See the Department of State Fact Sheet on Nepal for information on U.S.-Nepal relations.
Requirements for Entry:
Either apply for a visa at a Nepalese embassy or consulate before traveling, or purchase a tourist visa upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport (Kathmandu) or at the following land border points of entry:
You may request:
Visa fees are payable in USD. Money-changing and ATM services are available at the airport, but credit card payment is not a reliable option. Tourists may stay no more than 150 days in any given calendar year. See the Embassy of Nepal or Department of Immigration websites for additional visa information.
Other Visa Categories:
Check with the Nepal 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 (DOI) main office in the Kalikasthan neighborhood of Kathmandu and the Immigration Office in Pokhara are the only two offices that can extend visas. It is generally not difficult to extend your visa a few days after the printed expiration date, but long overstays can result in heavy fines and the very real possibility of arrest and detention pending formal deportation proceedings, followed by a seven year ban on re-entry.
Requirements for Exit:
You must have a valid visa before you will be allowed to depart Nepal. 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. You will not be allowed to depart Nepal until the visa is properly extended.
If you renew or replace your passport from 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.
Travel across the Nepal-China Border:
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.
The 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.
The Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors or foreign residents of Nepal.
Surrogacy is prohibited for foreigners in Nepal. Prospective parents should not begin surrogacy procedures in which any part of the process—from in vitro fertilization (IVF) to birth of the child—takes place in Nepal. The prohibition includes plans that rely on IVF in a third country with birth in Nepal. Newborn non-Nepali infants will not be able to depart Nepal without visa documentation after birth.
U.S. Military Personnel and DOD Contractors:
DOD personnel must review the Foreign Clearance Guide (FCG) for travel to Nepal, available at https://www.fcg.pentagon.mil. All official travel and active duty personal travel must be submitted through an APACS request, via https://apacs.dtic.mil. Contact information for the Defense Attaché Office can be found in the FCG if you have additional questions.
We recommend that all U.S. citizens who visit or live in Nepal enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (“STEP”) to register their 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.
Bandhs (general strikes) are a common form of political agitation in Nepal and across South Asia. Some important points about bandhs:
Violent political activity remains higher in the Terai, the southern plains region of Nepal bordering India, than the rest of the country. Demonstrations have on occasion turned violent, although these activities generally are not directed at U.S. citizens.
In the past, there have been small-scale improvised explosive device (IED) incidents in various parts of Nepal, particularly during periods of heightened political tension. These reported incidents were not directed toward westerners or western interests.
Although still relatively low, crime in Kathmandu and throughout the country has risen in some categories.
Financial Crimes and Theft:
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, you should speak slowly and clearly so that your message gets across to the official without misunderstanding. Tourist Police 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 the crime. For additional general 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:
For Additional Information:
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, if a court so orders. 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.
If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately.
Driving Under the Influence:
Driving in Nepal after consuming any amount of alcohol could land you in jail.
Firearms and Ammunition:
You may not bring any kind of firearm into Nepal under Nepali law. Violators who bring in firearms or ammunition – even imitations or in jewelry form – may be prosecuted.
TREKKING IN NEPAL
The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu strongly discourages U.S. citizens from hiking alone or becoming separated from larger traveling parties while on a trail. Solo trekking can be dangerous and has contributed to injuries and death. Solo trekkers are also more vulnerable to criminals. Nepali authorities periodically consider a ban on solo or independent trekking because of safety concerns. If a ban is implemented, all trekkers would be required to use approved guides and/or porters hired through authorized trekking agencies. Consideration of this policy comes in response to incidents over recent years in which a number of foreign visitors (including U.S. citizens) have been attacked or seriously injured while trekking alone, even on popular trails. Foreigners, including U.S. citizens, have also gone missing while trekking alone. Extensive search efforts are not always successful in tracing the trekker’s whereabouts. 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.
Natural Disaster Risks:
Trekking in Nepal comes with the risk of natural disaster. Trekkers should be alert to the possibility of avalanches, landslides, and falling rocks, even when trails are clear. These risks existed prior to the April 2015 earthquake and its aftershocks, which have further destabilized some mountainous areas, causing severe landslides in some affected areas. Monsoon rains, which generally begin in June and largely end in September, may destabilize steep slopes and mountainsides. During the monsoon season, floods and landslides regularly damage travel infrastructure and telephone services, complicating efforts to locate U.S. citizens and make arrangements for medical evacuations. We encourage travelers to consult carefully with their travel and trekking agencies for current, location-specific information and to heed warnings of potential danger. We recommend providing family or friends with a detailed itinerary prior to trekking and checking in at all police checkpoints where trekking permits are logged. U.S. citizens are also encouraged to check the Embassy Kathmandu website for the latest security information and to register their itinerary through the STEP enrollment process. Before leaving Kathmandu, trekkers can check with the Himalayan Rescue Association (phone: +977-1-444-0292/444-0293) for reliable information about trail conditions and potential hazards of traveling in the Himalayas.
