Passport Office in MyanmarMyanmar Passport Office
Negotiation of the Myanmar Times Pass Bureau
Humans grind in the shadow of the bushes along the street, while others patronize one of the many tea houses, small pubs or portable orchard trucks that populate the outskirts of the crossroads. The majority are here to file an application to the nearest passport office, which in January 2014 relocated from its long-standing residence on Pansodan Rd. in Yangon city centre to Bahan.
This move was associated with major changes in the passports request procedure. Previously, visa seekers had to allow at least a whole period of one months to obtain a visa registration document, and the procedure took many stages. Before the request could be made, it was necessary to obtain recommendations and documentation from lower levels of governance such as local and regional authorities - a procedure that lasted at least three whole nights and usually entailed many small amounts of bribe payments in the shape of "tea money".
It took the whole days job applications to get in line, even for those who showed up early in the mornings. The frustration of the long waiting was exacerbated by VIP' and realtors - usually in conjunction with the employees in the offices - who were queuing up for those who had been there for a few hour.
Má Thit Thit Thit, a clerk in the old offices who had requested a pass, said that the claimants would have to wait in line to have their pictures taken, another for the application form and another for the INS. The new system eliminates the need for credentials and lower grade agency documentation and allows most visa seekers to obtain passports within 10 working day.
This whole procedure is quicker and more cost-effective. One thing has not changed: the attendance of estate agents who are familiar with the employees in the offices. As Ko La Yaung, who works as a graphics artist for a Korean magazine, said he saw the line jumpers during a recent trip to the passport department.
"As I went to the immigration office to file an petition myself, I had two realtors queuing before me. Employees give them top priorities, even when they arrive later, and sometimes they take 20 job offers for processing," he said. "I had to pay K25,000 to get a pass myself, while a realtor would have been K45,000," he added.
Said that sometimes the realtors are also unfaithful to those who don't know the applications system or don't know that it only took 10 working nights to get a pass. "but they can help get one easier. You know I don't like to see folks get ripped off like that.
Bribery clerks and estate agents can harm the ease of simple paperwork," said Ko La Yaung. Unexpectedly, Ma Chaw Chaw Chaw, who works in the tourist sector and makes regular trips to the tourist information offices, said she uses realtors, but recommended most poeple to get their own ID.
Realtor Ko Pyae Phyo said that he makes K5000 to K10,000 every case he assists someone to handle a PASSPA. I' m connected to someone in the bureau and for a small charge they prioritize my resumes so I can get through the procedure very quickly," he said.