Driving to Nepal: Formalities to cross border from India

As a part of the Great Himalayan Drive, I reached Banbassa on the Nepal border – my first international crossing by car. So what if it’s Nepal – Indians never regard Nepal as a ‘foreign’ country. Anyway, this is how I went over the line (Note: These rules are applicable only for Indian Nationals driving cars registered in India):

* Was asked to look for a blue box – a guy busy chatting on a mobile gave me a ‘parchi’ (ticket) for Rs. 35.
* Waited at Sharda Barrage – gates for 4-wheelers open from 6-7 am, 12-2 pm and 5-6 pm (6-7 pm in summers, months not defined). Pedestrians, cycles and anything else that can go through gate allowed all day. Rule goes back to British Raj days only here – all other border crossing points into Nepal are open all day.
* A market here has been set up mostly for those going into Nepal and needing to buy household goods, construction materials, groceries and even religious symbols.
* The border is full of people travelling between the two countries for personal reasons, work or religion (Hindus always seem to have some religious fair or event going on – and India and Nepal are full of holy spots)
* Gates open, drove across bridge on Mahakali river, handed over ‘parchi’ at check post and reached customs. They check car, make me get a customs declaration for my cameras and laptop (so I can re-export it duty free when I leave Nepal) and take a bribe of Rs. 100. Am I carrying any Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 bills? I am prepared for this – the rules do not allow these to be taken out of India. No, I said. “Are you sure? If yes, we can exchange these for smaller denominations. The police post further on might take it all away later,” the official emphasizes again. No, I reply confidently.
* The SSB (Shashastra Seema Bal), a border police, try their best to find something in my car to incriminate me – no luck. I am flagged off and touch Nepali soil.
* Have to get Nepal permit now. Charge Indian Rs. 300 per day of stay – must tell them in advance. Driving on an expired permit means I pay a penalty of Rs. 1,130 per day. I pay for 20 days, sent to a traffic guy who gives me another paper and a temporary number plate – he borrowed my pen, liked it, insisted he is going to keep it, I let him and also pay Rs. 50 fee and Rs. 50 ‘gift.’ No regrets about pen – ink was running low.
* A Nepali cop wants to go through all my bags – paid Rs. 100 to get him off my back.
* Sent to RTO for yet another paper – it was late evening and had to get guy from his home nearby. Paid Rs. 250 fee and I was home free.

Carry these papers with photocopies when you take your car to Nepal: Registration Certificate, Insurance, Driving Licence, Passport size photographs, Passport (not mandatory). Owner of car has to be in the car when it crosses over. Keep these papers and permits handy – there is a checkpost every few miles in Nepal.

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  1. Hi i plan to drive from india into nepal next year, i willb e driving a four wheel drive jeep, which is not on my name and the owner will not be with me,in your opinion would it be possible to cross into nepal?rnrnThanks in advance

  2. Humor in story is very genuine. I remember when I traveled there in year 2000. Exactly same things happened with us. but my uncle had some earlier experiences of bribe game they play there. If you bribe one then there’s no way back. you are stuck. you have to feed every single of them. Rather pay genuine fee but they will take an hour extra to frustrate you or break you. rnI enjoyed your story specially pen hijacking part.

  3. Hi Ajay, when you say driving license, does it mean an Indian license or does one need an international license? Thanks in advance…

  4. kindly tell me whether i can go to nepal in my car with my family in the second week of december from mussoorie india

  5. hi ajay !

    i am planning to enter nepal thru tanakpur route ..! entering mahendra pur in nepal. want to visit royal shukla pathan national park…. for the kick of it..!
    so can i take my car thru’


  6. Well I went to Nepal in September 2011 via Sanauli border to Lumbini. I declared my goods at Indian customs, refused to pay bribe. No one else asked anything, and then I reached Nepal. Did all the papers for 2 days for my car, paid the fees running to about 3-4 counters. Officials helped me fill forms etc. Got my new number plate from a Police guy, who took Rs 20 INR for the number plate. Thats it… Off we go, while returning we gave the number plate back along with 2 papers and drove inside India. No one from customs or police even stopped us. No checking of car or luggage anywhere while going or coming. Infact I stopped to show the Customs declaration and had to really force them to write my cars number in returning vehicles register. The guys were busy haggling with rickshaw walas. SSB was standing but no questions asked. It feels good now that I didn’t take the banbassa route. (may be because Saunauli was just too busy compared to banbassa)

