Burma - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel

Includes information on acceptable business etiquette, dress, business cards, gifts, etc.

Last published date: 2021-09-27

Business Customs

There are few specific etiquette rules for business contacts.  However, it is appropriate to wear business attire for official meetings and contract signing ceremonies.  Business people also expect to exchange business cards at first meetings.

Travel Advisory

As a result of the recent military coup d’état and COVID 19 in Burma, the authorities announced the temporary suspension of entry and exit of foreign nationals through land

borders since March 19, 2020.  U.S. citizens cannot enter or exit Burma through any of Burma’s land borders with Thailand, Laos, China, India, and Bangladesh.

Effective March 30, 2020, the authorities will no longer allow international commercial passenger flights to land at any airport in Burma.  This suspension will last until further notice.  All landing permissions previously granted are suspended.  Exceptions apply to relief flights, all-cargo flights, medical evacuation flights, and special flights specifically approved by the Department of Civil Aviation.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular ‘Affairs’ website (http://travel.state.gov) where current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, including the Worldwide Caution Travel Alert, can be found.  Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or for callers outside the United States and Canada, 1-202-501-4444 a regular toll-line.  These lines are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except for U.S. federal holidays).  The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of  State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.  Further details can be found at the U.S. State Department’s Burma webpage (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel.html).  

Visa Requirements

A passport and visa are required for all travelers entering the country.  The application process for business visas varies and can be lengthy.  Please refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.  Online visa applications can be submitted via the Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population’s eVisa webpage.

Contact Information

Embassy of the Union of Myanmar (http://www.mewashingtondc.org/content/contact-us) 

2300 S Street NW

Washington, DC 20008

Phone: 202-332-3344 | 202-332-4350

Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the UN

10 East 77th Street

New York, NY 10075

Phone: 212-744-1271

Currency

The kyat (MMK) is the local currency.  Currency exchange counters and ATMs are available at Yangon International Airport and around the city.  As of June 2021, the kyat was trading at about MMK 1640 per U.S. dollar.  It is advisable to bring only new U.S. dollar notes with no marks or creases, otherwise, the bills may be refused, or the exchange rate will be lower than the market rate.

Phone Service/ Internet

CDMA and GSM cell phone service is available in Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and surrounding areas.  Mobile phones and SIM cards have become much more affordable in Burma and are readily available.  Business hotels provide access to the internet with reasonable download speeds.

Transportation

Burma is easily accessible by air, primarily via regional hubs like Tokyo, Seoul, and Bangkok. Given road conditions, domestic air travel is preferred over driving long distances in Burma.  Domestic flights connect all major cities.

Travel by road in Burma can be dangerous as roads outside urban areas are often narrow and in poor condition, particularly during the May-October rainy season.  Travel after dark is not recommended.   Government permission is required for foreigners to travel by road in border areas.  Rail travel, though available, is not recommended due to slow service.

Language

Burmese is the official language throughout Burmese, though languages of various ethnic groups are widely spoken in their home regions.  Businesspeople in Yangon and Mandalay speak some degree of English, but English is not widely spoken outside main urban areas.  Chinese is spoken in Mandalay, Yangon, and in major trade hubs near the China-Burmese border.  Thai is spoken in major trade hubs on the Thai-Burmese border.

Health

As of July 14, 2021, Burmese has confirmed approximately 208,357 cases of COVID-19 within its borders and 4,181 deaths from the virus.  Burmese can test for COVID-19 infections domestically. Both PCR and antigen tests are available in Burmese.

On July 30, 2020, the authorities updated implemented enhanced screening and quarantine measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including the following:

· All foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, must first self-quarantine in their countries of origin for seven days, quarantine in a government facility or designated hotel upon arriving for another 14 days, and then self-quarantine at home for seven days. These guidelines are subject to change without notice.

· Foreign nationals will also be required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test issued within 72 hours of boarding and must be tested for COVID-19 at the end of the government facility quarantine and at the end of the home quarantine period. Those who arrive without results of a COVID-19 test issued within 72 hours of travel may be subjected to a 14-day government facility quarantine.

