COVID-19 Information

COVID-19 Information

Last updated: October 8, 2021

*** Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel.  Alternatively, travelers to the United States may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.  Check the CDC website for additional information and Frequently Asked Questions.

Country-Specific Information 

  • Travel is prohibited out from the Vientiane Capital district to the provinces from 12:00PM on September 19 until further notice. A curfew is in place in Vientiane Capital region and any province with community spread from 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM. Travel into the Vientiane Capital district is also prohibited except for returning residents, those who work in the capital, or have obtained special permission from the COVID-19 Task Force.  Transportation to and from the capital district will be suspended and the police will set up checkpoints to enforce the order.
  • Vientiane residents are not permitted to leave their homes except for necessary activities such as buying food, for medical emergencies, or if they are essential government workers (medical, police, military, and other critical infrastructure workers).
  • Entry into local neighborhoods with community transmission (red zones) remains prohibited without special permission.  Police may set up checkpoints to enforce the order.  Movements and access to supplies may be temporarily limited in red zones.
  • Parties, conferences, and gatherings of any kind continue to be prohibited, except for funerals and certain religious activities such as alms offerings.  Such exempted events still must adhere to all previously announced COVID-19 prevention measures including conducting temperature checks, maintaining social distancing of at least one meter, wearing masks, and using hand sanitizer.  Those who violate this order, may be placed in a state quarantine center or quarantine hotel and may be fined.
  • Entertainment venues such as karaoke bars, tourism sites, night markets, food gardens, pubs, cinemas, snooker halls, massage parlors, spas, beauty parlors, shopping malls, and internet cafes must close.
  • Indoor and outdoor sports centers such as fitness centers, gyms, sports fields, swimming pools, and other sports venues must remain closed.
  • Garment factories and other types of factories must close. However, if the factory can guarantee that there is no risk of COVID-19, consideration for continuing operations will be made.
  • Retailers and food vendors may also open for the sale and delivery of food and daily necessities, provided they abide by the COVID-19 prevention measures.
  • The following entities are allowed to operate with adherence to COVID-19 prevention measures:
    • banks and other financial institutions
    • gas stations and convenience stores
    • hospitals and medical centers
    • hotels and resorts
    • medical emergency services
    • pharmacies
    • postal service
    • supermarkets, agricultural and fresh markets
    • telecommunication, electricity, and water supply providers
  • Schools and educational institutions at every level must close across Vientiane Capital, including entrance examinations.
  • International flights (often to Seoul, Republic of Korea) and weekly UN humanitarian flights (to/from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) are limited but operate regularly, with exit and entry flights departing once or twice per week, depending on demand. Domestic flights have been suspended until further notice.

Due to a recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Thailand, U.S. citizens may encounter significant difficulty receiving permission to enter Thailand to seek medical care. Please consult with your physician to identify your healthcare needs and plans accordingly.

COVID-19 Testing

Are PCR and/or antigen tests available for U.S. citizens in Laos? Yes

If so, are test results reliably available within 72 hours? Yes

For information on limited humanitarian exemptions to U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) requirement that all U.S. bound travelers present a negative COVID-19 test, please review the following page: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/covid-testing-required-us-entry.htm

U.S. citizens can obtain a COVID-19 test in Laos at The National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology (NCLE)  in Vientiane. The following information of U.S. citizens is needed to obtain a COVID-19 test: 1. Copy of Passport, 2. Itinerary, 3. A fee of 650,000 Lao kip (approximately $65) may be necessary for U.S. citizens. There are some exceptions to the cost of testing for diplomatic travelers.

A physical copy of test result will be available to pick up within 3 to 5 hours after collection of the sample (for urgent cases, results can be obtained within one hour)

The National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology (NCLE) is the central authority for COVID-19 in Laos (tel: 021-312351.)  In order to be tested for COVID-19, you must qualify under the following testing criteria:

  • All new entrees to Laos;
  • People who have symptoms of COVID-19;
  • People with severe acute respiratory infection;
  • People who will travel abroad (and are approved by the Government of Laos COVID-19 Task Force)

There may be fees for each COVID-19 test of up 1.2 million Lao kip (approximately $130), depending on your visa class.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information:

Has the government of Laos approved a COVID-19 vaccine for use?  Yes

Are vaccines available in Laos for U.S. citizens to receive? Yes

Which vaccines are available in Laos?  See the links below.

