Nepal - Consular Information Sheet
May 31, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Nepal is a developing country with
extensive tourist facilities, which vary in quality according
to price and location. The capital is Kathmandu.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Passport and visa required. Tourist
visas can be purchased upon arrival at Tribhuvan International
Airport in Kathmandu and at all other ports of entry. All foreigners
flying out of the country must pay an airport exit tax, regardless
of the length of their stay. Travelers may obtain further information
on entry/ exit requirements by contacting the Royal Nepalese Embassy
at 2131 Leroy Place, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202)
667-4550 or the Consulate General in New York at (212) 370-3988.
The Internet address of the
Embassy of Nepal is http://www/newweb.net/nepal_embassy/
Travelers occasionally report immigration difficulties in crossing
the Nepal-China border overland in either direction. U.S. citizens
planning to travel to Tibet from Nepal may contact the U.S. Embassy
in Kathmandu for current information on the status of the border-crossing
points. Travelers may also wish to check with the People's Republic
of China Embassy in Nepal for current regulations for entry into
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments
have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include
requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission
for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not
present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required,
may facilitate entry/departure.
SAFETY/SECURITY: Since February 1996, a rural Maoist insurgency
in Nepal has resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,700 people.
Since the fall of 2000, Maoist insurgent activity has increased
markedly. Maoist attacks in a number of rural areas have inflicted
heavy casualties on Nepalese police in intense firefights. Maoist
violence is typically aimed at Nepalese government offices, police,
and political leaders. However, in at least three instances (one
involving a rafting party, another a group of trekkers, and a
third a popular resort hotel in Pokhara), armed Maoists have robbed
tourists or tourist facilities. While there have been no injuries
associated with these latter confrontations, they underscore the
need for American tourists and residents in Nepal to exercise
extreme caution when planning travel to or through Nepal.
Because of the potential for violence, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu
forbids U.S. Government employees from traveling to or through
Jajarkot, Kalikot, Rolpa, Rukum, and Salyan districts. These districts
have been most seriously affected by the insurgency. The Department
of State cautions American citizens to avoid travel to or through
these areas. In addition, the Embassy restricts U.S. Government
employee travel to or through parts of the following districts:
Accham, Baglung (except Baglung Bazaar), Bardia (except the main
road to Bardia National Park and tourist resorts in and around
the perimeter of the park), Dailekh, Dang (except the main highway
through Lamahi to Amile), Dolakha, Dolpa, Gorkha, Jumla, Kavre
(except the main highway through Banepa and Dhulikhel to Dolaghat),
Lamjung (except the portion through which the Annapurna Circuit
runs), Mugu, Pyuthan, Ramechapp, Sindhuli, Sindupalchok, and Surkhet
districts. Only essential, daylight travel is permitted in these
areas. American citizens traveling in these districts are advised
to exercise extreme caution. Maoist incidents have also occurred
in other districts, including in the Kathmandu Valley. Security
problems may occur anywhere in Nepal.
Maoist groups have threatened to take actions against non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) they perceive to have an American affiliation.
Offices of several American NGOs, their local partners, and multinational
businesses working in Nepal have been attacked by Maoists, in
at least one case explicitly because of the organization's association
with the United States. Since the fall of 2000, workers in a number
of NGO projects have reported a substantial increase in incidents
in which Maoists have used intimidation and extortion. Some project
workers have evacuated their areas due to concerns about possible
Maoist violence and in response to Maoist directives to stop their
Road travel by U.S. Government employees is forbidden in particular
areas of Nepal when the likelihood of violence is high. The U.S.
Embassy recommends that road travel outside the Kathmandu Valley
be undertaken only during daylight. American citizens are strongly
urged to check in with the U.S. Embassy upon arrival in Nepal
to receive the latest security information, since the potential
for violence now extends to all areas that have in the past been
relatively free of activity. The latest security information is
also available on the
U.S. Embassy's home page at http://www.south-asia.com/usa/
Public demonstrations and strikes are popular forms of political
expression in Nepal, and they may occur on short notice. These
demonstrations are usually nonviolent and not directed towards
foreigners. On occasion, however, rock throwers have targeted
vehicles, and acts of intimidation by strike supporters have been
reported. During a general strike (called a "Bandh"
in Nepal), many businesses close, and transportation and city
services may be disrupted. Americans are urged to exercise caution
and to avoid travel from the evening immediately preceding a strike
through the evening of the strike.
Americans traveling in Nepal should be aware of the potential
for some hotels and guesthouses to close during a bandh, requiring
that travelers seek accommodations elsewhere.
CRIME: Although the rate of violent crime is low in Kathmandu
relative to comparably sized American cities, street crime is
prevalent in Kathmandu as well as in other areas frequented by
foreigners. To avoid falling victim to crime, visitors should
take prudent safety precautions. Visitors should avoid walking
alone after dark and carrying large sums of cash or expensive
jewelry. In addition, visitors should consider exchanging money
only at banks and hotels and limiting shopping to daylight hours.
