Nepal is ethnically, linguistically, and culturally diverse. Generally traditional and conservative by nature, Nepalis are congenial people who take pride in their national and ethnic heritage. Foreigners must be prepared to obtain the appropriate introductions and spend time on confidence-building before entering into serious business negotiations. Visitors are normally greeted by saying “Hello” or “Namaste” followed by a handshake. An exchange of business cards follows. Nepalis like conversing briefly before entering into business negotiations. Normal business attire is appropriate.
For information, visit the State Department’s Consular Information Sheet on Nepal
Please note that the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a Government of Nepal decision not to allow travelers to arrive without a visa and purchase a visa on arrival. At the time of this writing, it was necessary to apply for a visa at a Nepali embassy abroad before traveling to Nepal. However, it is expected that in the future it will again be permitted to purchase a visa on arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.
A passport with at least six months’ validity remaining at the time of entry and a visa are required for entry. Pre-COVID, tourists could apply for a visa at a Nepali embassy or consulate before traveling or purchase a tourist visa upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport (Kathmandu) or at official land border points of entry.
Tourists may request:
- 15-day multiple-entry tourist visa ($30)
- 1-month multiple-entry tourist visa ($50)
- 3-month multiple-entry tourist visa ($125)
Visa fees are payable in U.S. dollars. Money-changing and ATM services are available at the airport, but credit card payment is not a reliable option. The official land entry points only accept U.S. dollars for visa fees. Tourists may stay no more than 150 days in any given calendar year. U.S. citizens are also able to apply for a five-year tourist visa at the Nepal Department of Immigration or at the Embassy of Nepal in Washington, DC or the Consulate General of Nepal in New York City. With the five-year tourist visa, a tourist is able to stay up to 180 days in Nepal.
It is important to note that regardless of the purpose of your travel to Nepal (employment, school, business, etc.) you must enter Nepal on a tourist visa, as you cannot apply for other types of visas from overseas. Your category of visa will change from “tourist” to “non-tourist” once all the necessary paperwork is submitted to and approved by the Department of Immigration in Nepal.
Check with the Nepal Department of Immigration for details of other types of visas, including student and work visas. Your purpose of travel will dictate what category of visa you will need to obtain. It has been noted by several businesses that the process can be complicated and time consuming. It is best to plan far in advance and engage an attorney early on.
The Department of Immigration (DOI) main office in the Kalikasthan neighborhood of Kathmandu and the Immigration Office in Pokhara are the only two offices that can extend visas. It is generally not difficult to extend your visa a few days after the printed expiration date, but long overstays can result in heavy fines and the very real possibility of arrest and detention pending formal deportation proceedings, followed by a seven to ten year ban on re-entry.
You must have a valid visa before you will be allowed to depart Nepal. The Immigration Office at Tribhuvan International Airport is not authorized to extend visas. U.S. citizens who have tried to extend their visa at the airport have been sent to the Immigration Office in Kathmandu to pay the extension fee and, as a result, have missed their flights. You will not be allowed to depart Nepal until the visa is properly extended.
If you renew or replace your passport from the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, you will need to ask the Department of Immigration to transfer your Nepali visa by pasting a new visa into the new passport. See the Government of Nepal’s Department of Immigration website for additional immigration information.
Travelers can obtain additional information by contacting the Embassy of Nepal at 2131 Leroy Place, NW, Washington, DC 20008; Telephone: 202-667-4550; or the Nepali Consulate General in New York: Telephone - 917-675-6783; Email – email@example.com.
U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following link(s): State Department Visa Website
Since 1993, Nepal’s currency has been pegged to the Indian rupee at a rate of 1.6 Nepalese rupee (NPR) to 1 Indian rupee (INR). In recent years the dollar has strengthened against the INR, causing the NPR to depreciate. As of July 2021, the exchange rate is approximately 119 NPR to $1.
Telecommunications facilities are fairly good in Kathmandu and other major towns, such as Pokhara, Biratnagar, Birgunj, Bhairahawa, and Nepalgunj. The quality of telephone service outside major cities can be spotty, although improving. Large hotels in Kathmandu have business centers with 24-hour service available for telephone, fax, email, and internet. Collect call service is not available in Nepal. Private call centers providing telephone, email, fax and internet services are widely available in major cities, and normally operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Internet accessibility is largely through broadband connections, which can be slow at times. Cellular telephone services are based on GSM technology, although CDMA technology is beginning to be installed. It is easy and affordable to obtain pay-as-you go cellular telephone plans. Telecommunication services in the Kathmandu Valley are generally cheaper than in the United States. However, in more rural areas outside the valley service may be poor.