  7. The above description is absolutely true. I am posted in Nepal by Govt. of India for short term assignment and the Indian authority has issued due letter to exempt custom duty and extend all facility to take my car to Nepal but the staff posted at border (Kakarbhitta border near West Bengal) thoroughly ignored the letter issued by Govt. of India. I had to go through the same painful tasks described above. The Govt. of India should look into it.

  8. I want to drive to nepal by my personal and registration paper is not on my name (Owner is my mom) and I dont have a international driving licence.
    Also if my car is stolen in nepal can I claim the insurance in India.Please advice

  9. Some issues. How are the roads like. will it be okay if we take a normal car with less bottom clearance and go.
    Also If i go there i would like to buy khuri and come back will that be okay or there might be some issues.

  10. We’re planning to drive from India to Nepal. We propose to enter from Bhairawa on to Lumbini, Chitwan, Kathmandu, Pokhara and exit through Bhairawa border. Few questions :
    1. Period of travel is May end, what type of weather to expect ?
    2. Could not find road maps from Kathmandu to Pokhara and Pokhara to Bhairawa. Please suggest distance, motor ability of roads and expected time
    3. What about the vehicle insurance and travel insurance
    4. Is Bhairawa a suitable border for cross-over and formalities ?
    5. Heard that permissible Indian currency notes are Rs.100 and lower, 500/1000 notes not allowed. Is this true and is there are max ceiling of currency.
    6. Car is registered in my name and I carry an Indian DL. Understand that this is fine. But my car Honda City has low ground clearance, is that suitable for this journey.
    Please help with answers. Thanks in advance

  11. 1. Pl also let me know about the Indian customs. Nowadays, everything from mobile phones to cameras to laptops are international brands. Do we have. To declare every tit-bit at the border.
    2. What about the roaming on Indian cellphones or else is it easy to get a prepaid Nepal sim and charges.
    3. How is the Internet connectivity there ? Are Internet sticks like photon available and charges ?

  12. Hi Ajay,

    I am wondering to know that can i travel with my car without car paper transfer in my name?? More over i am having sales latter in my name!!

    Please Help?

  13. I had to return back from Raxual/Birganj border during my last attempt to visit Nepal in my own car. We never knew that month long Nepal bandh was restricting 4 wheeler movement to only night time. Since my first mountain road drive, I would want day drive.

    Anyone who visited Nepal in own car please share your views

    1. Do I need original purchase bill of my camera video/digital? or can I can declare as my own camera at India customs side as the camera was gift and do not have bill.

    2. Can I enter Nepal from Bhairawaha/GKP side, pay fees take nameplate, declare camera and return back to India from Birganj/RXL side?

    3. How are the present road conditions Sept2012? Plan to self drive WagonR Bhairawaha>Pokhara>Kathmandu>Nagarkot>Birgunj

    Thank you.

    • Hi Saurabh, the customs rules are the same in India everywhere. If you are taking valuables out of the country, declare at customs and get a certificate. You DO NOT need any bills. Give the customs receipt safe and show it when you come back to India from the same or any other point. :) Cheers… Ajay

  14. me n my friends wants to visit nepal ( Delhi to Nepal ) in motorbike pulsar 180. Registration paper is not in my name (Owner is my mom). So is there any problem with that. Even are they allowed for Delhi registration bike to Nepal. ???

  15. Hi all we had travelled way back in 1992 from Bangalore to Siachin base and entered Nepal from Banbasa and in those days we had to cross half a dozen streams with barley any road and the bridge across Mahakli river was under construction and had to tent at the banks of the river to take the next day fery.

    But it was wonderfull and we went to Pokhra and Kathmandu but except an entry no other formalities and it was the same at Bhutan also.

    Yes it was all 20 years back on a two wheeler and those days will be memories till my last days.

