Guide to Importing Goods into Myanmar

Goods are imported into Myanmar when they enter Myanmar’s customs territory. Different rules apply to imports depending on whether they are commercial or non-commercial in nature. (Articles accompanying a traveler, such as personal clothing articles in actual use and small quantities of tobacco and alcohol are usually considered to be non-commercial and duty and tax exempt.)

The laws and regulations governing imports are complex and most importers use professional experts, known as freight forwarders and customs brokers, to assist them in planning and carrying out import transactions. Below are the required steps for importing goods into Myanmar.

Index

Registration of a Business

Prohibited Imports

Import Licenses

Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Requirements 

Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Requirements

Customs Declaration and Required Accompanying Documents

Classification and Value

Payment of Customs Duties and Taxes

Customs Inspection of Imports

Temporary Imports

Duty Exemption under Special Order

Spotlight on the Garment Industry


Registration of a Business

In order to import goods into Myanmar a business must first register as a company authorized to engage in international trade with the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA), Ministry of Planning and Finance. Registrations can be up to five years. For details about registration of a business, click here.

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An importer must also register with the Department of Trade, Ministry of Commerce. Registrations can be for up to three years, but the time must not exceed the company’s DICA registration to engage in international trade. The fee for registration is K50,000.

The importer must also join the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI).

Note there is a nationality requirement and that normally only Myanmar nationals are allowed to engage in international trade. However, imports of inputs by foreign manufacturing firms that have registered under the Foreign Investment Law and are also registered as an importer with the Directorate of Trade are exempted from this nationality requirement. Top.


Prohibited Imports

Myanmar prohibits the importation of certain goods. For details about prohibited goods, click here.

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WTO’s GATT, Article XX and XXI, permit WTO members to prohibit the importation of certain articles that endanger public morals, threaten human, plant or animal life, involve the importation of gold and silver, arms and ammunition, and similar items. Prohibited goods cannot be imported, exported, transited, sold or circulated in Myanmar. The Directorate of Trade of the Ministry of Commerce has exercised its rights under these GATT provisions to prohibit the following importations:

  1. Counterfeit currency and coins
  2. Pornographic material
  3. All kinds of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances
  4. Playing cards
  5. Goods bearing the emblem of Buddha and pagodas of Myanmar
  6. Arms and ammunition
  7. Antiques and archeologically valuable items
  8. Wildlife endangered species
  9. Other prohibited commodities in accord with existing law

If in doubt you should seek advice from the Directorate of Trade of the Ministry of Commerce. Top.


Import Licenses

Some goods require an import license for importation. For details about import licenses, click here.

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The Government of Myanmar is currently liberalizing requirements for obtaining an import license as a precondition to importing goods. However, 4405 tariff items still require an import license (out of 9558 tariff items at the 8 digit level and an additional 418 items at the 10 digit level);

  1. Import Licenses - The Department of Trade of the Ministry of Commerce issues import licenses. Applications for import licenses have been automated. See the tradenet website, eservice.myanmartradenet.com. However, manual applications are also accepted. Applications are accepted at the Trade Department’s Headquarters at Nay Pyi Taw, and in Yangon, Mandalay and certain border offices. (Myanmar Customs operates a Border Trade Online System (BTOS) for processing import licenses at border posts.).  Forms and procedures for obtaining automated licenses are contained on this website under the category of good being imported which you can find using the Commodity Search function.
  2. Recommendation by Relevant Ministries - Some licenses are automatic but in many cases import licenses are issued based upon the recommendations by relevant ministries, agencies and business associations.  Forms and procedures for obtaining recommendations by the relevant ministries are contained on this website under the category of good being imported which you can find using the Commodity Search function.
    1. Automatic licenses are used to monitor trade flows and for the licensing revenue. Automatic licenses require no approvals from other government ministries or agencies and are automatically issued by the Ministry of Commerce.
    2. Non-automatic licenses are required when an advice letter or permit or certificate from another government ministry or agency is a precondition to importation. For information about licenses required for specific commodities please click here .
    3. The Ministry of Commerce requires that import transactions take place using CNF or CIF Incoterms. Other Incoterms are not currently authorized.
    4. The Ministry of Commerce reviews the price levels of import transactions and may deny an import license if the price level of a particular import transaction is deemed contrary to the national economic interest.
  3. The main ministries and agencies providing recommendations for import licenses are: Ministry of Health (Food and Drug Administration); Ministry of Science and Technology; Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development (Department of Fisheries, Department of Livestock, Breeding and Veterinary); Ministry of Agricultural and Irrigation (Department of Agriculture, Plant Protection Division and Pesticide Division); Ministry of Information (Myanmar Film Enterprise); Ministry of Energy (Department of Myanmar Petroleum Products); Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry (Forest Department, Environmental Conservation Department); Ministry of Mines; Ministry of Home Affairs (Central Committee of Drug Abuse Control); Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (Myanmar Communications Department); Ministry of Transport (Inland Water Transport); Ministry of Rail Transportation (Road Transport Administration Department); Ministry of Finance (Customs Administration, Internal Revenue), Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development (Myanmar Investment Commission).
  4. Cost - For import licensing applications, a processing fee from K250 to K50,000 is charged.
  5. Duration - License requirements are reviewed on an annual basis each July and there may also be occasional additional changes during each year
  6. Required certificates, permits or advice letters, etc.Depending upon the nature of the non-automatic license import, certificates, permits or import recommendation letters may be required from regulatory authorities. A country of origin (COO) certificate from the appropriate foreign government ministry or chamber of commerce is normally required in order for imports to qualify for ASEAN or other preferential duty treatment. In addition to exports from ASEAN members, Myanmar (through ASEAN) has entered into free trade agreements with Korea, Japan, India, China and Australia-New Zealand. Top.

