A quiet nation largely untouched by the mass tourism that’s propelled its neighbor Thailand into the global spotlight, Myanmar is a country that combines ancient and deep culture with a somewhat repressive current condition. A former dictatorship that’s taking steps towards modern government, Myanmar is currently not a major retirement destination in Southeast Asia.
Despite this, the country certainly has its benefits for visitors. With a low cost of living and a beautiful natural environment, Myanmar offers an enviable lifestyle, particularly for those tired of big city life. However, the nation’s archaic visa and immigration system and restrictive political nature make it a tough place to retire to.
Does Myanmar Offer A Retirement Visa For Foreign Nationals And Expatriates?
Myanmar is largely closed off to foreign visitors, with the sole exception of short-term tourism and highly limited international business. As such, it does not have a retirement visa scheme for foreigners in place. All foreigners planning to ‘retire’ in Myanmar must make use of the standard tourism and business visas.
Tourism visas are valid for 28 days, allowing foreigners to visit the country for just under one month. While inconvenient for retirees and expatriates planning to stay in Myanmar over the long term, this option is ideal for those seeking to fly in and out of Myanmar as their visa validity expires.
The standard Myanmar tourist visa can be extended for an additional 14 days in the country at any immigration office. This brings its total validity to 42 days – far from ideal for expatriates seeking a long-term stay in Myanmar.
A better option for long-term expatriates and retirees aiming to stay in Myanmar is the business visa. Myanmar issues two different types of business visas – standard business visas, which are valid for ten weeks (technically 70 days) from the date of entry, and longer-term business visas that are valid for six months or one year.
The first type of business visa is both easier to apply for and more likely to be given to foreign visitors to Myanmar. Unlike other countries in Southeast Asia, which will hand out business visas without a great deal of research or documentation required, Myanmar requires several documents to prove that you will be doing business.
What Documentation Is Required To Apply For And Receive A Business Visa?
To apply for a business visa, you will need to provide a passport with a validity that exceeds the length of the visa you are applying for. You will also need to provide two passport-sized color photos of yourself. Some Myanmar embassies require all visa applicants to show a ticket proving that they are traveling to and from Myanmar.
You will also need to provide a number of documents proving that you are doing business in Myanmar. These include a letter of invitation from the business with which you will be working, a company registration form or business license that shows your ability to work in Myanmar, and an address and contact point for the business or factory that you will be working with.
Generally speaking the amount of documentation required decreases alongside the length of the visa, so applicants applying for a seventy-day business visa won’t need to provide as much information as those applying for long-term visas. Generally, a letter of invitation from a company and a contact for the government are enough.
For long-term business visas, you will need to provide comprehensive documents that outline your reasons for doing business in Myanmar, as well as the key owners and employees of the company you plan on working with. As with all visas – the more information you can provide, the more likely it is that you will be approved.
How And Where Can One Apply For A Myanmar Tourist Or Business Visa?
Myanmar tourist and business visas can be applied for at all Myanmar embassies. A large number of Myanmar consulates in surrounding countries take a great number of applicants at any one time, and are experienced in working with foreigners to get Myanmar business and tourist visas approved.
Myanmar tourist visas can also be applied for in advance using the Myanmar Visa website. While Myanmar technically offers visa on arrival services for most foreign visitors, the process can be shaky and unreliable. If you are planning on traveling to Myanmar and do not wish to spend time at the airport, it’s best to apply online.
While Myanmar certainly isn’t as open as its neighbors, it is becoming increasingly open to foreign tourism and investment and may soon become a leading retirement destination in Asia. Until then, however, retirees seeking a new life in Myanmar may have to continue to jump through administrative hoops to stay there legally.