Laos has expanded its registration requirements for importers and exporters by mandating additional registration and financial procedures. Bank of Lao PDR (BOL) Decision No. 677, which was issued on July 24, 2023, requires importers and exporters to register with the BOL and to open a dedicated commercial bank account for their import-export business activities. These requirements are in addition to the May 2023 stipulation ordering importers and exporters to register with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MOIC).
Registration and Account Opening
After registering with the MOIC and receiving their MOIC registration certificate, importers and exporters have 10 days to register with the BOL. Within five working days of receiving a complete application, the BOL will issue a registration notification, after which the importer or exporter has 10 days to present its BOL registration certificate and the required supporting documents to a commercial bank for opening the specified bank account.
Banking Requirements and Supporting Documents
Payment for goods and services made or received from abroad by importers and exporters must take place via electronic wire transfer via the dedicated bank account opened specifically for import-export activities. The importer must provide the commercial bank with various required documents as evidence for each transaction.
Likewise, exporters’ receipt of payment from abroad via bank transfer must take place using the bank account opened for import-export activities within the timeline specified in the sale-purchase agreement, but not exceeding 180 days from the export date. After receiving payment from abroad, the exporter must provide copies of various payment-related documents to the commercial bank.
Exporters that wish to use any of this income to repay a loan must submit an application and supporting documents to the BOL for approval. The BOL will decide on the application within 10 working days of receiving the complete application documents.
The Department of Foreign Exchange Management in the BOL is the main authority responsible for managing foreign exchange matters related to import-export activities, coordinating with the Department of Monetary Policy, Department of Commercial Bank Management, BOL branches, and other relevant sectoral authorities.
An initial instance of noncompliance with this decision by an importer, exporter, or commercial bank may be subject to compulsory remedial education. Importers or exporters that continue to violate the decision by failing to register with the BOL, failing to open a bank account with a commercial bank, or using a different bank account to send or receive import-export payments are subject to a fine of LAK 10 million (approx. USD 510). Additionally, importers and exporters who fail to pay for goods or services abroad via the banking system face an additional fine of 10% of the value of the transaction. Commercial banks that violate the decision are subject to a fine of LAK 5 million (approx. USD 260).
For more information on Laos’ import-export registration requirements, please contact Tilleke & Gibbins at [email protected] or +856 21 262 355.