Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Country Information > Nepal International Travel Information
See the Department of State Fact Sheet on Nepal for information on U.S.-Nepal relations.
STRONGLY RECOMMEND: No Solo Trekking; Follow Medical Advice regarding High Altitude Mountain Sickness
Requirements for Entry:
You may request:
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. Tourists may stay no more than 150 days in any given calendar year. Foreigners may generally arrive on a tourist visa and then visit the Department of Immigration headquarters 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:
Requirements for Exit:
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. 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 was halted by the Nepal Supreme Court on August 25, 2015 and the practice was formally banned by a Cabinet decision on September 18, 2015, using the Supreme Court decision date as a cut-off. The Supreme Court’s final verdict was announced on December 12, 2016, and holds that surrogacy is legal for infertile Nepali married couples, but illegal for single men or women, transgender couples, and foreign nationals.
Surrogacy services are not permitted in Nepal. This includes ancillary services such as birth documentation and the issuance of a visa/exit permission in cases where the child was born in Nepal, even where IVF/surrogacy services were provided outside of Nepal. Without a visa/exit permission a newborn child will not be able to leave Nepal.
U.S. Military Personnel and DOD Contractors:
DOD personnel must review the Foreign Clearance Guide (FCG) for travel to Nepal. All official travel and active duty personal travel must be submitted through an APACS request. Contact information for the Defense Attaché Office can be found in the FCG if you have additional questions.
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.
The potential for isolated political-related violence remains a real risk in Nepal. There are occasionally small-scale improvised explosive device (IED) incidents in various parts of Nepal, particularly during periods of heightened political tension. Reported incidents have not been directed toward Westerners or Western interests, but have caused injury and damage to nearby individuals and property. The Embassy is also aware of extortion attempts and threats of violence by a local group against private businesses and aid organizations, including local and international schools within the Kathmandu Valley. Historically, violent political activity has been more prevalent in the Terai – the southern plains region of Nepal bordering India – than elsewhere in Nepal. Demonstrations have on occasion turned violent, although these activities generally have not been directed at U.S. citizens.
Bandhs (general strikes) were formerly a common form of political agitation in Nepal, but have occurred only infrequently in recent years. Bandhs are unpredictable, may include violent incidents, and can occur with little notice. They can cause schools and businesses to close and can stop traffic. Individuals not complying with bandhs may be harassed, and in extreme cases assaulted, by supporters. If you plan air travel to or from Nepal during a scheduled bandh, please note that transportation may be affected. Usually bandh organizers allow specially marked buses operated by the Nepal Tourism Board to travel between the airport and major tourist hotels. Do not attend or approach political demonstrations or checkpoints established during bandhs.
Avoid all unnecessary travel where bandhs are occurring.
Although relatively low, crime in Kathmandu and throughout the country has risen in some categories, including:
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, 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:
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. 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.
Driving Under the Influence:
Driving in Nepal after consuming any amount of alcohol could result in arrest.
A variety of illegal drugs are available in Nepal. Purchasing, possessing or consuming illegal drugs, including marijuana and hashish, could result in both fines and jail time.
Firearms and Ammunition:
You may not bring any kind of firearm or ammunition into Nepal. Violators who bring in firearms or ammunition – even imitations or in jewelry form – may be prosecuted.
TREKKING IN NEPAL
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.
Natural Disaster Risks:
Trekking in Nepal comes with the risk of natural disaster. DO NOT TREK ALONE. Trekkers should be alert to the possibility of avalanches, landslides, and falling rocks, even when trails are clear. Although these risks existed prior to the April 2015 earthquake and its aftershocks, earthquakes 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 arrange medical evacuations. Consult carefully with trekking agencies for current, location-specific information, and heed warnings of potential danger. Provide family or friends with a detailed itinerary prior to trekking and check in at all police checkpoints where trekking permits are logged. Register your 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. We strongly recommend supplemental travel and evacuation insurance.
Everyone, regardless of age, experience, or fitness level, should 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. DO NOT TREK ALONE. 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. We strongly recommend supplemental travel and evacuation insurance.
Evacuation by Helicopter:
Obtain emergency medical evacuation insurance before visiting Nepal. Many foreigners require or request evacuation by helicopter from Nepal’s rugged mountain terrain. Most hospitality employees along trekking routes can connect you with a helicopter evacuation service provider. Helicopter companies will generally require either specific evacuation insurance, pre-approval from your health insurance, or payment upfront by credit card in order to assist. Carry appropriate insurance and travel with credit card information. If you hope to have health insurance pay large bills without pre-approval, please note that the service provider may ask to hold onto your passport pending receipt of payment.
Lodging and Travel:
During peak trekking seasons, generally spring and autumn, hotel rooms may become scarce. Make advance booking for hotel rooms and plan for 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 Jomsom (gateway to the Mustang region). Leave ample time to catch outbound international flights when connecting from domestic flights. Be aware that many hotels in Nepal do not meet international fire or earthquake safety standards.
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.
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. Wear life jackets. Paragliding and ultralight aircraft tourism have become popular in Pokhara, and many new companies offer such services. Weigh the risks involved with paragliding and ultralight aircraft travel; safety standards may or may not follow 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. Medical care is limited and often does not meet Western standards.
Nepal’s Department of Immigration considers volunteering as work, and thus requires volunteers to obtain a work visa. Volunteering on a tourist visa is illegal, and can result in detention by immigration authorities, fines, expulsion from Nepal, and lengthy bans on returning to Nepal.
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 we applaud 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 by creating a demand for children who may be trafficked to such locations. Prospective volunteers in Nepal should 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, firstname.lastname@example.org, +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 about best practices for volunteering abroad.
Currency and Money Issues:
The Government of Nepal requires travelers to declare either the import or export of currency that exceeds US$5,000 USD in value by filling out a customs declaration form. 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). 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. Please note that Nepali Rupees cannot be exchanged outside of Nepal. See the section below on Customs regarding prohibitions on the importation of gold and silver.
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:
Ministry of Finance
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.
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 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:
As of August 2018, religious conversion and proselytization are illegal in Nepal.
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 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.
See the travel tips for Women Travelers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Stay 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. 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.
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, including urban areas within Kathmandu. Avoid riding motorcycles in Nepal, particularly on highways and always wear a helmet.
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 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.
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.
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. Nepal’s mountain airports, including Lukla and Jomsom, are notoriously dangerous due to challenging weather and terrain. As a result of Nepal’s poor aviation safety record, since 2013 the European Union (EU) has 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.