Necessary Travel Documents for Tibet and Nepal

Necessary Travel Documents for Tibet and Nepal

Admin - Updated: November 12, 2020

If you travel to Nepal and Tibet together, a world of excitement and adventure awaits you. From the high plateau of Tibet with its gompas and mountains to Nepal's diverse country, which is full of hiking trails, mountain, and subtropical forest views, a combined tour of Nepal and Tibet is the exploration of a lifetime. Travellers can take the train from China to the Tibetan capital Lhasa to enjoy the Potala Palace's incredible views and the famous Jokhang Temple. Then travel through the region, visiting small Tibetan villages, crystal clear lakes, high mountains, alpine meadows, and countless monasteries and make a stopover at the northern Everest base camp before crossing the border to Nepal.

You can visit Kathmandu, the capital, and one of the most exotic cities in Asia. Visit the impressive national parks to see crocodiles, rhinos, endangered Bengal tiger or take one of the hundreds of hiking trails in the country's mountains and valleys, from Annapurna to Manaslu and Everest. If you prefer, you can do it the other way around, from Nepal to Tibet and then on to China.

The trip from Nepal to Tibet

For entry into Tibet from Nepal, specific permits and visas are required and the standard visa for Nepal's entry. The visa requirement is different if you go from Nepal instead of China, but the other permits are all the same.

Tibet Group Visa

The tourist Group visa for Tibet is a particular entry visa for Tibet issued by the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. Similarly, travelling from China, where you have first-time access to entry into China, the tourist group visa replaces the standard Chinese visa for travellers.

The tourist group visa is valid for 30 days in Tibet and China. Although it is called a "group visa," you do not have to be part of it to use it, and individuals can use it. However, individual tourists cannot apply for the visa in person but must apply it through a registered tour operator, such as Nepal Tour & Trekking Service P. Ltd.

If you are travelling as part of a group, all group members will be listed on the visa, including names, nationalities, dates of birth, and passport numbers, and you will receive separate copies for each. However, please note that all members listed on the group travel visa must enter and leave Tibet all together and through the same exit point. If you intend to leave Tibet via a different exit point than the rest of the group, it is advisable to apply for a separate group visa.

To obtain a group tourist visa, you must present your passport, visa fee, and other original documents to your tour operator's representative upon arrival in Nepal. You will apply for the visa through the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. The required receipts are the invitation letter and the tour operator's travel plan form, and the Tibet travel permit, which is also obtained through the tour operator.

The Group Tourist Visa is first applying through the tour operator. First, you need to find a tour operator, such as Nepal Tour & Trekking Service P. Ltd, discuss the desired trip options for Tibet and book the trip to Tibet. Then they will submit your Tibet travel authorization application.

Once the permit is returned, they will ask you to present your original passport in Kathmandu, so you will need to be in Nepal at least four or five days before your planned departure date. With these and other documents, you will then get your visa at the Chinese Embassy

Visa applications are only accepted from Monday to Friday; the same applies to pick-ups. It usually takes three days to process your application. If your application is submitted on Monday before 11:00 am, your visa will be ready for pickup on Wednesday afternoon. Once your visa is ready, your tour operator will pick you up and take you to your hotel in Kathmandu. Please note that Kathmandu's Chinese Embassy does not have an "express visa" procedure and does not accept express visa applications.

The cost of the group tourist visa varies depending on your country of origin as below.

  • For the U.S. citizens US $140
  • Canadian citizen US$ 120
  • Romanian citizen US$ 80
  • Citizen of Montenegro US$ 41
  • Serbian citizen US$ 15
  • Pakistani citizen US$ 17
  • Citizen of Albania US$ 17
  • Citizen of the Maldives US$ 17
  • Bosnian citizen US$ 17
  • Citizen of Herzegovina US$ 17

Authorization to travel to Tibet

The Tibet Travel Permit is the permit issued by the Tibet Tourism Board for travellers planning to visit Tibet. It should be noted that the Tibet Travel Permit does not allow access to all areas except Tibet, and some areas require additional access permits.

To obtain a Tibet Travel Permit, all you need to do is book your trip through a recognized professional tour operator, such as Nepal Tour & Trekking Service P. Ltd and they will take care of the rest. All you need to send a scanned copy (in colour) of your passport, which will show the main page with your photo and details. You should make sure that the scanner is precise and that the details are easy to read.

