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Nepal Traveler Information - Travel Advice

Travel Advice with a Travel Advisory overview from the US State Department. Here we cover Visa, Safety & Security, local Laws and Insurance in our Nepal Traveler Information guide.

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Note: Always check that your destination country is one approved for travel by your travel insurance provider.

Nepal Map

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY: Must have six months remaining validity or more at time of entry.

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES: At least one blank visa page (not endorsements page) required for entry visa.

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED: Yes.

VACCINATIONS: No requirements.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY: US$5,000; no pure, unworked gold up to 50 grams of gold jewelry, or 500 grams of silver.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT: US $5,000.

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Kathmandu

Maharajgunj
Kathmandu, Nepal
Telephone: +(977)(1) 423-4000 or 400-7200
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(977)(1) 400-7266,400-7269
Email: consktm@state.gov

Destination Description

See the Department of State Fact Sheet on Nepal for information on U.S.-Nepal relations.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Notice: Effective from July 17, 2019, the Government of Nepal has increased Visa Fees. In addition, Nepal now provides 5-year, multiple-entry tourist visas to U.S. citizens. For further information, please refer to the Nepal Department of Immigration website.

STRONGLY RECOMMEND: No Solo Trekking; Follow Medical Advice regarding High Altitude Mountain Sickness

Requirements for Entry:

  • Passport must have six months or more validity remaining at the time of entry
  • One blank visa page available in passport for visa (not endorsements page)
  • Nepali authorities generally allow entrance on an emergency passport printed overseas
  • Visa appropriate for purpose of travel

Regular Tourist Visas:

  • If you will arrive by air, either apply for a visa at a Nepalese embassy or consulate before traveling, or purchase a tourist visa upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.
  • For an online visa application form, see https://online.nepalimmigration.gov.np/tourist-visa. Note that obtaining a visa on arrival may take several hours.
  • If you will arrive by land, you are responsible both for obtaining a visa and going through the necessary immigration formalities.
  • When crossing by land into Nepal, U.S. citizens should carry U.S dollar bills to pay their Nepali visa fee. U.S. citizens travelling from India to Nepal from the Belahia, Bhairahawa check point should be aware that Nepali visa fees must be paid in cash in U.S. dollars. Credit cards or other currencies will not be accepted. All U.S. bills must be new (no older than 2003) and in good condition (no tears, excessive wear, creases, visible repairs, etc.) Individuals crossing the border by foot are provided 24 hours service.
  • If you do not have a visa and do not receive an entry stamp from an immigration officer, you will not be allowed to depart Nepal and may face additional consequences. 
  • U.S. citizens can purchase a tourist visa at the following land border points of entry:
    • Kakarvitta, Jhapa District (Eastern Nepal)
    • Birgunj, Parsa District (Central Nepal)
    • Kodari, Sindhupalchowk District (Northern Border– for group tourists only)
    • Belahia, Bhairahawa (Rupandehi District, Western Nepal) - see requirements above for paying in U.S. dollars.
    • Jamunaha, Nepalgunj (Banke District, Mid-Western Nepal)
    • Mohana, Dhangadhi (Kailali District, Far Western Nepal)
    • Gadda Chauki, Mahendranagar (Kanchanpur District, Far Western Nepal)

For regular tourist visa provided upon arrival by the Nepali Department of Immigration, tourists may stay no more than 150 days in any given calendar year.

Tourists may request the following visa at the time of arrival at TIA and checkpoints:

  • 15 days multiple-entry tourist visa ($30 USD)
  • 30 days multiple-entry tourist visa ($50 USD)
  • 90 days multiple-entry tourist visa ($125 USD)

Visa fees are payable in U.S. dollars. While money-changing and ATM services are available at the airport, credit card payment is not a reliable option, and ATM machines occasionally malfunction.

Five year, multiple entry tourist visas to American citizens. Nepal now provides 5 years multiple entry tourist visas to American citizens.  Prior to arrival, American citizens must apply for a 5 year multiple entry tourist visa at the Embassy of Nepal in Washington, D.C. or the Consulate General of Nepal in New York City. Unlike a tourist visa issued upon arrival, tourists possessing a 5 year multiple entry tourist visa can stay no more than 180 days in any given calendar year. The visa fee for 5 years visa is US$ 160. Please note: Foreigners may generally obtain a regular tourist visa upon arrival and then visit the Department of Immigration in Kathmandu to change to another visa type. 

Other Visa Categories:

Check with the Department of Immigration for visa details and the online application for various types of visas, including student and work visas. Your purpose of travel will dictate what category of visa you will need to obtain.

