Want to work in Myanmar- these are a few of the things you must consider and be aware of…

If you would like to work in Myanmar you have two main options: (i) either work for an existing local company or government agency, in which case, the existing company or the government agency will be responsible for arranging your relevant documentation; or (ii) set up our own company (for further information see ‘Want to start doing business in Myanmar, know the Myanmar corporate environment- here are a few guiding practical insights in a nutshell for you…’), in which case, you will be responsible for arranging the relevant documentation on the name of your own company.

Under either option a person cannot work in Myanmar unless it has a valid Visa and/or a Stay Permit and a Work Permit. Although it is possible to obtain visa-on-arrival it is not straight forward and requires several key documents (including an invitation letter, company’s information documents, etc.) and limited to certain nationalities and it is highly suggested to obtain whenever possible to visa in advance of your visit. In addition, any employee is subject to taxes and the employer is liable to pay and deduct from the salary at source Personal Income Tax (PIT) on behalf of the employee. The types of visas people normally use to enter Myanmar are a Tourist Visa, an Entry Visa, or a Business visa.

(a) Tourist Visa – Issued only to those who intending to visit Myanmar but not to engage in business or employment. A tourist visa is valid for 28 days and can only be made as a single entry visa.

(b) Entry Visa – Made for the purpose of employment, business and social matters and valid for one month.

(c) Business visa – Made for the purposes of employment or conducting business and can be made as a single entry (period of stay of 70 days), or as a multiple entry (period of stay of 70 days upon each entry), which continues during the life time of the visa.

Stay Permit

Although technically a foreigner may work in Myanmar on a business visa, it is however not recommended and it is encouraged by the authorities for him to apply for a stay permit to the extent he intends to stay for a longer period of 70 days. It is not possible to apply for a stay permit if the foreigner has entered on a tourist visa and as a prior step to applying for a stay permit, a business visa must be first obtained. It is therefore recommended for application for a business visa to be made together with an application for a stay permit to shorten the process.

In order to obtain a stay permit the employing company will be required to obtain a recommendation letter on behalf of the foreigner from the relevant ministry (which would be the Ministry of Commerce, unless the foreigner is to be employed by a governmental agency, in which case the relevant ministry). Thereafter the employing company must apply for additional recommendation letter from the Ministry of Immigration and Population and with both of these letters, file an application for a stay permit for the period of stay as recommended by the relevant ministry. A multiple re-entry application can be made at the same time with the application for a stay permit. This process may take between 2 weeks to a month.

Work permit

The conditions of the business visa and stay permit require the foreigner to only engage in the declared profession and business activity described on its visa application. Although there is no specific regulation that prohibits a foreigner from working in Myanmar on business visa or stay permit, a new condition introduced in the FIL requires a foreigner employed in an MIC incorporated company to obtain a work permit in addition to a stay permit, however, the procedures for this and how they will be applied in practice are yet to be made clear.

Reporting and Registration Requirements

A foreigner must report its presence to relevant registration office in the local area which he stays. To the extent that he stays for more than 90 days, he must apply for a Foreigner Registration Card (FRC) to be issued by the Immigration and National Registration Department (INRD) which will permit him to stay for as long as the FRC is valid (usually issued for one year). Thereafter, the foreigner must register himself with the relevant local immigration authorities.

It is noted that if a person entered into Myanmar under a tourist visa or other type of visa which does not allow employment and engage is such he is in breach of the above mentioned requirements (including the conditions imposed in the visa itself) which may lead to legal action against him and deportation from Myanmar.