Background of Myanmar Customs Department

In retrospect, Myanmar Customs Department was established since the royal kingdom of Myanmar. As from March 1755, Dagon became modern port, after King Alound Phaya had occupied Dagon (Yangon), in 1754. King Alound Phaya appointed Mr. Gregory, Armenian nationality, to act as Collector of Customs and there are only three jetties including barge jetty or royal jetty at that time.  As for first and foremost a two-storied Customs-House, alike China style was build with brick tiles, wood, and bamboo (near City hall and Yangon Division police office). Customs-house incorporates ware house, wharf and office and called "Yadanapond Royal Treasury". One year later Mr. Gregory Collector of Customs was transferred to Pathein as Mayor of Pathein after King Alound Phaya had died in 1760.

One year later, Mr. Gregory collector of Customs was transferred to Pathein as Mayor of Pathein after King Alound Phaya had died in 1760. In 1764, under the ruling of King   Singue son of the King Sin Phu Shin and grand child of King Alound Phaya Customs port was moved from existing place to Latter street and Customs-house was also opened for second time. The Customs collector was Mr. Joseph Xavier Decruz.


            Mr. Roger became Collector of Customs during Kone Baung dynasty, King Bo Daw Phaya succeeded to throne between 1781 and 1819. Besides U Kyaw Yway Myanmar nationality and had dug Inya lake was appointed as Collector of Customs. The time-lag between 1819 and 1837, Mr. Ignace Lancigo Spanish nationality was commissioned as a Collector of Customs by King Ba Gyi taw.


            In 1824, after the first British-Myanmar war Major General Sir Archibald Campbell had occupied Yangon. Mr. Ignace Lancigo Collector of Customs having been seized, Mr. Inichol master of naval ship was appointed as Collector of Customs up to 1826. Having achieved Yangon port according to the Yan Tapo treaty, Myanmar authority reappointed    Mr. Ignace Lancigo  as Collector of Customs.


            While King Tha Yar Waddy was reigning from 1837 to 1846, Customs-house was shifted to Lanmataw Street, Yangon. After the Second British-Myanmar war had ended, Commodore Lambert exactly occupied Yangon and appointed Mr. Robert Samuel Edward a hybrid of Negro nationality as Customs Collector. After that, Yangon port had renovated so as to be high grade port and mandated the followings International Customs procedures:

  1. the document of coming and going regarding sea going vessel shall be examined between the period of sunrise and sunset;
  2. importation of arms and ammunitions and alcohol are prohibited strictky;
  3. no precious goods of Myanmar such as teak, rice and paddy shall be exported and sold by without permission of authority concerned.


            In 1852, Sir Arthur Phayre commissioner of Rakhine Division had been recalled and promoted to the chief commissioner of British Burma by viceroy of British Empire Lord Dalahozy. After Sir Arthur Phayre  had issued the order that Customs rules and regulations must be consistent with Calcutta Customs' rules and regulations on 19 December 1852, Yangon port was removed to the head of Bar Street and wooden Customs-house was constructed in 132 Strand Road Yangon ( current location of Myanmar Customs Department) in 1953.

Having become a Collector of Customs, Sir Arthur Phayre destroyed old Custom-House (aged 15 years) and constructed new two-storied wooden building in order to meet increasing volume of office work.


            British government declared that the whole Burma has now fallen to the British government and is one of the colonies of British Empire in 1886. So many shipping lines and companies from foreign countries communicated with Burma (Myanmar). Then P. Handerson shipping line provided normal voyage between England and Burma. Moreover, Suact Channel having been inaugurated in 1869, Asia-Europe voyage was smooth and improved. Since Trans continental Railway from New York to Sanfransisco was also commission into service, transport and communication for Atlantic-Pacific were developed. When reaching at the beginning of the 20th century, in 1913 Lieutenant Governor Sir Harvey Adamson allows Customs Collector Mr. Nicholson to destroy an old wooden Customs-house forty four years of age and built a new four-storied Customs-house in order to cover Customs' procedures, formalities and strength of staff. The new building was inaugurated in end of 1915.


