Nepal, the Himalayan country is a hub for trekkers & mountaineers, that offers the best trekking and traveling experience in the world. Besides trekking and mountaineering, people love to visit this amazing country to experience its rich culture, diverse ethnical people, and medieval arts and architectures of its own. And tourists also love to visit Nepal, to see the ancient Hindus and Buddhist monuments, sculptures, and temples. Notably, the trekking and hiking trails of Nepal are the primary focus for most travelers.
However, after the outbreak of Covid-19, travel has been banned in Nepal since March 2020, like the rest of the world. But Nepal government made travel easy with rules and regulations that allow trekkers and mountaineers from end of November 2020 to visit Nepal.
You have to know that Nepal government has formulated a traveling policy only for mountaineers and trekkers. Likewise, the government is planning to gradually ease further at an appropriate time. On 9 December 2020, the government announced the resumption of the issuing of tourist entry visa to Nepal.
As per the announcement, the entry visa process will be operated from the Nepal diplomatic missions abroad. All foreigners should obtain a tourist entry visa from a Nepali diplomatic in their country or neighboring country. Alternatively, one can get a pre-approval /recommendation from the concerned ministry for ensuring their on-arrival access.
Rules If You Got the Arrival Visa
- Negative results from a PCR test within 72 hours prior to departure from the country of origin are required for entry.
- Children aged under 5, are generally exempt from this requirement.
- The government requires negative PCR test results and a permit from the Chief District Officer to enter Kathmandu Valley from other districts outside the Valley.
- Health screening procedures are in place at airports and other ports of entry. They generally consist of temperature checks and a spray disinfecting area.
- In case of countries where prior visa provision for Nepal is not currently available, expedition teams or trekkers shall coordinate with their Travel/ Trekking Agency based in Nepal for arrangement of prior approval to enter Nepal.
- For prior visa approval, the Nepal-based agencies shall submit all prescribed details of the client/s and relevant details to the Department of Tourism (DoT) for Expedition Teams and the Nepal Tourism Board for Trekking Tours.
- For the recommendation of visa to be submitted to the Department of Immigration in advance, the concerned Agency shall be notified.
However, passengers coming from or transiting through the United Kingdom are not allowed to enter Nepal due to the second variant of COVID19. Meanwhile, if you have a pre-approval/recommendation of the Government of Nepal, it will be easy for you to enter Nepal. Otherwise, Nepal still remains close to all land border entry/exit points for foreigners.
In the times like these, you can even trek to Everest base camp during the Pandemic. However, you have to follow the guidelines approved by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation for mountaineers and trekkers.
Covid Test Required To Travel To Nepal
You already got an overall idea regarding Covid-19 test procedures while you will be traveling to Nepal. The most crucial part of this section is that you need to submit negative results of a PCR test taken within 72 hours of departing from your home country. Moreover, you need to have at least a $5,000 USD insurance done against COVID-19.
And you also have to make sure that your traveling team in Nepal has an insurance coverage of a minimum of NPR 100,000.
Details for Special Entry Requirements for Trekkers and Mountaineers
- Trekkers and mountaineers must obtain a visa before arrival through their travel and trekking agencies.
- They have to produce negative tests reports of a PCR test taken within 72 hours of departing their home country.
- Trekkers and mountaineers must have a hotel booking for a 7-day quarantine in Nepal.
- Trekkers and mountaineers must possess insurance of at least $5,000 USD against COVID-19.
- On the fifth day of the quarantine, trekkers and mountaineers must take a PCR test at their own expense before proceeding with their trek or expedition.
- As per Article 5, a tourist who tests PCR positive for COVID-19, the quarantine period shall be extended till he/ she obtains a PCR negative test report.
- Hotel booking for at least 7 days’ quarantine in Nepal.
- Expedition or trekking teams shall provide insurance coverage of minimum of NPR 100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand Nepali Rupees only) against COVID-19 to team members from Nepal prior to obtaining permission for expedition or trekking
- While on the expedition or trekking in Nepal, health protocols issued by the Ministry of Health and Population of the Government of Nepal shall be duly followed
- Other terms and provisions to be followed by tourists in Nepal shall be as per the regular notice and updates published by the Department of Tourism. The concerned agency shall provide detailed information on the entry protocols to their clients/ tourists before the expedition or trekking in Nepal.
