U.S. Visas


U.S. Visa: Reciprocity and Civil Documents by Country

Lao People's Democratic Republic

Lao People's Democratic Republic
Lao People's Democratic Republic
Quick Facts

6  months from date of entry








The import of local currency is not permitted. 2,500 USD or equivalent in foreign currency must be declared.


The export of local currency is not permitted. 2,500 USD or equivalent in foreign currency must be declared.

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Vientiane

Thadeua Road, Km 9
Ban Somvang Thai
Hatsayphong District
Vientiane, Lao PDR

Telephone: +(856) (21) 48-7000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(856) (21) 48-7600

Fax: +(856) (21) 48-7040

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Laos for information on U.S. - Laos relations. 

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Your passport must have at least six months validity remaining from the date of entry and at least two blank visa pages.

Tourist Visas are required. Tourist visas on arrival are available at certain ports of entry, and generally permit a stay of 30 days.  You can extend the visa up to an additional 60 days through the Department of Immigration in Vientiane.  

To obtain a visa in advance, and for other information about Lao entry requirements, please contact  the Embassy of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, 2222 S St. NW, Washington DC 20008, tel: 202-332-6416, fax: 202-332-4923.

For a business visa: Business visas can only be arranged in advance.  After you arrive, you can generally extend your business visas for one month.  Please contact the Embassy of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic for specific information.

Enter only at official ports of entry authorized for foreigners and with appropriate documentation. Immigration offices are not well marked at some less-frequented land border crossing points.  Foreigners are not generally allowed to use boat and ferry crossings on the Mekong River.  Swimming between Laos and Thailand is dangerous and illegal.  Complete all immigration and customs requirements when entering or exiting Laos. If you enter Laos outside of official ports of entry or without completing these formalities, you may be subject to fines, detention, imprisonment, and/or deportation.

You must have a valid entry stamp and be within your authorized period of stay to depart Laos.  Otherwise, you will be fined and may be arrested. 

If your U.S. passport is lost or stolen in Laos, you must obtain both a replacement passport and an exit visa.  In an emergency, the U.S. Embassy can issue a limited validity replacement passport in one day; however, the Lao government requires three to five working days to issue an exit visa.  Contact the Department of Immigration, Foreigner Control Office in downtown Vientiane for an exit visa.  Unfortunately, the U.S. Embassy cannot assist you in expediting the replacement of your Laos entry stamp. Unless you make prior arrangements with Immigration, you may still be subject to any overstay fines, regardless of the reason for your overstay.  

Laos does not allow its citizens to have dual nationality. Under Lao law, Lao citizens who have been outside of Laos for extended periods or who have taken a second nationality are no longer considered to be Lao citizens.  Lao immigration officials may deny entry to or exit from Laos for individuals using multiple passports.

Traveling with children:  If you are traveling with a child, your departure may be facilitated  if you have documentary evidence of your relationship, such as the child’s birth certificate, and permission for the child’s travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. U.S. citizen children born out of wedlock to a Lao national and a U.S. citizen may experience difficulty departing Laos.

Travelers with HIV/AIDS: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Laos.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

Safety and Security

The Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens avoid non-essential travel to all of Xaisomboun Province. U.S. Embassy personnel are restricted from traveling to  Xaisomboun Province due to past reports of violence.

There are large amounts of unexploded ordnance in Laos (UXO) left over from the Indochina War. UXO caused approximately fifty casualties last year.  UXO is found in some parts of Savannakhet, Xieng Khouang, Saravane, Khammouane, Sekong, Champassak, Houaphan, Attapeu, Luang Prabang, and Vientiane provinces.  In particular, UXO is found along Route 7 (from Route 13 to the Vietnam border), Route 9 (Savannakhet to the Vietnam border), and Route 20 (Pakse to Saravane).  Never pick up unknown metal objects and avoid traveling off well-used roads, tracks, and paths.

Exercise caution in remote areas along the border with Burma. Bandits, drug traffickers, and other people pursuing illegal activities operate in these border areas, as do armed insurgent groups opposed to the government of Burma.

Find information on Travel Alerts and Warnings on our website.


Petty thieves target foreigners for pickpocketing (especially in tourist hubs) and theft of unattended property, including in vehicles. Thieves on passing motorcycles snatch purses.  Petty theft increases during major Lao holidays. Residential break-ins also occur.  

