Burma Begins Trial Run for Online Tourism Visas
By San Yamin Aung 13 August 2014
RANGOON — Burma’s Ministry of Immigration and Population this week began a trial period for an online tourism visa application system that is due to be fully implemented next month.
“The online application system for tourist visas will be officially launched on September 1. We are now running the trial process, starting from Sunday, to assure the best result,” an official at the e-visa department under the Ministry of Immigration and Population told The Irrawaddy.
He said the ministry would accept a limited number of applicants while testing for bugs in the online processing system in the coming weeks, as well as soliciting input from users.
“We are asking for feedback from applicants during the trial period and will assess based on the feedback and international standards,” he said, adding that input on the application process, fee and visa validity period would be welcomed.
During the trial run, applicants are required to fill out an online visa form, verify that all the information entered is correct and make an online credit card payment. Applicants will receive a visa approval letter via email and are then eligible to have their passport stamped upon arrival by presenting a print-out of the electronic approval letter.
Following submission of an application, the approval process will take up to five days and the online visa costs US$50 per applicant. From the date that the approval letter is received, applicants have up to 90 days to enter Burma, where they can stay for a maximum of 28 days.
“The online visa applicants can apply from anywhere and would not need to visit the embassy to apply for a visa,” the Ministry of Immigration and Population stated. Previously, travelers to Burma were required to apply in person at a Burmese Embassy abroad.
The parameters of the online application process, including the visa fee, may be subject to change upon review of the trial period, the Ministry of Immigration and Population official said.
The launch of the e-visa system comes tourist numbers to Burma continue to swell. Foreign arrivals through the first seven months of this year rose 43 percent compared with the same period in 2013, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism announced last week.
January through July 2014 tallied 1,604,746 arrivals, compared with 1,121,795 over the first seven months of 2013.