The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu strongly recommends that U.S. citizens exercise caution when trekking at high altitudes. Many popular trekking routes in Nepal cross passes as high as 18,000 feet. Only experienced mountain climbers should tackle the Himalayas. Acclimatization is best achieved by walking slowly, rather than hurrying to cover the distance at high altitudes. Without acclimatization, trekkers of all ages, experience, and fitness levels can experience acute mountain sickness (AMS), which can be deadly. Speak with your doctor or medical professionals in Kathmandu for specific recommendations.
Lodging and Travel:
During peak trekking seasons, generally spring and autumn, hotel rooms may become scarce. U.S. citizens should make advance booking for hotel rooms and be aware of possible flight/airport delays. Domestic air flight cancellations and delays occur frequently because of bad weather, including to and from Lukla (gateway to the Everest Base Camp trek) and Jumla (gateway to the Mustang region). Travelers should leave ample time to catch their outbound international flights if they plan to connect from domestic flights. U.S. citizens should be aware that many hotels in Nepal do not meet international fire or earthquake safety standards.
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 ascertain the whereabouts of 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.
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 consult the website of the Nepali Department of Immigration for more information.
Other Outdoor Activities:
Nepal offers many exciting outdoor activities that come with a variety of risks. Several tourists have drowned while swimming in Phewa Lake near Pokhara and other lakes in Nepal because of flash floods triggered by monsoon rains, or after becoming entangled in submerged tree branches or roots. Incidents of boats capsizing on choppy water have also occurred. Visitors should wear life jackets. Paragliding and ultralight aircraft tourism have become popular in Pokhara and many new companies offer such services. U.S. citizens should weigh the risks involved with paragliding and ultralight aircraft travel; safety standards may or may not meet international best practices. There are also a number of deep and dangerous ravines not clearly visible to pedestrians in Pokhara city, mainly in the outlying areas. Some local residents and foreigners have fallen into these ravines and sustained serious injuries or died.
Some visitors to Nepal wish to volunteer at orphanages or other organizations in an effort to help disadvantaged persons – especially children. Others try to help by donating cash or goods. While the Embassy applauds this generous spirit, we are aware of reports that many such opportunities – especially those involving volunteering at orphanages or “children’s homes” – are not in fact charities. Instead, they are for-profit enterprises set up to attract donations from abroad and financial support from volunteers. Many of the children are reportedly not orphans, and volunteering at such an organization may indirectly contribute to child exploitation. Prospective volunteers in Nepal may wish to read a recent report prepared by a U.S.-based NGO in Nepal regarding ethical volunteering, with a focus on issues relating to “voluntourism.” It can be difficult even for those with significant experience in Nepal to determine which organizations provide authentic and valuable opportunities for well-meaning volunteers, and which manipulate goodwill for profit. With respect to orphanages or children’s homes, the Nepali Central Child Welfare Board can help confirm an organization’s legitimacy. You can direct inquiries to Ms. Namuna Bhusal, email@example.com, +977-9851139474. The CCWB also handles complaints against children’s homes. U.S. citizens should be aware that the Government of Nepal has limited resources to monitor and regulate non-profit organizations. If you are not certain about an organization, you may want to consider routing contributions through a reputable national or international charity to avoid the possibility that your time and money could unknowingly support the exploitation of children. Learn more best practices for volunteering abroad.