Scams: In tourist areas, shop owners may rent motorbikes to tourists, have someone “steal” the motorbike, and charge the tourist for the cost of the “stolen” motorbike.  Be cautious of rental arrangements and never provide your passport as collateral.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:

U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy. 

Report crimes to police in the place where the incident took place.  You may also contact the Tourist Police at 021-251-128. Tourist Police generally speak English.  Contact the U.S. Embassy at 856-21-48-7000; call 856-21-48-7600 after hours. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  •  contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical
  • support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence:  U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. 

Furthermore, some laws are prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Relationships with Lao citizens: Lao law prohibits sexual contact between foreign citizens and Lao nationals except when the two parties have been married in accordance with Lao Family Law. Any foreigner who enters into a sexual relationship with a Lao national risks being interrogated, detained, arrested, or fined. Foreigners are not permitted to invite Lao nationals of the opposite sex to their hotel rooms, and police may raid hotel rooms without notice or consent.

Foreigners who married a Lao national outside of Laos should have their marriage certificate authenticated at a Lao Embassy in the country where the marriage took place before traveling to Laos.

Arrest Notification: Laos does not routinely inform the United States Embassy of the arrest of U.S. citizens in a timely fashion and does not always allow consular access to arrested individuals as required by international law. If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information. 

Possession of, trafficking in, and manufacture of drugs are serious offenses in Laos and result in lengthy prison sentences or even the death penalty. Some restaurants offer “happy” or “special” menu items--particularly “pizzas” or “shakes”--that may contain opiates or unknown substances. Consuming these items is illegal.

Adventure Tourism--Laos has a developing adventure tourism industry that includes, but is not limited to, zip-lining, bungee jumping, rock climbing, and off-road bikes and buggies. Safety standards and training requirements for personnel operating these activities and safety inspections of the equipment may not be equivalent to those required for similar activities in the United States. We recommend that travelers check the safety records of adventure tourism operators.

Water Safety—Travel by speedboat on rivers in Laos is dangerous, especially when water levels are low. White water rafting, kayaking, tubing, and other water-based activities, including swimming in the Mekong, are dangerous. Foreigners have drowned or been seriously injured. Do not participate in any water-based activities while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Laos does not have the same health and safety precautions as those in the United States. Please be aware that safety advice will be minimal, and there may not be warning signs at tourist sites.

Hotel Safety--Some hotels in Laos do not meet U.S. safety standards for security and fire safety.

Faith-Based Travelers:  See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Laos. 

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: There are no special provisions for persons with mobility issues. Sidewalks and street crossings are not suitable for people in wheelchairs. Buildings, medical facilities, public transportation, etc. are generally not accessible.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.


Medical Facilities and Services in Laos are extremely limited and may not meet basic international standards.

Contact Information for Hospitals/Clinics is found here

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers accept only cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation. Every year the Embassy sees cases of U.S. citizens who fall ill in Laos and are unable to get necessary health care because they don’t have adequate insurance.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure the medication is legal in Laos.  Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. 

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety:

  • Road accidents are a major cause of death. Defensive driving is imperative; many drivers pay little attention to traffic laws.
  • Poor driving conditions--Traffic is chaotic, and road conditions can be rough. Few roads have lane markings, road signs, and stoplights. Drivers widely ignore those that exist. Speeding, reckless passing, and failure to obey traffic laws are common. Many drivers are underage, unlicensed, inexperienced, or uninsured. Driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs is common. Motorcycles carry as many as five people, greatly impeding the drivers' ability to react to traffic.
  • Avoid driving at night. Road construction sites are poorly marked, appear with no warning, and can be difficult to see at night. Roads are poorly illuminated, many vehicles have no operating lights, few bicycles have reflectors, and trucks without reflectors commonly park on unlighted roads.
  • Motorcycles and Motorbikes--The U.S. Embassy prohibits official Americans in Laos from using motorcycles, motorbikes, and scooters due to a high incidence of accidents and lack of available medical care. You should also consider not using these vehicles.
  • Emergency vehicles--There are no government ambulance services, and a scarcity of private ambulances makes it difficult for accident victims to receive timely medical attention.

Traffic Laws:

  • Traffic accidents--A driver involved in a traffic accident should remain at the scene and attempt to contact the police or wait for the police to arrive to prepare an accident report. If renting a car or motorcycle, contact the rental company and its insurance agent.
  • Traffic moves on the right, but vehicles use all parts of the road.
  • Intoxicated driving--Police rarely enforce intoxicated driving laws.   

