One of the most beautiful countries one can travel to easily and that too by one’s own vehicle is the SAARC nation of Nepal. A neighbouring country, Nepal is known for its pristine beauty, towering mountains and ancient temples.
How to enter Nepal from India
Via the Sunauli Border Crossing: Most people going overland from north India to Nepal pass through the Sunauli border to Bhairahawa in central Nepal, accessible from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. This is the biggest and busiest India-Nepal border crossing. There are frequent connections to Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Lumbini from there.
Via the Raxaul Border Crossing: The Raxaul border crossing to Birganj in southern-central Nepal is accessible from Patna in Bihar. It’s most convenient for anyone traveling from Bodh Gaya or Kolkata.
Via the Panitanki Border Crossing: The Panitanki border crossing, to Kakarbhitta in far eastern Nepal, is accessible from Siliguri in West Bengal. It’s most utilized by people traveling from Darjeeling, Kolkata, Sikkim and the rest of northeast India.
Via the Banbasa Border Crossing: This border crossing, at Banbasa in Uttarakhand, is the most westerly crossing into Nepal from India. It’s the quickest, and most rural, route from Delhi to Kathmandu.
Other Border Crossings: Two other border crossing points (from Jamunaha in Uttar Pradesh to Nepalganj in western Nepal, and Gauriphanta in Uttar Pradesh to Dhangadhi in far western Nepal) are open to tourists. However, they’re difficult to reach and rarely used.
Un-official Border Crossings: Border crossings at Janakpur, Biratnagar and Ilam rarely allow foreign tourists and so should be avoided.
Identity Proof Requirements
Only the following two documents are valid for Indian Nationals travelling by air between India and Nepal:-
Valid Indian Passport or Voter ID (issued by Election Commission of India)
As per the Home Ministry Indians under 15 and over 65 years of age, travelling to Nepal can now use their Aadhaar cards as a valid travel document. However, Indians who do not fall inside these two age brackets will not be permitted to use Aadhaar cards to travel to these two countries.
It is important to note here that Indians travelling to Nepal and Bhutan do not need a visa if they have valid passports, a photo ID card issued by the Indian government, or an election ID card issued by the Election Commission of India.
Note: Other documents (Aadhaar, Pan Card, Driving License, Indian Embassy Registration, etc.) are not accepted for travel to Nepal.
Documents required for Entry of Indian Registered Vehicles
Though the border crossing is open 24 hours, the Indian and Nepali immigration offices are only open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. so you should ensure that you arrive within this timeframe. Always check with the Customs Office before planning your trip as timings may differ.
Documents required entering Nepal with own vehicle
1. Registration Certificate of vehicle.
2. Driving license.
3. Customs permit (called Bhansar in Nepali)
4. Vehicle Permit (called Yaatayaat Anumati in Nepali)
General Information pertaining to Vehicles registered in India.
i. Indian registered vehicles are allowed to stay in Nepal for a total of 30 days only in a calendar year and cannot stay in Nepal for more than 30 days in all in a year, even on payment of charges.
ii. Indian registered vehicles, including two wheelers, can visit the nearest municipal area/market in Nepal for a day long visit without payment of any Customs duty. However, the vehicle owners are required to register their vehicle at the Nepalese border check post and obtain a ‘Day Pass/Challan’. If any Indian registered vehicle enters Nepal on a ‘Day Pass’, then it must return back to India on the same day and while returning back, the Pass has to be compulsorily returned back to Nepal Customs (Bhansar).
iii. The Indian registered vehicles going beyond the nearest Nepali town or for staying overnight in Nepal are required to register the entry of vehicles for the specific number of days on payment of charges varying from NRs. 100/- to 500/- per day depending on the type of vehicle.
iv. The vehicle owners must ensure that at the time of entering into Nepal, they obtain the pass for correct number of days of their stay in Nepal and pay the charges accordingly.
v. The vehicles with ‘Pass’ issued for specific duration must exit Nepal before the expiry of the ‘Pass’ and then it may re-enter Nepal on a new ‘Pass’, subject to the overall limit of 30 days in a year.
vi. If due to any reason the Indian registered vehicle has to overstay in Nepal, the vehicle owner should immediately approach the nearest Nepalese Customs Office (Bhansar) for extension of period of the ‘Pass’. The extension must be sought before the expiry of the existing ‘Pass’. In Kathmandu, the extension of pass can be done at Nepal Customs office at Tribhuvan international Airport Cargo complex.
vii. It is important to note that the Pass/Challan issued by the Nepal Customs should be available for inspection all the time by any authority like Police and the Pass should be surrendered to the Nepali Customs at the time of exit from Nepal.
viii. It is important to note Indian registered vehicles caught in Nepalese territory without ‘Pass’ or without valid ‘Pass’ are treated as having been illegally smuggled into Nepal and invite very harsh action from authorities, in some cases even confiscation.
(Source: Embassy of India, Kathmandu website)
What to remember while travelling in Nepal by own Vehicle
i. Have a pre-installed map as Indian SIM Cards may not work.
ii. Calculate the total time required to travel to your destination after completing your paperwork. Any wrong calculation will leave you stranded in the hills in pitch darkness. Night driving is not advised on the hills as there is no scope for errors. The deep ravines and steep hill sides pose huge risks.
iii. Hotels on highways are few and of the budget variant. Don’t expect too much but they provide shelter and home cooked food for a pittance.
iv. Some Indian currencies of lower denomination, particularly Hundred Rupee Notes are accepted everywhere. However notes of higher denomination are banned. Please check with the Indian Embassy before commencing the trip. It is better to carry less cash as one can always withdraw Nepalese Currency from the ATM’s.
v. Keep all travel passes, vehicle papers and driving license in a clear file at arm’s length as you may be repeatedly subjected to checking while passing through major towns and cities. However the behavior of the policemen was very friendly.
vi. Don’t carry too much luggage or articles that may unnecessarily raise suspicion.
vii. You will come across many agents at the Border who help with the paperwork and believe me they are very helpful, but never let them out of your sight as you may need to hand over your original RC, DL etc. for processing your application. Charges too are reasonable.
viii. Fuel in Nepal is cheap and so don’t fill your tank to the brim while traveling into Nepal.
ix. Roads are mostly single but quality of roads is enviable. While cities may be congested, Highways offer an enjoyable driving experience.
x. You will come across many roadside eateries where homely food is served but branded restaurants may be hard to find. One can get the food customized at these eateries.
xi. If you experience a flat tyre, puncture repair shops will offer you gel based solutions. They are pretty common in Nepal.
Once the Covid situation improves one may plan for a quick trip to Nepal. Cost of travel, food and stay is very reasonable. Nepal is also a shopper’s paradise if shopping is top of the bucket list. Wish you a Happy Driving.