BurmaOfficial Name: Union of Burma
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
Amounts in excess of USD 10,000 must be declared upon entry.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Amounts in excess of USD 10,000 must be declared upon exit.
Embassies and Consulates
110 University Ave
Telephone: +(95) (1) 536-509, ext. 4240
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 09-512-4330, or +(95) (1) 536-509, ext. 4014
Burma (Myanmar) is a developing agrarian country emerging from decades of rule by an authoritarian military regime. Following elections in November 2010, a civilian government headed by President Thein Sein has initiated a series of political and economic reforms that have resulted in a substantial opening of the long-isolated country. These reforms have included the release of many political prisoners, preliminary peace agreements with some armed ethnic groups, greater freedom of the press, and parliamentary by-elections in 2012 in which pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her opposition party won a landslide victory.
After a long period of isolation, Burma has started to encourage tourism. As a foreigner, you can expect to pay more than locals do for accommodations, domestic airfares, and entry to tourist sites. Tourist facilities in Rangoon, Bagan, Ngapali Beach, Inle Lake, and Mandalay are superior to tourist facilities in other parts of the country, where they are limited or nonexistent. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Burma for additional information.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
The Government of Burma controls travel to, from, and within Burma. To enter Burma, you must have a valid passport with at least six months remaining validity and a valid visa. You should apply for your visa at a Burmese embassy or consulate abroad before you arrive in Burma. In Burma, you will be required to show your passport with a valid visa at all airports, train stations, and hotels. Security checkpoints are common outside of tourist areas.
On September 1, 2014, the Government of Burma announced an eVisa program for tourist visas. The program allows tourists to apply for a visa online rather than physically applying at an embassy or consulate. Tourists are generally notified within a few days about whether they have been approved for a visa. You must present the approval letter at Immigration when you enter the country. Once tourists are approved for the visa, the visa needs to be used within three months.
In 2012, the Government of Burma announced a visas-on-arrival program for business travelers in order to facilitate investment in the country. More information about the program can be found on the Embassy of Burma’s website. Pursuant to those guidelines, the visas-on-arrival program is available only to those with a formal letter of invitation from a business registered with the Burmese Ministry of Commerce, and not to those intended for tourists seeking tourist visas.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures to verify the status of children travelers at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission from the absent parent(s) or legal guardian for the child's travel. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may help you with entry/departure.
You can get information about entry requirements as well as other information from the Embassy of Burma’s website. The Embassy is located at 2300 S Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20008. Telephone: 202-332-4350. The Permanent Mission of Burma to the UN is located at 10 East 77th St., New York, NY 10021. Telephone: 212-535-1311 or 212-744-1271. Fax: 212-744-1290.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Burma.
You can find general information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Safety and Security
Conflicts between the government and various ethnic minority groups continue in several border regions in Burma. In some border areas, anti-personnel landmines pose an additional danger. Occasional fighting continues to occur in Kachin State and northern Shan State, including along the Burma-China border. In the past, fighting between government forces and rebel groups has occurred along Burma’s borders with India and Thailand as well.
In February 2015, intense fighting broke out in the Kokang self-administered region of northern Shan state between the Burmese military and armed groups. The government subsequently declared a state of emergency and imposed martial law in the Kokang self-administered region. Numerous civilians have fled the area and sought refuge in Lashio, the largest town in northern Shan State, and across the border in China. Attacks on Myanmar National Red Cross convoys in the Kokang area have injured humanitarian workers.
Additionally, recent clashes in Kachin State between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burmese military continue to endanger civilians.
Ongoing violence in Rakhine State has displaced thousands, and has resulted in civilian casualties. Violence in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, in March 2014 resulted in widespread property destruction and prompted many international non-governmental organizations’ employees to temporarily leave Rakhine State.
Burma has experienced sporadic bombings, primarily targeting government buildings and vehicles. In October 2013, a hardline faction of an armed ethnic group planted five bombs in public areas in Rangoon and Mandalay. The explosions killed two and injured four, including one U.S. citizen. In 2014, IEDs exploded or were otherwise discovered throughout Burma, including in Mandalay Division and Kayin and Mon States.