The Government of Laos has approved several COVID-19 vaccines for use and has made them available to foreigners who meet eligibility criteria.  For details on how and where Laos administers the vaccine, where to receive a COVID-19 test, or questions about receiving treatment for COVID-19, please call the nationwide Laos COVID-19 hotline by dialing 166. Additionally, please visit the following website for more details about how the government of Laos is responding to COVID-19: https://sites.google.com/view/epilao.

The U.S. government does not plan to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to private U.S. citizens overseas.  Please see above and follow host country developments and guidelines to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccination program in Laos.

Entry and Exit Requirements

Are U.S. citizens permitted to enter?  While the Government of Laos is not issuing tourist visas at this time, those who currently hold or are issued valid multiple entry long-term visas (i.e. a work or diplomatic visa) may return to Laos, though permission to enter is also subject to additional requirements. To avoid a second 14-day quarantine, foreign citizens who intend to travel to another province after arriving in Vientiane, must submit the following documents to relevant officials: a travel itinerary, evidence of a 14-day quarantine, and authorization from the National Taskforce for COVID-19 Prevention and Control. If these documents are not submitted, foreign citizens should expect to do a 14-day quarantine in Vientiane and a 14-day quarantine at another province – their final destination.

Is a negative COVID-19 test (PCR and/or serology) required for entry? Yes

Are health screening procedures in place at airports and other ports of entry?  Yes, all travelers are screened for COVID-19 at the airport on arrival and before departing Laos. There may be fees for each test, up to 1.2 million Lao Kip (approximately $130), depending on your visa class.

According to the Lao Department of Immigration, U.S. Citizens seeking to extend visas that have expired due to unforeseen circumstances related to COVID-19 can do so at the Department of Immigration Office in Vientiane.  U.S. Citizens outside Vientiane can request extensions at provincial Public Security Offices.  Extensions can be requested in one-month increments, at a rate of 20,000 kip (around USD $2.50) per day of extension.  Thus, a one-month extension should cost around $75, plus a nominal administrative fee.  Though not required, some immigration officers may request a letter from the U.S. Embassy in support of visa extension requests.  The Embassy can provide such a letter if necessary; please direct requests to conslao@state.gov.

All U.S. Citizens who wish to depart Laos must inform the U.S. Embassy.  The Embassy will then formally notify the Government of Laos.

Movement Restrictions

Is a curfew in place? Yes, please see the Country Specific Information section for details on movement restrictions within the Vientiane Capital District.

Are there restrictions on intercity or interstate travel? Yes, restrictions are in place for provinces with community transmission.  Foreigners who reside in Laos or have been in Laos for some time, are allowed to travel under the same conditions as Lao citizens. Travel is currently permitted throughout Laos in areas with no community transmission or in provinces with community transmission if the traveler has evidence of two doses of COVID-19 vaccination a month or more prior to travel. Travel is prohibited in localized areas (red zones) where community transmission of COVID-19 is present.  Additional travel restrictions may be announced at any time depending on local conditions

The Vientiane Taskforce for COVID-19 Prevention and Control has issued guidelines which require people wishing to exit or enter the capital to hold a permission letter from their local COVID-19 Prevention and Control Taskforce. The guidelines will apply throughout the remainder of the lockdown. To obtain the permission letter, travelers must supply their local taskforce with evidence of their purpose of travel to Vientiane. Employees of legal entities or private companies should provide to the taskforce a proposal letter for the trip. Those wishing to depart Laos via Vientiane should supply travel itineraries and flight tickets to the local taskforce. If an out-town trip is requested to visit a sick relative, petitioners must provide a medical statement issued by a health official.

Quarantine Information 

Are U.S. citizens required to quarantine? Yes, all entrants will be subject to COVID-19 testing and a 14-day quarantine requirement at a designated facility or hotel at their own expense. 

Transportation Options

International flights (often to Seoul, Republic of Korea) and weekly UN humanitarian flights (to/from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) are limited, but operate regularly, with exit and entry flights departing once or twice per week, depending on demand. Domestic flights are limited but are available to most larger cities in Laos.

Notifications of sudden and significant reductions in flight availability will be reported via messages sent to those who have enrolled in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  Please enroll with STEP using the link to receive these alerts or you can find them on our alerts page.

Is public transportation operating? No

Fines for Non-Compliance (if applicable)

Yes, fines have been announced for those who violate COVID restrictions. However, no fines on individual citizens have been reported.

Consular Operations:

The Consular Section is currently providing only emergency American Citizen Services.

