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Warning - Journalists, media employees, cameramen etc. what to do/not do when applying for MM visa

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Since the killing of a Myanmar journalist apparently by a government soldier, who was covering some recent skirmishes in Mon state involving Karen/Kayin rebels earlier this month, the Myanmar government has once again become a bit paranoid about foreign journalists, TV reporters and anyone working in the media and related professions wanting to travel to Myanmar, probably due to fear of negative coverage of this event.

What this means is that just like a few years ago anyone working in these professions should take care when applying for a Myanmar visa of any type at the embassy in Bangkok. Maybe it was always like this even before the last few weeks but it seems they are a little stricter now than in the past 2-3 years. It would therefore be best to declare a different profession on the application form, but if you don't then expect your application to take more time to be approved. In all likelihood it will be approved, but expect a processing time of 1 week, or 3 days at the very least if you ask politely. This is because the embassy employees will likely need to do a background check to ensure that what you are doing, who you are working for etc. is not on their list of restricted or undesirable media companies (whoever they may be); basically if they think you won't be going there to cover a story related to this event you should be OK.

It's probably still best to declare a different profession though, because if you're working in just about any other profession your visa will be issued as quickly as you desire with no questions asked as before.

A number of journalists, media employees etc. including Thais wanting to cover the above incident have been refused visas recently. As I went to the embassy yesterday, I also witnessed the unfortunate denial of a visa to a person working in the media industry because he had wanted express service and asked a lot of questions as to why they were insisting that it will take a week, before finally agreeing to 3 days, even though the said individual wanted his visa the next day and had received 3 visas from the Bangkok embassy last year, with much the same info provided on his application forms all 3 times. After a lot of going back and forth, the police were called and he was escorted out of the embassy. He did not lose his cool as far as I'm aware, but I did leave the embassy after handing in my application just after his one was first handed in, so I'm not sure exactly what happened after he left, but it seems that the embassy staff felt that he didn't deserve a visa at this time due to his background and insistence that he should be given what he wants, despite them offering a 3 day service at best. His best choice now seems to be to apply at another embassy if he still wants to go as soon as possible and/or wait until say next year to apply again in Bangkok but it serves as a warning to individuals working in a similar industry to either 1) leave plenty of time when applying for a visa, preferably more than a week before departure or 2) declare a different profession on the application form and get treated the same as everyone else (but obviously don't come armed with any evidence of being a media worker).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another alternative is to apply for an e-visa online.

Yes that is also an option, although it takes a bit of time.

My main point however was that although reporters, journalists, those working in the media in any capacity are still able to obtain Myanmar visas, they now need more time to be processed. So if you're working in media, as long as you have planned your trip in advance, you should be OK - either get an e-visa (only applicable for airport arrivals at this time) or be prepared to wait for a bit if applying at the embassy (and apparently this has to be done in person, not via an agent). Everyone else can use an agent but not media personnel.

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