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This is for the benefit of those who are interested in attending a retreat in Myanmar that goes longer than the 28-day tourist visa. Some centres will require you to obtain a meditation/religious visa as part of the requirements to attend long-retreats/courses, so intending to overstay the tourist may not be an option for you.
The following information is compilation from instructions provided by centres within my own tradition, what I have learned, and not least of all, advice provided by Venerable Nanadhaja’s Sayadaw.
The pre-requisites for attending long courses will differ from one sub-tradition to the other. Providing you meet the course/retreat pre-requisities, you will need:
- 3 copies of a letter of invitation from the centre or monastery
- 3 copies of a letter written by the centre or monastery recommending you for a religious/meditation visa.
- 6 passport photos
- 3 copies of a completed meditation visa application
- 3 copies of the personal details page from your passport
- 3 copies of a ‘personal declaration’ indicating that you will abide by the rules and regulations, acts and directives adopted by the Department for the Promotion and Propagation of Sasana
Send the documentation to the Embassy of Myanmar in your country and the application is then processed in Naypyidaw. The approval can take two or three months. The advice from my centres within my own tradition is that the embassy will contact you once the application has been approved. In practice you may need to phone the embassy on a weekly basis to enquire as to progress until you receive your passport. Once the application has been approved, you will need to send your original passport, a copy of your ticket, itinerary , the processing fee ($AUD65.00) and a self-addressed and stamped envelope/courier satchel.
Venerable Nanadhaja kindly provided advice courtesy of his Sayadaw as an alternative method ...
“...he thought that it was possible to enter Myanmar on a tourist visa and then get a sponsorship letter from the center which allows you to get the meditation visa issued in Yangon...
... if you were to transit through Bangkok it would be possible to get a Myanmar visa(tourist)issued within a few days by any travel agent.”