Automation of import-export processes by Myanmar Customs

Myanmar Customs is currently developing an automated cargo clearance system (MACCS) designed to automate a number of areas of customs operations. These include user registration, clearance of goods, cargo management, payment, information technology, and the helpdesk. MACCS will connect with shipping and airlines, the Port Authority, warehouse operators, brokers and importer/exporters and also with other government agencies. It will initially be installed in Yangon and later in other customs offices throughout Myanmar. Eventually MACCS will provide the basis for a National Single Window (NSW) where submission for licenses to other government agencies and approvals or rejections may be made using MACCS.  It is planned for MACCS to be operational by late 2016. MACCS should significantly reduce the time for customs processing of imports and exports and also improve the collection of revenue and enforcement of import restrictions. Top.


Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Requirements 

If the goods you intend to import are subject to sanitary and phytosanitary SPS measures, you will have to comply with the special regulations relating to those products. For details about SPS requirements, click here.

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You can find out on this website which commodities are subject to these requirements by using the search facilities on the Commodity Search page. The Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development are responsible for sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures in Myanmar. SPS standards adopted by Myanmar follow those of CODEX, ASEAN, and the OIE. The Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA), Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development, is the national enquiry point to the WTO. A detailed description of the procedures and documentation required can be found on the Procedures page of this website. Top.


Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Requirements

For certain types of products, it may be necessary to obtain a permit that certifies that these products conform to certain technical standards. For details about TBT requirements, click here.

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These technical regulations are administered by the Department Of Research and Innovation (DRI)Ministry of Eudcation. You can find out on this website which commodities are subject to these requirements by using the search facilities on the Commodity Search page.  A detailed description of the procedures and documentation required can also be found on the Procedures page of this website. Myanmar has established a TBT Enquiry Point as required by the WTO TBT Agreement.  You can contact the TBT Enquiry Point if you have any questions regarding technical standards. 

Labeling requirements

Labeling regulations apply to imported goods.

  1. Under the National Food Law and the National Drug Law, food and pharmaceutical products must be labeled.
  2. Food labels must clearly state the name of the product, contents including name and net weight, the manufacturer’s name and address, batch number, manufacturing date, expiry date, and required storage conditions.
  3. Pharmaceutical labels must clearly state the brand name, generic name, active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), and contents, including name and amount, batch number, date of manufacture, expiry date, and manufacturer’s name and address, in English. Top.


Customs Declaration and Required Accompanying Documents

In order to clear Customs imports must be accompanied by a customs declaration and required accompanying documents. For details about customs declarations, click here.

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  1. All imports must be cleared through Customs using the CUSDEC–1 Import Declaration Form along with the CUSDEC-4 Customs Valuation Form
  2. Required accompanying documents include:
    1. An import license (when required)
    2. The invoice
    3. Bill of lading, air consignment note, or truck note
    4. Packing list
    5. Other certificates, permits or import recommendations, as required (for example, a country of origin or SPS or FDA certificate)
  3. The customs declaration and supporting documents must be submitted to Customs at the time that the goods arrive. (Customs has not yet adopted pre-arrival processing.). Top.


Classification and Value

Customs duty is payable on imported goods as a percentage of their declared value. For details about classification, click here.

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The rate of duty payable on goods imported into Myanmar varies according to the commodity and the country of origin.   Commodities are classified using the 8-digit Harmonized System (HS) Code which is maintained and, from time to time, amended by the World Customs Organization (WCO).  The Myanmar tariff classification conforms with ASEAN’s AHTN standard (ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature). You can view the full Myanmar Tariff Classification and Tariff rates on this website with the Commodity Search facility. It is your responsibility to declare the correct classification, origin, value and quantity of the goods you are importing.  If in doubt please seek advice from the Department of Customs. The basis for the calculation of duties is the actual transaction value of the goods (as evidenced by the commercial invoice or other contract of sale document).  If the value of the goods cannot established by this method Customs will attempt to establish the value of the goods using 5 more methods in line with Article 7 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT 1947)Top.


