With world-class trekking, mountain biking and whitewater rafting, historic cities and abundant wildlife, it’s easy to understand why Nepal draws so many travelers from across the globe. Few countries in the world fit so many thrilling landscapes – from the towering Himalayas to forested foothills and steamy lowlands – into such a small space.

Deciding to visit Nepal is easy, but the logistics of getting into the country can be a bit more complicated. Here’s our handy guide to the visa requirements for Nepal, including information on tourist visas, how to extend your stay and applying to work or study in the country.

Most travelers can get a Nepali visa on arrival

Here's the good news – for most travelers, the entry requirements for Nepal are fairly simple and pain-free. Indian citizens do not need a tourist visa to visit the country, and most other tourists can get a 15-, 30- or 90-day visa on arrival. This includes visitors from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, the UK, Ireland, France, Germany and most other Western European countries. 

When you land at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, you need to fill in an arrival card and have your photo taken at one of the automatic registration machines – to save time, you can do this online in advance (this must be done less than 15 days before you arrive). If you leave it till you land in Kathmandu, expect the process to take over an hour, with lots of queuing.

Once the paperwork is filed, you must then pay a visa fee of US$30 for 15 days, US$50 for 30 days, or US$125 for 90 days at the payment counter. Children under the age of 10 do not need to pay for their tourist visas unless they are US citizens. Payment is accepted in a variety of major currencies but it’s advisable to bring small bills.  Finally, head to the immigration desk with your arrival form, payment receipt and passport, and enjoy Nepal!

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A woman feeding birds in Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu's Durbar Square bursts into life as light spills into the valley each morning © NurPhoto/Getty Images

Crossing into Nepal overland

You can also cross into Nepal overland via a series of border crossings in the Terai plains, including the busy crossing at Sunauli/Bhairawa, accessible by bus from Delhi and Varanasi in India. You can still get a visa on arrival if you enter Nepal by land, but it's best to bring some passport photos with you, and you'll need to pay the visa fee in cash in US dollars. 

Getting a visa in advance will save time

Even if you're eligible for a visa on arrival, the queues for a tourist visa at Tribhuvan airport can move painfully slowly, particularly during the October–November peak season. To save time, you can get a tourist visa in advance from the Nepali embassy or consulate in your home country (or the nearest embassy in a neighboring state).

If you do obtain a visa before you travel, you must enter the country within six months of the visa being issued, though the 15-, 30- or 90-day period only starts when you actually arrive in Nepal. The web portal of the Government of Nepal has a full list of Nepali overseas missions.

Some travelers can get a free visa

Reflecting Nepal's friendly relations with neighboring states, Chinese citizens are eligible for a free tourist visa, while Indian travelers can enter Nepal without a tourist visa. Travelers from many South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries can get a free 30-day visa for their first visit to Nepal in a calendar year. This rule applies to citizens of Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but not to citizens of Afghanistan.

Portrait of young Indian rhinoceros, Bardia National Park
The one-horned Indian rhinoceros is one character everyone hopes to meet in Nepal © Eyal Cohen / 500px

Other travelers must get a visa in advance

Citizens of Afghanistan, Cameroon, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iraq, Liberia, Nigeria, Palestine, Somalia, Syria and Zimbabwe must obtain a visa from their local Nepali embassy or consulate before traveling. Refugees with travel documents from their host nation must do the same.

Travelers can pay extra for a multiple entry visa

While it's more common to detour from India to Nepal than the other way round, you can turn your single-entry Nepali visa into a multiple-entry visa for US$25 at the Central Immigration Office in Kathmandu or the smaller office in Pokhara. This is helpful if you plan to take a side trip from Nepal to Bhutan or Tibet.

If you are entering Nepal from India and plan to return to India, make sure you get a multiple-entry India visa – obtaining a new visa for India in Kathmandu is a painfully slow and complicated process.

Roadside waterfall in the Annapurna region, Nepal
It's easy to enter Nepal overland, but be ready for slow travel on mountain roads © Anton Jankovoy / Getty Images

You can extend your visa for up to 150 days

If you decide you need more of Nepal's mountains and monasteries, you can extend your visa at the Department of Immigration offices in Kathmandu or Pokhara, up to a limit of 150 days in any calendar year (January to December). Extensions cost US$45 for the first 15 days, followed by US3 per day after that until you reach the 150-day limit.

Don’t overstay your visa – if you do you’ll be fined US$5 per day and you may have trouble visiting Nepal in future. Make sure you leave a gap of several days between the end of a trek and your international flight home in case there are delays getting back to Kathmandu from the trailhead.

Apply for work and study visas well in advance of travel

If you want to work or study in Nepal, you’ll need to apply for a special class of visa and fulfill a number of strict criteria. The process can be complicated, bureaucratic and time-consuming, as you have to provide recommendation letters, bank statements and other documents. Visit the Department of Immigration’s website for detailed information.

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