Importation of Liquor Products

Importing liquor products for distribution in the Lao PDR is allowed only through an entity established legally under the laws of the Lao PDR. As liquor products fall under the category of “Food” under Law on Food No. 04/NA, dated 15 May 2004 (“Law on Food”), approval for importing liquor products shall be granted by the Department of Food and Drug, Ministry of Public Health. The Law on Food requires that all imported products must be safe for consumer health. The quality and standard of the container, packaging and labor must also be certified by the Management and Food Inspection Organization.


To request for a license of liquor product importation, an applicant shall prepare an application and supporting documents requesting for approval and submit such documents to the Department of Food and Drug for consideration. In case the approval is granted, the official will issue a license stating that the applicant is allowed to import liquor products into the Lao PDR. In this regard, the applicant must apply for a license every time liquor products are imported as each license is allowed to be used only once per importation. It should be noted that upon receiving approval, the applicant must import the liquor products within 30 days; otherwise such license will be expired. The official fee for a license is 50,000 LAK per invoice and the timeframe for the approval process is approximately 2-3 days.


The sale of liquor products in the Lao PDR, regardless of being a retail business or wholesale business, shall comply with the Notification regarding Reserved Activities for Lao Nationals No. 0369/MOIC.DGI, dated 21 February 2012 (the “Notification regarding Reserved Activities for Lao Nationals”) and the Ministerial Regulation on Wholesale and Retail Trades in the Lao PDR No. 0977/MoIC.DoIC, dated 18 May 2012 (the “Ministerial Regulation”) which plays a key role in the regulating and imposing of restrictions on sales business in the Lao PDR. Pursuant to the Ministerial Regulation, the retail business sector is strictly reserved for Lao domestic investors, and is not open to foreign investors or entities having foreign shareholders. Nevertheless, a foreign company is able to distribute products through Lao distributors or franchisees. For the wholesale business, foreigners are allowed tooperate the wholesale business in the instance where it co-invests with a Lao national or Lao entity. However, foreigners are allowed to invest in only 3 specific business areas which are cloth, shoes and textile. Therefore, in relation to the liquor trading business, foreigners are restricted from importing liquor products for distribution, regardless of whether it is a retail business or wholesale business. For foreigners who intend to distribute liquor products in Lao PDR, distribution can be carried out through their agents or franchisees in the Lao PDR. In this regard, the agents or franchisees must be Lao nationals or 100% locally-owned entities.

Liquor Product Advertisements

Generally, the Law on Media No. 01/NA, dated 25 July 2008 (“Law on Media”) stipulates a blanket restriction on alcohol advertisements. However, the Law on Media in connection with the specific limitation of advertisement has not been fully implemented, e.g. limited time or type of advertisement. The relevant authority is now drafting a new law on controlled alcohol beverages which will clarify measures of limitation.

Types of advertisements allowed, for example, are radio, television, video, tape cassette, book, newspaper, journal, brochure, poster, sticker, exhibition or any other type. In practice, before advertising products to public, an applicant shall request for approval from the Division of Advertisement and Information, Department of Food and Drug, Ministry of Public Health for reviewing and checking the contents of the advertisement to determine whether the content is acceptable and does not disregard public morality.

Approved advertisements are given a set timeframe for publication from the date approved and are entitled to be renewed upon expiration as follows:

  1. One year for advertisements through any publication, e.g. billboard, brochure, book or calendar; and
  2. Three months for advertisements through mass media.

After approval from the Department of Food and Drug is granted, a license will be issued to the applicant to be submitted to other authorities related to the specific type of media. For example, in case the advertisement will be advertised via television or radio, approval must be granted by the Department of Mass Media, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism. If the advertisement will be advertised as a billboard, the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation shall be responsible for granting approval in terms of the place where such billboard is allowed to be located.

Mr. Rawat Chomsri, Partner

Ms. Natchar Leedae, Advisor

Ms. Salin Thewphaingam, Advisor