Extending Your Visa:

  • The Department of Immigration headquarters in the Kalikasthan neighborhood of Kathmandu is the only office that can extend both tourist and non-tourist visas.
  • The Immigration Office in Pokhara can only extend tourist visas. Visitors should apply to extend their visas before the expiration date.
  • Long overstays beyond the expiration date can result in heavy fines, arrest, and detention pending formal deportation proceedings, followed by a ban on re-entry.

Requirements for Exit:

  • You must have a valid visa before you will be allowed to depart Nepal. If your visa has expired, you must extend your visa before you will be allowed to depart.
  • The Immigration Office at Tribhuvan International Airport is not authorized to extend visas.
  • Some U.S. citizens who have tried to extend their visa at the airport have been sent to the Immigration Office in Kathmandu to pay the extension fee and, as a result, have missed their flights.
  • If you renew or replace your passport at the Embassy in Kathmandu, you will need to ask the Department of Immigration to transfer your Nepali visa by pasting a new visa into the new passport.
  • See the Government of Nepal’s Department of Immigration website for additional immigration information.

You may encounter immigration difficulties with Chinese authorities when traveling across the Nepal-China border on land in either direction. Chinese authorities often require U.S. citizens and other foreign tourists to organize "group" tours through established travel agencies as a prerequisite for obtaining visas and entry permits into Tibet. Chinese authorities have occasionally closed the border, especially around the anniversary of significant events in Tibet. For current information on border crossing status, check with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Nepal.   Please read the Department of State’s travel information for China and check for current regulations on entry into Tibet.

Safety and Security

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (“STEP”) to file your planned itinerary with the U.S. Embassy and monitor the security situation before traveling.

U.S. government employees on official travel to Nepal must seek approval before traveling outside of Kathmandu Valley.

Financial Crimes and Theft:

  • Pickpocketing and bag-snatching may occur at major tourist sites, including the Thamel district of Kathmandu. Store valuables, including passports and cash, in the hotel safety deposit box; do not carry them. The Nepal Tourist Police recommend that you carry a photocopy of your passport when going out.
  • Exchange money only at banks and hotels. Criminals use sophisticated scams, such as ATM skimming, particularly in Kathmandu.
  • Avoid walking alone after dark, carrying large sums of cash, and wearing expensive jewelry.
  • See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Violent Crimes:

  • Travel in groups, especially at night.
  • While not common, sexual assaults against foreigners have been reported, including in popular tourist areas of Kathmandu and Pokhara, and in remote mountainous areas.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Foreigners have occasionally had sedative drugs added to their food or drink by individuals who seek to rob or otherwise take advantage of them. Solo travelers should take extra precautions to ensure their personal safety.
  • Nepali police forces may have limited resources to deter and investigate crimes. Many criminal cases reported to the police remain unresolved.
  • U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for information on available resources and assistance.

Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police by dialing “100.” This number is equivalent to “911” in the United States, and it is staffed 24/7 by the local police. When calling the emergency number, speak slowly and clearly so that your message gets across to the official without misunderstanding. Tourist Police, who can be reached by dialing “1144”, have good English language capabilities and also stand ready to assist in popular tourism areas. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes. For additional information, visit the State Department’s webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

U.S. citizen victims of crime in Nepal may always contact the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu for assistance. Sexual assault victims might be more comfortable contacting the Embassy before reporting the crime to local authorities. In the event of a crime, the Embassy can:

  • Help you find appropriate medical care
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • Provide a list of local attorneys
  • Provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • Replace a stolen or lost passport

Tourism: No formal tourism industry infrastructure is in place. Tourists are considered to be participating in activities at their own risk. Emergency response and subsequent appropriate medical treatment is not available in-country. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Arrests and Consequences: You are subject to local laws. If you break local laws in Nepal, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. If you are arrested in Nepal, the authorities may keep you in detention for weeks or even longer during the investigation stage. Punishment for violations of criminal laws in Nepal range from fines to imprisonment, depending on the crime. Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

TREKKING IN NEPAL

Solo Trekking: DO NOT TREK ALONE. The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu strongly discourages U.S. citizens from hiking alone or even separating from larger traveling parties while on a trail. In recent years, U.S. citizens and other foreigners have disappeared, been seriously injured, or been victims of violent crime while trekking alone. In some cases, even after extensive search efforts, missing solo trekkers have not been found. The safest option for trekkers is to join an organized group and/or use a reputable trekking company that provides an experienced guide and porters who communicate in both Nepali and English. Trekking guides can be hired before arriving in Nepal, or in tourist areas of Kathmandu, Pokhara, and at some popular trailheads. When trekking, Embassy personnel are strongly encouraged to use professional guide services and to carry a Personnel Tracker Locator device.

