Bhutan Visa

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Bhutan Visa

Bhutan levies fees depending on the number of nights you plan to stay there and your home country. In Bhutan, the Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) is a component of the Minimum Daily Package Rate (MDPR). The MDPR includes various costs such as accommodation, meals, transportation, guide services, and the SDF.

Visa Policy

  1. Visitors from India require a permit instead of a visa. [This is because of the 1949 treaty signed between the two countries which allows free movement of Indians in Bhutan and vice-versa. In fact, the same applies to travelers from Bangladesh and Maldives.]
  2. Visitors from Maldives and Bangladesh need a visa, but the process is the same for both permits and visas.
  3. Permits or visas for these nationals can be obtained at the port of entry, applied for online before traveling, or through a tour agent.
  4. Tourist visas, excluding nationals of India, Bangladesh, and Maldives, are processed through an online system managed by licensed Bhutanese tour operators. For members of international organizations, government delegations, and foreign donors, visa applications are verified and recommended by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade or the Ministry of Finance. 
  5. A list of these operators can be found on the website of the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB). Visit the TCB website for specific requirements and instructions on applying for a tourist visa.
  6. Applicants are required to meet certain requirements, including approval from the Director, Department of Industry, MoICE, a copy of a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months from the intended date of departure from Bhutan, and a detailed day-wise program of the visit. The Department may request additional documents during the assessment process if necessary.
  7. A sustainable development fee must be paid when applying for the permit.
  8. Valid insurance for the duration of the visit is mandatory, which can be purchased beforehand or upon arrival.

Sustainable Development Fees (SDF) & Process 

  • For citizens of Indians 
You need to pay Rs. 1200 (approximately 16-17 USD) per night per person as the sustainable development fee (SDF). Before the pandemic, these countries were exempted from this fee. Children below the age of 5 needn’t pay any entry charges, and children from the age of 6 to 12 will be required to pay a fee of INR 600 per day. 
  • For citizens of Bangladesh & Maldives
You need to pay USD 100 per person per night, but the process of applying for a visa is both online or in person at the time of arrival. Before the pandemic, these nationals were also exempted from this fee.
  • For citizens of all other countries worldwide
You must pay the following amounts to get the visa. And you must apply for the visa beforehand, either online or through a local travel agency.
  1. Organized groups: 375 to 475 USD per person per day
  2. Couples: around 475 to 500 USD per person per day
  3. Solo travelers: 450 to 600 USD per day
Tourists from other nations need to obtain visas before reaching the Bhutan trip. You can either apply yourself (for your group) online or if you're traveling with a travel agent, they can apply for this on your behalf. 

The Bhutan visa is a single-entry visa valid for six months from the date of entry. Generally, it takes about 5 days to receive a revert on your visa

Note: Non-citizens of India, Bangladesh, or Maldives must arrange their Bhutan trip through an authorized Bhutanese Tour Operator. This regulation applies to NRIs without an Indian Passport or Voter ID Card as well, necessitating coordination with a tour operator for travel to Bhutan.

Bhutan Entry Permit for Indians

The Entry Permit is necessary upon entering Bhutan. This permit is only valid for Phuentsholing, Paro, and Thimpu. It can be obtained from three designated places: the Border Immigration Office, Paro Airport Immigration Office, and through authorized Bhutanese Tour Operators for an Online Permit.

Entry through the Borders 
  • Border Immigration Office
Jaigaon – Phuentsholing border entry point is commonly used. Jaigaon is the Indian bordering town, and Phuentsholing is the Bhutan bordering town. Stays in Phuentsholing are permitted without permits.

Location: Bhutan Immigration Office /Kharbandi Check Post, Phuentsholing
Open Hours: Closed on weekends and Bhutan Govt. holidays. Weekdays operational from 9AM to 5PM with a one-hour lunch break from 1PM to 2PM.

The main gate typically opens between 8:00 to 8:30 AM, with document acceptance starting at 9:00 AM. During peak seasons or long weekends, it's advisable to allocate ample time, especially considering that the introduction of biometrics has lengthened the process duration. Underestimating the time needed for the procedure can lead to delays.

Entry through flight
Indians arriving by air must carry any one of the documents mentioned below to get Entry Permit at the Paro International Airport.
  • Paro Airport
Immigration Office open all days, including weekends and holidays; ideal for weekend or holiday travel to Bhutan.

Open Hours: Paro Airport Immigration Counter operates daily.
Timezone: BST is +6:00 from GMT and 30 minutes ahead of Indian Standard Time (IST).

Your Bhutan visa would be enclosed as an electronic document and will be received 3-10 days prior to your departure. A print out of that needs to be taken out and shown at DrukAir flight check-in counter and at the immigration checkpoint in Paro International Airport.

Inner Line Permit

To travel beyond these three destinations, one has to get an Inner Line Permit (ILP) from the immigration office in Thimpu. Also, if one needs to extend the stay beyond 7 days, it can be done in the immigration office of Thimpu as well.

How to Apply ILP?
For destinations beyond, like Haa or Punakha, apply for ILP at Thimphu Immigration Office. Open on weekdays from 9AM to 5PM, closed on weekends and holidays. Provide a photocopy of Entry Permit for ILP.

To increase tourism in the eastern regions of Bhutan, the government has levied the SDF for tourists visiting districts that fall in the east from Trashigang to Trongsa. 

To acquire the permit, travelers must present:
  • a valid Indian Passport with a minimum of six months validity
  • Prepare an itinerary of your stay and take a print out of your hotel bookings
    or an Original Voter ID card.
  • For children below 18 years, a birth certificate (in English) or passport is required, accompanied by a legal guardian.
  • Additionally, two passport-size photographs are necessary.
  • Payment details of SDF
  • It's advisable for tourists to have travel insurance for the duration of their stay, which can be purchased from Bhutanese insurance providers at the Pedestrian Terminal.
  • Take copies of everything including passport, voter ID, hotel bookings, itinerary etc.
Identification Slip: In case you lack a Passport or Voter ID Card, visit the Indian Consulate in P/Soling to obtain an Identification Slip. Bring two documents from options such as Aadhaar Card, Pan Card, Driving License, or Ration Card, along with a passport-size photo to prove your nationality. Subsequently, present this Identification Slip at the Immigration Office to acquire the Entry Permit.

Vehicle Permit

If you intend to drive your own vehicle, you must obtain a Vehicle Permit at P/Soling RSTA in addition to the Entry Permit. You'll need to submit your Entry Permit, Driving License, and Vehicle Documents. If you're planning to drive a rental vehicle or one belonging to someone else, you must also provide an authorization letter. The permit fee is Rs. 200/-.

Indian vehicles enter zones free but face Nu 4,500/day Green Tax beyond Rinchending Check Post; must register on CPMS with original driving license, registration, insurance, and emission certificates.

To obtain the vehicle permit, you must submit the following documents: Registration Certificate, Insurance Paper, Pollution Control Certificate, Driving License, and Entry Permit. If the vehicle is not registered under your name, you'll also need to provide an Authorization Letter.


Countries that do not need a Visa for Bhutan

India, Bangladesh and Maldives

Note: For any traveller who is not from India, Bangladesh or Maldives, a visa is required to enter and visit the country. The visa is issued by Tourism Council of Bhutan, whose centre of administration is in Thimphu. However, if an individual holds a service or diplomatic passport of Switzerland or Thailand, then he/she does not require a visa to visit Bhutan for up to 90 days.

Application for Bhutan Visa cannot be filed directly by an individual. Rather, Bhutan's local and authorized tour operator, with whom the tour package is booked, does this on your behalf. A local tour operator can either be booked directly or through a foreign travel agent.

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