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Laos Closes in On Illegally Imported Vehicles

This Week

The Government of Laos has begun taking measures to resolve the ongoing problem of illegally imported vehicles.

Measures will be implemented to prevent and regulate the unlawful sale of illegally imported vehicles and recover lost revenue.

The Prime Minister issued an order recently instructing ministries and local authorities to work together in monitoring illegal vehicles and preventing future imports, according to Vientiane Times.

Individuals, businesses, and organizations suspected of owning or trading in illegally imported vehicles will be inspected, with owners being given a final chance to come forward and pay all relevant taxes and fees.

Meanwhile, under a notice issued by the Vientiane Capital Department of Finance, all individuals, businesses, and organizations operating illegally imported vehicles must present their documents to authorities no later than 5 November.

Those who fail to present their documents will see their vehicles seized and may be prosecuted in accordance with the law.

Seized vehicles become state property under the current tax law.

Illegal Imports A Chronic Problem

The government has been attempting to stamp out the practice of illegally imported vehicles for many years, with mixed results.

In January 2017, officials were ordered to investigate some 5,639 illegally imported vehicles, costing the state an estimated LAK 66 billion in lost revenue.

Then again in November 2019, the Lao government issued an order investigating vehicle dealers, with tax officers instructed to take stronger action to address the issue of illegal imports.

But one car dealer in Vientiane Capital told Laotian Times that most of the illegally imported vehicles are luxury vehicles ordered by individuals, however, rather than through vehicle dealers.

The vehicles are often ordered from third countries and are either smuggled across borders or imported with falsified documents claiming the vehicles will be used for projects, allowing them to avoid customs payments.

“We want to see authorities working harder to conduct thorough inspections of illegal vehicles and see that their owners are made to pay the same taxes like everyone else,” he said.

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