The State Department alerts U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Burma to the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for November 2015. U.S. citizens are urged to exercise caution and remain abreast of the security situation in the period leading up to the elections.
The State Department recommends U.S. citizens maintain a high level of security awareness. U.S. citizens should avoid crowded public places, such as large public gatherings, demonstrations, and any areas cordoned off by security forces. Even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can quickly become violent and unpredictable. While in country, U.S. citizens should closely follow media reports and public information about the security situation, which changes daily, in Burma.
The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism retains a list of regions where tourists are permitted that can be found here. Due to travel restrictions placed on U.S. diplomats by the Government of Burma, our ability to assist U.S. citizens affected by incidents in remote areas of Burma may be limited.
To stay connected:
- Bookmark our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts and the Worldwide Caution ;
- Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook;
- Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada. If from other countries, call 1-202-501-4444, a regular toll line. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays);
- Take some time before travel to improve your personal security. Here are some useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Crime rates in Burma, especially involving foreigners, are lower than those of many other countries in the region. Nevertheless, the crime rate has been increasing. Violent crime against foreigners is rare.
Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, but if you purchase them, you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the U.S. Embassy. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport;
- For violent crimes such as assault or rape, help you find appropriate medical care;
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and contact family members or friends;
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys (however,, although the local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime).
There is no equivalent number to the “911” emergency line in Burma.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Burma, you are subject to its laws, even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. It is illegal to take pictures of Burmese officials and of certain buildings, such as military installations and government buildings. There are also some things that might be legal in Burma, but are still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States.
While in Burma, you should carry your U.S. passport or a photocopy of passport data and visa pages at all times so that if you are questioned by Burmese officials, you will have proof of your U.S. citizenship readily available. It is important to remember, however, that your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution for violating local laws.
Although the current civilian government has repealed some of the laws that prohibited people from exercising many of the rights that U.S. citizens enjoy in the United States – including the freedoms of assembly and speech – there are still many laws on the books that criminalize things that are not illegal in the United States. For example, Burmese law forbids Burmese citizens from possessing dual nationality.
Under the Burmese Motor Vehicle Act of 1964, driving while intoxicated is punishable by either six months in jail, or a 500 kyat (equivalent to USD 50 cents) fine, or both.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in that country, others may not. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
Photography: Do not photograph or videotape the military or police, or anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest such as bridges, airfields, government buildings, or government vehicles. Burmese authorities might interpret these actions as provocative and may question and/or arrest you.
Travel within Burma: Burmese authorities require that hotels and guesthouses furnish information about the identities and activities of their foreign guests. Burmese who interact with foreigners may be compelled to report on those interactions to Burmese authorities. Security personnel traditionally place foreign visitors under surveillance; your actions, such as meeting with Burmese citizens, particularly in public spaces like hotel lobbies, rooms, and restaurants, could still be monitored.
You will not generally be required to obtain advance permission to travel to the main tourist areas of Mandalay and the surrounding area, Bagan, Inle Lake, Ngapali, and other beach resorts. However, the Burmese government restricts access to some areas of the country on an ad-hoc basis, stating it cannot guarantee the safety of foreigners. If you plan to travel in Burma, you should check with Burmese tourism authorities to see whether travel to specific destinations is permitted. Even if the Burmese authorities allow travel to specific destinations in Burma, you may not be safe traveling in those areas.
Wherever you travel in Burma, you should be careful to respect the differences between the culture and customs of the United States and Burma.
Dual Nationals: According to Burmese law, Burmese citizens automatically lose their Burmese citizenship when they obtain another country’s citizenship. When a Burmese citizen acquires another nationality, including U.S. citizenship, Burmese authorities reportedly require these individuals to inform the Burmese government, to surrender their Burmese nationality, and to provide the change of address associated with their move to the foreign country. They also demand relinquishment of any National Registration Card or National Scrutiny Card, which is evidence of Burmese citizenship. On occasion, Burmese authorities have detained and pursued criminal proceedings against Burmese-Americans who have returned to Burma on U.S. passports and who have had in their possession evidence of Burmese citizenship, such as a National Registration Card. If you have U.S. citizenship and have not surrendered your Burmese citizenship, you should check with the nearest Burmese embassy prior to your travel to Burma.
