As a foreigner it is possible to open a bank account in Nepal. That can be very convenient when you are in Nepal on a regular visit or when you live there. You will have a card to use in the ATM machines, you can store money in your bank account instead of having lots of cash at the place that you stay and you can write checks to pay for things.
To apply for a bank account, you need to fill in an application form. One of the requirements is a recommendation from someone who already has an account at that bank. Without a recommendation it’s difficult to open a bank account, but not impossible. If you can convince the bank employee that you will be a trusted customer, then you can open a bank account.
If you want internet banking, mention that in your application. It’s quite difficult to arrange that later. Not all banks have internet banking, so check the possibilities beforehand.
As a foreigner you are allowed to open a Dollar or a Euro account. An NPR (Nepal Rupee) account is possible, but not on a tourist visa. When you have a dollar account, $100 is the amount that you can’t touch/take out. The bank card cost you $20 per year.
It’s not allowed to send money out of Nepal. Money that is in Nepal, stays in Nepal, is the rule of the government. Next there is a rule that your bank account is only allowed to be active during the validity of your visa. At the end date of your visa, your bank account will be blocked/deactivated. When you extend your visa, or the next time you visit Nepal with a new visa, then you go to your bank, show your passport and new visa and your bank account will be unblocked/activated for the duration of your new visa.
Be aware that this should be a simple procedure, but that often the account still gets deactivated even when you already gave them the info and copy of new visa. The reason of this issue is that the ladies at the desk put the information in the computer, but the bank manager still needs to give final approval, which he doesn’t if there isn’t a system that gives him a notification to look at it. This often occurring problem happens especially at the NIBL.
Money in (transaction)
You can transfer money from your home country to your Nepal bank account, which costs around 35 dollar per transaction. These costs have a sender and a receiver component. Be sure to mention the exact name as registered on your Nepal bank account. If your money doesn’t appear on your account, it might have landed on a general account of the bank. In that case you need to go to the bank office with a copy of the transaction where the money came from and convince the bank employee that it’s your money and it should be transferred to your Nepal bank account. Sometimes that can be a challenge.
Money in (cash)
Another option to put money on your bank account is to bring it with you in cash and deposit it at the bank. International it is quite common that you’re allowed to carry max 10.000 euro or dollar with you without declaration at customs. In Nepal the maximum is 5000 dollar, although customs hardly ever check on this. To deposit your money to your bank account, you need to write down all the serial numbers of your bank notes. The bank employee will check the numbers before the deposit is accepted. Damaged notes will be rejected.
If you have a tourist visa, depositing money is no problem, but with a non-tourist visa you will get questions about how you got the money. That’s because working is not allowed and if you do have an income you should pay income tax in Nepal and the bank demands the tax papers to prove. In that case it’s probably more easy to do a money transfer from your home country. In case you’re married with a Nepali citizen and therefore you have a non-tourist visa, you will have difficulties to deposit even small amounts like a few hundred dollars. Questions about your visa, questions about where the money comes from, etc. It even comes to the ridiculous point that they did give you a bank account on the same non-tourist visa, on which you later, as it turns out, aren’t allowed to deposit because of a non-tourist visa.
Taking money from an ATM of your bank is easy and low cost. Another option is to go to the bank to withdraw money, although that might be quite time consuming. Make sure that your bank card works at ATM’s abroad. That’s often not the case with rupees account cards. As mentioned, transfer of money out of Nepal is banned by the Government. Even Western Union only receives money from abroad but can’t send money out of Nepal. When opening your account, you will get a checkbook. In Nepal it’s still common use to pay with a check.
If you withdraw 1 lakh rupees (100.000 NPR, about $900) at the counter, it will be stapled as one package. This package can be used to pay such an amount. If it is stapled by the bank, people trust it is exactly 1 lakh as counting is done by a teller machine.
Choosing a bank
Banks in Nepal are not as sophisticated as in the western world. Some are local based and do not provide a euro or dollar account. Most international oriented banks have internet banking, but don’t expect a lot of features.
Standard Chartered Bank Nepal Limited seams to be the most foreigner friendly bank. They provide € and $ accounts and internet banking.
NIBL (Nepal Investment Bank Limited) has € and $ accounts and does accept foreigners. You will need a recommendation from an existing customer though. They also have internet banking, but it’s quite limited.
Nabil Bank has € and $ account and has a good reputation. For more info you can look here http://www.nabilbank.com/ as it is one of the big banks of Nepal.