News: Myanmar’s Central Bank Rescinds Foreign Exchange Licenses

Dear valued friends and partners,

On Sunday last week the CBM (Central Bank of Myanmar) announced the revocation of foreign exchange licences in a move that hopes to encourage the widespread use of Myanmar kyat as opposed to US dollars. Apologies for the delay in reporting this information, we were reluctant to pass comment until we had the correct information to hand. After consulting various sources, we can now confirm the following.

Effective immediately, this ruling will prohibit companies from trading in USD, including hotels, travel agencies, restaurants, airlines, hospitals, supermarkets and the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd. Last night, Tour Mandalay met with the new GM of the Strand Hotel, who informed us that they had already started invoicing clients in Myanmar kyat as of two days ago (19th October). They are a part government owned entity however, so the decision to implement this change early is not surprising. Seeing as the deadline to hand in the licence is the 30th November, it is likely we won’t see nationwide adherence until well after the general election (8th November).

At the moment this ruling is going to have an immediate effect on internal trading as opposed to external, meaning that all clients visiting Myanmar should expect to pay for purchases in Myanmar kyat as opposed to USD. Seeing as the majority of businesses already charge in kyat and USD is still the preferred currency for exchange, it’s unlikely the decision will have much of an impact on tourists visiting the country. We just need to stress that Myanmar is no longer going to be operating using a dual currency, which is similar to most other countries in the world.

For now, our advice would be to inform travellers that not much has changed, but the government are in the process of phasing out the Myanmar kyat/US dollar dual currency. As long as they plan ahead and have enough kyat to cover any bills upon checkout of a hotel, it shouldn’t make a difference. Clients will need to be sensible with what they change however seeing as it’s not possible to exchange Myanmar kyat outside of the country.

Just in case you were wondering. Most currency exchange counters are reluctant to accept currencies other than USD as it is difficult for them to exchange. With this in mind, the client’s best bet is to turn up with pristine USD as normal. In the case a client is not based in the US, yes they will lose out slightly with the multiple conversions (as they always have), but it is better than going without currency or having to use unfavourable debit/credit card transaction fees.

It is also important to stress that Tour Mandalay plan to go about business as normal and will not start charging our partners in Myanmar kyat.

We hope this information helps to put your minds at rest.

Kind regards,

Tour Mandalay

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