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Laos Entry Requirements

Laos FlagLaos A Laos visa is required of U.S. citizens. You can get your Loas visa before departing the U.S. or the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that visas can be issued upon arrival in Laos to U.S. citizen tourists with two passport-size photographs and $35 at the following ports of entry: Wattay Airport, Vientiane; Pakse, Savannakhet, and Luang Prabang Airports; Friendship Bridge, Vientiane and Savannakhet; Nam Heuang Friendship Bridge, Sayabouly Province; and border crossings at Boten-Mohan, Dansavan-Lao Bao, Houaysay-Chiang Khong, Thakhek-Nakhon Phanom, Nong Haet-Nam Kan, Nam Phao-Kao Cheo, Veun Kham-Dong Calor and Vangtao-Chong Mek.  Visa on arrival is also available at the Tha Naleng train station in Vientiane, which connects to the train station in Nongkhai, Thailand.  Persons who have obtained an entry visa prior to their arrival in Laos may also enter at the following international entry points: Napao-Chalo, Taichang-Sophoun, Pakxan-Bungkan, and Xiengkok.  Foreign tourists are generally admitted to Laos for 30 days. U.S. citizens born in Laos may be admitted for 60 days or longer.  The Department of Immigration in Vientiane will extend 30-day tourist visas up to an additional 60 days for a fee of $2 per day.  Foreigners who overstay their visas in Laos risk arrest and upon departure will be fined $10 for each day of overstay.  The Lao government requires payment of visa fees and fines in U.S. dollars.  Thai baht and Lao kip may sometimes be accepted for the fees, but at unfavorable exchange rates.

Foreign tourists who wish to obtain a visa in advance may contact a Lao embassy or consulate. In the United States, visas and further information about Lao entry requirements can be obtained directly from the Embassy of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, 2222 S St. NW, Washington DC 20008, tel: 202-332-6416, fax: 202-332-4923.  U.S. citizens who enter Laos with visitor visas issued at a Lao embassy abroad are permitted to remain in Laos for 60 days.

Business visas can only be arranged in advance; a company or individual “sponsor” must contact the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Vientiane and request a visa for the traveler by offering a “guarantee”.  Once this request is approved by the MFA, the approval will be communicated to the Lao Embassy in Washington, DC, and the U.S. traveler may then apply for the business visa.  This process normally takes 1-3 months.  After the traveler’s arrival, these visas can usually be extended for one month.

U.S. citizens should not attempt to enter Laos without valid travel documents or outside of official ports of entry.  Travelers should not cross the border between Laos and Thailand along the Mekong River except at official immigration check crossings.  Persons attempting to enter Laos outside of official ports of entry may be arrested, detained, fined and deported.

Immigration offices at some of the less-used land border crossing points are not well marked.  Travelers should make sure that they complete immigration and customs formalities when they enter or depart Laos.  Travelers who enter Laos without completing these formalities may be subject to fine, detention, imprisonment, and/or deportation.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points.  These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship, such as the child’s birth certificate, and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present.  Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

At Wattay Airport (Vientiane), Pakse Airport, Savannakhet Airport, and the Luang Prabang Airport, there is an international airport departure tax of US$10.  This tax may be included in the price of the airline ticket, depending on the carrier.  At the Friendship Bridge (Vientiane, Laos - Nong Khai, Thailand border crossing) there is an overtime fee after 4:00 pm weekdays and during weekends.  Visit Lao Embassy’s web site for the more visa information.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Laos.

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