One thing I like about my status as a Singaporean citizen is my passport. It’s awesome – I don’t have to apply in advance for a tourist visa for most of the countries I visit. One of the times I applied for a visa was to Australia. But that was affordable (it cost A$20 in 2007. I think it might be free to apply for it online now) and relatively fuss-free, so I didn’t mind very much. The other time I had to apply for a tourist visa was to India a few years back, but the tour agent in charge of the school trip took care of that for us. And, I think these regulations are no longer in place.
Despite possessing a fantastic passport for travelling in Southeast Asia, I had to apply for a tourist visa. Hello, Myanmar. Aren’t you part of ASEAN? ASEAN = easy travelling for citizens of member countries? No?
This visa can only be applied at the embassy during weekdays from 9am to 12.30pm at St Martin’s Road, off Tanglin Road. When I am actually engaged at work. The paperwork involved is also quite extensive; I quote from the embassy’s website:
Documents Required for Tourist Visa
- One copy of duly filled Entry Tourist Visa application form. Every set of application form has to be duly signed by the applicant. Complete the tourist visa forms correctly.
- Provide applicant’s Name Card/ Business Card
- A photocopy of a page of passport with the applicant’s photo shown
- Provide a photocopy of IC/ PR/ EP/ Student Pass ( Both sides)
- Affix 2 recent photos of 1 ½ x 2 inches with white colour background (Scanned photos are not allowed & photo must be taken in 6 month time)
- Provide visa fees S$ 35
- Valid passport ( at least 6 months validity)
Check out the amount of paperwork they need! I get the cost of the visa but my name card? Seriously?
The text is bolded above because I have read somewhere on the internet that an application can be rejected if the forms are not filled up properly. This is even after waiting for 2-3 hours at the embassy to submit your paperwork, and the embassy shuts on time – even if there are still people waiting in queue to submit their documents. So please do have all your paperwork ready if you intend to head down to the Myanmar embassy to apply for the visa.
I was not about to take a day off work solely for the application and collection of my visa.
I had 2 options:
- Pay a kid to submit and collect my visa for me.
- Use a travel agency
Since paying a kid on holiday to do the job cost as much as paying the travel agency to do it for me, I went to Peninsula Plaza (also known as Little Myanmar. The link leads to a great read on Peninsula Plaza) last Saturday to submit my paperwork. I wandered a bit in the mall, and then I decided to go into the first travel agency with the words ‘tourist visa’ in its window. It turned out to be Treasure Travel & Tours Pte Ltd on the 3rd floor. When I enquired the price of applying for a tourist visa to Myanmar, I was quoted S$65. I was slightly taken aback as I thought the cost would be S$10 less (I read somewhere – again – that the service would cost me S$20 in addition to the cost of the visa). I asked the lady to break down the cost for me, and she did:
- S$35 – for the visa
- S$15 – her service charge
- S$15 – a recent increase of the cost of the visa charged by the Myanmar embassy
When asked about this extra S$15, she said it was charged by the embassy. But again, she said she is able to get my passport back on Monday – the same day the visa application was submitted. So this extra S$15 must be the cost of getting a same-day visa.
I discreetly asked the price of applying for a tourist visa at another travel agency in the same building, and I was also quoted S$65.
Actually, S$65 goes towards:
- S$35 – base tourist visa cost
- S$10 – same-day visa processing fee
- S$20 – agency service fee
The people at the agency do get easily confused, and I just need an extra dose of patience plus lots of time.