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Nepal

Nepal
Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
Exercise increased caution in Nepal due to the potential for isolated political violence.  

Reissued after periodic review with updates to risk indicators and "if you decide to travel" section.

Exercise increased caution in Nepal due to the potential for isolated political violence.  

Country Summary: Political demonstrations intended to be peaceful can sometimes escalate into violence and may be met with force by Nepali authorities.  

Read the country information page  for additional information on travel to Nepal.  

If you decide to travel to Nepal:      

  • Avoid demonstrations and crowds. 
  • Do not trek or climb alone. The Government of Nepal requires solo or foreign independent trekkers (FITs) to use a local guide or porter while trekking in Nepal's official national parks and protected areas.      
  • Review the Adventure Travel Page before your trip.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter
  • Review the Country Security Report for Nepal. 
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel. 
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist
... [READ MORE]

Embassy Messages

Alerts

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:


COVID-19 vaccination/negative PCR test report is not required (Effective May 26, 2023)

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


US $5,000; Pure/raw/unworked gold and silver are strictly prohibited; Worked gold/jewelry up to 50 grams and worked silver/jewelry up to 100 grams are allowed. Indian currency in denominations greater than 100 rupees notes.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


US $5,000; Pure/raw/unworked gold and silver are strictly prohibited; Worked gold/jewelry up to 50 grams and worked silver/jewelry up to 100 grams are allowed; Indian currency in denominations greater than 100 rupees notes. Nepalese currency no more than Rs. 5000.

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Kathmandu

Maharajgunj
Kathmandu, Nepal
Telephone: +(977)(1) 423-4000 or 423-4500
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(977)(1) 400-7266 
Email: KathmanduACS@state.gov

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

STRONGLY RECOMMEND: No Solo Trekking; Follow Medical Advice regarding High Altitude Mountain Sickness; Review customs policies prior to travel

The Department of Immigration rescinded all previously issued orders regarding country-specific travel limitations. All travelers regardless of vaccine status can receive on-arrival visas at the port of entry. Amendments to existing orders and new orders may be promulgated with little notice. Please continue to monitor this space and local media for additional information.

Effective May 26, 2023, travelers entering Nepal from abroad by air or land are no longer needed to submit certificate of full vaccination against COVID-19. A negative PCR test report for COVID-19 is not required.

Quarantine is currently not required for travelers regardless of their vaccine status, nationality, or recently visited locations.

Travelers departing Nepal by air are subject to health protocols of their destination country only. The airlines are responsible for ensuring passengers meet requirements of destination countries. Please consult with your airlines prior to your arrival and departure from Nepal. Please check with your airline regarding future flight availability and any necessary flight re-bookings. Operation of cargo flights, rescue flights, and evacuation flights will be carried out subject to special permission.

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

Customs:
International travelers arriving and departing Nepal via international airport(s) are permitted to no more than one of the following personal items:

  • Binoculars
  • Electronic tablet/laptop, video camera, and camera
  • Portable music system
  • Perambulator or tricycle
  • Bicycle
  • Watch
  • Cellular mobile phone
  • Pure/raw/unworked gold and silver are strictly prohibited to carry through ports of entry. Worked gold / jewelry up to 50 grams and worked silver/ jewelry up to 100 grams
  • Items for professional use, including drones (check in advance with the Nepal Department of Customs)

Regular Tourist Visas:

  • If you will arrive by air, either apply for a tourist visa at a Nepalese embassy or consulate before traveling or purchase a tourist visa upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. NB: Pre-arrival visas are subject to availability. Check with the nearest Nepalese embassy or consulate for current availability.
  • 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. U.S. citizens may not be stopped by border officials in either direction to process immigration and visa documentation. Consequences for non-compliance are severe and have included lengthy prison sentences and large fines.
  • 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 by land from India to Nepal 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 an on-arrival tourist visa at the following land border points of entry:
  1.  
    1. Pashupati Nagar, Jhapa District (Eastern Nepal, currently closed)
    2. Kakarvitta, Jhapa District (Eastern Nepal, currently closed)
    3. Biratnagar, Morang District (Southeastern Nepal, only arrival; No Departure)
    4. Birgunj, Parsa District (Central Nepal, arrival and departure)
    5. Belahiya, Bhairahawa, Rupandehi District (Southern Nepal, arrival and departure)
    6. Jamunaha, Nepalgunj, Banke District (Mid-West Nepal, currently closed)
    7. Mohana, Dhangadi, Kailali District (Southwest Nepal, currently closed)
    8. Gadda Chauki, Mahendranagar Kanchanpur District (Western Nepal, only arrival; No Departure)
    9. Hilsa, Humla District (Far Western Nepal, for group tourists only; arrival and departure)
    10. Korala, Mustang District (North-west Border, currently closed)
    11. Timure, Rasuwa District (Northern Border; arrival and departure)
    12. Kodari, Sindhupalchowk District (NortheastBorder– for group tourists only; arrival and departure)

Tourists obtaining visas provided on-arrival by the Nepali Department of Immigration may stay no more than 150 days in any given calendar year. Visas will only be given in 15, 30, or 90 day increments, but may be extended at the Department of Immigration office in Kathmandu.

