The government of Nepal has announced a new digital visa system to replace the handwritten visa regime, which had been in place for over 45 years.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of Nepal, Bishnu Prasad Paudel, inaugurated the digital system on June 28th, 2021, in order to make Nepali visas more credible and strengthen national security.
The new procedure allows visas for Nepal to be produced digitally using the integrated information system of the Nepali Department of Immigration. “With the new system, the security and management of visas are expected to be strengthened”, the department announced.
Key features of the new digital visas include security features such as a watermark and hologram that cannot be tampered with once the document is generated. The visas also feature a QR code that can be scanned by Nepalese authorities to determine if the document is authentic.
“Currently, we issue visas by writing manually on a printed copy of visa sticker and such visa is pasted on the passport of foreigners,” said Jhanka Nath Dhakal, a Department of Immigration information officer. “Under the new system, nothing should be done manually to issue the visa.”
The new software system generates unique document numbers for each visa and also allows up to 3 separate visas to be accommodated on a single passport page. Although it is only currently being used at the Department of Immigration headquarters in Kathmandu, there are plans to roll out the new procedure to all of its offices within 4 months of the start of the 2021-2022 fiscal year in July.
The Nepal Digital Visa System Paves the Way for an eVisa
While confirming that over 150 digital visas had been issued within the first day of the launch of the system, Dhakal also stated that the new procedure will pave the way for the issuance of eVisas for Nepal in the near future.
At the moment, a number of foreign nationalities are able to complete an electronic application for a Nepal tourist visa online in just a few minutes, eliminating the need to visit a Nepalese embassy or consulate to submit paper documents in person. Instead, they are able to upload supporting documentation, including a passport-style photograph, in a digital format.
After submitting an electronic Nepal visa form, applicants are sent a receipt via email, This can then be printed to present at an immigration checkpoint at the country to receive the visa, removing the need to wait in a long line to apply for a visa on arrival.
However, applicants for a visa online are still required to have at least one blank page in their passport to receive a physical visa sticker/stamp. The introduction of the digital visa system for Nepal moves the country closer to its goal of introducing a fully electronic eVisa protocol.