Laos Launches E-Visa This June
Apr 03, 2019

In a bid to attract more tourists and reduce waiting times at border checkpoints, Laos’ ministry of foreign affairs has announced the introduction of an e-visa service to start this June, enabling foreign visitors to more conveniently apply for entry visas online.

All international visitors to Laos will be eligible to apply online for a single-entry visa with a maximum 30-day stay, a senior official in charge from the ministry’s consular department told the Vientiane Times last week. There was no information about how much an e-visa would cost, though. Visas-on-arrival currently cost between $30 and $42, depending on citizenship.

With the move, Laos follows the steps of Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam in granting easy online visa procedures for short-time visitors. Even Thailand has introduced an e-visa to replace the visa-on-arrival for some nationalities.

Soun Manivong , director-general of the tourism marketing department in Laos’ ministry of information culture and tourism, welcomed the e-visa scheme.

The director said that once the service goes online, it would be more convenient for foreign tourists to apply for an entry visa. Though visas on arrival have been provided for foreign visitors, those who have never been to Laos before were still often unsure whether these services are actually available at border checkpoints or not, Manivong said.

Some people seeking to apply for a Lao entry visa prior to their departure from their home countries encounter particularly difficulty when there are no Lao embassies or consulates in their countries. In such cases, foreign applicants need to apply for an entry visa from Lao embassies based in nearby countries, which is time-consuming with additional cost.

The new e-visa scheme is part of incentives introduced by Lao authorities to attract more tourists from abroad to the country after the Lao tourism industry suffered a decline in foreign visitor arrivals from numerous source markets in recent years. Although Laos recorded more than 4.1 million foreign visitors last year, an increase of 8.2 per cent compared to the year before mainly owing to more Chinese arrivals, the figure failed to meet the government’s target set at five million.