Customs Regulations: It is illegal to enter or exit Burma with items such as firearms, pornography, narcotics, ivory, and other restricted items. Travelers must have an export permit in order to exit with gems purchased in Burma that are valued at more than $500. On several occasions in the past two decades, foreigners have been detained, searched, and imprisoned for attempting to take restricted items out of the country.
Customs officials also limit the amount of items that can be brought into the country. Travelers who do not declare dutiable items on the Customs declaration form can be fined and their items confiscated. The Burmese government has never provided a complete list of prohibited import items. For information on restricted items for import into Burma and specific customs’ requirements, please contact the nearest Burmese embassy (Embassy of the Union of the Republic of Myanmar), the Embassy of Burma in Washington, D.C., or the Permanent Mission of Burma to the United Nations in New York.
Import and Travel Prohibitions: The U.S. government prohibits the importation into the United States of jadeite and rubies mined or extracted from Burma, as well as articles of jewelry containing them. It is important to know that this prohibition extends even to those gems purchased in third countries if they were originally mined in or extracted from Burma. The United States government restricts travel into the United States by people who contribute to human rights abuses or undermine Burma’s democratic reform process and affiliates of the former Burmese military regime.
Computers, Internet, and Email: Cyber cafes and larger hotels provide Internet services. All emails are subject to monitoring by Burmese security services.
Telephone and Electricity: Telephone service is poor in Rangoon and other major cities and non-existent in many areas. Calling the United States from Burma is difficult and expensive. Internet service is improving but still limited and slow. Though electrical service has improved over the last two years, it is still sporadic, particularly in the hot months of March, April, and May, when demand for air conditioning often overburdens the modest capacity of the electrical infrastructure. Many hotels and restaurants have gas-powered generators to provide electricity during periodic blackouts.
Consular Notification and Access: Should an emergency arise involving the detention of a U.S. citizen, especially outside of Rangoon, U.S. Embassy personnel may not be able to assist quickly. Though the Embassy’s relationship with Burmese authorities has improved, law enforcement officials do not routinely notify the U.S. Embassy of the arrest of U.S. citizens, and prison officials have been known to obstruct regular access by consular officers to U.S. citizen detainees. If you are arrested or detained, you should request immediate contact with the U.S. Embassy. You should carry your U.S. passport or a photocopy of passport data and visa pages at all times, so that if questioned by local officials, you have proof of identity and U.S. citizenship readily available.
Currency: Though the Burmese economy is rapidly modernizing, Burmese banks and merchants still rarely accept travelers’ checks or credit cards. With the lifting of U.S. sanctions in financial services, Burmese banks are just beginning to offer ATM and money transfer services. Reports of customer complaints resulting from technical problems with ATM machines and faulty withdrawals are common. U.S. citizen travelers who choose to use ATMs in Burma should carefully scrutinize their online banking records to ensure that transactions are registered accurately. Notwithstanding these new financial services, U.S. citizen travelers should still enter the country with enough cash to cover all expenses. (See “Currency” and “U.S. Treasury Sanctions” below.)
In January 2013, Western Union introduced money transfer services in seven Burmese banks. The seven Burmese banks involved in the partnership are Kanbawza Bank, First Private Bank, Myanmar Oriental Bank, Cooperative Bank, United Amara Bank, Myanmar Apex Bank, and the Myanmar Livestock and Fisheries Development Bank.
Although moneychangers sometimes approach travelers with an offer to change dollars into Burmese kyat at the market rate, it is illegal to exchange currency except at authorized locations such as the airport, banks, and government stores. Foreigners are still sometimes required to use U.S. dollars or other hard currency for the payment of plane tickets, train tickets, and hotels bills. Please be sure to bring pristine bills, as most establishments will not accept torn, folded or old U.S. currency. Burmese kyats are accepted for nearly all other transactions.
