Tariffs and regulations

Tariffs and duty rates are constantly revised and are subject to change without notice.

Austrade strongly recommends you reconfirm these prior to selling to Laos.

For further information please visit the Laos Customs website.

Tariffs and non-tariff barriers

Tariff

Laos is a member of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The country is on track to reduce its tariffs on imports from other ASEAN nations to less than five per cent, as required under the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement and tariffs on most product groups for trade with non-ASEAN countries are less than 20 per cent. However, the regime lacks transparency and in practice trade and investment are more heavily regulated, including through import and export licensing. There are a number of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) that have been established in Laos, which offer preferable trading conditions and in some cases, lower taxes and tariffs. Each SEZ has different incentives, terms and conditions depending on the type of investment that is trying to be attracted.

Australia and Laos are parties to the ASEAN–Australia–New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA). 

Laos uses the transaction value system for valuing imported goods for taxation purposes. This means that whenever possible, the customs value is based on the price paid by the importer to the exporter for the imported goods. The following costs must be included in the customs value:

  • transportation and insurance
  • packing, packaging and handling
  • any fees paid to the exporters for royalties, licences, etc.
  • storage charges in the country of export that are paid by the importer
  • all escalations charged after the goods are ordered
  • all selling costs such as commissions that are charged to the importer
  • goods or services supplied by the importer to the exporter free or at a reduced cost that were used in the production of the goods.

Costs which may be deducted from the customs value are:

  • discounts for volume purchases, payment for the goods in advance or within an agreed period (such discount must be shown on the invoice and granted before importation)
  • if goods were sold by the exporter on a duty and tax paid basis, deduct the amount paid for duties and taxes
  • amount paid to the exporter for work that will be performed in Laos, such as construction, erection, assembly, maintenance or technical assistance related to the imported goods (such costs must be shown separately on the invoice or in a contract).

In cases where the transaction value method cannot be used (e.g. where there is a relationship between the importer and exporter that might influence the value), one of the following methods of valuation will be used, in order:

  1. transaction value of identical goods
  2. transaction value of similar goods
  3. deductive value
  4. computed value
  5. flexible value.

The amount of duties and taxes payable depends on the item declared per category of duty, tax and excise:

  • duty rate is calculated on the customs value
  • tax is calculated on the customs value plus the duty payable
  • excise tax is calculated on the customs value plus duty payable plus tax payable.

The importer of commercial goods into Laos is responsible for the self-assessment of the duty and tax liabilities on all goods imported. The importer or authorised agent must prepare all necessary documents for presentation to customs.

An importer has the right to request customs to reconsider any reassessment of value and any redetermination of tariff classification. Further, the importer has the right to appeal the customs reassessment notice to higher authorities.

Non-tariff barriers

Import restrictions

All imports and exports are subject to a strict system of licensing. All importers must have a valid licence and must operate according to certain state directives. Goods prohibited for import are:

  • weapons
  • narcotic drugs
  • psychotropic substances
  • hazardous chemical substances
  • other dangerous industrial products
  • obscene items
  • banknote materials.

Product certification, labelling and packaging

Labelling

Food product labels are required to indicate the following:

  • name of product
  • registration number for food products
  • name and location of producers or company that packed products for distribution
  • country that produced the product
  • quantity of product (expressed in metric units)
  • important contents of products by percentage in relation to gross weight, in decreasing order
  • production date or expiry date, depending on product
  • if available, advice on storage, preparation methods, and use of preservatives and colourings.

Packaging

Goods should be carefully packed to protect against adverse weather conditions, particularly heat and humidity. There is no cold storage in Laos.

Methods of quoting and payment

Quotes are usually on a cost, insurance and freight (CIF) basis in US dollars. Initial transactions should be by confirmed, irrevocable letter of credit.

Documentary requirements

Commercial invoice

A pro-forma invoice is required for the establishment of a letter of credit. The following documentation is required to enable goods to be cleared through customs:

  • airway bill or bill of lading (two copies)
  • commercial invoice indicating the buyer and seller of the goods and price paid (two copies)
  • cargo control document (three copies)
  • import permit issued by a relevant Ministry or Department (two copies)
  • certificate of origin (two copies)
  • declaration form (three sets).

Public health requirements

For public health reasons, the import of certain agricultural products, livestock, fish, drugs and food is subject to procedures requiring certain documents to be presented and approved by the agency responsible for enforcing the relevant regulations and certain obligations to be observed.