Extending your visa in Nepal has its own difficulties and the main one can be the time taken to complete the process through the Nepal Immigration.
I was well aware of the difficulties because Paul, my son, had recently renewed his visa and had explained it was a bit of a pain doing so. The standard tourist visa issued upon entry to Nepal will usually be a month visa costing $40US but if you are like me and decide you wish to stay longer in Nepal then you have no option but to extend your visa and this will cost a little more than the initial 30 day visa at $60US for the month plus $2US per day thereafter.
Where is the Immigration office?
Getting to Immigration is the first obstacle because the Immigration Office is a little bit off the beaten track and not particularly easy to get directions to either (especially since there are no street signs in Kathmandu!). There is an address and map on the Immigration website but take my advice and use a cab…Rs200-300 from Thamel and if you are going with other travellers who need to extend their Visa then this cab fare cost is shared.
Nepal Immigration Website
http://www.immi.gov.np/general is the official Immigration website with the latest information on the cost etc but generally speaking the tourist visa extension for a month will set you back $60US and $2US per day after or part of the month. The usual thing will happen during the “conversion” from $ to Rs and the official will use an exchange rate much higher than you will find anywhere…just remember they have the power to cause all sorts of hassle, delay issue or at worst, refuse to issue you a visa, so it is not wise to question the exchange rate.
What to expect
When you enter Immigration you are greeted with a waiting area to your left and two glass fronted kiosks directly in front of you. You need to queue in the left of the two. There are no vending machines or shops so come properly prepared for what could be a long wait. There is a small cafe outside but by using it you may just lose the opportunity to get your visa on the day should they call your name!
You are required to fill in an application form which is available on line here http://www.immi.gov.np/general but since most travellers have no access to a printer this isn’t much use. I could not find any blank forms anywhere in the area and so had to join the queue and hope that a kindly official could fill in the form with me when it was my turn at the window…this is not a good strategy and luckily when I was about 3 places back from the front of the queue I spotted a pad of applications. Unfortunately they were on the other side of the glass partition next to the official. He turned at one point to address colleagues’ behind him and I stretched through and grabbed a copy. I was then able to fill in the detail whilst stood in the queue.
Can you speak any Nepali?
Speaking a little of any local language often helps to “soften” officialdom. Nelly, a good friend now living in Nepal and writing for this site, had carefully and kindly penned some phrases in Nepali for me to use and hopefully sway the officials in my favour in order to progress my application a little bit quicker.
Usually the official behind the glass will accept your application, issue you with a pink receipt telling you when your application “should” be processes by and then direct you to come back the following day. (this is Nepal and you could easily wait all day and discover your application would not be ready until next day)
If you can make them realise you are prepared to wait then you MAY get lucky and have your visa that day. If not you will come back the next day close to 1500hrs to stand in the same queue as the previous day armed with your receipt!….and hope.
I have copied the useful phrases below and of course it is always good to show willingness to embrace local culture by trying to speak the local language wherever you go so give it a go.
Namaste – hello
1=ek 2=dui 3=tin 4=chhar
Kripaya, ma Visa extension manparchha. Ma ek (1) maina ko lagi – I need to extend my visa for 1 month please
Photo chha – my photo
Kati paisaho – how much?
Samaya chha – I can wait
Derei danyabaad – thank you very much
Derei mahago chha – that’s too expensive
Sadly any attempt to master Nepali did not help me because by the time I got to speak with the official he had already accessed that I was deficient in a photocopy of my passport and visa and dismissed me to get copies….and then join the back of an ever growing queue.
What you REALLY need:
- Current Visa
- Photocopy of Passport and Current Visa
- Passport size Photograph (take two just in case)
- $60US in Nepali currency
Forgot your photocopy or photograph?
So where to get a photocopy or passport piccy? Inside the Immigration office there is another cubicle to the left of the room marked “Help Desk” but it was conspicuously empty and there is no other facility to be found. There is, however, literally a few steps outside the gate to your left, a conveniently well placed photocopy shop which must obviously make good business from tourist and travellers!!!
If you have been as stupid as me to believe the Passport and Visa originals would suffice then RS50 gets you the required copy.
Good tip whilst travelling is to keep a few copies of your Passport and relevant Visa wherever you go because they are needed for phone Sim card and numerous other reasons
Fast Track processing?
It was at the photocopy booth that I had a little discussion with a gentleman I had earlier seen helping another bewildered tourist.
Now; since the queue inside immigration was steadily growing and I really didn’t relish a looong wait and potential return the following day, I quite simply asked if he could “arrange” the visa on my behalf…..of course he could…at a cost.
After a little more debate we arrived at an acceptable “overhead price” and so I gave him my passport, picture, photocopy and a wedge of rupees and went to wait in the cafe next door….a cold Pepsi and 20 mins later “Mr Fixit” handed me my passport with a new month long Nepali Visa….danyabaad.
Corrupt – unfair ?
Of course……….worth it……..of course.
This sadly may not be achievable for many backpackers or travellers on a very tight budget but I figured that my time was more valuable in this instance.
It probably cost me an extra Rs800-1000 and this was probably split between my “Mr Fixit” man and the official inside but it would have cost me taxi fares to and fro so perhaps wasn’t too high a price to pay.
Sorry of course to those who were queue jumped !!!
If you have a different experience or have anything more to add which might help other travellers please post a comment below and I will incorporate your thoughts … thanks