Myanmar recognizes the International Non-governmental Organization Forum as an official INGO coordinating body that aims to influence the effectiveness and coherence of humanitarian relief and development assistance in Myanmar. INGO Forum members are committed to ensuring a better standard of living for all people in Myanmar by tackling poverty and promoting peace and prosperity.
Myanmar non-profit civil societies with Myanmar citizens only as members (no foreign nationals allowed) are termed as Local Organization (Non-governmental organizations-NGOs). The members of NGOs shall be elected within 30-months from the date of registration. NGOs with at least 5 members have the right to own immovable assets and receive donations from foreign governments and other organizations.
With INGOs, Myanmar citizens can also be included as members. INGOs are treated as foreign entities registered in Myanmar. Such organizations (INGOs/NGOs) must not be commercial, political, or religious in nature.
There are no official statistics or complete directories on the list of INGOs/NGOs in this country. According to INGO Forum Myanmar, there are probably more than 110 INGO member organizations working on sustainable development projects in Myanmar.
Proposal for the MOU/Project
INGOs/NGOs which aid socio-economic development projects in Myanmar may submit any proposed project as well as a draft Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) or similar document in Myanmar and English version to the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development (“MNPED”).
The MOU/Project Proposal involving Overall Framework/Multiple Sectors will be signed by the MNPED. INGO/NGOs must then seek the approval from the concerned Ministry before signing any sub-contract covered by the MOU/ Project Document.
After getting recommendation letters and necessary approval from MNPED and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (“MOFA”), another step is to register the INGOs/NGOs with required forms.
Registration Steps of INGOs/NGOs
All INGO/NGOs shall officially register with the Ministry of Home Affairs (“MoHA”) and sign a basic cooperation agreement (MOU) with the Union of Myanmar concerning the proposed project. However, organizations (INGOs/NGOs) that pursue religious and economic activities, formed under the Political Parties Registration Law with the Union Elections Commission do not need to apply for Registration. INGOs/NGOs applying for the permit shall be consistent with Rule of Law, Security and existing laws of the State, Development of Social Sectors of the State.
According to the law relating to Registration of Associations 2014, the “responsible person” of INGOs/NGOs shall apply stipulated Form 1, Form 3, Form 4, Form 4A with an attachment of the Copy of NRC Card including the organization’s name, address, name of a responsible person, application for Registration Request, List of Executive Members of Association Organization and Curriculum Vitae of Executive Members of Association.
Firstly, the Union Registration Committee shall issue a temporary registration certificate to the applicant of INGOs/NGOs within 7 working days with effect from the date of application.
While INGOs/NGOs register with the Union Registration Committee, they need to pay MMK 100,000 (One Hundred Thousand MMK) as the registration fee and can implement their activities all over the country. Registration fees shall be MMK 30,000 (Thirty Thousand MMK) when INGOs/NGOs register with not only Region or State Committee, also Nay Pyi Taw Council Registration Committee within the Nay Pyi Taw Council vicinity.
If approved for registration, a registration certificate shall be issued within 90 working days. In the event of a denial of registration, the committee with adequate reasons for the denial shall notify in writing to the organization within 30 days.
After registration of the organization, the opening of the office will be allowed. INGO/NGOs are also required to inform the MNPED, MOFA, Ministry of Home Affairs and concerned Ministries the opening as well as closing time of their offices.
When working in Myanmar, INGOs/NGOs will need a registration certificate for Visa applications (original needed), Travel authorizations, securing MOUs with other government ministries and confirming the organization’s status in funding applications to international donors. INGOs/NGOs shall provide monthly and quarterly reports to the MNPED as well as to the concerned Ministries of their activities and financial statements through the submission of their annual reports at the end of every year.
Renewal of registration and extension of Registration Certificate
An application for INGOs/NGOs Registration Certificate would have to be submitted to the Union Registration Committee in Nay Pyi Daw which is valid for 5 years. After 5 years, all locally registered organizations (NGOs) shall be renewed with no renewal fee.
Any registered international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) shall apply with the registration fee to extend their registration certificate once in every 5 years for an extension.
When requesting renewal or extension, an association (INGO/NGO) will need to provide attachment of Copy or Original MOU, information about the achievement of its project and additional information, notably financial. As aforesaid, INGOs/NGOs require stipulated form (Form 2, Form 3, Form 4, Form 4A) with the attachment of Passport / NRC Card Copy, previous registration certificate.
Some INGOs supplement accounts and asset lists with information about tax exemption agreements, and their audit clearance/bankruptcy statement with the recommendation to the MNPED.
INGOs that are not permitted to extend their registration shall have the right to appeal for extension within one hundred and twenty days (120) and NGOs can renew registration until sixty (60) days starting from the date of receiving a notification letter from respective registration committee by making necessary changes.
On a final point under this section, it is worth noting that there is no specific renewal fee amount as fee determination is dependent on the relevant Ministry.
Disbanding or changing of INGOs/NGOs
When disbanding, changing names or changing physical address, INGOs/NGOs shall inform to the respective registration committee within seven (7) days. If the member(s) of an organization (INGOs/NGOs) voluntarily resigned (or) deceased or an organization wants to change its executive committee, it shall inform the respective registration committee by issuing the official letter within 7 days of the incident.
INGOs are eligible for tax exemption and financial accounts but will need to register for reporting requirements with the Internal Revenue Department (IRD). According to section 5 of the Income Tax Law 1974, INGOs are not liable to pay any tax on income which is used for charitable purposes or social causes. All INGOs/NGOs are liable to deduct the withholding tax under the notification 41/2010 of Ministry of Finance and Revenue with reference to the provisions of Section-16(e) of Income Tax Law on payment settlement of license, Trademark and Patent, or payment for services and purchases of goods in the country, under a deed of contract, deed of agreement or any agreement by Co-operatives, Partnerships, Companies and Organizations.
Significance of the Development Assistance Policy
According to the Development Association Policy (“DAP”) 2018, INGOs/NGOs need to register officially with the Government of Myanmar through an MOU. The government encourages INGOs/NGOs to coordinate with Myanmar’s national development as the scope of DAP is limited to international Partner in Development (“PID”). The DAP Working Group including a broad range of government and PID representatives will be led by the Development Assistance Coordination Unit (“DACU”) and not limited to representation from both the INGO Forum and Local Resource Centre.
The DAP Working Group shall meet quarterly and shall be tasked with jointly monitoring adherence of all stakeholders to this DAP and improve the effectiveness of development cooperation. DACU has the final decision if agreements cannot be reached and hold final responsibility for revising the DAP as required. When any PID or government entity is found to be operating not following this DAP, they will be requested to meet with the DACU to discuss the reasons underpinning this divergence and agree upon a timely resolution.
DAP, therefore, builds more effective and inclusive partnerships with both the community of nations and to the good people of Myanmar.
Myanmar encourages benevolence and charitable institutions and the country is generally supportive and welcoming of any INGO/NGO community as long as there is a mutual benefit to society for both sides. The successful implementation of cooperation programs and projects should be systematically guided to achieve more effective and efficient outcomes.
If you are interested in registering a new INGO or an NGO in Myanmar or require assistance with renewal or cancellation of registration of your existing organization, do reach out to our legal team by emailing your inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on INGOs/NGOs in Myanmar is available from the following links:
Ministry of Home Affairs www.myanmarmoha.org
Ministry of Foreign Affairs www.mofa.gov.mm.com
Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement http://moswrr.gov.mm/
Ministry of Health and Sports www.mohs.gov.mm
Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation www.moali.gov.mm
Ministry of Education www.moe.gov.mm
INGO forum in Myanmar www.ingoforummyanmar.org