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Prior appointments needed
The British embassy in Bangkok has now changed the system for obtaining notarial (documentary) services from the main site in Wireless Road. British nationals must now make an appointment online and can no longer turn up on a first-come, first-served queuing basis. The revision was introduced on March 23.
The services affected by this change are swearing an oath about freedom to marry, any affidavit, needing a witness signature, making a certified copy and uniting documents. However, some other notarial services can be handled by post, notably the famous letter confirming your income or salary for Thai immigration purposes.
This move brings the notarial services section of the embassy into line with other departments which already require a prior appointment, including applying for a British passport which is handled by the sub-office at Trendy Office. Effectively, this means that everyone requiring a service at the British embassy or its sub-office must have a confirmed written appointment time before they make the journey.
The embassy says that the change in procedure is part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s consular strategy which claims to want to provide a more professional, modern and streamlined service for British nationals who require access to notarial and documentary services. The strategy was launched in April 2013 and covers the period to mid 2016.
Full information about notarial services can be found at the British embassy website www.gov.uk/notarial-and-documentary-services-guide-for-thailand. The site gives a detailed account of which services require a physical presence and which can be handled by post. For example, the legalization of a seal or signature can be handled without visiting the embassy.
It should be noted that most embassy services of any kind are now centred on Bangkok. The Pattaya office of the local honorary consul was closed in 2011 and the Chiang Mai office, although still open, offers fewer services than in the past. It is widely believed that financial cuts, imposed from London, have been responsible for the curtailment of services in the provinces. Government statements now lay heavy emphasis on Brits abroad using the social media, wherever possible, rather than overly relying on human interaction.
The embassy does maintain a network of honorary consuls and consular correspondents throughout Thailand. But they do not normally advertise their services publicly and British citizens are urged to go through the Bangkok headquarters when making inquiries. The government says this is to ensure that there is fair standardization and adequate monitoring.
Separately, reports show that the time required for obtaining a British passport in Thailand is now only about one month. Last summer there was a serious international backlog and a delay of three months was common before the passport actually arrived. Thailand-based British applicants for passports now apply with their documentation at Trendy Office in Bangkok where staff then forward the paperwork to the UK for processing. However, emergency travel documentation can still be issued locally by the embassy.
The British embassy switchboard number in Bangkok is 02 305 8333. There is also a 24-hour emergency consular assistance number based in UK – (+44) 020 700 81500.
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