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I found this online: "According to the U.S. Department of State, all American citizens must possess a valid passport in order to exit and re-enter the United States. Trying to return to the U.S. with an expired passport may result in being denied entrance. It is best to resolve this before your return trip. You can apply for an emergency renewal at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate general." I assume that the US can't really deny re-entry to an American Citizen. but I suspect that they could turn it into a bureaucratic nightmare. Interestingly, even an expired US Passport (up to 5 years expired) is valid proof of identity and citizenship to obtain a new passport. Far better to be safe than sorry and re-enter the US while to passport is still valid. A US passport is valid for ten years (and there is no time restriction as to how early you can apply for renewal). So, it is hard to imagine any reasonable explanation for her failure to renew in a timely fashion. [Also, you mention: " She did try to contact the US Embassy in Bangkok but got no answer..." I have dealt with the American Consular Services at the US Embassy in Bangkok and they have always been prompt, courteous and professional in their response. Perhaps your landlady meant that she did not get the response that she had wanted.]
I believe the section you referenced applies where Porn alone wants to apply for the baby's passport. Where both parents are present for the application (baby too--since they take a photo), no marriage/divorce documentation is asked for. Pen and I are not married and we had no problem getting Jenny's Thai Passport last year.
This is from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Documents required for applicants under the age of 15Birth Certificate or a certified copy from the applicant’s district office House Registration Parents or legal guardian’s Citizenship I.D. Card or the other identification card which complies to the rules of the Ministry of Interior A parental consent letter and a certified copy of the parent’s Citizenship I.D. Card of non-appearing parent We got a Thai Passport for our daughter, Jenjira ("Jenny") at the Pattaya Office at the Avenue Shopping Centre. It was very easy and the staff was extremely helpful. [Four staff members ignored all waiting applicants to make sure that they captured the most adorable baby picture possible for Jenny's passport photo.] We are not married, but we are both listed on the Thai Birth Certificate. No questions or issues for divorce/marriage for either of us. Thus, we needed the following: Pen's Thai ID Card, my Passport, Jenny's Birth Certificate and the Tambien Baan from Pen's Village (Listing Jenny--but not me--as a house member). As an aside, I'm assuming that your daughter is already listed on a Tambien Baan (House Registration Book)---you will need a copy of that. Since I am an American Citizen, the process for a USA Passport is obviously different from your situation. Nevertheless, we were able to obtain a "Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America", Jenny's US Passport and Social Security Number--all in a single visit to the American Embassy in Bangkok. I simply expended the necessary time and effort to insure that the documentation was in order. We've used Jenny's Thai Passport twice for visits to Siem Reap (Thai's don't pay a visa fee, Americans do). We went through the process only a year ago, so feel free to PM me about our experience.