            Being state of the India, Burma (Myanmar) had collected the revenues for King Jorge kingdom of England up to 1937 and Burma Customs became as Customs of King Jorge. In 1935, Customs Department was organized under the ministry directly controlling by viceroy. From 1 April 1937, the Central Board of Revenue transferred the administration of Customs to Burma (Myanmar) government according to the 1935 Burma Act. The administration of Customs then was supervised by Chief Customs Authority. The organization chart is mentioned-below:


The name "Burma Customs" having been appeared particularly, the uniform of Preventive Officer (PO) was changed on 10 October 1940. After the flame of Second World War II had spread to Burma (Myanmar), Yangon was bombarded by Japanese Air Force. Because of air strike of the Japanese Air Force severely, preventive officers had abandoned their Customs-house and fled from Yangon on 28 February 1942. Furthermore, Burma Independence Army (BIA) occupied Yangon City, under British government ruling more than hundred years on 8-3-1942.

            Therefore, Customs-house could not open until in the times of Yangon Preservation Committee lead by Thakhin Htun Oat. Former Customs ports such as, Sule Jetty, Broukin Jetty, Pansodan Jetty and Eastern part were fallen in the hand of Japanese Army. Although Customs controls concerning Goods imported and exported by sea going vessels were being provided by Japanese soldiers, Customs-house was not reopened at that time. Dr Ba Maw's government had reorganized Burma Customs nominally at building in Shwe Taung Kya Street, Yangon and appointed U Ko Ko Kyi appraiser since the era of British as Collector of Customs. There are only two jetties undertaken by Burma Customs namely Lanmadam Jetty and Kemmendine Jetty. Chinese merchants and Japanese merchants were involving in trade at Lanmadam Jetty as well as Burmese merchants also were involving in trade at Kemmendine Jetty.


            Customs office for Kemmendine jetty was opened at the hospital donated by Ba Gyi Pe in order to assess and examine goods from the sailboat which was moored to the Kemmendine jetty against required documents. In the era of Japan, Burma Customs was under the control of Ministry of Revenue. The four-storied Customs-house was used as not only Military Hospital but also Japanese Kinpataing Office.


            In 1945, Burma Army declared that on May the first they had occupied Yangon. After British had entered into Burma, the Civil Affair Service Burma ruled Burma. At that time, because of the four-storied Customs-house located in Strand Road was building of camp by Indian workers, temporarily Customs-house was based in first floor of the Commissioner of Port Office and Customs officers were collected. However, the viceroy Mr. Dawman Smith handed over administration from the Civil Affair Service Burma the withdraw order of administration was issued on 1 February 1946. After that Customs-house was opened officially on 1 February 1946. In spite of the arrival of preventive officer completely only appraising section was opened because the four-storied Customs-house damaged by impact of Second World War II was being repaired and the office of Mine department existed in second floor up to 17 March 1947.


            On 4 January 1948, our country became independence Union of Myanmar as well as Royal Customs became Myanmar Customs, under control of Ministry of Finance and Revenue. The rank Customs Collector was amended as Commissioner of Customs in 1957.


            Myanmar Customs was reorganized and head of department rank was changed from Commissioner of Customs to Managing Director since Revolution Council. Moreover, Managing Director was changed into Director General on 11 April 1973. Customs Department, under control of Ministry of Finance and revenue has seven divisions and has mission statement, "to achieve trade facilitation through simplification of Customs procedures, without adversely effecting Customs control objectives to maintain proper collection of revenue", objectives and functions. Total strength including officers and staff are (2300). The organization structure is mentioned as below:


The below-mentioned tables are the list of head of Customs Department from Myanmar dynasty to State Peace and Development Council.


  1. Myanmar dynasty

2.      British Colony

3.      Japanese Army 

4.      Civil Affair Service and before Independent
5.      After Independent
6.      Socialist
7.      State Peace and Development Council
8.      The Republic of Union of Myanmar
NoNameDurationRank Name
1U Htun Thein2010-2016Director General
2U Kyaw Htin2016- Up toDirector General