Tue 31 Aug 2004
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
Changes in passport regulations which took effect in early August have resulted in a sharp increase in applications for tax clearance forms for those planning to travel abroad.
Under the changes, which took effect on 6 August, those seeking to withdraw their passports from the Office of the Passport Issuing Board of the Ministry of Home Affairs must go through a two-step process.
The first step involves acquiring a Form 17 tax assessment issued by township offices of the Internal Revenue Department [IRD] of the Ministry of Finance and Revenue. The assessment is needed to acquire a Form 19 tax clearance certificate from the IRD, which must be presented to obtain the passport.
Passport holders are then required to apply for a Form D certificate which is needed to leave the country.
Under the previous system, passports could be withdrawn from the Office, subject to its approval, and holders then had to be issued with the three forms before they could leave the country.
A source at the IRD said applications for Form 19 had doubled to about 400 a day since the office announced the changes on 9 August.
The source said the increase in applications was possibly because a number of people had approval to withdraw their passports but had not collected them.
The changes also affect regulations involving the use of passports, which are valid for periods of between one to four years, depending of whether they are used for such purposes as business trips or going overseas to work.
Under the new system, passports do not need to be extended every six months if they are not used for overseas travel.
The changes also effect those intending to work overseas.
They will be issued with two-year passports which they cannot use for overseas travel. Once they submit a letter of appointment from an overseas employer they will be eligible for a four-year passport.
The change is intended to eliminate the use of forged offers of employment to support passport applications for those going overseas to work.
Another change allows ordinary passport holders who have travelled overseas to retain them on their return to the country for as long as they remain valid. They will only need a D form to leave the country.
Under the previous regulations, holders of ordinary passports were required to surrender them on their return to Myanmar [Burma].
The validity of D forms was extended in late July from one month to a year. In its announcement, the office said that all passports except business passports can be renewed at Myanmar diplomatic missions.
The new regulations increased the cost of a passport from 5000 to 8000 kyat.