Information for Travelers
The Embassy encourages all American citizens visiting or residing in Laos to enroll with the Consular Section through the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Enrollment forms contain emergency contact and next-of-kin information that the Embassy will use to locate U. S. citizens in an emergency, to disseminate information about threats that might affect U. S. citizens in Laos, and to contact family members in case of death, medical emergency, or similar circumstances.
American citizens may enroll in either of two ways:
- Via the Internet through the Department of State’s website
- In person with forms available at the Embassy.
The Privacy Act of 1974 prohibits the U.S. Government from disseminating information about any U.S. citizen to third parties without the U.S. citizen's explicit consent. The consular registration form contain a Privacy Act waiver that allows citizens to designate in advance which persons (family, friends, employer, doctor, lawyer, etc.) they would want the Embassy to communicate with in case they were unable to do so (e.g., in a medical emergency or an unexplained disappearance).
Should you become concerned about the welfare of a U.S. citizen family member in Laos, the Consular Section may be able to assist you in your attempts to locate the person. Keep in mind that Laos is a developing third-world country. There are approximately 20,000 telephone lines for more than 4.5 million people and only a few of the major towns have internet cafes. The number one reason that travelers in Laos fail to contact friends and family is because they are traveling in areas with no phone or e-mail access. Additionally, if the Embassy locates the individual you are looking for, you will be notified of this ONLY if he/she has signed a Privacy Act Waiver or given verbal permission to waive the Privacy Act.
When contacting the Consular Section regarding the welfare and whereabouts of a U.S. citizen believed to be in Laos, please provide the following information regarding the person you are looking for:
- Complete name and any nicknames
- U.S. passport number
- Social Security number
Date and Place of birth
- Detailed travel plans
Date, location, and mode of transport used to enter Laos.
Please also forward any recent letters or e-mail received from the U.S. citizen regarding their travel plans.
Every U.S. Embassy in the world has a Consular Warden System for U.S. citizens. The Consular Warden System provides a robust mechanism for communication to and from U.S. citizens during a crisis or emergency. In many counties Consular Warden Systems have proved invaluable in responding to crisis as varied as earthquakes, floods, civil insurrection, and military coups. Consular wardens are volunteer members of the American community who agree to assist the Embassy in caring for the American community in case of an emergency. The Consular Warden System in Laos in organized geographically, with a dozen wardens responsible for districts in urban Vientiane, wardens in most of the Lao Provinces with American residents, and additional wardens responsible for organizations with concentrations of American citizens.
The Embassy and the Consular Section cannot act as your travel agent, bank, lawyer, investigator or law enforcement agent. Please do not expect the office to find you employment, get you residence or driving permits, act as interpreters, search for missing luggage, settle disputes with guesthouse managers/taxi drivers, or mediate family disputes. You may not stay at the U.S. Embassy if you are out of money. However, the Consular Section can assist you to obtain help in these and other such matters.
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