Nepal has a controlled or fixed currency exchange rate under which the Nepalese Rupee is pegged to the Indian Rupee. The Government of Nepal requires travelers to declare either the import or export of currency that exceeds $5,000 USD in value by filling out a customs declaration form. Travelers may also face difficulties if traveling with a large quantity of valuables, such as gold and jewelry. Carrying more than 50 grams of gold or 500 grams of silver may result in arrest at a port of entry. The Embassy is not aware of any banks or money exchange offices in Nepal that accept U.S.-issued travelers checks or cash U.S. checks. Accordingly, travelers should consider alternative methods of accessing local currency (e.g., exchanging cash U.S. dollars for Nepali rupees at a bank or money exchange office, or withdrawing rupees from an ATM). The Nepalese Department of Customs has reported an increased number of foreigners arrested for currency violations – generally for bringing in cash in excess of $5,000 USD without making a formal declaration. Travelers should ensure that they keep a copy of the declaration form after customs officials have put the official endorsement and appropriate stamps on the form to prevent any problems upon departure. Please note that this requirement is subject to change and travelers should contact the Embassy of Nepal in Washington, D.C. to obtain the latest information. Consequences for violating this requirement generally include seizure of all cash, gold, or jewelry carried, as well as fines and imprisonment. It is illegal to possess 500 or 1,000 Indian Rupee notes in Nepal. Accordingly, travelers coming to Nepal from India who hope to change Indian currency into Nepali Rupees are advised to bring 100 Indian Rupee notes or lower denominations only.
Nepal customs regulations are complex. Customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning importation (even temporary importation) into Nepal and exportation from Nepal of items such as:
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:
Ministry of Finance
The request should include detailed information about the items to be imported, as well as the organizations receiving the donations. The Revenue 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.
Nepal does not recognize dual nationality. Accordingly, when a Nepali citizen naturalizes as a U.S. citizen, he/she loses his/her Nepali citizenship. Some travelers who have tried to maintain both U.S. and Nepali passports have faced difficulties entering or exiting Nepal. U.S. citizens of Nepali descent may be eligible for a special visa called a “Non-Resident Nepali” or “NRN” Identity Card. The NRN Identity Card allows a holder to open a local bank account, invest, and own certain types of property, subject to certain restrictions. For more information, contact the Nepali Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Embassy of Nepal in the United States.
Nepal lies on an active fault zone and is considered at high-risk for major earthquakes, as demonstrated by the April 2015 earthquake that caused extensive damage in the Kathmandu Valley and many other districts. Lack of adequate emergency response vehicles, equipment, and medical facilities, combined with building codes that are not strictly enforced, 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).
See the following webpages for details:
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 there have been reports of non-violent harassment of LGBTI persons. 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:
While in Nepal, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation difficult. 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.
See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
General: Medical care in Nepal 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 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.
Malaria and intestinal tract diseases, including cholera, are present in the Terai region. Food hygiene and sanitary food handling practices are uncommon in Nepal and precautions should be taken to prevent water and food-borne illnesses.
Stray dogs are common on the streets of Kathmandu. Visitors should be aware that stray dogs, monkeys, and other animals may be infected with rabies. The CDC’s “Preventing Dog Bites” webpage recommends that if you are bitten by a dog, get to a safe place, immediately wash wounds with soap and water, and seek medical attention.
Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. Learn more at the State Department webpage on insurance providers for overseas coverage. 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.
Local authorities irregularly enforce restrictions on certain drugs that may regularly be 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.
Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For further health information:
Road Conditions and Safety:
In Nepal, vehicles are driven on the left-hand side of the road. U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions in Nepal that are significantly worse than those found in the United States. The information below is provided for general reference and may not apply in every situation.
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.
You should avoid nighttime road travel outside the Kathmandu Valley and minimize nighttime travel within Kathmandu because of insufficient street lighting and hazardous road conditions.
Deaths from motorcycle accidents have risen dramatically in recent years, and U.S. citizens should consider avoiding riding motorcycles in Nepal, particularly on highways.
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.
Visitors throughout Nepal, including in Kathmandu, are encouraged to use metered taxis and avoid public buses and microbuses. Many taxi drivers will refuse to use the meter, insisting on negotiating the price instead. 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 may wish to file a complaint with the traffic police on the street or at the nearest local police station.
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.
For more information, please visit our Road Safety page.
Aviation Safety and Oversight:
As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Nepal, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Domestic air safety is a concern. In recent years, there have been a number of fatal plane crashes on domestic routes in Nepal, including some crashes in which U.S. citizens have been killed. Peace Corps Nepal prohibits Volunteers from flying into Nepal’s mountain airports, including Lukla and Jomson, which are notoriously dangerous due to challenging weather and terrain. As a result of Nepal’s poor aviation safety record, in December 2013 the European Union (EU) banned all Nepali airlines from flying into or within EU countries. Although Nepali domestic flights are insured, payments to the families of victims of a plane crash are minimal. Domestic air travelers may want to consider flight insurance that will cover domestic flights in Nepal before leaving home.