Imagine you're playing a game where you need to name adjectives describing the immigration process for arriving in Nepal.
You go first. Your answer? Efficient.
Guess what? You lose.
If you're flying into Nepal, you will be arriving at Tribhuvan International Airport, KTM, in Kathmandu (at the time of writing this, the only international airport in the country; plans are in the works for Pokhara, another city in Nepal, to begin operating international flights as soon as 2021). There are no jet bridges at the Kathmandu airport, so you will be disembarking from your aircraft via stairs and you will either be bused to or simply walk to the entrance to the international terminal.
From here you will walk down a series of hallways until you end up in what we will call the immigration lounge.
In the immigration lounge you will probably find yourself among a large group of confused foreigners and airport employees who do little (if anything) to provide direction.
Luckily, you're reading this, and I am going to lay out everything you need to know and to do in order to get through immigration as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Here we go.
Before You Arrive
THE MONEY: For a successful trip through Nepal Immigration, you're going to need to do a bit of homework. First, you'll need to decide/figure out if you're going to want a 15, 30, or 90-day visa. You want to bring exact change to pay for this visa and you want to bring US dollars. Be sure to check that your dollars were issued in the past ten years and that they are free from defects (this means any tears, stains, or physical damage). If you bring old and/or damaged money, it may not be accepted.
- 15-day visa: $25 US
- 30-day visa: $40 US
- 90-day visa: $100 US
You can pay with different currencies and you can also pay with a credit card. However, paying with a currency other than USD will mean that you are given a terrible exchange rate, and paying with a credit card will mean that you are forced into a credit card line where you will have to wait for ages as all the cards in front of you are processed.
Do yourself a favor and bring exact change in USD.
THE PHOTOS: You are also going to want to bring a 2” x 2” size passport photo (if your photo is not exactly this size I don't think the immigration officer will care, just make sure it's a passport-looking photo). NOTE: you need passport photos for a lot of things in Nepal (getting a SIM card, getting trekking permits, etc.) so it's best to bring extras.
THE FORM: Lastly, you want to print and fill out a tourist visa application form (assuming that you're going to be entering under the guise of a tourist). I searched the internets for this form and found one from the Embassy of Nepal in Washington D.C. I've sent this form to multiple people (all American) and they've all successfully used it for this immigration process. If you forget to print this form or want to get one at the airport, they should be sitting on a desk located straight ahead of you and on your left when you enter the terminal (just before the electronic visa application terminals).
There is a place on the form for you to put your “Address in Nepal”, you can literally write anything here (street addresses aren't too popular in Nepal from what I can tell). I suggest the name of a hotel (“Kathmandu Guest House”), followed by “Thamel, Kathmandu, KTM”.
Download the form here.
THE PASSPORT: As a precaution, I also suggest bringing a photocopy of your passport (if you intend to pay with a credit card, you shouldn't do this, you will need one). If you don't end up needing it at the airport, it's not a bad thing to have with you when traveling.
So you've assembled all of the aforementioned documents and dollars? Great. Here's what you will need to do when you enter the immigration lounge.
When you get inside, walk straight in (at the desk just before the electronic visa terminals ask for a visa application form if you've forgotten to print yours).
Continue past the electronic terminals (and laugh at everyone attempting to fill out their information on the unresponsive touchscreens) and go straight to the desk with a Visa/Mastercard logo above it. Stand in one of the lines here and pay for your visa (you will need to give this person your passport and your dollars). You'll receive a receipt for your payment. Keep this handy.
Next, get in the line behind where you see your intended length of stay (either a 15/30-day or 90-day visa line). At the front of this line, you will need to provide your visa form, your photo, your passport, and your proof of payment.
Then you're in! Congratulations.
If you use this information for immigration or find that something has changed, leave a comment and let me know!