· Arriving foreign nationals must present evidence of the required pre-arrival self-quarantine. The U.S. Embassy does not have clarification on what documentation the government will accept as evidence of the various requirements, such as the pre-arrival self-quarantine.

· Foreign nationals planning to travel to Burma should contact their nearest Burmese Embassy prior to traveling to request approvals and clarification.

See CDC’s COVID-19 website for more information and view U.S. Embassy Rangoon’s most recent Alerts and Messages for U.S. Citizens.

Water is not potable, and only bottled water should be consumed.  Visitors should avoid unpasteurized dairy products and uncooked or undercooked meat and vegetables.

Visitors should consult their physician or local health authorities for a list of recommended immunizations prior to arrival.  Dengue fever is the prominent, year-round health concern.  Avoidance of mosquito bites through the use of mosquito repellent and protective clothing is the only way to prevent this illness.  Although malaria is not a problem in urban Yangon, malaria prophylaxis should be taken if traveling to other parts of the country.

Medical facilities in Burmese are often inadequate, and a sufficient supply of personal prescriptions and over-the-counter medications should be hand-carried.  Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services, and U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (http://www.cdc.gov./) hotline for international travelers at 1-877- FYI-TRIP  (1-877-394-8747) or via fax at  1-888-CDC-FAXX  (1-888-232-3299).

Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays

Burma is 6.5 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.  Burmese does not observe Daylight Savings Time.

Business hours are not uniform.  Most private and government offices close on Saturday and Sunday, though shops are usually open six or seven days a week.

Burma 2021 Holidays

Date

Day of the Week

Holiday

January 01

Friday

International New Year

January 4

Monday

Independence Day

January 13

Wednesday

Kayin New Year

Feburary 12

Friday

Union Day

March 2

Tuesday

‘Peasants’ Day

March 26

Friday

Full Moon Day of Tabaung

March 27

Saturday

Armed Forces Day

March 29

Monday

Armed Forces Day (in Lieu)

April 13

Tuesday

Thingyan (water festival)

April 14

Wednesday

Thingyan

April 15

Thursday

Thingyan

April 16

Friday

Thingyan

April 17

Saturday

Burmese New ’ ‘Year’s Day

April 18

Sunday

Burmese New ’ ‘Year’s Day

April 19

Monday

Burmese New ’ ‘Year’s Day

April 30

Friday

Labor Day (in Lieu)

May 1

Saturday

Labor Day

May 25

Tuesday

Full Moon Day of Kasong

July 19

Monday

’ ‘Martyr’s Day

July 20

Tuesday

Public Holiday

July 21

Wednesday

Eid ul-Adha Day

July 22

Thursday

Public Holiday

July 23

Friday

Full Moon Day of Waso

October 19

Tuesday

Pre-Full Moon Day of Thadingyut

October 20

Wednesday

Full Moon Day of Thadingyut

October 21

Thursday

Post- Full Moon Day of Thadingyut

November 04

Thursday

Deepavali

November 17

Wednesday

Pre-Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone

November 18

Thursday

Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone

November 28

Sunday

National Day

November 29

Monday

National Day (in Lieu)

December 24

Friday

Christmas Day (in Lieu)

December 25

Saturday

Christmas Day

December 31

Friday

New Year’s Day

Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings

Burmese law does not limit the amount of foreign currency that can be brought into Burma, but any amount over $10,000 must be declared on customs and currency declaration forms.  Departing tourists who declare over $10,000 on arrival must have receipts for all items purchased in Burma, and the amounts of their purchases must match with the amount of foreign currency exchanged for kyat.  Travelers may not bring kyat in large amounts into Burma or take it out of the country.  Credit cards cannot be easily used in Burma outside urban areas as few businesses are able to process credit card transactions.  Domestic banks have started operating ATMs that are compatible with international cards.

Resources

Ministry of Hotels & Tourism

U.S. Department of State – Burma Country Information

U.S. Embassy in Burma – U.S. Citizen Services