’s rate. Where the hell did they come up with that figure? That’s more than my Wife’s family earn in 6 months – and they work bloody hard every day! Certainly harder than the Consul, with his benefits and Bentleys…
Ironic, since I moved to the Jungle to get away from the expense of living in the UK…