Valuables should be stored in the hotel safety deposit box and
should never be left unattended in hotel rooms. Travelers should
be especially alert at or near major tourist sites, where most
pick-pocketing occurs. Passports and cash should be carried in
a protected neck pouch--not in a backpack. The loss or theft abroad
of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police
and to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. U.S. citizens may
refer to the Department of State's pamphlets A
Safe Trip Abroad and Tips
for Travelers to South Asia for ways to promote a more trouble-free
journey. The pamphlets are available by mail from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
or via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical care is extremely limited
and is generally not up to Western standards. Serious illnesses
often require evacuation to the nearest adequate medical facility
(in Singapore, Bangkok or New Delhi). Illnesses and injuries suffered
while on trek in remote areas often require rescue by helicopter.
The cost is typically $3,000 to $10,000.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges
Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior
to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas
and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical
evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs
incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage
is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do
not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.
However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance
plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas,
including emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans
should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require
payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical
evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured
travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme
difficulties, whereas travelers who have purchased overseas medical
insurance have, when a medical emergency occurs, found it life-saving.
When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain
whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider
or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur.
Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric
treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via
the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations
and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international
travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's
Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ
significantly from those in the United States. The information
below concerning Nepal is provided for general reference only,
and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
American citizens should be extremely cautious when traveling
overland in Nepal, especially by bus. In general, roads are in
very poor condition and lack basic safety features. Many mountain
and hill roads are impassable during monsoon season (June-September)
due to landslides, and are very hazardous even in the best weather.
Avoid travel on night buses - fatal accidents are frequent. In
the Kathmandu Valley, roads are congested. Traffic is badly regulated,
and the volume of vehicles on the roads is increasing by 15 percent
a year. Many drivers are neither properly licensed nor trained.
Vehicles are poorly maintained. Sidewalks and pedestrian crossings
are non-existent in most areas, and drivers do not yield the right-of-way
to pedestrians. Of the 4,500 traffic-related deaths in 1997, two-thirds
INFORMATION FOR TREKKERS: Trekking in Nepal typically
involves walking for an extended time over rugged, steep terrain,
where one is exposed to the elements, often in remote areas many
days' walk from a telephone or emergency services. Many popular
trekking routes in Nepal cross passes as high as 18,000 feet.
The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu strongly advises all U.S. citizens
to exercise extreme caution when trekking at higher altitudes.
Only experienced mountain travelers should tackle the Himalaya.
Trekkers of all ages, experience, and fitness levels can experience
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), which can be deadly. Trekkers should
also be alert to the possibility of avalanches and landslides,
even when trails are clear. Avalanches and landslides caused by
severe storms have killed foreign trekkers and their Nepalese
guides, and stranded hundreds of others. Before leaving Kathmandu,
trekkers can check with the U.S. Embassy or the Himalayan Rescue
Association (phone 977-1-262-746) for good information about trail
conditions and possible hazards in the high country. Violent assaults
and robberies have increased on popular trails. More than any
other factor, solo trekking contributes to injuries and deaths.
The safest option for all trekkers is to join an organized group
and/or use a reputable firm that provides an experienced guide
and porter who communicate in both Nepali and English.
Because most trekking areas have no phones, trekkers are advised
to leave their itinerary with family or friends in the U.S. and
to check in at police checkposts where trekking permits are logged.
U.S. citizens are also strongly encouraged to register with the
U.S. Embassy upon arrival in Nepal (see Embassy Location and Registration
AIR TRAVEL SECURITY: The American Embassy in Kathmandu
is concerned about the safety of airline travel to and from Tribuvan
International airport in Kathmandu following several incidents
in which aircraft struck birds during takeoffs and landings. In
a three-week period last year, three international airline flights
were aborted during takeoff because of collisions with large birds,
a fourth was damaged in a collision with a bird during landing,
and at least one domestically operated aircraft was damaged due
to an in-flight collision with a bird.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial
air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority
to operate such service, between the U.S. and Nepal, the U.S.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Nepal's
Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit
Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa. The U.S.
Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air
carriers for suitability as official providers of air services.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact the DOD at (703)-697-7288.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Nepalese customs authorities may
enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into
or export from Nepal of items such as valuable metals, articles
of archeological and religious importance, wildlife and related
articles, drugs, arms and ammunition, and communications equipment.
It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Nepal in Washington
or Nepal's Consulate General in New York for specific information
regarding customs requirements.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S.
citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which
sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States
and may not afford the protections available to the individual
under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe
than those in the United States for similar offenses. Persons
violating Nepalese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested
or imprisoned. Penalties for possession of, use of, or trafficking
in illegal drugs in Nepal are strict, and convicted offenders
can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Nepal is an earthquake-prone country.
General information about natural disaster preparedness is available
via the Internet from the
U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For
information on international adoption of children and international
parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site
at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living in or
visiting Nepal are encouraged to register at the Consular Section
of the U.S. Embassy in Nepal and to obtain updated information
on travel and security within Nepal. The U.S. Embassy is located
at Pani Pokhari in Kathmandu, telephone (977) (1) 411179; fax
(977) (1) 419963. U.S. citizens may also register by e-mail by
U.S. Embassy's home page at http://www.south-asia.com/USA.
The home page also provides updated information regarding security
in Nepal, Embassy services, and travel in Nepal.