Nepal is a landlocked country and transportation – both internal and across borders – is a major hurdle to doing business. Pre-COVID, when traveling to Kathmandu, U.S. business visitors could take either the Pacific route or the Atlantic route. U.S. airlines do not fly directly to Kathmandu, but some have alliances with other foreign airlines operating in Nepal. For visitors coming via the Pacific route, Bangkok is a major transit port. Thai Airways operated daily direct flights to and from Kathmandu. (Nepal Airlines operates a number of direct flights to various Asian capitals but is barred from flying to the European Union due to safety concerns.) Silk Air operated four days a week to Singapore. Dragon Air operated six flights a week to Hong Kong. For visitors coming via the Atlantic route, connections are usually through Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dubai, or New Delhi. Gulf Air, Air Arabia, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Spice Jet, and Indian Airlines have connecting flights to Kathmandu. Qatar Airways had three flights daily between Doha and Kathmandu, while Gulf Air and Air Arabia each operated one flight daily. New Delhi-Kathmandu was the best-connected route, with at least three airlines operating several flights a day between the two cities. There was also a flight between Istanbul and Kathmandu operated by Turkish Airlines.
Nepal has one international airport in Kathmandu, three regional airports, nine all-weather airports, and twenty-one seasonal domestic airports throughout the country. Domestic air services are available for traveling to major cities and business centers. Nepal has neither a seaport nor a railway system. Road transportation is limited and in poor condition, with frequent landslides often cutting off access. One east-west highway passes through the southern areas of Nepal.
The official language of Nepal is Nepali, which – like Hindi – is written in the Devanagari script. The main language of business is Nepali, although many businesspeople also speak English and Hindi. All internal documentation and correspondence in government establishments is done in Nepali. Correspondence with foreign government agencies, international organizations, and private businesses is generally done in English. In the private sector, English is used for most documentation and correspondence.
Medical care is limited and generally not up to Western standards. Serious illness often requires treatment in Singapore, Bangkok, or New Delhi. Doctors and hospitals in Nepal expect immediate cash payment for health services. In general, U.S. medical insurance is not valid in Nepal. The Medicare/Medicaid Program does not provide for payment overseas. Supplemental health insurance that specifically covers overseas treatment and air evacuation to the nearest adequate medical facility is strongly recommended. Illnesses and injuries suffered while trekking in remote areas often require rescue by helicopter; the cost is typically $3,000 to $10,000. The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends that visitors obtain travel insurance to cover such emergencies.
Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays
Nepal’s Standard Time is 5 hours 45 minutes ahead of GMT and 10 hours and 45 minutes ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Nepal does not observe daylight savings time. All government offices and banks operate a six-day workweek from Sunday to Friday. Typical business hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Government offices operate from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Most businesses (including stores) close on Saturday, but this is gradually changing. Sunday is a workday in Nepal for the business community.
The Nepali calendar, referred to as Bikram Sambat (B.S.), starts in mid-April. The current year is 2077 B.S., which goes runs April 13, 2020 to April 12, 2021. Nepal’s cultural and religious diversity results in numerous holidays throughout the year. The Dashain Festival, celebrated in mid-to-late October in 2020 is the biggest holiday of the year, followed by the Tihar festival in mid-November. As many people return to their villages during these festivals, most businesses and government offices will be closed. It is therefore advisable to avoid business trips during these holidays.
National Holidays 2021
January 14 Maghe Sankranti
January 30 Martyrs Day (Sahid Diwas)
February 12 Sonam Losar, Sonam Lhosar
February 19 Prajatantra Diwas (Democracy Day)
March 8 Nari diwas, Women’s day (holiday only for women)
March 11 Maha Shiva Ratri, Nepali Army Day, Pashupatinath Mela
March 14 Gyalpo Lhosar, Mithila Parikarma
March 24 Ghoda Jatra (Only Kathmandu Valley)
April 14 Nepali New year
April 21 Ram Navami
May 1 Labor Day
May 12 Eid al-Fitr
May 26 Buddha Jayanti,
May 29 Ganatantra Diwas (Republic Day)
August 22 Janai Purnima
August 23 Gai Jatra (Kathmandu Valley only)
August 30 Shree Krishna Janmashtami / Gaura festival
September 9 Haritalika Teej Festival (only for women)
September 19 Constitution Day and Indra Jatra
September 29 Nijamati Diwas / Civil Servants Day (only for civil servants)
October 7 Ghatasthapana (First day of the Dashain festival)
October 12 Dashain Fulpati,
October 13 Dashain Mahastami,
October 14 Dashain Maha Nawami,
October 15 Dashain Bijaya Dashami
November 4 Tihar Laxmi Puja
November 5 Tihar Mha Puja / Govardhan Puja
November 6 Tihar Bhai Tika
November 10 Chhath Puja Parwa
November 19 Guru Nanak Jayanti (for Sikhs only)
December 19 Udhauli Parva,
December 25 Christmas (Christians only)
December 30 Tamu Lhosar
Dates for holidays are announced by the government at the beginning of each Nepali year (mid- April).
Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings
Materials — including vehicles, machinery, and equipment — may be imported temporarily for special purposes, such as domestic exhibitions or trade fairs, by making a refundable deposit of the applicable duty. Such goods must be taken out of the country within three months of the completion of the work unless the duty has been paid and the item sold for the use of others or retained for personal use. An extension of the three-month period may be granted on appropriate and reasonable grounds upon payment of an additional ten percent of the applicable duty amount. If the duty is not paid or the goods are not re-exported within six months of entry, the government may bring smuggling charges.