Visa and Currency ATM’s Information Laos

Visa Information

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we are not lawyers and this is just general information on getting a visa , types, and what is required.  Check with you Country Embassy for more information.

taken from the Laos official Tourism web site 

All visitors entering Laos must possess valid passports. Visa can obtained from Lao Embassies and Consulates abroad. In addition, visa can also be obtained on arrival at the international checkpoint.

Visas are available in advance of arrival at Lao Embassies. This can be done in several ways through a tour company recognized by the Lao PDR from Lao Embassies or Consulate in countries.

For those wishing to extend their stay, it is possible to extend your visa at the Immigration Office in Vientiane, through travel agencies. It is also possible to obtain a Visa-on-Arrival at international checkpoints.

Validity starts from day of entry into Laos. Tourist/Business: 30 days (can be extended twice in Vientiane for 30 days). Visas must be used within three months of being issued.

Passport/Visa Note: Those requiring visas should obtain them in their home country before travelling to Laos. Visas are available on arrival at international checkpoints. On entering Laos visitors must ensure they receive an entry stamp in their passport as fines for not having one are high. All visitors’ passports should be valid for at least six months.

Laos Visa Extension
If you find your visa is about to expire and you wish to stay longer in Laos, don’t worry, it is possible to get all types of Laos visa (except for a Transit Visa), extended at the immigration office in Vientiane. It cost US$2 per day if you apply before the expiry date. However, if you leave it until your visa expires you will be finded for US$10 per day for the days you over stayed.

If you are in Vientiane, your Laos Visa extension can be done at the Immigration Office behind the Joint Development Bank (JDB) on Lane Xang Avenue, opposite the Morning Market. The office is open Monday-Friday, from 8:00-16:00 (closed 12:00 to 13:00 at lunchtime). The office is close for applications on Friday afternoon.

Requirements

  • Your passport
  • One passport type photo
  • Service fee of US$3
  • Application fee of 3,000 kip per person
  • Visa extension fee : $2 per day if you have valid visa, $10 per day if your visa is already expired (overstayed days)
  • Your passport must have at least 6 months of remaining validity and a blank page for a visa stamp and don’t forget to take enough cash (US dollars) for the visa fee and two passport sized photos

Get a travel agent or specialist provider to do your Laos Visa Extension for you.
Most travel agents can arrange a Laos Visa Extension for you with small overhead fee. This varies between providers, so shop around for the best deal.

The process is straight forward, just fill out the application form the submit together with your passport and pay fees. In normal circumstances your visa is usally ready the same day.
If you only plan to stay for a few more days this option could work out best.

If you are in Vientiane it is very easy, you can take a public bus (around 10,000 kip) to the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge. Complete  the immigration procedures on the Lao side; the take the shuttle bus (5,000 kip) to the Thai immigration point and enter Thailand. If you want to come straight back into Laos you simply have to cross the road to the Thai immigration to exit the country. Once again, get the shuttle bus and then arrive at the Lao side, where you can apply for a Laos Visa on Arrival.

Entry with children

Adults travelling alone with children should be aware that they may be required to produce documentary evidence of parental responsibility before entering the country. Bring paperwork just in case.  In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated additional 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. Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site. 

additional information from the US Embassy

You must have both a passport and visa to enter Laos, and your passport must also have at least six months validity remaining beyond the date that you enter Laos. You can get a visa on arrival in Laos if you are traveling for tourism, have two passport-size photographs and pay $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. You can also get a visa on arrival at the Tha Naleng train station in Vientiane, which connects to the train station in Nongkhai, Thailand. If you obtain a visa from a Lao embassy or consulate prior to your travel to Laos, you may also enter at the following international entry points: Napao-Chalo, Taichang-Sophoun, Pakxan-Bungkan, and Xiengkok

If you get your visa on arrival in Laos, you will generally be allowed to stay in Laos for 30 days after you arrive. If you were born in Laos, you may be admitted for 60 days or longer. You can extend your 30-day tourist visa up to an additional 60 days for a fee of $2 per day through the Department of Immigration in Vientiane. If you overstay your visa in Laos, you risk arrest and you will be fined $10 for each day of overstay as you leave. The Lao government calculates 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. Additional information is available from the Lao National Tourism Administration.

If you enter Laos with a visitor (tourist) visa issued at a Lao embassy abroad, you will generally be allowed to stay in Laos for 60 days. If you wish to obtain a visa in advance, please contact a Lao Embassy or consulate. In the United States, you can get visa and other information about Lao entry requirements 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.

Business visas can only be arranged in advance. A company or individual “sponsor” must contact the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Vientiane, request a visa for you, and offer a “guarantee.” Once the Lao MFA approves the request, the Lao MFA will send the approval to the Lao Embassy in Washington, D.C., and business travelers may then apply for a business visa. This process usually takes one to three months. After you arrive in Laos, your business visas can generally be extended for one month.

Do not attempt to enter Laos without valid travel documents or outside of official ports of entry. You should not cross the border between Laos and Thailand along the Mekong River except at official immigration check crossings. If you attempt to enter Laos outside of official ports of entry, you may be arrested, detained, fined, and deported.

Immigration offices at some of the less frequently used land border crossing points are not well marked. Make sure you complete all immigration and customs requirements when you enter or depart Laos. If you enter Laos without completing these formalities, you may be subject to fines, detention, imprisonment, and/or deportation.