Public Transportation: 

  • Public transportation is scarce and the transportation available is very limited after sunset. There are a limited number of buses and shared van/covered pick-up truck services. 
  • Inter-city transport is provided by buses, vans, pickups, and trucks, any of which may be in poor repair.
  • For hire vehicles--Taxis or cars-for-hire are available only at major transit hubs such as border crossings and airports. “Tuk-tuks” -- three-wheeled, open-sided vehicles -- are available in tourist areas, but are frequently in poor repair, and drivers generally speak little to no English. Car taxis are also available by phone.

Visit the website of Laos’ national tourist office and our road safety page for more information.

See our road safety page for more information. 

Aviation Safety Oversight:

As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Laos, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Lao Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Laos’ air carrier operations.  Further information may be found on the FAA safety assessment page.

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
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U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
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Learn why the Hague Abduction Convention Matters.
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Vientiane

Thadeua Road, Km 9
Ban Somvang Thai
Hatsayphong District
Vientiane, Lao PDR

Telephone: +(856) (21) 48-7000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(856) (21) 48-7600

Fax: +(856) (21) 48-7040

General Information
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Hague Abduction Convention
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Retaining an Attorney
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Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 


Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Adoptions from Laos to the United States are not possible
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
Hague Convention Information

Laos is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section  204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F).

In February 2012, the Office of the Government of Laos suspended the ability of foreigners, including foreigners of Lao heritage, to adopt Lao children until appropriate intercountry adoption regulations and procedures are established. The suspension remains in effect. The information below about adoptions in Laos pertains to what was in place PRIOR to the suspension. It is not clear when Laos may lift their suspension or what the requirements may be if Laos does so.

The current Family Law of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic does not contain provisions for foreigners to adopt Lao children. There are no government agencies with clear authority and responsibility for orphans.

The Department of State is providing the following information for general reference but strongly cautions U.S. prospective adoptive parents against taking any steps to initiate an intercountry adoption from Laos.


To bring an adopted child to the United States, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States on an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.

Who Can Adopt

Prior to the February 2012 suspension, foreigners had to meet the following requirements to adopt a child from Laos, in addition to meeting U.S. immigration requirements:

  • Residency: There were no residency requirements. Prospective adoptive parents had to provide the address of their current residence.
  • Age of Adopting Parents: Prospective adoptive parents had to be 18 years old and at least 18 years older than the child to be adopted.
  • Marriage: Both married and single individuals were able to adopt. Lao law did not specify whether lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, or intersex individuals or same-sex couples could adopt.
  • Income: While there were no specific income requirements, prospective adoptive parents had to submit evidence of their ability to financially support the child. There were no specific documents required, but typically evidence included a job letter or copies of bank statements.
  • Other: No other requirements.

There is no information on whether these requirements will be the same under any future adoption regulations and procedures that Laos may enact.

Who Can Be Adopted

Prior to the February 2012 suspension, Laos had specific requirements that a child had to meet to be eligible for adoption, in addition to U.S. immigration requirements:

  • Relinquishment: The biological parent(s) had to provide a “letter of agreement” to prospective adoptive parent(s) terminating parental rights and releasing custody of the child. This was normally accompanied by a certificate/letter from the Village Chief that legalized the “letter of agreement” from the biological parents. If the child was ten years of age or older, the child had to also provide a “letter of agreement” to the prospective adoptive parent(s) stating that he/she agreed to be adopted. This was also normally accompanied by the Village Chief’s certificate/letter.
  • Abandonment: The Village Chief had to provide a letter to the prospective adoptive parent(s) certifying that the biological parent(s) had abandoned the child. If this took place at a hospital, the administration of the hospital had to provide this letter.
  • Age of Adoptive Child: Children under 18 years of age were able to be adopted.
  • Sibling Adoptions: No requirements specified.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions: No requirements specified.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: No requirements specified.

There is no information on whether these requirements will be the same under any future adoption regulations and procedures that Laos may enact.

Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are adoptable. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)’s adoption.

How to Adopt

Laos’ Adoption Authorities
Ministry of Justice (MOJ)
Office of the Government of Laos (GOL)

Prior to the suspension, the GOL was the sole authority that could approve adoptions of Lao children by foreign parents. The MOJ issued final adoption agreements. Lao courts did not issue foreign adoption agreements or decrees. There is no information on whether this will be the same under any future adoption regulations and procedures that Laos may enact.

