Visas for Burma_myanmar
Vexed by visas?
The visa system in Burma (Myanmar) is evolving. Due to sudden and unpredictable changes that tend to be put in place with little notice, always double-check current requirements with an embassy. Still, we’ve put together an overview of the current system to help make things a bit simpler.
Everyone must apply beforehand
As of August 2014, there is no landing visa or visa on arrival of any type for any country — not even transit visas, not even for children accompanying their parents. This goes for both land and air arrivals. So far, the process of applying for a visa in advance seems straightforward and there has been no need to produce an onwards ticket.
The choice for pretty much everyone, a tourist visa will give you four weeks (28 days) to travel within Burma, as long as you only stay in guesthouses and hotels. Camping and staying with friends is technically illegal, unless the household registers you with the local authorities which requires official paperwork to be processed.
In November 2013, authorities began allowing people to apply for a tourist visa on arrival (VOA) before arrival in Yangon (Rangoon) through a travel agency. In early 2014, however, the option for obtaining this was suspended, then brought back, then removed again. Some travel agents do still appear to have the ability to set up visas on arrival, but your safest bet is to apply for your visa in person at an embassy. It can take up to five days and usually costs around US$30. If you are going through an agency, the cost can be around US$50.
Your tourist visa can be officially extended for two weeks with all the appropriate paperwork. You can even apply before you arrive, if you know you’ll stay longer than 28 days. Current paperwork required includes a letter of endorsement from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and costs US$50. Make sure to talk to an embassy or a travel agent beforehand for the current list of documents needed.
An overstay fee is only US$3 per day for up to the first 30 days; the fee becomes US$5 per day, for every day after 30 days. The process is simple and is the easy choice for most, IF and only IF, you do not plan on checking into any other hotel or guesthouse after your visa runs out; hotels and guesthouses verify visas during check-in and most will never accept a foreigner after their visa has expired. Plan wisely.
Things to watch out for
In theory, there is no difference between arriving and departing by air or land. Visas acquired beforehand are well accepted, and paying overstay fees at land crossings are as easy as paying them in the international airports.
We have come across a consistency issue with land checkpoint enforcement. Some land checkpoints — especially those with light traffic — tend to produce an odd story or two of an officer not knowing the current rules and regulations of the visa system currently in effect. We assume it is because of the communication issues that normally plague Myanmar in the rural areas. Sometimes it just depends on the person at the window. In this situation it is important to remain polite and request that they confirm the current information.
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