Country Guide: Laos

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Updated: November 30, 2015

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Used Household Goods and Personal Effects

Documents Required

  • Copy of Passport
  • Work Visa
  • Letter of Employer
  • Employer’s investment license
  • Business license (applies only to non-Diplomats)
  • Original Bill of Lading (OBL) / Air Waybill (AWB)
  • Diplomatic ID card (Diplomats)


Specific Information

  • A foreigner may import used household goods and personal effects duty free if having diplomatic status or working for a registered for an non-governmental organization (NGO).
  • If the document criteria are met, only one sea and one air shipment are permitted duty free, and the shipper can only import one each of any electrical appliance duty free.
  • Foreigners employed with private companies in Laos will have to pay duty on personal effects.
  • Foreigners not employed in Laos are prohibited from importing personal effects.
  • Returning Lao nationals who have lived abroad will have to pay duty on personal effects.
  • As sea shipments first enter Thailand before being transported in-bond to Laos, ensure that the OBL shows “In-transit to Vientiane, Laos via Bangkok, Thailand”.

Motor Vehicles

Documents Required

  • Title / Registration
  • OBL
  • Letter of Employment


Specific Information

  • Only foreign Diplomats may import a vehicle into Laos duty free. 
  • Vehicles are subject to duties assessed on the type, age and engine size of the vehicle.
  • Contact the destination agent for specific information regarding the import of second-hand vehicles.


Documents Required

  • Vaccination Record
  • Veterinary Health Certificate


Specific Information

  • Most pets, including dogs, cats, and birds, can be brought into Laos with no quarantine period. 
  • The Health Certificate must be issued within 7 days of import.

Restricted/Dutiable Items

  • The following items are subject to restriction and required permission from the Ministry of Information and Culture for import:
    • Weapons and ammunition
    • Receivers and transmitters through satellites, internet, broadcasting equipment, etc.
    • Images of Buddha and God made from copper, glass, wood, bone, ivory, stone, and other materials
    • Weapons
    • Firearms and ammunition
    • Cigarettes (500), cigars (100), tobacco (500 g)
    • Wine (2 bottles) and other types of alcohol (1 bottle)

Prohibited Items

  • Illegal drugs
  • Explosives
  • Chemicals and fertilizers
  • Plant and plant products
  • Pornographic materials
  • Anti-communist publications

Consignment Instructions

Recommended:  Contact the destination agent to ensure all requirements have been met prior to import, especially for differences regarding air / sea shipments.


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IAM Note: Customs regulations can change at any time with or without notice. This document is provided as a guide and for information only. While IAM has exercised reasonable care in publishing this document, IAM makes no representation, either expressed or implied, as to its accuracy or applicability.