International Driving Permit Laos

What is an International Driving License or permit?

An International Driving Permit is a small grey booklet marginally larger than a passport containing a translation of your original driving license in 10 languages, including English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. It is recognized by 141 countries worldwide and is valid for one year.

How do you apply for an International Driver’s Permit?

You can use this to apply for an IDP through our website.

How does an International Driving Permit work in Laos?

In Laos, it is a government requirement that all foreign drivers hold a valid IDP. Drivers must have both their valid IDP and a valid native driver’s license on their person when driving a motor vehicle. If drivers fail to produce an International Driving Permit on request to the Traffic Enforcement Force, drivers will have their native Driver’s license confiscated, and a fine will be issued.

How long does it take to receive an IDP once you have applied?

A digital IDP takes up to 2 hours to land in your inbox. Alternatively, if you want a faster processing time, you can choose an Express Order, in which you will receive your IDP in 20 minutes. 

A printed IDP can be delivered to your doorstep, with the estimated delivery date varying between 2-30 days, depending on the selected delivery method. 

Road traffic agreements issued by the United Nations

The United Nations is the international body that grants institutions the power to issue IDPs. The institutions appointed are compliant with the United Nations Road Traffic Conventions. These conventions have been established throughout three international motor traffic conventions – in Paris (1926), then in Geneva (1949), and in Vienna (1968). The conventions ensured that the countries attending the conventions signed a contract pledging to recognize IDPs as valid permits for foreign drivers. The responsibility of issuing IDPs has been assigned to automotive associations and institutions on the behalf of each country’s central governments.

What benefits are there to carrying an International Driving Permit in Laos?

As well as permitting you to drive motor vehicles in Laos, an IDP also serves as valid identification of you as an individual. As the document contains translations of your information in 10 of the most spoken languages worldwide, this document will be legible to most officials you may encounter in Laos. This will ensure that encounters with traffic enforcement officers run as smoothly and swiftly as possible. Additionally, IDPs are expected to be held by foreign customers looking to rent motor vehicles. Without an IDP, car rental companies may hesitate or refuse to rent you a car. In these situations, it is important to ensure that you have an IDP. The IDP will also save you from the time and hassle that can arise when members of the authority are attempting to translate native driving licenses.

Laws for driving in Laos

In Laos, it is mandatory to have both a valid driver’s license from your native country and an IDP to accompany it when you are driving at all times. Lao law states that the legal driving age in Laos is 18 years old. However, the minimum age to rent a car is 23 years old. A car rental company must obtain your proof of age before you are permitted to rent a vehicle, so ensure that you have your native license and IDP ready at the car rental consultation.

When should you acquire a national driver’s license?

To acquire a national driver’s license as a foreign citizen in Laos you must have a valid work permit or a business visa. If you meet these qualifications and plan on living in Laos for over a year, you should consider acquiring a national driver’s license.

How do you obtain a national driving license for Laos?

A national driver’s license in Laos typically costs 800,000 kip (kip is the currency of Laos), equivalent to just over $53 or just over £44. To attain a national driver’s license in Laos, you must pass Laos’s driving test, which consists of a theory and a practical test. You will also be required to undergo a physical examination that determines whether you are fit to drive.

Car rental in Laos

The minimum age to drive a rental car is 23 years of age. When applying for a rental car, you must ensure that you have the following documents:

  • A valid Driver’s License from your native country

  • A valid passport

  • An International Driver’s Permit

When renting a car abroad, it is advised that you book your rental a month in advance. This precaution prevents you from finding yourself in a situation in which there are no cars available to rent. It also saves time for you. Additionally, it can save you money as rental prices may increase closer to the date you intend to rent your car due to high demand. Car size is expressed using the following descriptions:

  • Economy (two adults)

  • Compact (four adults)

  • Standard (five adults)

  • Passenger mini bus (five or more adults)

Always check that you have considered all prospective passengers and luggage when selecting your vehicle.

How much will renting a car in Laos cost?

Approximate figures for car rental fees are:

  • Economy (two adults) – $32/day

  • Compact (four adults) – $33/day

  • Standard (five adults) – $50/day

  • Passenger mini bus – (five or more) $50/day

What type of car insurance do you need in Laos?

In Laos, your vehicle must be insured with at least third-party liability insurance. To cover the cost of theft, fire damage, extensive damage, and severe injuries, comprehensive insurance packages are advised. Without insurance, the police may flag you on the system, and fines may issued. Always ensure your vehicle to prevent issues with the police force.

Applying for car insurance in Laos

It is recommended that buyers source their insurance on the internet. This way, you can find the best deal. Ensure that the website you are using is secure by checking for the lock symbol found beside the website URL in the search bar. To be extra certain that your provider is trustworthy, research the company. If you have insurance on a vehicle in your native country, it would be a good idea to check with your provider to see if they can provide insurance for your vehicle in Laos, as this may be offered by your current provider at a discounted rate. Sourcing your insurance through your current provider will likely save you time while also giving you peace of mind.