  16. We are hiring a taxi at Gorakhpur to go to Lumbini.
    Can the hired taxi be allowed inside Nepal. Please advise.
    We are planning to return the same day to Gorakhpur

  17. dear sir we r goning to nepal few days so what is the requrment car documents and any processing fees plz give me details pls

  18. Hi ajay!
    I want to ask you that we can enter nepal from any border and return from any border or not?(like-enter from mehandernagar and return from sanauli is it possible or not)

    • Hi Naveen, I think it should be ok – you can take a letter from your father to say it is your family car. I took the car registered in my company name with a letter to say I am a director in the same.

  19. Hi Ajay, very informative article there. I plan to ride to Assam via Nepal this January in my bike. Plan is to enter from Banabasa and exit at Kakarvita.

    I would like your advice on:
    1. Border crossing time: is there any time limit to cross the border like 2PM or 5PM?
    2. Is there any cost associated for getting a custom declaration on your camera and laptop?
    3. Will carrying a knive along with me for safety issues attract attention from the authorities? Do the check the bike too?
    4. How much will bike permit cost per day?

  20. Hi Ajay,

    This is really a good article. I am planning to go to Kathmandu on23rdDec13. I am going by my Maruti Esteem from Gorakhpur Side. I want to know if there are any good hotel you can recommend in Kathmandu which have a comfortable parking. Also is Maruti Service Stations availble in Nepal (or any one know repairing Maruti Cars/Parts)

    Thanks very must in advance.

  21. thanks very much for all the info…
    A friend has a taxi and we wanted to take that into nepal with him as the driver- will that work??
    would we have to pay extra because it is a taxi??

  22. I wanto visit Nepal in the month of November, 2014. I have purchased two Nikon DSLRs with lenses from Grey market without giving tax. May I enter Nepal with these articles.

    • Hi Subir. That does not matter. You do not need to carry invoices. Just declare these at Indian customs before crossing into Nepal and get them to give you a receipt. Keep it very safe so you are not hassled on the way back.

      Happy clicking!!

  23. hi Ajay..i am plaaning to go next week on my new honda city…my questions are;
    1. my car is on my fathers name…n my father is nt gng…so it is possible to enter nepal if i took my car?
    2. ATM facilities available there?
    3. mobile networks n internet works there….

    • Hi Vishal… I am not sure if you can take your father’s car. They might just ignore the difference in names. You could carry a letter from your dad. But I suggest you call Nepal Tourism office in Delhi – you can Google for their number.

      ATM facilities will be available in bigger cities. Mobiles work everywhere but you will be paying international roaming rates – even in Nepal. Internet is there in urban settings – things may have improved beyond that in other areas. I went in 2010.

      Have a great trip. :)

  24. I was inspired and would like to drive all the way into Nepal. What car would you suggest to take along and is it safe to have family along…??
    ” I plan to drive all the way from Cochin ( Kerala, South India) ” 😉

    • Hi Jacob,

      You can take any car since the routes does not entail any off-road driving. And roads will be mostly motorable by any car. Enjoy your trip. :)

      Cheers… Ajay

  25. Hi Ajay

    I tried to apply for an IDP (Intl driving permit) for use in Nepal but was refused one on the grounds that there is no Visa.
    1. Is an Indian driving licence (without an Intl permit) enough for driving (Nepal regn cars) in Nepal?
    2. Besides Nepal Indians do not need Visa for a few more countries. Does that mean we cannot get an IDP when we travel to those countries as well?
    Thanks – Ravi

    • Hi Ravichandran – you don’t need an IDP for Nepal. Indian licence is fully valid. Not sure what it means for other countries where we don’t need a visa. But interesting question. It may make sense to visit websites of car rental companies in countries you wish to travel and see what they have to say.

  26. Hey ajay really inspring blog.
    Am planning a trip for 5 or 6 days and want to take the routsuggest?gested but coming back via uttar pradesh.
    1. How many days do u think we would get to actually stay and visit some places in nepal excluding our too and fro tavel?
    2. Am planning to stay somewhere in nepal post entering into nepal, which place do u suggest?


