Did you know about these unusual laws in Myanmar?
1Couch surfing & Airbnb legal or illegal?
That’s a bit of a gray area, but it’s definitely illegal to host a foreigner in ones local home. If you’re on a tourist visa, make sure to stay away from homestays; you could be deported back to your country! Opt for hotels or resorts instead – not in your budget? Let me tell you about guesthouses…
2Not all Guesthouses are legal stays in Myanmar
Only a licensed guesthouse can rent rooms to a foreigner, along with fulfilling certain other prerequisites which basically means, unless the guesthouse provides certain facilities, it cannot obtain a license. One of the many facilities is an en-suite bathroom! Yeah, you read that right. If the guesthouse has an en-suite bathroom, it probably has a license and you can stay there hassle-free.
3Birthright citizenship in Myanmar? Not so much.
While most countries around the world offer automatic citizenship by way of birth (irrespective of what nationality the parents are), Myanmar does not. Your baby can’t be a citizen of Myanmar if you and your other half are not Myanmar nationals.
4Loophole in the Tax Law
Are you earning more than $30,000? According to the Myanmar law, there are two ways you could pay your tax. If you go the legal route and declare your income, you pay a hefty 25% of tax. If you go the illegal route without declaring your income, you pay only 3% of tax. Quite the loophole, don’t you think? I’d suggest you take the legal route anyway; save yourself a Myanmar legal complication.
5Thingyan just got a lot safer
The Mandalay police officials completely banned the use of plastic masks during Thingyan – the water festival – this year. They even went around local shops to confiscate any masks that were being sold. It was an attempt to curb the crime rate where someone could easily run away unrecognized, by wearing a mask. Unfortunate for the criminals… they couldn’t hide behind that mask anymore. Also, a good tactic to save the environment while using less plastic! Way to go, Mandalay police officials!
6Myanmar Police Force loves a bit of Facebook
News alert: Police officials to open Facebook accounts! A Head police officer reported that the police force would be getting tech-savvy to keep up with crime investigations and use the social media platform to help with taking investigations a step further.
7You don’t want to mess with religion!
Myanmar takes religion seriously and insulting religion is a punishable offense. “Insult” here is a rather broad term that could be attributed to various things including tattoos. In 2016, a tourist was deported for having the Buddha tattooed on his leg. This is (understandably) religious sentiments that you don’t want to tamper with. The Buddha is revered and would definitely not be a tattoo inspiration for a local. Keep that in mind before getting inked!
8Touch and Go relationship with Ajinomoto aka MSG
While the military Junta had banned MSG under its rule, Tokyo has re-launched the product in Myanmar this year – starting with Yangon and Mandalay. Be sure to check the label at your local grocery; MSG could easily be mistaken for sugar or salt!