Getting a Myanmar visa is easier than ever thanks to the advanced eVisa system put into place in late 2014. Now travelers can apply and pay online for tourist visas before they arrive.
Prior to the electronic visa system, travelers had to visit an embassy to get a visa. Myanmar is one of the countries where you must have a visa arranged before arrival, otherwise, you'll be denied entry and put right back on a plane out.
Despite the challenges of dealing with military bureaucracy, Myanmar (Burma) can be an exciting and beautiful place to visit. The Burmese people are more than ready to welcome international visitors and want the world to experience their beautiful country. With limited tourism until relatively recently, traveling to Myanmar is still very affordable.
How to Apply for a Visa Online
- Go to the Myanmar eVisa homepage to begin an application
- Your passport must not be ready to expire within the next 6 months
- You will need one color photograph (4.8cm x 3.8cm) taken within the past 3 months.
- You will need a credit card to pay the application fee.
- Allow 3 working days to process your application. Burmese holidays may affect the turnaround.
- You must travel to Myanmar within 90 days of receiving your eVisa or start the application process again.
- You are permitted to remain in Myanmar for 28 days after the date of entry.
- You may not work while in Myanmar.
Note: The visa application fee is nonrefundable, so make sure that your information is entered correctly the first time and that your photo meets the specifications!
Although there are many permitted nationalities, not everyone gets to take advantage of the Myanmar eVisa system. A full list of countries is listed on their website.
After processing, you will receive a visa approval letter that needs to be printed (black-and-white is fine). You'll present the letter to an immigration officer upon arrival to receive a Myanmar visa sticker or stamp in your passport.
Entering Into Myanmar
A Myanmar visa allows you to enter the country via one of the three international airports (Yangon, Mandalay, or Nay Pyi Taw) or by one of the three Thailand-Myanmar land border crossings (Tachileik, Myawaddy, Kawthaung). Travelers with a Tourist Visa are permitted to stay for 28 days.
You'll be asked for your anticipated port of entry on the application. Although you can technically enter Myanmar via any of the ports listed above, you'll get extra scrutiny for entering the country via a crossing different from what you requested on the application. There are several "restricted zones" in the country that tourists aren't allowed to enter.
Crossing from Thailand into Myanmar by land became an option in August 2013, however, many travelers find that doing so is still a tricky endeavor. Before planning your trip around making a land border crossing, do some research to ensure that border checkpoints aren't closed.
As of January 2016, land border crossings were made a little easier. Travelers may exit Myanmar via the Htikee land border crossing but may not enter the country from there.
The Myanmar eVisa is currently not an option for travelers arriving by sea on cruises.
How to Get a Tourist Visa
If for some reason you can't sort out a Myanmar visa online, you can still apply the "old fashioned" way by either visiting a Burmese embassy or mailing your passport, visa application, and money order to an embassy for processing.
Travelers to Myanmar have two options: apply for a Myanmar visa in their home countries, or apply for a Myanmar visa in China or Southeast Asia. Regardless of what you choose, the visa has to be in your passport before arriving in Myanmar!
The Tourist Visa
The Myanmar visa allows you 28 days of travel inside of Myanmar after flying into the airport or crossing the border with Thailand; the visa cannot be extended. A visa for Myanmar is only valid for three months from the date of issue, so plan your trip accordingly.
Travelers from Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines can enter into Myanmar visa exempt for up to 14 days. Residents of Thailand must enter via one of the international airports.
Although applying for a Myanmar visa is slightly more involved than that of neighboring countries, the process is fairly straightforward. As with any regime, you may be asked additional questions, and the application can be killed at the whim of officials who may be having a bad day.
U.S. citizens can apply with one of the three Myanmar diplomatic missions (Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles, regardless of the state of residence.) Your best bet is to go with the Washington DC embassy.
To get a visa for Myanmar, you'll need:
- Completed visa application form (obtainable from the Myanmar Embassy website)
- Completed work history form (the form is also on the Myanmar Embassy website)
- A copy of your flight itinerary or a letter from your tour operator
- Money order or cashier's check (no cash or personal checks)
- Your passport (valid for at least 6 months after entry)
- One prepaid, self-addressed FedEx, UPS, or USPS return envelope (postage and tracking are your responsibility)
- Two recent, color photographs of your face taken against a white background. Photos must be standard size (35mm x 45mm / 2 inches x 2 inches). No photocopied photographs.
The above should be mailed to: Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, 2300 S St NW, Washington, D. C. 20008-4089
Note: Your passport is important — don't skimp on the postage! Always use registered mail with tracking before sending it into the unknown. The Myanmar visa takes around one week (excluding weekends and public holidays) to process; allow time for mailing.
Contacting the Embassy
Although you are not guaranteed a response, you can contact the Myanmar Embassy by dialing (202) 332-4352 or (202) 238-9332.
Email is the most unreliable option: email@example.com.
The embassies hours (EST) Monday through Friday except for official holidays:
- 9:30 am - 12:00 pm
- 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Applying for a Visa in Bangkok
To simplify flights and see two interesting countries, many travelers opt to fly into Bangkok, spend a few days or longer, then fly on to Yangon. You can enjoy some activities and go shopping in Bangkok while waiting for your Myanmar visa to be processed.
The Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok is located: 132 Sathorn Nua Road, Bangkok, Thailand 10500
Contact them at: (662) 233 2237, (662) 233 7250, (662) 234 4698, (662) 237 7744. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The application process is usually completed in two working days, although the embassy can rush the process if you ask very politely. Plan to pay the application fee in U.S. dollars or Thai baht. No need to worry about getting Burmese kyat (the official currency of Myanmar) until you arrive in the country.
Getting a Business Visa
As of July 2015, business eVisas are now available online for business travelers. They permit 70 days in Myanmar after the date of entry. Plan on at least three working days to process your Business Visa request.
Myanmar Business Visa requirements:
- Passport valid for 6 months
- One color digital photo that was taken within the last 3 months
- Letter of invitation from a registered company
- Proof of the inviting company's registration
Note: When leaving Myanmar, all travelers must pay an exit fee at the airport counter before allowed to board a flight.
The staff at Myanmar diplomatic missions will observe Burmese public holidays as well as the public holidays in the country of the embassy (e.g., Thailand, etc). If you have a rushed itinerary, plan your Myanmar visa application accordingly.
Holidays in Myanmar aren't always fixed; sometimes they're based on a lunar-solar calendar and may change from year to year. The embassy website lists public holidays so you'll know when they'll be closed.