Important information about driving in Laos

Driving Rules:

  • Drivers must drive on the right-hand side

  • Foreign drivers must carry a valid IDP and a valid driver’s license from their native country

  • The minimum age for driving is 18 years old (with the minimum age for renting a car is 23 years old)

  • Drivers must not use their phones while driving

  • Drivers may park on the side of unmarked roads – only park on yellow lines for a short time (no more than half an hour), and do not park on red lines

  • Drink driving in Laos is forbidden and will result in the confiscation of your native driver’s license as well as your IDP ( with the BAC limit in Laos is 0.05%, equating to less than one standard alcoholic unit)

Drivers are expected to follow the speed limits enforced across Laos. The limits for each type of road are as follows:

  • Expressway – 110 km/h

  • Urban Roads – 40 km/h

  • Highway – 70 km/h to 90 km/h


When entering through a border of Laos, drivers are required to have the following documents on their persons, ready for inspection:

  • A Valid Passport

  • A National Identification Card (if applicable)

  • An Original Driver’s License

  • An International Driver’s Permit (IDP)

  • A Car rental registration (if applicable)

If a driver fails to present these documents, they will be denied entry to Laos.

Top 5 places to visit in Laos


Vientiane is the capital city of Laos. The beautiful city is situated in the north of the country, and, despite being the capital, the city is not overflowing with bustling crowds, which gives the place a relaxed atmosphere. The charm of this humble city makes it the perfect destination for travelers looking to immerse themselves in a rich cultural exploration.

One of the most famous parts of the city is the boulevard along the beautiful Mekong River, home to a wide array of traditional restaurants and artisan cafes serving South Asian and French cuisine. Having colonized Laos in 1893 and held it for 60 years (until 1953), the French had a strong cultural impact on Laos, most significantly in Vientiane. The contrast between the french and South Asian cultures in Vientiane makes walking through this incredible city a unique experience.

Xieng Khuan is a must-see monument when visiting this city. This Buddhist Stupa is a grand building housing a unique collection of sacred Buddhist relics.

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is the old capital of Laos and is situated in the country’s center. This city is rich in Buddhist architecture dating back hundreds of years, hosting a range of incredible temples and monuments. It is also home to a UNESCO world heritage site which is perfect for those looking for a dose of South Asian history.

Take a stroll out of the city, and you can find the beautiful waterfalls of Kuang Si. These exquisite natural wonders are an incredible asset to the city, visitors can swim in the deep pools beneath the waterfalls after a day in Luang Prabang.

The Bokeo Nature Reserve

If you are looking for the wonders of South Asian wildlife, The Bokeo Nature Reserve is your destination. This beautiful park hosts visitors in tree houses where on-lookers can enjoy an all-encompassing view of the incredible jungle. Visitors can enjoy a day trip at the park or opt to reside overnight in one of the hotel tree houses. Visitors can use this experience to reveal the beauty of the black-cheeked gibbons native to Laos. A menagerie of tigers, elephants, and exotic birds can also be expected in this incredible jungle. This destination is a must-see, and being a unique visual experience, the wonderful animals you may encounter here are exclusive to this park.

if you are looking to take a walk on the wild side, the park also hosts a zip wire experience that spans from the jungle to the mountains so that you may fly like a bird across the landscape

Tham Kong Lo

Tham Kong Lo is the Lao name of the cave located in the wider Phu Hin Bun National Park. This secret cave is a natural wonder surrounded by incredible waterfalls and lush greenery. Take a leisurely swim through the natural pools of jade-hued water to arrive at the incredible cave that boasts beautiful arches of rock crystals and ancient stalactites and stalagmites.

If swimming is not for you, boat trips around the caves are frequent and can be organized before arrival. If you are interested in the science of crystals, a boat trip is a great idea as a trip boat guide will be on hand to explain the natural wonders to you.


Located in the north of Laos, Phosavan is an area of outstanding natural beauty that has been hidden away from the rest of the modern world. Phosavan, meaning ‘hills of paradise’ in Lao, is a lush, green terrain untouched by 21st-century machinery.

Walking through Phosavan, you may see Lao cowboys clad in traditional attire, herding cattle across the peaceful grassland. Formations of stones may also catch your eye, with natural rock formations scattered across the landscape. Perhaps the most famous formation of rocks is the formation that can be seen in the picture seen above. This formation is called the Plain of Jars, named after the stones found in the formation that appear to have hollow insides, much like jars.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you drive with a foreign license in Laos?

Yes, you can drive with a foreign license in Laos, but you must hold a valid International Driver’s Permit. You must have this on your person when driving at all times.

Where can I get an International Driver’s Permit for Laos?

You can apply for an International Driver‘s permit through our website. You must have your valid native driver’s license to apply for this document.

How long is an International Driver‘s Permit valid in Laos?

International Driver’s permits are valid for 1 year.

How much will an International Driver’s permit cost for Laos?

You can find all pricing queries on our pricing page.

Do you need an International Driver’s Permit to rent a car in Laos?

When attempting to rent a car in Laos, you must be able to provide your native driver’s license and a valid International Driver’s license. Without these documents, you are likely to be denied.

Which side of the road do you drive on in Laos?

Drivers drive on the right-hand side of the road in Laos.

What is the minimum age for driving in Laos?

The minimum age for driving in Laos is 18 years old however, if you are looking to rent a car, the minimum age to hire a vehicle is 23 years old.

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