The cost of a tourist visa to Nepal is going up … soon
The Nepali government have announced the impending rise of tourist visa entry fees into the country. Full details on Nepali tourist visa fees and information can be found here. The new fees have not yet been implemented but likely will be when you least expect it …
Nepal has a terrible history of rising fees or introducing fees at the wrong time. Last year trekking fees were increased in the middle of the peak trekking season with no warning. The previous year new entry fees to places like Solukhumbu (Everest region) and Nagarkot with no notice and a lot of confusion.
Even the kindhearted wouldn’t think the timing of all this is a coincidence. The reality seems to tell us it’s more to do with cashing in at opportune moments than anything else. Sadly. In either case be prepared for new fees … soon.
What are the new tourist visa fees?
The latest news about the new fees is as follows:
- 15 days – US $30 – proposed new fee for 15 days single/multiple entry (*$25 – current/previous fee)
- 30 days – US $ 50.00 proposed new fee for 30 days single/multiple entry (*$40 – current/previous fee)
- 90 days – US $ 125.00 proposed new fee for 90 days single/multiple entry (*$100 – current/previous fee)
I’m sure many people have a lot of questions about the intricate details of the new fees. The truth, no matter what your friendly travel agent will tell you, is that nobody will know the exact details until the day the fees are implemented.
At the moment it is reported (source) that there will be no more “single entry visas”. All tourist visas will be multiple entry going forward. Again, this in not confirmed but an official did mention this. Likewise the fees apply to on arrival and embassy applications. Tourist visa fees for extensions were not mentioned. At the moment it’s $2 per day.
Chinese visas are still free as are Chinese extensions. Indian nationals are visa free. All other visa related information can be found in my full list of Nepal visas and fees.
When are the new tourist fees going to be implemented?
With the Nepal 2020 year of tourism not so far away it’s likely the new fees will start during the next peak season in 2019. It’s more about getting numbers into Nepal than improving quality despite issues about overtourism in Nepal and around the world.
The likelihood of getting free tourist visas as an incentive to visit in 2020 is next to zero.
Very few people are publicly talking about the increased cost in tourist visas to Nepal. On the one hand tourism people “have” to be “positive” and proactive to help meet the lofty 2020 goals of 2 million tourists entering the country. On the other hand there is a sector within Nepal who want the visa fees raised even higher to turn Nepal’s tourism into a style similar to Bhutan. The high likelihood is that the increased fees will be implemented by an administration department at a whims notice. Administration departments are fairly inconspicuous and hard to blame as they are just “carrying out their jobs”. While nobody is publicly speaking out. The reality is few people would begrudge a small increase after ten years. However many will no doubt rue the timing of the increase. Silently many more are wondering why Nepal is not offering free tourist visas.
Why is Nepal increasing tourist visa fees when it’s trying to get more tourists?
Good question. There are two answers. I’m not sure which is the correct one. Perhaps it’s a mixture of both.
The first is that Nepal has not increased visa fees for over 10 years. So let’s not bash them on that – prices have gone up and … well I’m sure the visa fee is used to help improve tourist infrastructure, somewhere along the chain. Nobody knows where the tourist visa fee actual goes. It’s said to be split among different government departments who take a chunk and then after that it … again nobody can confirm exactly where it goes.
In 2014 a much maligned new visa application system was introduced to Nepal. It meant on arrival visa applications needed to be done via an ATM style scanning booth at arrivals in Kathmandu airport. There are three in Kathmandu citys immigration department and two in Pokhara. They sit there refusing to accept people’s passport scans with ease, addresses and are very good at creating long queues. Again, do read my page on how to fill out Nepal visa applications online.
So, I guess the visa fee increase helps to pay for the “passport reading machines”.
The second answer is that increased visa fees means more money. Simple as that. With lofty goals of obtaining double the amount of tourists in 2020 many decision makers might well be looking forward to cashing in. Granted having no visa fees would likely increase and encourage the number of tourist arrivals in Nepal not to mention increase their expenditure in the country which has been an issue recently. But that’s how other successful countries embark on improving tourist numbers.
Yes, there have been more tourists over the past year but they are spending less and not staying as long as previously.
The logical thinking of offering free visas is of little interest to those making the decisions in Nepal it seems. If Nepal was well organized then indeed free visas would mean more money for grass roots people, transport, telecoms, tourism and the list goes on. But it seems the decision makers thinking is that this money never reaches them directly so it’s better to get the money directly when tourists arrives.
Can you do anything to prepare for the new visa fees?
Yes, bring extra cash. The exact change is even better. Hopefully you’ll arrive whilst the old fees are still applicable. See my main page on tourist visa information for the very latest changes and updates. As of the publication date here, the fees have not yet been implemented. However, keep the following in mind.
Here’s a true story about the increased Annapurna National Park fees in October 2018 – during the middle of peak season.
With no news at all about the new fees, tourists were queuing up and being charged the old fee until 1pm. Then at 1.05pm the permit office started charging the new fee. It happens like that in Nepal. No advanced notice. No option to go earlier. Just pay up. New Nepali trekking permit and national park fees can be found here.
So yes, the best thing to do is bring the extra cash when you apply. Keep in mind the fees can go up at any time and keep an eye on my page on Nepal tourist visa information and fees for new information and the latest updates. For more information on how to pay at the airport read more about how to arrive into Kathmandu airport for extra tips on visa on arrivals. Finally and best of all get my guidebook below for all this information and more!
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