  27. I wish to visit kathmamdua ,pokhara during first week of february2014. How would be the weather.The entry point shall be from kakarvita and exit shall be from saunauli border near Gorakhpur.The total stay inside nepal would be for seven days. Can you suggest how much bhanzar needs to be paid. Am I allowed to exit from saunauli border.
    with regards

  28. Hi Ajay,
    I want to visit Nepal with my 8 friends but my car XUV 500 is 7 seater.Is it safe to pass border with my friends and is there any time restriction to pass border.
    Pls give me advice….Thanx.

  29. Hi bro,

    We are planning To visit Nepal for 7 days in Feb 2015 from jaipur
    kindly tell me
    1 we will take cameras & phones is their any formality for taking these across border.
    2. How much time we will take to reach Kathmandu/chitwan/pokhra. As we will reach on 5am at gorakhpur station using public transport.
    3. What about roaming for calls & data.
    4. We will take atm cards so what is procedure to get Nepal currency.
    5. can we rent bikes or car & how much cost we will have to pay.
    6. What kind of whether would be their in February.

  30. Hi
    I want to visit on 23rd January, 2015 with my in law Car Safari and back by 27th January, 2015. Kindly let me know the following-
    1. I drive car which is in the name of my in laws
    2. Formalities at BOarder

  31. Iam from India, Please tell me can I take my 865cc Truimph bonneville motorbike for nepal tour. bike is registered, in India.Normal range in full tank is 250km, Do I need to carry petrol in cans?? can i get petrol in Pokahra- Jomsom- Muktinath stretch.
    Also can I take motorcyle registered in my wife’s name. In case I ride SOLO.

  32. Hi Ajay
    Do Indian nationals (having a voter ID and election card), have to register either on India side or Nepal side, when entering Nepal or entering back into India by Land?
    As in, the cops just glance id or make people fill forms etc?

  33. I want to go sandakpu (west bengal)from forbesganj near to jogbani(India)- biratnagar (nepal) border on my own Indian register bike, so which border I can cross so that I can reach as near to sandakpu.

  34. Hi i am ajay mule from maharashtra india. If i dont take permission from nepal assembly in new Delhi for taking my car in nepal. Then i take car to nepal border. Can i take me temparary car permission from these border. Plz tell me. Because in my travel road new delhi in far away from my route. So plz give me some idea to took me temparary registration for nepal country


  36. Hii Ajay
    I am planing to going nepal by my Friends car so what are the formalities for that.i am leaving in india but I am nepali and i have Indian Licence plz help me

  37. Hi, it was informative. Ca you please guide that is it mandatory to get a nepali driving license when you enter nepal? if yes, then how to get it?

  38. Hi Ajay! In the last para of the post, you’ve mentioned that
    ”’Owner of car has to be in the car when it crosses over”.

    We are planning to drive to Nepal from delhi via Banbasa. The car that we are going to use is registered in my cousin’s father’s name? Is is possible that we do that?

  39. Hi i plan to drive from delhi into nepal next week , i willb e driving a four wheel drive , which is not on my name and the owner will not be with me,in your opinion would it be possible to cross into nepal? Thanks

  40. Hello Ajay, Is it possible to carry a drone with me which I buy in Nepal ? I intend to buy a drone in Nepal and then carry it along with me in my car to India as buying a drone in India is a not easy task, the dealers which are selling drone charge a exorbitant amount, was wondering if it is feasible or my luggage / car will be frisked by customs when I enter India / exit Nepal ?

  41. Hi people. If you have information phase share asap, Is it Permitted to go to Nepal by rented car ( zoomcar, voler etc.) , will pay taxes though..
    Please reply.

  42. I am also thinking to Nepal trip .It. Will be my first trip but I have nothing knowledge about nepal .anyone can guide me about nepal trip

  43. Hi, I want to return from Nepal by biratnagar to jogbani. How much time will it take to cross the boarder from that side. Is Nepali taxi allowed to drop us at jogbani railway station. Please guide.

  44. Hi. I am planning to visit Nepal by taking the Sitamarhi – Malanguwa route. Has anyone tried this entry point? Please share your view.


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