TIMS Card and Trekking Permits: The Government of Nepal has authorized the Trekking Agency Association of Nepal (TAAN) and the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) to implement a system for foreign hikers called the Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS). Foreign visitors on hiking trips in Nepal, including those not with organized hiking groups, are required to have a valid TIMS card issued by TAAN, its member agencies, or NTB. In case of an emergency, this system helps authorities find trekkers. TIMS cards cost the Nepali rupees equivalent of $20 USD (if applying individually) or the Nepali rupees equivalent of $10 USD (if applying in a group) through authorized trekking companies, the TAAN office in Kathmandu or Pokhara, and the NTB office. Local agencies that organize treks often will facilitate obtaining your TIMS card and otherrequired trekking permits.

Special Permits for Restricted Areas: Trekking in certain remote areas of Nepal and in national parks may require additional permits or fees. Travelers may consult with an experienced tour agency, or review the website of the Nepali Department of Immigration for more information. Please be aware that restricted areas have special requirements for helicopter rescue flights, which may delay assistance even in the event of a medical emergency.

Customs: Do not carry any amount of pure gold, more than 50 grams of gold jewelry, or more than 500 grams of silver into Nepal. You will be detained, the valuables will be seized, and you will need to pay a fine equivalent to the full value of the items seized in order to be released.

Nepal customs regulations are complex. Customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning importation (even temporarily) and exportation of certain items. Do not carry other valuable metals, articles of archaeological or religious significance, wildlife or related items, drugs, or weapons and ammunition. Do extensive research before importing household pets (including cats and dogs), communications equipment, and other items that might be perceived as sensitive. Drones are strictly regulated throughout Nepal and require special permission from the Home Ministry and other government authorities.

Items purported to be for donation to schools, hospitals, and other social organizations have sometimes been confiscated or cleared only after payment of a significant fine for failure to obtain prior approval from the Ministry of Finance. Those wishing to donate items to a charity or any organization in Nepal must obtain prior approval for waiver of the custom fees from the Ministry of Finance by sending a formal request letter (not via email) to the following address: 

Secretary
Ministry of Finance
Singha Durbar
Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: +977-1-4211400
Fax: +977-1-4211605

The request should include detailed information about the items to be imported, as well as the organizations receiving the donations. The Secretary will review the request and refer it to the Ministerial level for final decision and approval. Note that all requests are processed on a case-by-case basis. It is highly recommended that intended recipient(s) coordinate with the Ministry to get requests processed. Please see additional information about Customs and Import Restrictions.

Natural Disasters: Nepal lies on an active fault zone and is considered at high-risk for major earthquakes, as demonstrated by the April and May 2015 earthquakes that caused extensive damage in the Kathmandu Valley and other districts. Lack of adequate emergency response vehicles, equipment, and medical facilities, combined with building codes that are not strictly enforced, may multiply the extent of possible catastrophic damage from a major earthquake, especially in the Kathmandu Valley. Nepal is also prone to flooding and landslides. The Government of Nepal’s ability to respond in the event of a natural disaster may be limited. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In Case of Emergency or Natural Disaster:

  • Monitor us on Twitter and Facebook for updates.
  • Call us in Washington at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 

Faith-Based Travelers: As of August 2018, religious conversion and proselytization are illegal in Nepal.

See the following webpages for details:

LGBTI Rights: Same-sex sexual activity is not criminalized, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons in Nepal actively and openly advocate for their rights. Nepal, however, remains a conservative and traditional society. Discrimination exists, and reports of non-violent harassment of LGBTI persons have been received. Accordingly, LGBTI travelers may wish to be discreet and avoid public displays of affection. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for additional details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation difficult throughout Nepal. Nepali law prohibits discrimination against persons who have physical and mental disabilities, including discrimination in employment, education, access to health care, and in the provision of other state services. The law mandates access to buildings, transportation, employment, education, and other state services, but these provisions generally are not enforced. Nepal’s poor infrastructure makes it impracticable in many cases for a mobility-impaired traveler to move around the country, including within the Kathmandu Valley. The government is largely ineffective in implementing or enforcing laws regarding persons with disabilities. Except for a few clinics and hospitals, Nepal mostly lacks accessible and appropriate accommodation for individuals with disabilities.

Students: See the Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See the travel tips for Women Travelers.

Health

General: Although availability of medical care has improved within the Kathmandu valley, outside the valley, it is limited and generally not up to Western standards. Medical facilities are often overwhelmed because of insufficient resources. Emergency medical services, especially in public hospitals, are of poor quality compared to that available in the United States. Routine medical issues and basic emergency surgeries can be performed by clinics and hospitals in Kathmandu. Serious illnesses, however, often require evacuation to the nearest adequate medical facility in a neighboring country. There is minimal mental health care available in Nepal. U.S. citizens with mental health problems are generally stabilized and transported to the United States or to another regional center for care. The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu maintains a list of local medical facilities and practitioners.

