How to Overstay Your Myanmar Visa
Updated December 2016
Most people will need to apply in advance for a Visa to travel in Myanmar / Burma (there are very few select circumstances where a visa may be available on arrival). A typical tourist visa, which is what I'll talk about here, is good for 4 weeks (28 days) from arrival.
But that's just a taste!
Fortunately overstaying a visa in Myanmar is a relatively cheap and painless affair (while extending a Myanmar visa is much more difficult). Here's the scoop.
What to Know About Overstaying Your Myanmar Visa
NOTE: Overstaying your visa could possibly get you in trouble, make it difficult to travel in the country, or make it impossible to get back in the country afterward. Do so at your own risk.
Why You Would Want to Overstay?
With 28 days in the country, how could you ever want more? You only need to see Bagan and Inle Lake right? Well, while some people are good with a week or two visiting the major sites, many people who come to the country can never seem to get enough (me).
Travel in Myanmar is slow and exhausting, making those days you have count for a lot. I usually recommend that people give themselves one rest day for every travel day, as not much sleeping happens on sleeper buses (8hr-21hr), and the trains bounce and batter their riders en-route to their destinations. Not to mention the scorching heat that makes being out in the late morning and early afternoon a feat for only those who enjoy heatstroke. All of that travel and rest eats away at the time you would typically be enjoying a country through its sights, food, and people. Travel in Myanmar, like hiking at high altitude, is best done slowly. Spend more time in less places and you'll get a lot more out of your time here.
How Long Can You Overstay Your Myanmar Visa?
This is fairly up in the air, but I'd say that a month would be doable. At the Yangon airport, there is a sign listing the fees for overstay at $3/day up to 90 days, and $5/day after that.
I have overstayed 3 weeks on several occasions. I'd say that a month or so may be pushing it, particularly if you continue traveling around. I've overstayed 9 times over two 2 passports.
How Much Does it Cost?
It's a relative bargain to overstay your visa in Myanmar. At $3USD / day ($3 admin fee is no longer charged) it's almost like they're paying you to stay (not really).
In contrast, it's 500baht / day in Thailand (~$16) and if you're caught in the country with an expired visa, you could be jailed or banned from re-entering the country in addition to the fine. One couple I know inadvertently overstayed a month in Thailand and had to pay ~$1000 in overstay fees just to leave the country.
So you're loving your time here, and you want to stick around. There are some potential problems you may face, and some things to consider before doing it.
Guesthouses submit your information to the government officials, typically daily. Honestly there is so much paperwork when it comes to foreigners and where they stay that I don't even know what they do or how those officials deal with it. What it comes down to is that guesthouses can get into trouble if they are housing you while overstaying your visa. This seems to be especially so in and around Yangon, but perhaps Mandalay as well.
But the guesthouse owners are savvy, and they know the deal. Many guesthouses, particularly in Yangon don't ask for your passport, and instead let you fill out the form yourself. I have all but confirmed that they do this so that if an official were to come back to them later, asking why they were housing a foreigner who was overstaying their visa, they can say that they didn't fill out the form, and that the foreigner tricked them.
That said, you may be told by a guesthouse that you can't stay with them if they see your visa has expired. This has never happened to me.
In early 2016 I had an issue with a guesthouse in Moulmein not wanting to host me on an expired visa, however two other guesthouses in the city had no problem.
If you're getting around the country by air (internally), you will likely be declined to fly if your visa has expired. If you plan to fly, do so while your visa is still valid, and then take the bus / train / taxi after your 28 days is up.
Though not as much of a problem as in the past when you had no option other than to bring all of the money you intended to spend into the country with you, this still could pose a problem. Though there are ATMs in the country that work with the Visa and MasterCard networks, I've had mixed results with cards being accepted. I'd recommend you make sure you have enough cash before you decide to stay, and perhaps try a test withdrawal with your card at an ATM to make sure you'll be able to pull out more if needed in the case that your cash were to run out.
Remember you'll need a flight out if you haven't purchased one already, though typically you can buy that online with your credit card from inside the country via the internet without much trouble now.
Read my article on How to Deal with Money in Myanmar for more information.
Not an issue for most people, but if you're really heading off the beaten path and pass through a military checkpoint, there is a good chance you'll be turned around and sent back to Yangon to fly out immediately.
I've heard first hand of this happening to one couple that I met along my travels in Myanmar. They were well off the beaten track attempting to visit a wildlife reserve in the delta region, and were sent back to Yangon the next day to fly out.
You Might Not Be Allowed Back
Overstaying a visa is a serious offense in some countries, and you could be banned from re-entering while on the same passport. That said, the overstay will be listed as a "Stay Permit - Stay Extended." That slight change in wording turns it from something bad and scary, to warm and welcoming!
I've never had an issue (15 times in the country in the past 5 years), but it's a risk you take any time you overstay a visa.
Once you've overstayed, you'll need take care of the paperwork and payment. If you're leaving from the Yangon airport, it's easy. Just give yourself a bit more time (30-60min to be safe), check in at the counters downstairs, then head up to the second floor. You'll head left before you pass through immigration, down a small hallway. There is a sign that says "immigration - overstay."
Here you'll find the immigration office just past the bathroom. You can't miss it. It's a small room, but you can take a seat to wait if there is a seat available. Hand over your passport and they will tally up the total for you. Try to have the right amount, and not just a $100 USD note in case getting change may be an issue, and bring good notes. Keep in mind that the overstay stamp will take nearly a page in your passport with your exit stamp. Once, I was asked if I had passport photos available, and when I didn't it wasn't a problem. I haven't been asked this since 2013.
They may ask you to give the name of the guesthouse you last stayed with, but this is increasingly unlikely (hasn't happened to me in years). You may want to choose to give a guesthouse that you stayed at that was farther from Yangon, and one that you stayed at when you were still valid on your visa. That way the chance of you getting someone in trouble will be very slim. Do not get anyone else in trouble just because you decided to bend the rules.
The whole thing only takes a couple of minutes if there isn't a line. I've found the staff to be particularly friendly, even going so far as to tell me to come back again soon.
While I haven't experienced it myself, I've been told that as of late 2014, people have been able to pay their overstay fees at land border crossings. Again, your mileage may vary on this, particularly if it is a smaller, lesser-used land border. Thai borders should be OK, but India and China borders perhaps not. If you have any information about this, please share in the comments.
Have you overstayed your visa in Myanmar? Share your experience in the comments.