Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Taxes, taxes, and more taxes

If you are planning to hire translators, cooks, guides, or other assistants during your time in Mongolia, please be aware that you may need to withhold and remit income and social insurance taxes to the local tax authority. In the United States, the burden of claiming informal income is put on the individual tax payer, but in Mongolia the burden is usually placed on the individual or entity it is administratively easier to assess a tax liability against. Employers are required to withhold income taxes (10% of gross) and, depending on the type of employment, social insurance taxes (11% of gross) from those who provide labor services, and remit the withholdings to their local tax authority. Individual researchers can often neglect the tax regulations without having problems, but large projects are likely to experience difficulties because of their visibility. Individual researchers should work with their host institutions to ensure that they are properly conforming to tax laws. Larger project managers should consult with a tax professional about options for registering the project and properly remitting taxes to local authorities. Contact the Business Council of Mongolia for information about tax professionals in Ulaanbaatar.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Got mail?

The ACMS provides visiting scholars who are ACMS members personal mailboxes in the center upon request. If you intend to receive mail while in Mongolia, please contact the ACMS about setting up a personal mailbox. Why do this? Well, for three reasons.
  • Mongolia does not have residential delivery services.
  • PO Boxes cost about $20 per year (same as ACMS membership).
  • It takes a lot of time to collect boxes from the post office due to the elaborate administrative system at work there.
The mail is collected and sorted every Friday morning. Most packages sent to Mongolia receive a 1,200₮ customs tariff. Therefore, don't forget to bring a little cash each time you check your mailbox just in case you need to reimburse the ACMS. For more information about getting a mailbox, please contact

Monday, April 28, 2008

Did you write your thesis/dissertation about Mongolia?

If you wrote your thesis/dissertation about Mongolia or within the context of Mongolia and Inner Asia, are you willing to share it with the world? The ACMS library is attempting to centrally collect full text copies of masters theses and PhD dissertations in electronic form to facilitate further research. A current list of theses and dissertations is available on the ACMS library website at the following link Mongolia and Inner Asia Dissertations. At this point, very few copies are directly available on the site. So, if you are willing to contribute an electronic copy of your work, please contact

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Don't Forget to Register

If you are intending to stay in Mongolia for longer than 30 days, don't forget to register yourself at the Office of Immigration, Naturalization, and Foreign Citizens within a week of your arrival. The process is straightforward and takes about an hour. If you plan to stay longer than 90 days (US citizens), then you need to apply for a long term residency permit within 30 days of your arrival. Don't head out into the countryside before you have taken care of these issues, otherwise you'll face monumental difficulties when you try to leave Mongolia. More information about the registration process is available at:

Friday, April 25, 2008

Making Summer Plans

June is right around the corner, which means an influx of international scholars trying to make tight research and study schedules fit into the precious days of Mongolian summer. Most universities will conclude classes and graduation ceremonies by mid-June, and students and faculty will begin escaping to the countryside to enjoy much anticipated opportunities to bask in the warm sun outside. Much to foreign visitors consternation it seems as if no one is ever around during the summer for meetings, collaborative work, completing paperwork, or answering questions, which is probably not too far from the truth. Nine months a year most of us spend huddled in either overheated or under-heated buildings dreaming of a temperate world outside in which our breath doesn't freeze to our eyelashes. Summer is approximately 90 days long, and the majority of Mongolians and expatriates make the most of it by not working all that hard on things that require staying indoors.

Some things to keep in mind if you are intending to visit Mongolia this summer for research.
  • Naadam -- This mid-summer holiday takes place July 11th, 12th, and 13th. You will note that it is a couple weeks after classes end, so don't be surprised if colleagues make an early start for Naadam. It is also a couple of weeks before classes begin again, so don't be surprised if colleagues take their time getting back to work. Bottom line is that Naadam is a time to enjoy the summer and an opportunity to participate in sports outside, so be prepared to take some time off from your work during the Naadam holiday. If you have a tight work schedule with limited time, plan to come to Mongolia before or after Naadam.
  • Lodging -- July-August is the peak tourist season in Mongolia. Prices rise and rooms become scarce. Plan ahead and contact people who can assist you in getting a deal as opposed to paying international tourist prices.
  • Prices -- Inflation is high around the world at the moment, and Mongolia is suffering from a severe bout of approximately 17% per annum at the moment. Everyone is adjusting to price increases, both consumers and suppliers, so don't be surprised if prices seem "out of whack."
  • Visas and Permits -- Remember that you must have proper visas and permits to conduct research or study in Mongolia. Information about regulations is available at the Office of Immigration, Naturalization, and Foreign Citizens website. Contrary to popular belief, Mongolia does in fact have laws and regulations, and those who make an effort to understand them are less likely to find themselves in trouble. Remember, if you plan to stay in Mongolia longer than 30 days you need to register with the immigration office. Make sure you give yourself enough time to do this if you have plans to immediately venture into the countryside. Visa and permit violations come with fines of $100-$1,000 which are assessed on a case-by-case basis, and in some cases deportations do occur. Read the post earlier this week about animal tagging to learn about those new regulations for research permits.
  • Safety and Security -- Mongolia is generally a safe place to be, but summer can see a rise in thefts and assaults. The best strategy is to remember that Ulaanbaatar is like Baltimore, MD. It's a great town, but there are some neighborhoods you shouldn't visit or things you shouldn't do if you're from out of town. Don't travel alone at night. Don't be conspicuous with your money. Don't wonder around off the main streets. Don't talk to strangers (for those of you who missed that day in kindergarten). Remain aware of your surroundings, but also relax and enjoy the warm weather.
Summer is a great time of year, and we look forward to seeing you at the ACMS. See you soon.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

ACMS Library Upgrades Furniture

The ACMS Library received a much needed upgrade in furniture this week. Previously the reading room was filled with classroom desks and chairs. Using funds raised in the first part of 2008 through the Library Development Fund we purchased new tables, chairs, and shelves. We also moved the library bookshelves into the reading room, and constructed a partition wall made of additional bookshelves with a latched gate to limit unauthorized use of the books. The reading room has seating for 30 people, and it is generally filled to capacity during peak school hours. The new tables and chairs make the reading room a much more pleasant place to study.

Now we need to raise funds to purchase new computers...

New Animal Tagging Regulations

On or around March 28th the Mongolian government began enforcing new regulations applying to research permits that involve the tagging or marking of animals. These new regulations affect both Mongolian and international researchers. Previously researchers applied directly to the Ministry of Nature and Environment for research permits, but the new regulations now require a preliminary review and approval of research proposals at the Academy of Sciences.

Initial experience with some individual researchers and organizations indicate that the new regulations are not being enforced effectively and there is significant ambiguity about the process and responsibilities. Although based on limited information, it appears that the new regulations have effectively ground all new permit applications to a halt. Researchers planning to conduct biological work in Mongolia in the near future should be sure to check with their local counterparts to verify whether their research will be affected by these new regulations.