Furthermore, as of 2021, Nepal’s government has almost ended the lockdown in the Kathmandu Valley. They also have ended the alternating day even/odd system for the movement of private vehicles. Moreover, limited long-range public bus transportation is allowed to operate at 50% capacity. However, they have to implement strict COVID measures to run their businesses.
Notably, in Nepal there are some changes in the rules and regulations for transport. If you are a tourist and eagerly waiting to visit Nepal, then you have to know the following things regarding the transport option for travelers in Nepal.
- Domestic flights have resumed, including full seating capacity. Each flight will operate under strict COVID mitigation measures.
- Public transportation, including taxis and buses, and some long-distance buses, may operate at 50% occupancy
- Masks are required when outdoors, including while on public transport and taxis.
According to the newly formulated law regarding visa fees and entry in July 2019, the Government of Nepal has increased the visa Fees. Now US visitors are provided a 5-year, multiple-entry tourist visa. And there are some changes to get a regular tourist visa in Nepal. The changes are given below.
- If you will arrive by air, either apply for a visa at a Nepalese embassy or consulate before traveling or purchase a tourist visa upon arrival at Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu.
- For online visa application form, 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.
Can I travel to Nepal right now?
The most relevant answer is Yes! Nepal has already opened its land for mountaineers and trekkers. The remote parts of Nepal are still pretty much unaffected by Coivd-19. So you are bit safe from being infected by the novel coronavirus. However, you have to cope with the above rules and regulations formulated by the government of Nepal.
And to make your travel worthy it’s better to dig deep into our Nepal travel guide. However, you have to do a thorough brainstorming regarding the places you wish to visit, expenditures, arrangements, flights, etc.
Rules for U.S Citizens
- When crossing by land into Nepal, U.S. citizens should carry U.S dollar bills to pay their Nepali visa fee.
- U.S. citizens traveling from India to Nepal from the Belahia, Bhairahawa checkpoint 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-hour 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.
USA to Nepal flight
New policies for travelers booking flights from the United States to Nepal include masks being provided and required on board, daily cleaning and sanitization, use of HEPA filters, pre-flight testing for antibodies and symptoms, and socially distanced seating (for a limited time). But policies vary by different airlines. And, there are no non-stop flights from USA to Nepal. Before the pandemic (COVID19), there were 20+ open flights from USA to Nepal but now there are very limited flights, and the most reliable flight to Kathmandu from USA is Qatar Airways.
A general recommendation when deciding a convenient air route from USA to Nepal would be considering the John F. Kennedy International Airport from New York via Doha (Qatar) to Tribhuwan International Airport, Kathmandu. Or, the Dulles International Airport from Washington via Qatar to Kathmandu. You could even board from San Francisco International Airport. These are the most popular air routes among travelers from the US.
To get the fastest option from the US to Nepal in about 16 to 22-hour flight duration, there are many flights including Air India or Qatar Airways. These flights may have either one or multiple stoppage though.
How To Extend Your Visa In Nepal?
Nepal’s Department of Immigration is the place where you can get the full idea about arrival visa and all other details. You can also fill the online application for various types of visas. Besides these, most importantly, the regular tourist visa provided upon arrival by the Nepali Department of Immigration may allow tourists to stay in Nepal for no more than 150 days. And, in case if you need to extend your visa for any reasons, here are the things you need to consider.
- The Department of Immigration headquarters in the Kalikasthan in the neighboring Kathmandu city is the only office where you can extend both your tourist and non-tourist visas.
- The Immigration Office in Pokhara can only extend tourist visas. Visitors should apply to extend their visas before the expiration date.
- Long overstays beyond the expiration date can result in heavy fines, arrest, and detention pending formal deportation proceedings, followed by a ban on re-entry.
Depending upon the port of entry, newly arrived travelers must undergo a mandatory quarantine ranging from 2 to 14-days. Suspected COVID cases already in the country must also quarantine for 14 days.
At last, if you want to trek and hike in Nepal, considered the following FAQs:
- Will I be allowed to enter Nepal from my home country?
It’s uncertain if Nepal is banning visitors from certain countries as of now.
- What are your repatriation plans if you get sick?
Your home country may not let you return home.
- Will your travel insurance cover your evacuation back home?
A pandemic is different than anything else.
- Are there enough critical care beds available in Nepal?
Recent reports say no. If you get sick, you may be in trouble.
- What evidence do you have that Nepal’s hotel, restaurants, transportation, and guide services will follow common-sense protocols?
The tourism industry is starving for business so take any assurance with a grain of salt, including trekking and climbing guides.