How to manage your entry at Kathmandu Tibhuvan International Airport (KTM).
Immigration procedures at Tribhuvan are not significantly different from other airports. But KTM can be a bit chaotic, so here are some tips to help you get through the airport efficiently.
Once your flight arrives to the gate, you typically depart the plane to a bus which then takes you to the terminal. You enter at immigration/passport control, then descend downstairs to reclaim your checked luggage, pass through customs, and finally out of the international terminal to ground transportation or domestic flights.
- Visa and Passport Control
All foreigners arriving in Nepal, except for people from India, need a visa. You can secure your visa at home before leaving by using the online visa system, or via a Nepali embassy or consulate. Additionally, the Nepal Government permits travelers from most countries to obtain a visa upon arrival.
The cost is $25/$40/$100 USD, for a 30/60/90 day tourist visa, payable in any major currency. It is useful to get a multi-entry visa if you plan to visit Bhutan, Tibet or India during your trip, using Kathmandu as your hub for regional travel.
Click here for the online visa application http://online.nepalimmigration.gov.np/tourist-visa.
Click here for additional visa information from the Nepal Department of Immigration http://www.nepalimmigration.gov.np/content/visa-info.html.
If You Already Have Your Visa: If you secured your visa at home, you can proceed directly to the the passport control check points, which are in front of you to the left as you enter the building. This reduces the time it takes, but note that there are different lines depending on which country you are from, and the duration of your visa. Check first, so you don’t wait in line, only to be redirected to another line because your visa was for 90 days instead of 30.
Visa Upon Arrival: If you obtain your visa after landing in Kathmandu, you now have two choices at the airport. You can fill our the paperwork by hand, or use the electronic kiosks.
- Paper visa application:There are tables to the left as you enter the room, where you can fill out the paperwork by hand, and then proceed to the payment counter. You are required to have a passport photo to accompany the visa application, and they do not provide pencils or pens.
- Electronic kiosks:You now can complete the visa application using electronic kiosks, located to the left against the back wall as you enter the room. You scan your passport, type in the required information, then the kiosk takes your photo. Upon completion, the information is passed to the customs agents, and you receive a printed receipt. This process is faster and more convenient than paper.
Once you complete your application, take the paperwork or the electronic receipt to the far left counter for payment. Make sure you have cash, as they do not accept credit cards at this time. And, there are no money changers or ATMs before you get to immigration.
After paying you receive a receipt, which you take to the passport control check point. They will scan your passport and issue your visa. Note, there are different lines depending on which country you are from, and the duration of your visa.
Depending on the number of passengers on your flight, and the number of flights arriving at the same time, it can take up to an hour to get through immigration.
After processing your visa and passport, proceed to the left and down the stairs to collect your checked luggage.
- Reclaim Your Checked Luggage
Baggage claim works the same as at other airports, however, at KTM frequently only one baggage carousel/conveyor is working at a time. So, depending on the size and number of flights, it can be quite crowded and somewhat chaotic retrieving your luggage. The luggage carts are free, so grab one as soon as you get to the baggage claim area, then stake out your position. Baggage claim takes up to another hour if you arrive at peak times.
Once you’ve retrieved your luggage, proceed to customs at the right from where you enter the baggage claim.
Depending on the time of day and number of passengers arriving, there may be one or two lines for customs. The signs direct you to the green line if you have nothing to declare, or the red line if you have items to declare. However, frequently, there is just one line for both. It is up to you to declare, but note that your items may be inspected, and all luggage passes through an x-ray before leaving the terminal.
- Exit to Ground Transportation or the Domestic Flights Terminal
Leave customs to the right, where you pass vendors, then exit the building to the left. Parking is across the street as you exit. If someone is meeting you, they will wait just outside the building behind a barrier. Commercial vendors, such as tour companies, limousines, and taxis, are across the street behind a barrier.
Miscellaneous: By comparison to western airports, there are few vendors as you exit the terminal. But there are booths to exchange currency, purchase a local SIM card (you will need your passport plus an extra photo to get one), and you can purchase water and snacks. The ATM is located just outside the exit to the right as you face the parking lot.
For domestic flights, exit the building then walk to the right. The terminal entrance is about 300 meters down past the ATM.