The American Citizen Services Unit assists U.S. citizens in the event of an emergency such as a death, arrest, illness, injury, missing persons, destitution and other circumstances. For more information on crises and emergency assistance overseas, please see the State Department website on Emergencies and Crisis.
A U.S. citizen who requests emergency assistance can call the American Citizen Services section during normal business hours at 001-856-21-48-7000 from outside of Laos or 021-48-7000 within Laos. Outside of normal business hours, call 001-856-20-487-600 from outside of Laos, or 021-487-600 within Laos.
Note: The time difference between Washington DC and Laos is + 11 hours.
Callers in the United States can also call the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Overseas Citizen Services toll free at 1-888-407-4747 (from overseas call 1-202-501-4444).
Routine services such as lost or stolen passports, passport renewals, reports of birth aboard and notarial services are not considered emergencies and are processed during normal business hours.
U.S. Embassy in Vientiane
Thadeua Road, Kilometer 9, Vientiane
Main Switchboard: (856-21) 48-7000
Consular Section (American Citizen Services): (856-21) 48-7000
Consular E-mail address: CONSLAO@state.gov
After business hours: 856-21-487-600
Emergency and police response services in Laos do not meet the standards we have come to expect in the United States. Therefore it is vitally important that every American in Laos prepare his or her own emergency response plan. Early personal preparation can alleviate some of the difficulties of a crisis or emergency. A little advance planning could save your life and the lives of others. The U.S. Embassy will make every effort to assist in emergency situations, but in general American citizens should be prepared to help themselves immediately in a crisis.
The following list is a summary of some suggested preparations that should be undertaken by every U.S. citizen living in Laos. Please realize that this list is not conclusive and that every individual is responsible for preparing themselves to react in an emergency or crisis.
- Register with the U.S. Embassy, Keep your Embassy Warden Registration up-to-date. U.S. citizens can register and make updates online throught the Internet-Based Registration System (IBRS) at travel.state.gov
- Know your neighbors and other expatriates in your neighborhood. Form a neighborhood network or a mutual aid agreement in which a group of friends or neighbors agree in advance to help each other in emergencies.
- Prepare an emergency kit – Every member of the house should have an overnight bag prepared in advance. In addition, keep the following documents in a safe, but accessible, place in case you have to leave in a hurry: passport with Lao departure card and Thai arrival card filled out in advance; emergency stash of cash/credit cards; medical insurance information; address lists and emergency contact information.
- Keep a list of Emergency Telephone Numbers next to every phone. Suggested contact numbers include police, fire, ambulance, doctor, hospital, Embassy, taxi service, and friends or neighbors in your area who would help you in the event of an emergency.
- Have a safe-haven in your house. Every bedroom should have deadbolt locks on the doors. If your home is invaded, retreat to the safe-haven and call for help.
- Have a telephone in your bedroom. In an emergency, you may not be able to get to another room.
- Know your address and be able to describe where you live in Lao and English. People can’t come to your aid if they don’t know where to go.
- Know your neighborhood. Where will you seek shelter if you have to leave your house in a hurry? Keep each other, local authorities, and the U.S. Embassy informed of any suspicious activity in your neighborhood.
- Know where your local police station, fire station, and preferred medical care provider are located. The phones often do not work. You may have to go get help for yourself or for a neighbor in need.
- Harden your home against intruders. Consider locks, lighting, gates, security guards, alarm systems, shatter resistant windows, solid walls and doors, window grills, air conditioner and vent grills, and peep holes. Maintain strict control of house and car keys – do not store spare keys in hiding places. Keep spares with trusted friends.
- Train your security guard if you have one. A security guard does no good if not awake. Give your guard a whistle or air-horn to alert you and the neighbors in case intruders are spotted.
- Insure proper safety measures. Fire extinguishers, first-aid kits, blankets, matches, candles, flashlights with batteries, radios, seven-day supply of canned food and liquids etc…Make sure that supplies are checked and rotated periodically.
- Ensure that every family member is aware of emergency procedures. Remember that no-one is immune to unexpected crises. There are many kinds of unforeseen emergencies that could occur and every individual should properly prepare themselves to avoid any preventable consequences. What will you do in case of car accident, sudden illness, violent crime, fire, earthquake, epidemic, or flood?
- Prepare your children. If you have children, prepare a place for them to go and be cared for in the case of an emergency. If you love your pets, do the same for them.
- Have adequate medical insurance for both medical services and medical evacuation to the United States.
- Know your Embassy Warden, where they live and how to contact them, and make sure they know the same for you.
- Get a border pass for your car if you have one. If you don’t have a car/border pass, know where you can get transportation in an emergency [friend, neighbor, taxi, etc.].
- Have a medical evacuation plan. Plan in advance how will you get to the hospital in a middle-of-the-night medical emergency, including how you will get across the Bridge. Make advance arrangements with friends, neighbors, or colleagues who agree to provide each other emergency transport. Thai hospitals can assist with getting the Thai gate opened at the Friendship Bridge. Thai ambulances can enter Vientiane in emergencies, but it is usually much quicker to meet the ambulance at the Lao side of the Bridge.
What to do in case of an Emergency: Burglary or Break-in
- Do not confront burglars (especially armed ones). Be aware that burglars are usually determined and do not easily scare away.
- If in the house, attempt to secure yourself in your safe-haven.
- Call for help. Get help from the quickest and safest source possible. Attempt to telephone police, alert your neighbors, call the people in your mutual aid agreement. If nothing else works, scream out the window for help.
- Await emergency response or the all clear from the outside.
- Please inform the Consular Section at the Embassy of all break-ins or burglaries and other criminal activity. The Embassy can not provide police protection, but it can encourage Lao authorities to improve their response.
What to do in case of an Emergency: Medical Emergency
- Remain Calm.
- Contact your preferred medical care provider.
- Use your previously prepared emergency first aid kit.
- Call an ambulance or a friend or neighbor with whom you have a mutual aid agreement to drive you to your doctor or hospital.
The Lao and Thai authorities have been very cooperative with persons needing to cross the Friendship Bridge to seek medical assistance at night. However, getting the attention of the Thai authorities at night can be a problem. Before you get to the bridge, call the hospital in Thailand and ask them to call Thai Immigration to open the gate on the Thai side of the bridge. The Embassy Duty Officer can assist in getting the Friendship Bridge opened.