How to Get Nepalese Citizenship and What Does it Offer the Holder?

How to Get Nepalese Citizenship and What Does it Offer the Holder?

Nepal is a country with a history dating back to ancient times. It is believed to be the birthplace of the Buddha. Furthermore, numerous expeditions have set out looking for Bigfoot here to no avail. The capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, is one of the world’s oldest cities. In this article, we will explain how you can get the citizenship of Nepal and warn you about the dangers that you should be ready to face if you decide to live in the Himalayas.

Nepal. General Information

Nepal is the perfect place for fans of extreme skiing and mountain hikes. A country bordering both India and China, it is home to eight of the ten highest peaks on our planet, including Mount Everest and the highly dangerous Annapurna.

You could not say that Nepal is the easiest place to live. Today, it is a poor developing country with low incomes and high levels of air pollution.

The Himalayas, which occupy most of Nepal, represent one of the world’s most seismically dangerous regions. In 2022, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, while almost 9,000 people died in 2015 in two major earthquakes.

The monsoon season begins in Nepal in June, continuing all the way through September. This is a time of floods and landslides. The roads, already far from perfect, become simply dangerous, especially in rural areas.

There is another quite unpleasant thing that you should know about Nepal: recurrent outbreaks of dengue fever. This is a dangerous tropical disease that is transmitted through mosquito bites. So if you live in Nepal, you need to avoid insect bites at all costs.

A Nepalese passport is one of the “weakest” in the world. It only offers you visa-free travel to 37 countries and territories. For the sake of comparison, if you have a North Korean passport, considered the world’s most isolated country, you can technically travel to 40 different destinations.

Furthermore, a foreigner will find it hard to get a Nepalese passport. So how to apply for Nepali citizenship and on what grounds?

Photo: titas gurung (Unsplash)

Nepalese Citizenship by Descent

There are only two ways to become a Nepalese citizen: by descent or naturalisation. Citizenship issues are regulated by a law introduced in 2006. Until then, citizenship could only be passed through the paternal line. Now, citizenship can also be passed from mothers to their children, albeit  with one caveat.

If a child is born out of wedlock or in a family where the mother is Nepali and the father is a foreigner, the child is not automatically eligible for Nepalese citizenship. In this case, citizenship can be obtained through naturalisation, but only if the child does not have a second citizenship passed on to them by their foreign father by descent.

If a child was born in Nepal and the whereabouts of their parents are unknown, they automatically become a Nepalese citizen as long as no information is discovered that their parents are foreign citizens.

In addition, Nepalese citizenship is granted to everyone who was born in Nepal before 13 April 1990 and has lived in the country permanently since then.

Nepalese Citizenship by Naturalisation

In addition to children born to a foreign father, the following individuals can obtain Nepalese citizenship through naturalisation:

  • a woman married to a Nepalese citizen
  • any individual who has made a significant contribution to science, philosophy, art or literature
  • any individual contributing to peace, improvements to the welfare of the people or growth of the Nepali economy

Nepalese Citizenship Requirements

You can only be naturalised as a Nepalese for services to the country in certain conditions. An applicant will obtain a Nepalese passport if they:

  • work in Nepal
  • are registered as a Nepalese resident
  • have resided in Nepal for at least 15 years
  • can read and write in Nepali or any other language used in the country (there are about 120 languages in Nepal, more than 100,000 people speak 19 of these languages)
  • do not break the law
  • do not suffer from serious diseases or mental disorders
  • have renounced or declared their intention to renounce the citizenship of other states
  • currently are a citizen of a state that grants citizenship to Nepalis

Children of naturalised citizens can also obtain Nepalese citizenship together with their parents.

Photo: Sebastian Pena Lambarri (Unsplash)

The following documents are required to naturalise a child born out of wedlock or to a foreign father: 

  • a copy of the mother's citizenship certificate;
  • a certificate from the municipality confirming the fact of birth and residence in Nepal
  • documents confirming that the child has not received citizenship through the paternal line

A woman who wants to be naturalised as a Nepalese after marrying a citizen of the country will need to submit:

  • the marriage certificate
  • a document confirming that the applicant has taken steps to renounce their previous citizenship

When and if the citizenship application is approved, the naturalised citizen must take an oath of allegiance to the country and receive a certificate of citizenship. With that, the naturalisation process is complete.

In addition to the methods described above, you can obtain Nepalese citizenship for outstanding merit. In this case, the  government adopts a decision to grant honorary citizenship to the individual in circumvention of standard procedures.

Can I Have Dual Citizenship in Nepal?

No. Dual citizenship is strictly prohibited in Nepal. If a Nepalese voluntarily obtains the passport of any other country, they automatically forfeit their Nepalese citizenship.

Anyone entitled to have several passports must, on reaching the age of 16, choose which one to keep: the Nepalese passport or the passport of another country. They have two years to decide. Anyone who fails to meet this deadline forfeits their Nepalese citizenship automatically.

A Nepalese who became the citizen of another country and as a result forfeited their Nepalese citizenship, can restore it at any time. To do so, they need to return to live in Nepal and renounce all other passports.

Who Can Be Stripped of Nepalese Citizenship?

A naturalised foreigner may have their citizenship certificate revoked if it transpires that they obtained citizenship by fraud. For example, the individual submitted false documents or stated information in the application that was not true.

Anyone stripped of their citizenship by a resolution of the Nepali government has 35 days to file an appeal.

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In a Nutshell

It takes a lot of effort to become a Nepalese citizen: you have to live in the country for 15 years and learn the language. Worst of all, to become a naturalised Nepalese citizen, you have to renounce all other passports. Meanwhile, the Nepalese passport significantly limits your freedom to travel around the world.

Cover photo: Raimond Klavins (Unsplash)

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