Intestinal tract diseases, including cholera, are present. Food hygiene and sanitary food handling practices are uncommon in Nepal, and precautions should be taken to prevent water and food-borne illnesses. Prudent travelers should avoid raw, green, leafy vegetables during the monsoon season. Malaria is present in the Terai region.

Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy: Surrogacy is illegal for foreigners in Nepal, subject to complex local regulation. If you decide to pursue parenthood in Nepal via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with a gestational mother, be prepared for long and unexpected delays in documenting your child’s citizenship. Be aware that individuals who attempt to circumvent local law risk criminal prosecution.

Stray Animals: Stray animals are common on the streets of Kathmandu and at popular tourist sites. Visitors should be aware that stray animals may be infected with rabies. The CDC’s Preventing Dog Bites webpage recommends that if you are bitten by an animal, get to a safe place, immediately wash wounds with soap and water, and seek medical attention.

The U.S. Embassy does not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.

Medical Insurance: Obtain emergency medical evacuation insurance before visiting Nepal. Serious medical issues and injuries suffered while hiking in remote areas may require evacuation by helicopter to Kathmandu. Those trekking in remote areas of Nepal should factor the high cost of a potential helicopter rescue into their financial considerations. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation, as medical evacuations can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Payment will be expected in cash before the medevac can take place, if there is no insurance coverage. Neither the U.S. Embassy nor the U.S. government pays private medical bills overseas.

Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

Prescription Medication: If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Embassy of Nepal to ensure that the medication is legal in Nepal. Local authorities irregularly enforce restrictions on certain drugs regularly prescribed by doctors in the United States or other foreign countries. To avoid problems, always carry prescription medication in the original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.

Vaccinations: Stay up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For further health information:

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: In Nepal, vehicles are driven on the left-hand side of the road. In general, roads in Nepal are in poor condition and lack basic safety features, resulting in significant numbers of accidents and fatalities. Traffic is poorly regulated and traffic jams are common on major streets. The volume of vehicles on the roads is increasing faster than improvements in infrastructure. Many drivers are neither properly licensed nor trained, vehicles are poorly maintained, and public vehicles are often overloaded.

Nepali law requires that any driver – including U.S. citizens – have a valid Nepali drivers license in order to legally operate a motor vehicle in Nepal. If you drive without a valid local license, you will expose yourself to greater legal liability. The Nepal Department of Transportation will issue a Nepali drivers license based on a valid U.S. state-issued or international drivers license, if you also present a “U.S. Drivers License Affidavit.” You can obtain this form from the Embassy by making an online appointment and paying the US$50 fee. Please bring your valid U.S. license to your appointment. After the affidavit is notarized, present it with your license at any Department of Transportation office that processes drivers licenses, currently Ekantakuna (Lalitpur), Chabahil (Kathmandu), Jagati (Bhaktapur), and Thulo Bharyang (Swayambhu). You will be required to take an eye examination, but you will be exempted from the written exam and driving test based on your valid U.S. drivers license.

Nighttime Travel: Avoid nighttime road travel outside the Kathmandu Valley and minimize nighttime travel within Kathmandu because of insufficient street lighting and hazardous road conditions. Embassy personnel are prohibited from traveling at night outside urban areas in Nepal. 

Motorcycle Travel: Deaths from motorcycle accidents have risen dramatically in recent years, including urban areas within Kathmandu.  Avoid riding motorcycles in Nepal, particularly on highways and always wear a helmet.

Buses: Long-distance buses often drive recklessly, and bus accidents involving multiple fatalities are not uncommon. It is dangerous to travel on the roofs of buses as live electrical and other communications wires hang low in many places. Traffic police also impose fines and detain individuals for riding on the roofs of buses.

Taxis: Taxis are a safer and more convenient alternative to buses. Almost all taxi drivers in Nepal insist on negotiating the price of the trip in advance, even if the taxi has a meter installed. In addition, there have been instances of taxi drivers tampering with the meters in an attempt to charge higher than normal fares. If you believe that you are being overcharged, you can file a complaint with the traffic police on the street or at the nearest local police station.

Pedestrian Travel: Sidewalks are nonexistent in many areas, and drivers generally do not yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. Pedestrians account for a considerable portion of traffic fatalities in Nepal. 

See our Road Safety page for more information.

Fact Sheet

Please see Fact Sheet for this country/area. 

For additional travel information

International Parental Child Abduction

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Nepal. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

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