Nepal visa

In Nepal, it is relatively easy for tourists to enter the country. If you have not received your entry visa to Nepal from the Nepalese embassy in your country of origin before your departure, you can always obtain it at the point of entry into Nepal. While most visitors travelling to Tibet arrive in Nepal by air, some cross India's land borders, its only other neighbour. All border crossings that allow foreign tourists to enter Nepal can be arranged upon arrival, and the same can be done at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.

To obtain a visa upon arrival, all you have to do is fill out the visa application form at the immigration office and hand in your passport and a travel passport-sized photo with a transparent background. The fee depends on the visa required length and is $25 for a 15-day visa, $40 for a 30-day visa, and $100 for a 90-day visa. If you want to stay longer, you can extend your visa at the immigration office in Kalikasthan, Kathmandu, up to 150 days per calendar year.

Visa fees can be paid upon arrival in various currencies, but the US dollar is the preferred payment method. You can also use the Euro, Swiss Franc, Pound Sterling, Australian Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar, Singapore Dollar, and Japanese Yen. Credit cards, Indian rupees, and Nepalese rupees are not accepted as payment for entry visas.

The trip from Tibet to Nepal

Chinese Visa

Unlike many other countries in the world, China does not offer an entry visa service. All visas must be requested through the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in your country of origin or in the country you are travelling to. To apply for a visa, you must apply in person, as there is no online application procedure. However, you can download an application form from the Embassy's website, and you can also fill out the form within the document and save the completed form before printing it. For the visa application form, you must provide the following information

At least six months valid original passport

Completed visa application form

A passport size photo

Proof of legal residence or domicile (if required from outside your home country)

Photocopies of all previous Chinese entry visas

Documents showing an itinerary, including the booking protocol of your return flight and proof of your hotel reservation

The processing time for a Chinese entry visa is usually about four working days for your regular service. You will receive a collection slip with a specific date at the time of application. Single-entry visas cost $140 for a U.S. citizen and $30 for a non-U.S. citizen and can be paid with individual credit cards, money orders, bank checks, or company checks at the time of pickup of the visa. Cash, personal checks, online payments, and cards other than Visa and MasterCard are not accepted.

Tibet Travel Permit

Getting a permit to enter Tibet is very similar to getting a Visa in Nepal. Even in China, personal applications are not allowed, and one must apply to a recognized tour operator. The same procedure is used for the application, except that the original passport is required since a scanned copy is sufficient.

Once you confirm and complete the trip booking, your tour operator will apply for your Tibet travel permit. On average, the permit's processing takes about ten days and is usually delivered to your hotel room after you arrive in China, ready for your trip to Tibet.

Nepali Visa

Just as a Nepalese visa is available when entering Nepal from another country, it is also available to those entering Nepal from Tibet. The visa on arrival can be applied for at Tribhuvan International Airport or the land border crossing in Kyirong port. The same requirements apply, including fees.

What other visas or permits are required for travel to Nepal and Tibet?

A travel permit for foreigners is required for travel to some regions of Tibet outside the city of Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, such as Gyantse, Shigatse, Rongbuk, Everest, etc. Again, it cannot be offered without an approved tour and is usually purchased by your guide upon arrival in Lhasa. However, if you are travelling by land from Nepal to Tibet, this applies and will be obtained for you before entering Tibet from Nepal. The cost is about 50 CNY, although this is included in the price of your trip with Tibet Tour.

Permission to enter the military zone

Certain areas of Tibet are considered "militarily sensitive" areas, which require an entry permit for the military zone (commonly known as an army permit) to cross. It is usually also purchased in Lhasa and costs 100 CNY per person, which is also included in a trip to Tibet. Since this permit is required for entry into Ngari Prefecture, where Mount Kailash is located, it is obtained upon entry from Nepal before entering the country.

Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) card for trekking in Nepal

Trekking in Nepal is an incredible adventure, and to ensure that it is safer for everyone involved, there is the Trekker Information Management System card or TIM’s card. The TIMS card was introduced to ensure trekkers' safety in Nepal and can be ordered in Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Namche Bazaar.

TIMS collects data from trekkers and enters it into the system to assist in managing trekking routes in Nepal to aid in search and rescue operations in case of natural disasters and accidents that may require the use of air transport.

You can obtain the card by applying it yourself at one of the approved application centres with a photocopy of your passport and two passport-sized photographs. The cards cost the equivalent of US$20 in Nepalese currency for the green card, which is used for free individual hikers, and the equivalent of US$10 per person for group hikers who receive the blue cards.


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