Laos - Country Commercial Guide
Import Requirements and Documentation
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The Lao Trade Portal website aims to provide the most up-to-date requirements and regulations for importation of goods.

Application for an import license must be submitted to the provincial trade authority where the importing enterprise is located.  An import or export license is valid for the life of the business, but investors must periodically notify the authorities that they intend to continue operating their businesses.  The Lao government offers quotas for importing duty-free vehicles to qualifying individuals and companies.

As of July 2023, importers, and exporters, both local and foreign, must register both with relevant provincial trade authorities and with central level Ministry of Industry and Commerce authorities.  Upon approval, import and export registrations are valid for one year and may be renewed annually.

For general goods, importers are required to have the following documentation for each shipment:

  1. Invoice
  2. Packing list
  3. Transport documents
  4. Bill of lading
  5. A customs clearance report, and
  6. Depending on the type of good, an import license or permits obtained from relevant ministries.

Importers of raw materials for re-export are required to have the same documents as other importers, except for a contract and import license.  Automobile importers, unless they have obtained duty free status, must pay an import tax, excise tax, VAT, and, potentially, a tax for luxury goods.

Exporters should have the following documents when applying for an export declaration:

  1. An application for export declaration
  2. An import/export license (only for goods under control of the ministry or government, e.g., rough, or polished diamonds)
  3. An invoice of goods
  4. A packing lists.
  5. A certificate of country of origin and generalized system of preferences certificate of origin, if applicable
  6. Phyto-sanitary certificate for food exports; and
  7. Industrial products certification for industrial products.

To import or export pharmaceuticals, food, or chemical products, in addition to the aforementioned documents, the importer must obtain a license from the Food and Drug Control Import Division of the Food and Drug Department of the Ministry of Public Health.  Pre-shipment inspection is required for exported goods in accordance with the requirements of the destination country.