Myanmar (Burma) is opening its economy and covets tourist dollars. Contrary to public perception, their visas are not difficult to obtain for general travelers, but their limited diplomatic missions abroad create hassle for many.
Visa requirements are standard: passport with minimum 6 months’ remaining validity, application form, photo, itinerary and fee. There is little consistency among diplomatic missions specifics, so go by what that particular mission dictates. In the US, the embassy in Washington, D.C. wants 1 form and 2 photos, while the consulate in New York wants 2 forms and 3 photos. Both charge US$2o and the visa is valid for 3 months for 1 non-extendable stay of 28 days.
There are inconsistencies, such as the Washington embassy saying, “Payment of Visa fees must be provided with Money Order. Payment arranged through Credit Card/ Personal Check/ Cash is not accepted,” but on the same page there is a flashing notice, “Temporarily the Embassy will only accept cash payment for visa fees starting from 6th April 2012.”
To simply the process, on April 1, the Myanmar Evisa launched in test phase. This is run by the government, not one of the many tour agencies selling online visa services.
In a sample test, the system worked well through submission but no payment option appeared, instead a payment confirmation number was given, though it is doubtful visas are free to early adopters. The link to the fee page goes nowhere. The coolest part of the system is ability to take a picture through a computer webcam. Only the most basic info is required, in contrast to the lengthy application forms from diplomatic missions.
There are two key differences from the standard tourist visa (see the FAQ):
- Evisa only available for air arrival to Yangon.
- Evisa only valid for entry within 30 days, not 3 months, so they recommend application not greater than 35 days prior to arrival. Evisa processing time is 5 business days.
If planning a trip to Myanmar, and some mileage runners are doing just that if their tickets ever get issued (see upgrd Matthew here and here), this system will hopefully be fully functional soon and worth giving a try before going the traditional route. Air Asia is already touting the Evisa and Air Asia from Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur is one of the best flight options. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree has a thread on this. Stay tuned for updates.