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I've read online that one of the requirements for getting the visa-on-arrival when entering Laos at a border crossing is that you must have a passport photo.

But what happens if you are unaware of this rule, forget to obtain one, or try to get one without success before making it to the border?

  • Will you be sent back? As you've already been stamped out of the other country, can this cause problems?
  • Do they have a camera there for such emergencies and charge a nominal extra fee?
  • Do they take advantage of your predicament and use it as a chance to elicit a bribe or at least an official but ludicrously overpriced fee?

3 Answers 3

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According to laos-guide-999.com:

If you don't have photos you will be asked to pay a small fee (few dollars) for scanning your photograph from your passport, and placing it onto your visa application form.

Another opinion from wikitravel:

passport photo is/may be required (although you may be able to pay a US$1 "fee" to have this requirement waived) - recently (June 2013) passport photos were not asked for (at Friendship Bridge).

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    I have the feeling some people see the extra $1 as the missing photo fee because it's not explained but in fact you get a little receipt for $1 which seems to be a "Friendship Bridge I Foreign Passenger" fee. Of course some people may have paid two separate $1 fees ... Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 4:23
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When I got off the bus that takes you across the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, I was the only person who needed a visa-on-arrival so I thought it would be quick. But I arrived during the "dinner break" of the people doing that job and had to wait around for twenty minutes!

Only when the guy eventually appeared could I get the entry forms, which took some more time to fill out. But the guy was cheerful and his English was good. I told him I didn't have the photo mentioned on the form and he said:

No problem!

Back when I originally answered this question it seems I didn't have to pay any fee for not having a passport in photo, but both times I entered Laos in 2023 there was a ฿100 fee.

I also left some fields blank on the form such as previous and next destination, which are fuzzy or unknown since I'm hitchhiking without a plan and because I didn't know where I'd been staying and there are fields for address and phone number where you're staying, and also of a Lao contact.

This was also no problem.

I was concerned "no problem" might mean some unofficial charge was coming up. This was not the case.

There is a space for a photo in the top corner of the form. I think they had a security camera but if so that's separate from the passport photo. (I also could be mixing up with entering Thailand which definitely has a security camera and fingerprint sensor.)

The charges as of 2023 are only:

  • The $40 USD visa fee
    (All nationalities except Chinese and Vietnamese, for whom it's $20 USD)
  • ฿100 THB fee in case you don't have a passport photo
  • Friendship Bridge bus ticket(s)
    ฿30 THB bus ticket + ฿5 THB overtime fee for before 8.30am or after 4.00pm

2023 Friendship Bridge pricelist 2023 Friendship Bridge bus ticket 2023 Overtime fee ticket

The visa-on-arrival fee should be paid in USD. If you pay in another currency the fee is considerably higher. I've posted a new question about the current prices in Thai baht or any other currencies. The most common recent Thai baht price I've been hearing is ฿1,600 which is over $10 USD higher than the price in dollars.

There was a notice near the visa-on-arrival window about an extra $1 fee, I think for outside normal hours. I didn't have to pay. I neglected to take a photo or Google Translation of it.

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  • Fee is the same for most countries except Canada. // Accept your answer?
    – hunter2
    Commented Sep 19, 2013 at 7:18
  • Well HaLaBi's answer got it through his research and everybody voted for it, mine just fleshed it out with my particular story. I think I'll reward him. Commented Sep 19, 2013 at 8:20
  • On my second visit to Laos toward the end of 2014 and using the same crossing near Vientiane I was asked for a passport photo and I did have one handy. Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 7:11
  • A decade later I've changed my answer to the accepted one since I've updated it for 2023 it's now the most up-to-date. Commented Dec 23, 2023 at 5:10
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I arrived at the "First Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge" without a photo and was charged 20 baht. Not sure they scanned it, but most likely they did and I did not receive a receipt. Not a problem, however, I got in with no difficulty and they were pleasant. It went fast, no delays.

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    Which Friendship Bridge? There are several and it could be important for future travellers looking for tips. Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 10:53
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    @hippietrail "The" bridge is the original one between Nong Khao and Vientiane, which is is also by far the busiest of the lot. Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 7:18

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