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. There is also a 5,000 kip (equivalent to approximately U.S. 60 cents) departure tax for domestic flights, which 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 the Embassy of Laos web site for the most current information. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

sources:

Laos official Tourism web site  http://www.tourismlaos.org/show.php?Cont_ID=35

US Embassy Laos   http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/laos.html

some addition information:

Relationship with Lao citizens: Lao law prohibits sexual contact between foreign citizens and Lao nationals except when the two parties have been married in accordance with Lao Family Law. Any foreigner who enters into a sexual relationship with a Lao national risks being interrogated, detained, arrested, or fined. Lao police have confiscated passports and imposed fines of up to $5,000 on foreigners who enter into unapproved sexual relationships. The Lao party to the relationship may be jailed without trial. Foreigners are not permitted to invite Lao nationals of the opposite sex to their hotel rooms; police may raid hotel rooms without notice or consent.

Religious workers: Religious proselytizing or distributing religious material is strictly prohibited. If you are caught distributing religious material, you may be arrested or deported. The Government of Laos restricts the importation of religious texts and artifacts. While Lao law allows freedom of religion, the Government registers and controls all associations, including religious groups. Meetings, even in private homes, must be registered and those held outside of established locations may be broken up and the participants arrested.

Photography and other restrictions: If you photograph anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest, including bridges, airfields, military installations, government buildings, or government vehicles, you may be detained or arrested, and local authorities may confiscate your camera. Be cautious when traveling near military bases and strictly observe signs delineating military base areas. Lao military personnel have detained and questioned foreigners who have unknowingly passed by unmarked military facilities. Because of the prohibition on religious proselytizing, you should avoid taking photographs or videotaping non-Buddhist religious services. If attending public services or religious gatherings, ask permission from the local police and civil authorities to photograph or videotape. Please see the section above on Religious Workers. Local police may suspect persons using any kind of sophisticated still or video camera equipment of being professional photographers or possibly photojournalists, which may lead to questioning, detention, arrest, or deportation.

The large amount of unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over from the Indochina War causes more than 200 casualties a year. UXO can be found in some parts of Savannakhet, Xieng Khouang, Saravane, Khammouane, Sekong, Champassak, Houaphan, Attapeu, Luang Prabang, and Vientiane Provinces. In addition, numerous mine fields are left over from the Indochina war along Route 7 (from Route 13 to the Vietnam border), Route 9 (Savannakhet to the Vietnam border), and Route 20 (Pakse to Saravane). Never pick up unknown metal objects and avoid traveling off well-used roads, tracks, and paths.

You should also exercise caution in remote areas along the Lao border with Burma. Bandits, drug traffickers, and other people pursuing illegal activities operate in these border areas, as do armed insurgent groups opposed to the Government of Burma.

We recommend having Travel Insurance

Currency and ATM access

The Lao currency is the kip, which can now be exchanged at banks in neighbouring countries due to the establishment of the Lao stock market in 2011.

The largest note is 100,000 kip and uncommon; the notes in common circulation are 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 kip

Thai baht can also be accepted in many areas near the border, notably Vientiane. Beware though, that in remote places only kip is accepted and no ATMs will be available, so plan ahead.

More touristy places and banks are also accept the euro. Bringing euros could be cheaper than changing euros into baht or US$ and then into kip.

There are many ATMs in Vientiane, and they have also appeared in other major cities including Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Savannekhet, Tha Khaek, Pakse and Luang Namtha. BCEL  , the largest bank, accepts both Visa/Cirrus and MasterCard/Maestro, but surcharges of US$1-2 apply.

The use of both ATMs and credit cards in banks is subject to computer operation, staff’s computer skills, power cuts, telephone network breakdowns, National Day, etc etc. A few travellers have been forced out of the country prematurely as they couldn’t withdraw funds to further their travels. Always bring cash as well. Changing money can be next to impossible outside major towns.

Banks give good rates, and private exchange booths are common in the major tourist areas.

Financial transactions: Network-connected ATMs are available in Vientiane, including those operated by the Australia and New Zealand Bank – Vientiane (ANZV) and the Foreign Commercial Bank of Laos, also known as the Banque Pour le Commerce Exterieur de Laos (BCEL). BCEL also has network-connected ATMs in Vang Vieng, and most provincial capitals, or “Muang.”. These machines are generally limited to withdrawals of the equivalent of about 100 U.S. dollars in Lao kip only. Credit cards are accepted at major hotels and tourist-oriented businesses. Credit card cash advances and/or Western Union money transfers are available at banks in most provincial capitals and other tourist centers. While the government requires that prices be quoted in Lao kip, prices are often given in U.S. dollars or Thai baht, especially in tourist areas or at markets. The Lao government requires payment in U.S. dollars for some taxes and fees, including visa fees and the airport departure tax. 

Customs/currency regulations: Lao customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Laos of items such as firearms, religious materials, antiquities, foreign currency, cameras and other items. Please contact the Embassy of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please also see section on “Religious Workers” above. Prohibitions exist against importing or exporting currency of any kind in excess of U.S. $2,500 or its equivalent without authorization. Contact the Lao Embassy or Lao customs authorities for more details.

 

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