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April 5, 2022

Myanmar Requires Conversion of Foreign Currency Transfers and Balances to Local Currency

On April 3, 2022, the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) issued far-reaching requirements for nearly all individuals, companies, and other organizations in Myanmar to convert foreign-currency income received from abroad to kyat (MMK) within one working day of its receipt. These requirements are effective immediately for all transfers, and apply retroactively to foreign currency balances already in the country.

CBM Notification No. 12/2022 and Directive No. 4/2022, issued in accordance with the Foreign Exchange Management Law, instruct Myanmar banks that hold an authorized dealer (AD) license on converting foreign currency. Together, the notification and the directive stipulate that all foreign-denominated income received by “internal residents” from abroad into a foreign currency account opened at an AD-licensed bank must be exchanged into MMK within one working day, unless subject to regulatory exclusions. “Internal residents” include locally registered companies, organizations, and offices; Myanmar branches of foreign companies; and individuals residing or established in Myanmar for at least 183 days (excluding foreign diplomatic staff and foreign civil servants).

As noted above, the notification and the directive have retroactive effect on foreign-currency accounts holding funds that had already entered Myanmar. This means that for the purposes of these regulations, these foreign-currency amounts are treated as if they were transferred into Myanmar after the date of issuance (i.e., April 3, 2022), and are to be converted to MMK in accordance with the new rules.

The conversions are to be made at the official exchange rates set by the CBM, which for US dollars is currently USD 1 to MMK 1,850. Additionally, foreign-currency transfers out of Myanmar must be performed through AD-licensed banks with the permission of the CBM’s Foreign Exchange Supervisory Committee.

Noncompliance with the notification or directive is punishable under the Foreign Exchange Management Law with imprisonment for up to one year, a fine, or both. Exceptions to the conversion requirement and outbound remittances of foreign currency are expected at a later stage.

For more details on these foreign exchange developments, or on any aspect of financial regulations in Myanmar, please contact Tilleke & Gibbins at [email protected].

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