Payment of Customs Duties and Taxes

Once a declaration has been submitted and accepted by Customs, the importer will be required to pay the duties. For details about about payment of customs duty, click here.

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  1. Customs duties assessed on imports are determined based upon three factors:
    1. The customs classification of the imported goods.
      1. The classification, or legal description, is based upon the goods classification under an international tariff nomenclature, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, or “HS”, an international agreement administered by the World Customs Organization (WCO) that categorizes all goods into about 5000 commodity groups, each identified by a six-digit code. 
      2. Myanmar applies the ASEAN 8 customs code, which is based on the HS. This is comprised of 9558 tariff lines at the 8-digit level and an additional 418 lines at the 10-digit level.
      3. Based upon tariff classification and country of origin, either a Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariff rate or preferential tariff rate is applied. 
      4. MFN tariff rates in Myanmar are arranged in 15 tariff bands ranging from zero to 40%. Most ASEAN FTA rates (93% or about 8800 lines) are duty free.
      5. Click here  to go to the Myanmar tariff schedule.
    2. The customs valuation of goods
      1. Myanmar Customs plans to implement the WTO Agreement on Customs Valuation in 2016. The WTO Agreement requires the use of the “price paid or payable” (contract price) as the primary valuation methodology.  Myanmar’s current valuation approach is to use 5 methods: the c.i.f. invoice price of the goods, sales contracts, insurance information, internet prices and other recorded prices.
    3. The origin of goods.
      1. Origin is determined mainly for assessing preferential duty rates, such as rates established by the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA). Under ATIGA, over 8800 tariff lines are duty free. ASEAN has specific rules for determining ASEAN origin.
      2. Myanmar (through ASEAN) also has preferential tariff agreements with China, Korea, India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. 
  2. After Customs has assessed the duty payable, the importer may pay the duty in cash, or by a payment order (a bank money order)..
    1. Cash payments are only permitted for debts less than K5000.
    2. The daily exchange rate as determined by the Central Bank of Myanmar is used for duty assessment.
  3. A commercial tax and/or an excise tax may be applied to imports, depending on the import’s “classification”.  To view the applicable commercial and excise tax schedule, click here . (The Union Tax Law is revised on an annual basis with new provisions taking effect on 1 April.)
  4. A specific goods tax (SGT) was recently approved and will become law on 1 April 2016. Commercial taxes may be phased out and replaced by the SGT.
  5. Customs collects a 2% advance income tax on imports for the Internal Revenue Department. Top.


Customs Inspection of Imports

Myanmar Customs examines imports to assure that they have been properly declared. For details about inspection of imports, click here.

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Customs reviews all import documents and physically inspects imports based upon its assessment of risk. Imports are divided into three categories: green, yellow and red. Green denotes the least risk, yellow, an intermediate risk, and red denotes high risk. Overall, about 10% of imports are physically inspected and additional imports are subject to x-ray scan. Top.


Temporary Imports

Temporary admission of imports is the procedure where goods are brought into the customs territory conditionally relieved from the payment of duties and taxes if they are intended for a specific purpose and are re-exported within a specified time frame without change in condition. For details about temporary imports. For details about temporary imports, click here.

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This is useful for trade shows, visiting musicians traveling with their instruments, etc.   Internationally, ATA carnets, serving as both a customs declaration and financial guarantee, are used to effect temporary admission in most countries. Myanmar has not adopted ATA carnets but does have a temporary admission procedure. Top.


Duty Exemption under Special Order

A Special Order is the power of the Director General, Customs and the Minister of Finance, to permit imports to enter without the payment of duties and taxes at the time of entry. For details about duty exemption and special order, click here.

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This procedure can apply to highly perishable goods, the goods of diplomats, and certain other products. The importer must post a financial guarantee (deposit) to be permitted to use this procedure. Top.


Spotlight on the Garment Industry

Currently almost all garment production in Myanmar is done under the Cut, Make and Package(CMP) process. For details about garments and the CMT process, click here.

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A foreign agent provides the fabric and other materials to produce garments according to contract specifications. An import license to import the fabric and other materials is obtained from the Ministry of Commerce, based upon recommendation letters from the Ministry of Industry and the UMFCCI. No export license for the finished garments is required. Imported materials and exported finished garments are duty and tax free. The Ministry of Industry monitors the production of factories through daily statistical reports and also issues non-preferential certificates of origin.  This has helped the garment industry to develop into a leading sector of the economy in Myanmar, with more than 300 factories employing more than 250,000 workers. About half the factories are foreign-owned. All garment production is exported to customers located in many countries around the world. Export sales exceed USD$1.6 billion. Special, simplified procedures have been developed to expedite the production and export of clothing articles.