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

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

Other Visa Categories:

As of January 2023, all foreign travelers must arrive in Nepal on a tourist visa and can only convert their visa to a different category after arrival. 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. If you intend to apply for a study or work visa from Nepal, it is strongly advised to start the visa conversion process with the institution/employer and the concerned government authorities at least two months prior to expiration of your tourist visa. Non-tourist visa issuance has been known to take months to process and stays beyond 150 days on a tourist visa will lead to deportation with overstay fines and penalties.

Extending Your Visa:

  • The Department of Immigration headquarters in the Kalikasthan neighborhood of Kathmandu is the only office that can extend all category visas.
  • The Immigration Offices in Pokhara, Kakarvitta, Birgunj and Belahiya can extend tourist, relationship (marriage) and Non-Residential Nepali (NRN) visas. 
  • Visitors should apply to extend their visas before the expiration date; failure to do so will result in penalty and late fees.
  • 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.
  • Payment at the Department of Immigration can be made only in cash via Nepali rupees or U.S. dollars.

Requirements for Exit:

  • You must have a valid visa in a valid passport 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. Travelers who have tried to extend their visa at the airport will be sent to the Immigration Office in Kathmandu to pay the extension fee and, as a result, many travelers have missed their flights.
  • If you renew or replace your passport at the Embassy in Kathmandu, you must go to the Department of Immigration to transfer your Nepali visa by pasting a new visa into the new passport. Transferring a visa from one passport into another on one’s own is a serious crime in Nepal, with punishments of up to 9 years in prison and significant fines.
  • 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. 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.

HIV Restrictions:

The Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors or foreign residents of Nepal.

Surrogate Births:

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.

Dual Citizenship

Nepali law does not permit dual citizenship. Any citizen of Nepal who by naturalization or registration acquires the citizenship of another country shall cease to be a citizen of Nepal.

Find information here on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction, and customs

Safety and Security

All U.S. Citizen travelers are encouraged to enroll into Smart Traveler Enrollment Program while traveling abroad. This is a free service that allows U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad to receive the latest security updates from the U.S. Embassy. Enrolling in STEP will help the U.S. embassy contact them and provide assistance during an emergency overseas.

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

Political-Related Violence: 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: 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.

Actions to Take:

  • Avoid all large gatherings, protests, and demonstrations.
  • Report any difficulties or security concerns to police.
  • Monitor local media for updates.
  • Do not engage in argumentative or combative behavior if challenged or told that you cannot go to access a certain area.
  • Keep a low profile.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.

Crime: Although relatively low, crime in Kathmandu and throughout the country has risen in some categories, including:

Financial Crimes and Theft:

  • Pickpocketing and bag-snatching may occur at major tourist sites, including the Thamel area 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, hotels and government authorized money exchanger. 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. We strongly recommend no solo trekking. Local guide service is available in trekking regions.
  • 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" as soon as incident occurs. 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, +977-01-4247041 or +977-9851289444” 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 and be aware of potential insurance fraud. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

Local authorities are generally the best first responder in emergency situations. Many local resources are available by phone, although it may become necessary to flag down an officer or visit a local police or government office.

In the event of an emergency, dial 100 to contact the police in Nepal. This number is equivalent to “911” in the United States, and it is staffed 24/7 by the local police. Their toll free number is 16600141916.

Tourist Police have good English language skills and are often a better point of contact for foreigners than the regular police. They generally stand ready to assist in popular tourism areas. Dial 1144 for the tourist police hotline. They can be reached at +977-01-4247041 or +977-9851289444. The Tourist Police Office is located at Bhrikuti Mandap, Kathmandu, Tourist Service Center Building.

Nepal Police telephone directory is available for quick reference.

Dial 101 for fire.
Dial 102 for ambulance service.
Dial 103 for traffic control.
Dial 197 for telephone inquiry.

U.S. citizens requiring emergency assistance may contact the U.S. Embassy at any time. For an emergency involving death, arrest, serious illness or injury, or anything that threatens the life or safety of a U.S. citizen in Nepal during the weekends and holidays, call +977-01-423-7266. During normal business hours, call the operator at 01-423-4000 and tell that you have a U.S. citizen emergency and ask to be transferred to the American Citizen Services Unit. After normal business hours, describe your U.S. citizen emergency to the operator and ask to be connected with the Duty Officer, who is on-call at all times for emergency situations involving the life and safety of U.S. citizens, but cannot assist in any way with visa inquiries or routine services. If the primary number does not work, you can also call the analog back-up number, +977-01-423-4500.

