Emergency Financial Assistance

Sending Money Overseas

There are many different ways for American citizens to receive emergency financial assistance. The fastest and most efficient method to send money internationally, including to Laos, is through money transfer services such as Western Union or MoneyGram. Although slower, the U.S. Department of State can assist relatives in the U.S. who wish to send money in an emergency. However, the Embassy cannot cash checks. If for some reason an American citizen becomes destitute in Laos, the consular section can assist in contacting family members or friends who can send money. For more information, please visit the State Department’s website

What are the different methods for my friends and family to send emergency funds to Laos?

OCS Trust

Family or friends may send funds to you through the Embassy using the Department of State Overseas Citizens Services (OCS) Trust process. An OCS Trust can be used to send money to a U.S. citizen in an emergency financial situation. When one uses this service, a Department of State trust account is established in the recipient’s name in order to forward funds overseas. There is a $30 processing fee. The person sending the funds must transfer the money to the Department of State via Western Union, cashier’s checks, or money orders sent via regular mail, FedEx, DHL, or express mail. Upon receipt, the Department of State sends a telegram to the Embassy authorizing disbursement. The recipient must contact the Embassy to arrange receipt. Depending on the method used to transfer funds to the Department of State, it can take 3-10 business days to complete the transfer to the recipient overseas.

Western Union
In light of the time required to process an OCS Trust transaction, many prefer to work directly with Western Union to send money overseas. Western Union operates in Laos in partnership with local banks. The money transfer information is sent through the company’s international computer network. The recipient can collect the funds a few minutes after the transaction is complete. Western Union charges a 0.5% service fee. They have several locations in Vientiane.


Similar to Western Union, MoneyGram transfers funds electronically through its network of over 50,000 international agents. However, unlike Western Union, which charges a flat fee, MoneyGram’s fee is based on the origination and destination cities, amount of money sent, and the desired speed of transaction. MoneyGram has many locations in the Vientiane Capital area.

What if no one can send me money?

In certain emergency cases, the consular section may be able to help a destitute American return home. However, applicants must meet strict criteria in order to qualify for a loan, and will not be permitted to leave the U.S. again until they repay the full amount of their loan. Assistance cannot be provided to pay existing debts.

Contact Information:
OCS Trust
Room 4811
Department of State
2201 C St. NW Washington, D.C. 20520
8AM – 10PM weekdays 9AM – 3PM Saturday

Western Union

In Vientiane:
Krungsri Ayuthaya Bank
Lane Xang Ave.Ban Hatsady, Chanthabouly District
(near the Morning Market)
Tel (856-21) 214575-6; 213521
Fax (856-21) 213520
(Working hours: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., money transfers can be immediate)


In Vientiane:

Lao Commercial Bank (BCEL)
No. 1 Pangkham Street
Ban Xiengnheun, Chanthabouly District
(between the river and the fountain square)
Tel (856-21)-21 3200, 222495, 213202, 223012
(Funds transferred within one day, payable in U.S. dollars, changeable into Kip or Baht)