U.S. Treasury Sanctions: In July and September 2012, the U.S. Department of Treasury eased sanctions against investment in and financial services to Burma and lifted proscriptions against importing most Burmese items into the United States. For specific information, contact the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) home page, via OFAC's Info-by-Fax service at 202-622-0077, or by phone toll-free at 1-800-540-6322.
WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: Consensual same-sex sexual activity is illegal under section 377 of the Burmese penal code, which contains provisions against “sexually abnormal” behavior and entails punishments up to life imprisonment. Laws against “unnatural offenses” apply equally to men and women. These laws are rarely enforced; however, LGBT persons report that police used the threat of prosecution to extort bribes. In addition LGBT activists reported harassment by police, including arbitrary arrest (for example for loitering), detention, and in some cases rape by security forces and broad societal and familial discrimination.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Burma, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what they find in the United States. Roads and sidewalks are often extremely difficult to cross even in the best of circumstances. Ramps or handicapped-accessible facilities are extremely rare even in Rangoon and other areas popular with tourists. Individuals confined to wheelchairs or those with other physical ailments should be prepared to face difficulties throughout Burma.
We highly recommend that you share your travel plans with your doctor so that you can best prepare for the endemic health-related challenges that confront travelers in Burma. Most medical facilities in Burma are inadequate for even routine medical care. There are very few medical personnel in Burma who are trained to U.S. standards. You should also know that, in an emergency, you would likely need to be medically evacuated to a hospital outside Burma. Medical evacuation from Burma is expensive and is most often transacted in cash. We strongly urge all travelers to consider getting medical evacuation insurance before coming to Burma.
Most pharmaceuticals on sale in Burma have been smuggled into the country, and many are counterfeit or adulterated. Travelers should consider Burmese pharmaceuticals generally unsafe to use and should therefore bring adequate supplies of their medications for the duration of their stay in Burma. All travelers are advised to bring a complete and detailed list of regularly used medicine, and dosages, in case of an emergency. HIV/AIDS is widespread among high-risk populations, such as prostitutes and illegal drug users. Malaria, dengue fever, tuberculosis, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases are endemic in many parts of the country.
You can find information on vaccinations, and other health precautions, on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information. For information about avian influenza (H5N1), please see the U.S. Department of State’s Avian Influenza Fact Sheet.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Burma. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Burma is provided for your general reference only, and may not be accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Rangoon's roads are generally in poor condition. Traffic in the capital has increased dramatically in recent years, resulting in traffic congestion throughout the day. Some roads are in serious disrepair. Slow-moving vehicles, bicycles, animals, and heavy pedestrian traffic create numerous hazards for drivers on Rangoon's streets. If you drive in Burma, you must remain extremely alert to avoid hitting pedestrians.
Most roads outside of Rangoon consist of one to two lanes and are potholed, often unpaved, and unlit at night. Many of the truck drivers traveling from China to Rangoon are believed to drive under the influence of methamphetamines and other stimulants. Drunken and/or drugged drivers are also common on the roads during the four-day Buddhist water festival in mid-April. Driving at night is particularly dangerous. Few streets are adequately lit. Most Burmese drivers do not turn on their headlights until the sky is completely dark; many do not use headlights at all. Many bicyclists use no lights or reflectors.
Vehicular traffic moves on the right side, as in the United States; however, a majority of vehicles have the steering wheel positioned on the right. The “right of way” concept is generally respected, but military convoys and motorcades always have precedence. Most vehicle accidents are settled between the parties on site, with the party at fault paying the damages. In the event of an accident with a pedestrian, the driver is always considered to be at fault and subject to fines or arrest, regardless of the circumstances. Accidents that require an investigation are concluded quickly and rarely result in criminal prosecution. There is no roadside assistance, and ambulances are not available. Vehicles generally do not have seat belts. Child car seats are also not available.
Please see the Criminal Penalty section above for information on penalties for driving while intoxicated.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Burma, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Burma’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. The safety records of Burma's domestic airlines are not open to the public, nor is public information available concerning the Burma government’s oversight of domestic airlines. These factors raise concerns about aviation safety for all Burmese domestic air carriers.
Further information may be found on the FAA safety assessment page.