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  7. Laos launches eVisa

VIENTIANE, 11 July 2019: Laos launched its tourist eVisa service, earlier this week, a move that the travel trade says will make it more convenient for visitors.

The official website for the eVisa application is https://laoevisa.gov.la

Launched as a pilot project, the eVisa will be applicable only for travellers entering the country through Vientiane’s airport or the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge checkpoint at the border with Thailand’s Nong Khai province. The visa is valid for a single visit.

The process is almost identical to the highly successful eVisa service launched by Myanmar in 2016.

It is understood that once the service has been finetuned it will be extended for travellers flying to Luang Prabang and eventually for land border checkpoints.

Travellers can file for a 30-day tourist visa online with pre-payment using a credit card, which is non refundable.

They will need to upload a copy of their passport bio page, a recent portrait photo (jpeg, png) dimensions 4 x 6 cm. Both files should not exceed 2 MB. The passport must be valid for at least 180 days.

Visa applicants receive a QR code approval by email that they need to print out to present to immigration officials at the checkpoints. Digitial versions of the approval notification are not accepted. Travellers must print the letter out and ensure the QR code is clearly readable.

It takes around three days to receive the approval notification email, although officials said the objective is to deal with applications as quickly as possible and that the waiting period may in practice be reduced to a day excluding weekends and public holidays.

Payment can be made with VISA, MasterCard, JCB and UnionPay.

The exact fee is not mentioned on the eVisa website’s information page. However, fees for a visa processed in the traditional manner at a consulate vary according to nationality with Canadians paying the highest fee at USD42, while other nationalities pay USD30 to 35.

Laos first announced its plan to introduce the eVisa system earlier this year with the hope it would attract more tourists to the country.

(Visit the website https://laoevisa.gov.la/index to view video on the eVisa process)

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