Most expats will need a visa to enter Laos, and only tourist visas can be applied for online – other visas will need to be applied for at a Lao embassy. Visa-free entry into Laos is available for one month or two weeks to passport holders from a small minority of countries, mostly from Southeast Asia but including North Korea, Russia, Japan, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

Laos offers a variety of visas including tourist, business, student, labour and expert visas.

Tourist visas for Laos

Tourist visas for Laos allow a 30-day visit. There are two kinds of visas: visas on arrival and eVisas. Tourist visas can be extended for another thirty days at the Bureau of Immigration in Vientiane.

Expats from most countries can apply online for a tourist eVisa. This is valid for entry through the international airports in Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Pakse, as well as Lao-Thai Friendship Bridges I, II and IV. This visa application is usually processed within three days and is valid for 60 days after approval. As with ordinary tourist visas, it allows a 30-day visit to the country.

Residence permits for Laos

For expats who want to stay in Laos for a longer period of time, a residence (stay) permit is necessary. To be eligible for a stay permit, expats will need to be legally residing in Laos with a valid passport and visa, and they will need either proof of employment or of business activities in the country. They will also need a police clearance and medical certificate and may need proof of financial resources and a copy of their lease agreement.

Expats who have lived in the country for ten or more years and who plan on living in the country for ten or more months of the year can apply for permanent residence.

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice, and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.