The Laotian government has recently launched a new electronic travel authorization system that allows foreigners to obtain the documents necessary to travel to Laos entirely online.
International travelers can, therefore, apply for the Laos Approval Letter from anywhere in the world, as long as they have access to a reliable internet connection. There is no longer the need to visit a Laos embassy in person and submit paper copies.
Once they submit the relevant documentation online and pay the application fee, applicants will receive all communications regarding their visa via email. Once the application is approved, travelers will receive the Laos Approval Letter directly in their inbox.
What Is the Laos Approval Letter?
The Laos Approval Letter is an official document granting foreigners permission to Enter Laos. It’s intended to simplify the process of applying for a visa and help Laotian authorities to strengthen and streamline border control.
After receiving your Laos Approval Letter, your authorization to enter Laos will be valid for a maximum of 60 days. Once you cross the Laotian border, you’ll be allowed to stay in the country for up to 30 days.
How to Get a Laos Approval Letter for the Laos Visa
There are several types of Laos visas that allow foreigners to enter the country, each with its own application process.
In order to obtain the new electronic visa and the Laos Approval Letter, you’ll need to:
- Hold a passport from one of the Laos Approval Letter eligible countries;
- Meet the visa requirements for Laos;
- Complete the application online and pay the application fee.
What Countries Are Eligible for the Laos Approval Letter?
Citizens from over 100 countries are eligible to apply for a Laos Approval Letter. Eligible nationalities are:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
- Czech Republic
- Antigua & Barbuda
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Equatorial Guinea
- Hong Kong
- North Korea
- South Korea
- Marshall Islands
- Papua New Guinea
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- St Vincent &the Grenadines
- San Marino
- Sao Tome & Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- Solomon Islands
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- Trinidad & Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
- Brunei Darussalem
Crossing the Border into Laos With an Approval Letter
At present, the Laos Approval Letter allows travelers to enter the country from a number of land and air arrival points. There are currently 5 sites available that can accept the electronic version of the tourist visa, however, more are expected to be added to this number in the near future.
For visitors arriving in the country by air travel, there are 3 airports that can cater to tourists arriving with a valid Approval Letter. These include the following:
- Wattay International Airport
- Luang Prabang International Airport
- Pakse International Airport
Alternatively, travelers arriving by road transport from Thailand can also enter with an Approval Letter via specified land border checkpoints. These are as follows:
- Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge I
- Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge II
Foreign nationals entering Laos via any other land, river or air border crossing, will instead need to come with a pre-arranged visa from a Laos embassy or obtain a visa upon arrival.
However, the country has no restrictions on where visitors to the country may leave from. Once you’ve safely entered the country with your Approval Letter via a designated checkpoint, you can then exit via any of its national border crossings with other countries.
Do I Need to Print My Laos Approval Letter?
Yes, in order to have a smooth experience at the border and being allowed into the country, foreigners need to print at least one copy of their Laos Approval Letter. This will serve as proof of having been granted a visa. However, travelers will also need to show their passport and other relevant documents to the Laotian border control officers.
At the moment, it’s not possible to show an electronic copy of the Laos Approval Letter in lieu of the printed one. The Laos Approval Letter can be printed in black and white, as long as the document is still readable for the immigration officers — especially the QR code.
Once you arrive at the airport, you will find an exclusive line for holders of electronic travel authorizations at the immigration desk. Foreigners traveling with a Laos Approval Letter should join this line in order to have their documents checked quickly.