Compliance/Financial Considerations

If you intend to do any of the following in Laos, please contact Risk Services at or 642-5141:

  • Hire a local to work for you as an employee
  • Purchase or lease office or research space
  • Purchase or lease an automobile
  • Establish a long-term (over 90 days) or ongoing project
  • Conduct a clinical trial


Foreign activities may trigger many U.S. laws, including:

  • Import Controls
  • Export Controls
  • Tax Reporting
  • Foreign Bank Account Reporting
  • Country Embargoes and Targeted Sanctions
  • Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
  • Anti-Boycott Laws

Import Controls. UC employees must adhere to U.S. import requirements, and may need to enlist the services of a customs broker, especially for shipments arriving by sea and subject to the Importer Security Filing 71730, also known as ISF 10+2.

Export Controls. Export controls may apply to advanced software and technology, research data, and other sensitive assets. UC’s Export Compliance FAQ contains useful information and can be found here.  Go here for the University of California plan for compliance with federal export controls. If you plan on taking or sending potentially export-controlled materials to Laos, consult the campus Research Administration Compliance Office at 642-0120.

Tax Reporting. The University and its employees may be taxed in foreign countries. The United States does not have a tax treaty with Laos. For more information about double taxation issues, contact the Controller’s Office at:

Foreign Bank Account Reporting. The U.S. Treasury Department requires U.S. citizens with a financial interest in or signatory authority over a financial account in a foreign country, where accounts exceed $10,000 at any point during a calendar year, to report such accounts on a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FinCen Report 114). Those needing to complete the form should contact the Controller’s Office at or 643-9803 for assistance. An IRS 1040 Schedule B form (Part III–Foreign Accounts and Trusts) must be filed by the signatory for any foreign bank account, regardless of the account balance.

Country Embargoes and Targeted Sanctions. In general, collaborations between University personnel and scholars at foreign institutions or organizations do not require export licenses unless they involve export-controlled or -restricted research or involve scholars in sanctioned countries. Before engaging in an international collaboration, the University needs to determine whether export licenses are required and to verify that the foreign collaborator is not blocked or sanctioned. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is responsible for enforcing all U.S. embargoes and sanctions. Depending on each country’s embargo or sanction program, activities may be prohibited without specific authorization or license. UC’s International Collaborations webpage contains additional information on this topic.   

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is intended to stop bribery. It prohibits offering to pay, paying, promising to pay, or authorizing the payment of money or anything of value to a foreign official. The term “foreign official” generally includes any employee or contractor of a foreign government, and may include individuals employed by foreign universities. It is also unlawful to make a payment to a third party knowing that all or part of the payment will go to a foreign official. For more information, review the federal government’s Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. If you need further clarification, contact the UC Berkeley Office of Legal Affairs at 642-7122. Transparency International’s 2018 survey of perceived public sector corruption rated Laos at 29 out of 100 (132nd out of 180 countries reviewed, i.e.  corrupt).

Anti-Boycott Laws.  The U.S. Department of Commerce is responsible for oversight of laws prohibiting individuals and entities from participating in boycotts not approved or sanctioned by the U.S. government. The Export Administration Act requires that requests to participate in such boycotts or to conduct activities in any of the boycotting countries be formally reported to the Department of Commerce and/or IRS.

For other compliance-related issues, refer to UC’s International Compliance webpage.  


Foreign Bank Accounts. Employees wishing to open a foreign bank account should contact the Controller’s Office at or 643-9803. Requests to open accounts must be made through the Office of the President’s Banking and Treasury Services Group by the Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee. 

Real Estate Agreements. Only employees with delegated authority to sign contracts on behalf of The Regents may enter into agreements, leases, or other contracts.  Foreign affiliates or operations must submit to the Real Estate Services Office property management agreements, personal property leases, or contracts with a term longer than one year or in an amount greater than $25,000 per year. The campus then seeks approval from the University president or designee. For more information, consult the Guidelines for the Establishment and Operation of Foreign Affiliate Organizations and Foreign Operations


The US State Department's page on LAOS may be found HERE.

Personal Safety


Note: this page contains basic risk information. For more details, please contact the Risk Services Office at

If you are traveling to Laos on University-related business, please sign up for the University’s travel insurance program by going here. For more information on the travel insurance program, please go here

Because everyone’s health is unique, we suggest seeking the advice of a medical professional before traveling internationally. Members of the campus community interested in protecting their health while abroad may schedule an appointment with the University Health Services International Travel Clinic

The quality of health care in Laos is poor. Doctors begin working as soon as they graduate from medical school, without serving a residency, and continuing education opportunities are rare. Evacuation to Thailand is the best option for care of acute illnesses or injuries. The Setthathirat Hospital ambulance can transport patients to Thailand if superior transportation sources are unavailable. The Australian and Swedish embassies have clinics that may be able to provide emergency services. Counterfeit medications are common in Laos, and genuine medications are in short supply. If you need medication, bring enough to last the duration of your stay.

Air pollution can be a problem in urban areas. If you have a chronic respiratory condition such as asthma, please consult a medical professional prior to your trip and carry appropriate medications.

Travelers should assume the drinking water in Laos is contaminated with untreated sewage or pesticides. To reduce the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort or illness, drink only bottled, boiled, or purified water. Travelers should use well-recognized brands of bottled water whenever possible.

All food should be eaten well-cooked and hot. Street vendors and other unregulated food distributors often maintain substandard hygiene regimens and should be avoided. Travelers should also avoid raw or undercooked meat dishes, seafood, and unpasteurized dairy products, which frequently harbor bacterial and parasitic pathogens.

Travelers risk contracting a number of serious illnesses in Laos, including:

  • Malaria, transmitted via mosquito bites.
  • Typhoid, transmitted by impure food, water, and milk.
  • Tuberculosis. Travelers staying for an extended time should get a pre-departure PPD skin test. Avoid crowded public spaces and mass transportation whenever possible.
  • Dengue fever, transmitted by mosquito bites.
  • Japanese encephalitis, also transmitted by mosquito bites, mostly in rural areas from May to October.
  • Schistosomiasis, transmitted by parasites in freshwater bodies.
  • Scrub typhus, transmitted by rodent mites, mostly in grassy or brushy habitats.

The crime rate in Laos is relatively low. Travelers are most at risk for non-confrontational crimes such as pickpocketing, purse-snatching, and petty theft. Travelers are also frequently targeted for scams ranging from overcharging and bait-and-switch tactics in stores and restaurants to credit card and visa fraud. Scam artists have been known to gain the trust of foreigners, then use Scopolamine or other drugs to incapacitate the traveler and facilitate theft. The same strategy may be used to facilitate sexual assault in Vang Vieng and other tourist-heavy areas.


Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.  Furthermore, some laws are prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. 

Arrest Notification: Laos does not routinely inform the United States Embassy of the arrest of U.S. citizens in a timely fashion and does not always allow consular access to arrested individuals as required by international law. If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. 

Police and legal system bribes and informal procedures: It is common for police to target foreigners to pay bribes for alleged traffic offenses. The Embassy is not usually able to provide assistance in these cases. Foreigners arrested for unruly conduct or damaging private property will often be held in police custody without formal charges being brought against them until they pay an indemnity to the injured party. This process usually takes a minimum of two to three weeks.

Possession of, trafficking in, and manufacture of drugs are serious offenses in Laos and result in lengthy prison sentences or the death penalty. Some restaurants offer “happy” or “special” menu items -- particularly “pizzas” or “shakes” -- that may contain opiates or unknown substances. Consuming these items is illegal.

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Laos.