The Consular Section has suspended routine visa interviews due to the lockdown. Important note: As of April 1, 2020, U.S. Embassy Vientiane discontinued issuing all visas for Lao citizens and nationals applying in Vientiane, with limited exceptions. This action was taken pursuant to section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). For more information, please open this link.

U.S. Embassy Vientiane, Laos
+856 (0)21 487 000
Email: conslao@state.gov
la.usembassy.gov

State Department – Consular Affairs
888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444

Laos Country Information

Enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

Local Resources:

The Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs COVID-19 page can be found here 

Other links:

Update 05/26/2021: U.S. citizens may directly return to the United States with certain expired U.S. passports

If you are overseas and your passport expired on or after January 1, 2020, you may be able to use your expired passport to return directly to the United States until December 31, 2021.

You qualify for this exception if all the following are true:

  • You are a U.S. citizen.
  • You are currently abroad seeking direct return to the United States.
  • You are flying directly to the United States, a United States territory, or have only short-term transit (“connecting flights”) through a foreign country on your direct return to the United States or to a United States Territory.
  • Your expired passport was originally valid for 10 years.  Or, if you were 15 years of age or younger when the passport was issued, your expired passport was valid for 5 years.
  • Your expired passport is undamaged.
  • Your expired passport is unaltered.
  • Your expired passport is in your possession.

You do not qualify for this exception if:

  • You wish to depart from the United States to an international destination.
  • You are currently abroad seeking to travel to a foreign country for any length of stay longer than an airport connection en route to the United States or to a United States territory.
  • Your expired passport was limited in validity.
  • Your expired passport is a special issuance passport (such as a diplomatic, official, service, or no-fee regular passport).
  • Your expired passport is damaged.
  • Your expired passport is altered.
  • Your expired passport is not in your possession.

Please be advised that currently, routine passport processing in the United States can take 10-12 weeks.  If you need a passport in less than 10-12 weeks due to international travel plans, you can pay an additional $60 fee to expedite your passport, which will shorten the processing time to 4-6 weeks. If your U.S. passport expired on or before December 31, 2019, please see our website for information on how to renew your passport before traveling.

Update 05/21/2021: Extension of Lockdown

On May 20, the Government of Lao PDR extended the previously announced lockdown through Friday, June 4.  All previously announced restrictions remain in place (see our April 21 MASCOT message).

The new order allows for government officials to impose increased movement restrictions in areas affected by COVID-19 and a relaxation of movement restrictions in areas of lowered concern.  In the order the Lao national government has delegated authority to local governments to exactly define these areas.

We urge all U.S. citizens to reconsider non-vital travel within Laos and to follow all COVID-19 regulations. For more details on the updated regulations from the Government of the Lao PDR, please call 166 (Lao language only).  Those who have imminent air travel planned from Vientiane’s Wattay Airport and are currently outside of the Vientiane Capital boundaries should travel to Vientiane well in advance of the flight departure date to avoid being caught up in new movement restrictions which may be announced with little warning.

In addition, U.S. citizens who wish to depart Laos must be granted exit permission from the Government of Laos.  The Embassy can assist U.S. citizens to secure exit permission, but a specific travel itinerary and a copy of your passport’s biographic page are required.   After specific travel plans are made, please email CONSLao@state.gov to request assistance as early as possible to ensure that the exit permission will be granted.

Update 05/06/2021: Extension of Lockdown

The Prime Minster’s office on May 4 extended the previously announced lockdown until May 20.  All previously announced measures to combat COVID-19 remain in effect (see our April 21 alert) and local authorities are given additional latitude to implement further restrictions based on local conditions.

Flights out of Laos remain available at least twice monthly.  Please contact local travel agencies directly.  The Government of Laos has stated that COVID-19 vaccines are available to certain foreigners, including U.S. citizens, if they meet eligibility criteria.  For more information please check the Government of Laos’ vaccination website.

Update 02/04/2021: New Entry Requirement

Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel. Alternatively, travelers to the U.S. may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.  Air passengers will also be required to confirm that the information they present is true in the form of an attestation. Check the CDC website for additional information and Frequently Asked Questions.

Update 01/15/2021: Health Alert: Updated Requirements for Travel to the United States

Effective January 26, 2021, all air passengers traveling to the United States from a foreign country, including U.S. citizens, must present either proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of departure, or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19.  Airlines must confirm the negative test result or documentation of recovery for all passengers before they board.  Additional information is available on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.