The banking infrastructure in Myanmar is still developing, and the country remains cash-driven. That said, with increased foreign investment and renewed trust in banks, Myanmar is making strides in modernising its systems.

Expats are likely to find English-speaking assistants at international banks, but expats looking to set up an account at a local bank should enlist the help of a Burmese-speaking colleague or friend.

Money in Myanmar

The official currency is the Myanmar Kyat (MMK), subdivided into 100 pyas. It is available in the following denominations:

  • Notes: 50 pyas, MMK 1, MMK 5, MMK 10, MMK 20, MMK 50, MMK 100, MMK 200, MMK 500, MMK 1,000, MMK 5,000 and MMK 10,000

  • Coins: 5 pyas, 10 pyas, 25 pyas, 50 pyas, MMK 1, MMK 5, MMK 10, MMK 50 and 100 MMK

The country uses the US Dollar (USD) as an alternative currency, especially for large purchases and payments in hotels and high-end restaurants, although Myanmar is currently phasing out the use of the US dollar. In fact, it was completely banned for domestic payments in 2022.

Banking in Myanmar

Myanmar is a largely cash-based society due to years of distrust in the country’s banking system, which led to a lack of development in the infrastructure. Fortunately, large improvements have been made in the past decade and the country now boasts 13 international banks, including the State Bank of India, ANZ and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

Banks have recently started promoting digital services, so expats can find a range of financial products on offer. 

Opening a bank account

Expats will need their visa and passport to open an account at a local or international bank in Myanmar. They will also need the minimum deposit. The amount required differs between banks. The visa must be valid for at least three to six months for expats to be eligible to open a bank account in the country.

Credit cards and ATMs

ATMs are widely available in Myanmar’s major cities such as Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw and Mandalay. These ATMs accept international bank and credit cards, so expats needn’t worry about being able to access the local currency. The only limitation in ATM use in Myanmar lies in frequent internet outages, so it's best to keep sufficient cash on hand at all times.

Taxes in Myanmar

Foreigners who reside in Myanmar for 183 days or more are considered tax residents. These individuals are taxed on their income on a progressive sliding scale of between 1 and 25 percent. Expats who are permanent residents will be taxed on their worldwide income as legislated by the Myanmar Income Tax Act, while those who are non-residents are only taxed on income derived from within the country.

Residents who earn an annual salary below the income tax threshold will pay no taxes at all. Expat tax matters in Myanmar can be complex, so it is best to consult a qualified tax specialist if at all unsure.

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