There are no public or private institutions that function only as orphanages. There are no government agencies with clear responsibility for orphans.

The Process

The process for adopting a child from Laos prior to the suspension generally included the following steps:

1. Choose an adoption service provider
2. Apply to be found eligible to adopt
3. Be matched with a child
4. Adopt or obtain custody of the child in Laos
5. Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
6. Bring your child home

1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider

Prior to the suspension, the recommended first step in adopting a child from Laos was to decide whether to use a licensed adoption service provider in the United States that could help with the adoption. U.S. adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. The Department of State provides information on selecting an adoption service provider on its website.

There are no adoption service providers operating in Laos that have been authorized by the GOL.

2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt

Prior to the suspension, prospective adoptive parents had to meet the requirements of the Government of Laos and U.S. immigration law to adopt a child from Laos. This involved submitting an application to be found eligible to adopt with the Ministry of Justice and the GOL.

Being found eligible to adopt involvedsubmittinga letter of proposal for adoption to the Lao Embassy in the United States. The Embassy would forward it to Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) for review and then submit it to the MOJ. U.S. citizens resident in Laos could then submit the letter directly to the MFA, Consular Department, in Vientiane. The MOJ reviewed the application, including the home study, to determine eligibility to adopt and then submitted it to the GOL after conducting an investigation. The GOL was the final issuing authority.

To meet U.S. immigration requirements, prospective adoptive parents must file an I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition with U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be found eligible and suitable to adopt.

3. Be Matched with a Child

There was no formal matching process performed by government authorities in Laos prior to the suspension. Prospective adoptive parents had to work with a local agency, representative or reputable foreign NGO to be matched with a prospective adoptive child. Some hospitals in Laos maintained lists of prospective adoptive parents to contact when a newborn child was abandoned at the hospital. There are no known orphanages in Laos that arranged for the routine placement of orphaned children with prospective adoptive parents.

4. Adopt or Obtain Legal Custody of Child in Laos

Prior to the suspension, the process for finalizing the adoption (or obtaining legal custody) in Laos generally included the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: After the MOJ received the proposal to adopt from the MFA with all necessary documents, the MOJ might interview the prospective adoptive parents to review their suitability to adopt and verify information provided in the application. Once the MOJ reviewed and approved the proposal, it would submit it and all documents to the GOL for approval. The MOJ then issued the final adoption agreement.
  • Role of the GOL: The GOL had sole authority to approve adoptions of Lao children by foreign parents. There was no court process. There is no information on whether this will be the same under any future adoption regulations and procedures that Laos may adopt.
  • Role of Adoption Agencies: There are no adoption service providers operating in Laos that have been authorized by the Government of Laos. There are also no public or private institutions that operate solely as orphanages. Prior to the suspension, the MOJ accepted adoption applications and provided assistance with the legal and regulatory requirements needed to process the final adoption but did not assist with matching adoptable children with prospective adoptive parents. There is no information on whether this will be the same under any future adoption regulations and procedures that Laos may adopt.
  • Adoption Application: Adoptions of Lao children by foreigners is not possible at this time. Therefore, neither the Lao Embassy in the United States nor the MFA will accept a letter proposing adoption from foreign prospective adoptive parents, including foreigners of Lao heritage.
  • Time Frame: Adoptions of Lao children by foreigners is not possible at this time. Previously, the time frame for adoption from Laos varied greatly. Prospective adoptive parents typically spent 18 to 24 months in Laos to successfully complete the adoption process.
  • Adoption Fees: The application fee for the MOJ was 100,000 Lao Kip per child (approximately $12). If the application was approved by the GOL, there was an additional fee of 500,000 Lao Kip per child ($60).
  • Documents Required: Adoptions of Lao children by foreigners is not possible at this time. Therefore, the Lao Embassy in the United States, MOJ, MFA, and GOL will not accept documents or an application to adopt from foreign prospective adoptive parents.

5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status

Previously, after finalizing the adoption (or grant of legal custody) in Laos, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would determine whether the child met the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law. You would need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.

6. Bring Your Child Home

Adoptions of children from Laos are not currently possible. Previously, adoptive parents needed to apply for several documents for their child before they could apply for a U.S. immigrant visa to bring the child home to the United States.

