LAOS - Laos and Ecuador have agreed to a mutual exemption of visas for diplomats and official passport holders under a new ruling which came into effect on September 27, according to the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Under the ruling, Lao diplomats and official passport holders wishing to visit Ecuador for a stay of less than 30 days do not need a visa, the ministry said in a press release.
The agreement with Ecuador brings to 24 the number of countries with which Laos has such arrangements.
These countries comprise the nine ASEAN members, Timor-Leste, Mongolia, Cuba, China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Russia, Poland, Hungary, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Peru, Brazil, and Bangladesh.
However, the information relating to countries that have signed visa exemption agreements with Laos is currently being reviewed and there might be some changes, according to the ministry.
The exemptions streamline the paperwork process previously required to obtain a visa for an overseas visit.
The Lao government waived the exit visa requirement for Lao diplomats and official passport holders as of October 1. This means they no longer need an exit visa from the foreign ministry to make official trips to countries with which Laos has signed a visa exemption agreement.
The new ruling means ministries, central-level and local bodies can authorise overseas trips for personnel holding official or diplomatic passports, without the need to obtain an exit visa from the foreign ministry.
However, holders of diplomatic and official passports wishing to make official visits to countries with whom Laos does not have a visa exemption agreement must still obtain an official letter from the foreign ministry. This is needed to acquire a visa from the embassy of the destination country.