The State Department’s Office of Overseas Citizens Services also stands ready to assist. From the United States and Canada, dial +1-888-407-4747 and from overseas dial +1-202-501-4444. General information on the range of emergency services that the office of Overseas Citizen Service makes available to U.S. citizens overseas is available at http://travel.state.gov .

(The “+” sign indicates your international dialing prefix, which is 011 in the United States and 00 in most other countries. For example, if dialed from the United States, the normal business hours number is 011-977-1-423-4000.)

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.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Driving Under the Influence: Driving in Nepal after consuming any amount of alcohol could result in arrest.

Illicit Drugs: 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.

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. Effective April 1, 2023, new requirements established by the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and more than a dozen trekking organizations, with the support of Nepal’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation, will require solo or foreign independent trekkers (FITs) to use a local guide from licensed trekking guide and obtain Trekking.

Information Management System (TIMS) card through authorized trekking agencies registered with the Government of Nepal while trekking in Nepal’s official national parks and protected areas. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in considerable fines. Please review travel related information on the official websites of the Nepal Tourism Board and the U.S. Embassy-Kathmandu prior to travel.

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.

Altitude Risks: 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 through authorized trekking agencies registered with the Government of Nepal. In case of an emergency, this system helps authorities find trekkers.

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. When engaging in adventure activities, Embassy personnel are strongly encouraged to use professional guide services and to carry a Personnel Tracker Locator device. 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.

Volunteering: 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 National Child Rights Council can help confirm an organization’s legitimacy. You can direct inquiries to Ms. Namuna Bhusal, namuna@ncrc.gov.np, +977-9851139474. The NCRC 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. Carrying Indian currency in denominations greater than 100 rupees notes is illegal/restricted in Nepal. Consequences for violating this requirement generally include seizure of all cash, gold, or jewelry carried, as well as fines and imprisonment. 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.

Customs: Do not carry any amount of pure gold, more than 50 grams of gold jewelry, or more than 100 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: 

 Spokesperson: Mr. Ananda Kafle
 Ministry of Finance
 Singha Durbar
 Kathmandu, Nepal
 Tel: +977-1- 4200537
 Email: moev@mof.gov.np

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.

Dual Nationality: 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.

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.

For emergency services in Nepal, dial 102.

Ambulance services are widely available in major cities, but training and availability of emergency responders may be below U.S. standards and is dependent on the quality of hospital from which the ambulance is dispatched.

COVID-19 Testing: Local medical facilities, including outpatient labs, offer PCR COVID-19 tests on a cash basis, paid by the test recipient. Some facilities may offer in-home testing when arranged in advance. Average PCR test costs are $10-15, with expedited results offered for an additional fee. Most results are available within 48 hours. Expedited results may be available in as little as 6 hours. Results are typically sent via email and/or text message with a link to a .pdf file with scannable barcode. Local pharmacies generally stock rapid COVID-19 antigen tests, which typically cost $5-8.

COVID-19 Vaccines: The COVID-19 vaccine is available for U.S. citizens to receive in Nepal on an as-available basis through Nepal government. Those interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine should contact local ward authority. Medical providers in Nepal have been trained in English and most reception staff will be able to communicate in English. Visit the FDA's website to learn more about FDA-approved vaccines in the United States. 

Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy: Assisted Reproductive Technology services are widely available in Nepal and are generally safe. Surrogacy is illegal for foreigners and LGBTQI+ citizens in Nepal, and is subject to complex local regulations. 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.

BEWARE OF MEDEVAC SCAMS: Medevac scams are common in Nepal, particularly for those traveling in the popular trekking regions of Solukhumbu (Everest region) and Annapurna (Pokhara region). Unscrupulous trekking companies and medical providers may pressure trekkers experiencing mild altitude sickness effects to take medevac helicopter flights back to Kathmandu and be transported by ambulance to a hospital, then charged inflated costs to bill insurance companies, with the excess fees split between involved parties. Trekkers themselves are often knowingly involved in these scams. Such activities are illegal in Nepal, but rarely prosecuted and often difficult to discern in advance. Trekkers should use only TAAN-registered trekking agencies and seek information on costs for medical treatment in advance. Travelers should, however, be aware of the life-threatening risks involved with altitude sickness and err on the side of caution when receiving treatment.

Prescription Medication: To avoid problems at port of entry, always carry prescribed medication in the original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription 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 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 does not  convert U.S. driver’s license into a Nepali license. Foreign nationals must either pass the driving test in Nepal or obtain an online International Driving Permit.

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. Online apps for taxis, such as Pathao, are widely used. 

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.

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. Check Nepal’s air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.

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.

Last Updated: March 14, 2024

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Kathmandu
Maharajgunj
Kathmandu, Nepal
Telephone
+(977)(1) 423-4000 or 400-7200
Emergency
+(977)(1) 423-4000
Fax
+(977)(1) 400-7272

Nepal Map