Birth Certificate
Prior to the suspension, adoptive parents were not required to apply for a new birth certificate. However, the adoptive parents could apply for one if they wished to have their name(s) added to the birth certificate. The adoptive parents would visit the Village Chief and then the District Registration Office where the child was born to obtain a new birth certificate for their child.

Laos Passport
Only the Consular Department of the MFA in Vientiane could issue a Lao passport to the adopted child once the adoption was approved. Both the adoptive parents and the child were required to apply in person. The passport application fee was approximately $20, plus an additional 100,000 Lao Kip ($12) service fee. The MFA typically can provide the passport in five business days. There is no information on whether these requirements will be the same under any future adoption regulations and procedures that Laos may adopt.

U.S. Immigrant Visa
Prior to the suspension, after adoptive parents had obtained the new birth certificate and passport for their child and had filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, they then had to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for their child from the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane. Immigrant visas allow children adopted overseas to travel home with their adoptive parents. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.

You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane’s website.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.

*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.

Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Laos
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa to travel to Laos. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Laos, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Laos, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

After Adoption


Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
Adoptions of children from Laos are not currently possible. Prior to the suspension, once an adoption was approved, the adopting parents were asked to report to the District Family Registration Office where the child was born or had been most recently residing when the adoption was approved.

We strongly urge adoptive parents to comply with post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Adoption agencies may be able to help with this process. Cooperation will contribute to positive experiences with U.S. citizen parents. There is no information on whether Laos’ post-adoption requirements will be the same under any future adoption regulations and procedures that Laos may adopt.

Post-Adoption Resources
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

Here are some places to start your support group search:

Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Laos
Rue Bartholonie
That Dam
P.O. Box 114
Vientiane, Lao PDR
Tel: 856-2126-7000
Fax: 856-2126-7040
Email: Conslao@state.gov
Internet: la.usembassy.gov

Laos’ Adoption Authorities
Ministry of Justice
Department of Judicial Administration System
Nationality Division
Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR
Tel: 856-21-412-053

Office of the Government of Laos
Information Division
Vientiane, Laos

Note that the Ministry of Justice is the appropriate point of contact for questions about adoptions.

Embassy of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
2222 S Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20008
Tel: 202-332-6416
Fax: 202-332-4923
Email: laoemb@verizon.net
Internet: laoembassy.com

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W. (SA-29)
Washington, D.C. 20520
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
Email: AskCI@state.gov
Internet: adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about filing a Form I-600A application, Form I-600 petition, Form I-800A application or Form I-800 petition: National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email: NBC.Adoptions@DHS.gov
Internet: uscis.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
Fee Number
of Entries
A-1 None Multiple 12 Months A
A-2 None Multiple 6 Months A
A-3 1 None Multiple 12 Months
B-1 None One 3 Months
B-2 None One 3 Months
B-1/B-2 None One 3 Months
C-1 None One 3 Months
C-1/D None One 3 Months
C-2 None One 3 Months
C-3 None One 3 Months
CW-1 11 None One 3 Months
CW-2 11 None One 3 Months
D None One 3 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2C 12 None Multiple 12 Months
F-1 $80.00 Multiple 12 Months B
F-2 $80.00 Multiple 12 Months
G-1 None Multiple 12 Months
G-2 None One 3 Months
G-3 None One 3 Months
G-4 None Multiple 12 Months
G-5 1 None One 3 Months
H-1B $80.00 Multiple 12 Months 3
H-1C $80.00 Multiple 12 Months 3
H-2A None N/A N/A3
H-2B None N/A N/A3
H-2R None One 3 Months 3
H-3 $80.00 Multiple 12 Months 3
H-4 $80.00 Multiple 12 Months 3
I None One 3 Months
J-1 4 $80.00 Multiple 12 Months
J-2 4 $80.00 Multiple 12 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 $80.00 Multiple 12 Months
L-2 $80.00 Multiple 12 Months
M-1 $80.00 Multiple 12 Months
M-2 $80.00 Multiple 12 Months
N-8 None Multiple 12 Months
N-9 None Multiple 12 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 $80.00 Multiple 12 Months 3
O-2 $80.00 Multiple 12 Months 3
O-3 $80.00 Multiple 12 Months 3
P-1 None One 3 Months 3
P-2 None One 3 Months 3
P-3 None One 3 Months 3
P-4 None One 3 Months 3
Q-1 6 $80.00 Multiple 12 Months 3
R-1 $80.00 Multiple 12 Months
R-2 $80.00 Multiple 12 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
Country Specific Footnotes
  1. A-1 TDY and A-2 TDY visas are issued for 3 months, 1 entry.

