Country Guide: Laos

Due to the current coronavirus/COVID-19 situation and restrictions in various countries, the below information may not be accurate. This pandemic is a fluid situation. Check with authorities for local laws and restrictions concerning movements.

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Updated: November 18, 2016

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Used Household Goods and Personal Effects

Documents Required

  • Copy of passport
  • Work visa
  • Letter of employer
  • Employer’s investment license
  • ID working card in Laos
  • Tax exemption letter, issued from Ministry of Foreign Affairs if NGO, diplomats
  • Business license (non-diplomats)
  • Original bill of lading (OBL) / air waybill (AWB)
  • Diplomatic ID card (diplomats) 


Specific Information

  • A non - citizen 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 owner of the goods can only import one each of any electrical appliance duty free.
  • Non - citizens employed with private companies in Laos will have to pay duty on personal effects.
  • Non - citizens not employed in Laos will have to pay duty on personal effects and depend on cargo inspection from Customs Officer
  • 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 original bill of lading shows “In-transit to Vientiane, Laos via Bangkok, Thailand”.

Motor Vehicles

Documents Required

  • Title / registration
  • Original bill of lading
  • Letter of employment
  • Import permission
  • Specification of vehicle: power number, engine number, color, year, product, model


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.
  • Second hand vehicles cannot be imported into Laos, except for diplomats and NGOs.
  • Vehicles must get the import permit and tax exemption letter before importing the vehicle into Laos.


Documents Required

  • Vaccination record
  • Veterinary health certificate
  • Pet passport


Specific Information

  • Most pets, including dogs, cats, and birds, can be brought into Laos with no quarantine period. 
  • Import permission has to go through the livestock Customs Office and will take at least two weeks.
  • To export pets from Laos the above documentation is needed along with an export document from Livestock Office, which will take at least 7 days.

Restricted/Dutiable Items

  • The following items are subject to restriction and required permission from the Ministry of Information and Culture for import:
    • Weapons firearms 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
    • Cigarettes (500), cigars (100), tobacco (500 g)
    • Wine (2 bottles) and other types of alcohol (1 bottle)
    • Second-hand vehicles

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.


Cultural and Other Information

CIA World Factbook

Wikipedia Entry for Laos

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.