  2. 6 months, multiple entry visas - $40.00 /or/ 3 months single entry visas - no fee.


Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.



General Documents

There are no central registries of vital records in Laos. There are no standard forms for any civil record other than the Household Registry Book and national Identification Card. Documents can be obtained only by those applying in person and resident in Laos, and occasionally by family members applying in person. All documents should be considered unavailable to applicants outside of Laos.

Documents regarding events that took place before 1975 are unavailable. The Japanese Army destroyed virtually all extant French colonial records when it invaded Laos in World War II. When the Pathet Lao came to power in 1975, they destroyed most extant records of the former Royal government.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates

Available. In principle births are recorded in the district (muong) of the person's birth. If a civil record of birth is not available, it is because the record was destroyed by the Japanese in 1945 or by the Pathet Lao in 1975 or because the parents have not made a declaration of birth before the Pathan Ban (village chief), since the requirement of registering births is not enforced. In such cases, three persons who have witnessed the birth may make a statement, together with the Huanaa Ban (section chief) of the village where the birth occurred, before the village chief. The declaration is in turn notarized by a district officer in the case of Vientiane or provincial administrator in all other cases. Birth certificates may be obtained from the district or provincial administrator having jurisdiction over the place of birth. A listing of provincial capitals and provinces is included herein.

Death Certificates

Available. Death certificates can be obtained in the same manner as birth certificates from the district where the subject was resident when the death occurred.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Lao citizen couples are issued a document of marriage in the district where the marriage took place. The Lao government recognizes marriages between Lao citizens that are not registered but that are reflected in the Household Registration Book that shows a couple to be husband and wife. A divorce decree must be issued by the court in the district where the couple is resident for a divorce to be final. A divorce certificate issued by a village or district official that is not a member of the court is not sufficient. Marriage and divorce documents can be obtained from the district government in which they were originally issued.

Adoption Certificates

Please check back for update.

Identity Card

Please check back for update.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

Available. "Criminal Record #3" or "Bai Cheng Thot #3". Issued by the President of the People's Court of the particular Province (or the Vientiane Municipality) in which the applicant resides.

Prison Records

Available. Prison records in principle can be obtained from the Director of the prison in which the subject was incarcerated. Under the present government, inmates are issued a Certificate of Good Conduct when released from prison or "re-education" centers.

Military Records


Passports & Other Travel Documents

A laissez-passer (border pass) is issued by the Vientiane municipality to any Lao national traveling to Nongkhai, Thailand, for not more than three days. Persons leaving Laos for other parts of Thailand or other countries are required to have a valid passport. Diplomatic and Official Passport holders are also required to have a valid exit (in & out) visa issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Other Records

Not applicable.

Visa Issuing Posts

Vientiane, Laos (Embassy)


Embassy of the United States of America

Thadeua Road, Km 9

Ban Somvang Thai, Hatsayphone District

Vientiane, Lao PDR

Tel: +856 21-487000

Fax: +856 21-480670


Visa Services

All visa categories for all of Laos.

List of Provinces and Capitals

Province Captial
Phongsaly Phongsaly
Luang Namtha Namtha
Bokeo Houeisay
Luang Prabang Luang Prabang
Houa Phan Sam Neua
Xiengkhouang Xiengkhouang
Sayaboury Sayaboury
Vientiane Phonehong
Vientiane Capital  Vientiane
Xaysomboun Anouvong
Borikhamsay Paksan
Savannakhet Savannakhe
Khammouane Thakhek
Saravane Saravane
Champassak Pakse
Attapeu Attapeu
Oudomsay Oudomsay
Sekong Sekong

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 667-0076 (202) 332-6416(202) 332-4923

Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

Reciprocity: What's New
Temporary Reciprocity Schedule
Country Acronyms
Presidential Proclamations
Terrorist Designation Lists
State Sponsors of Terrorism
Treaty Countries
Visa Issuing Posts

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Vientiane
Thadeua Road, Km 9
Ban Somvang Thai
Hatsayphong District
Vientiane, Lao PDR
+(856) (21) 48-7000
+(856) (21) 48-7600
+(856) (21) 48-7040
Lao People's Democratic Republic Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.