Travel

Travel Requirements & Visa Formalities: Bhutan Tourism

Bhutan is a unique destination in Asia, so there are several things that you need to know. Here I’ll be discussing all the travel requirements and visa formalities when you’re planning a trip to Bhutan.

Generally, the visa procedure is quite simple for Foreigners and for Indians too. However, some basic formalities have to be carried out in the process.

For Foreigners, the visa process is different whereas, for the people of India, Bangladesh, and Maldives, the process is different.

Unlike in almost every country, visas are issued from embassies and stamped into your passport. But for Bhutan tourists, it’s different in every respect.

All foreign tourists except visitors from India, Bangladesh, and Maldives planning to visit the country Bhutan must obtain a visa clearance prior to travel to Bhutan.

Tourism Council of Bhutan situated in Thimphu the capital of Bhutan approves all the visas issued to tourist who has booked the tour.

You can see the comprehensive list of licensed Bhutanese tour operators here.

A passport for Foreigners and a valid Government ID for Indians along with a Visa or Entry Permit is a must-have document to enter and exit Bhutan.

Travel Requirements and Visa for International Travellers

All international travelers require a visa to enter Bhutan which must be pre obtained through a licensed Bhutanese Tour Operator or one of their international partners.

To get the visa, tourists have to book the tour with a licensed local tour directly or through a foreign travel agent.

For instance, visa clearance will be done within 72 hours once the full payment of your holiday along with your visa fee has been wire transferred to the bank account of the Tourism Council of Bhutan.

Related: Places to Visit in Bhutan

At the point of entry, the visa will be stamped in your passport. Visa is provided for 7 days that can be extended later in Thimphu.

Travel Documents Required for Visa

It is mandatory to book a tour through a licensed Bhutanese Tour operator who will apply for your visa on your behalf.

Generally to apply for a visa you have to send a photocopy of your passport to your travel operator.

The company or your tour operator agency will be taking care of all your travel-related needs. They will submit the visa application on your behalf for approval to the Tourism Council of Bhutan once you’ve deposited all the fees in advance.

Visa Cost for Foreigner

A visa costs USD$40 for International tourists visiting the country.

Travel Requirements and Visa for Indian Travellers

Generally, a visa for Indian Travellers and the people of Bangladesh & Maldives is not required till ending of June but from the beginning of July, a fee of ₹1,200 ($17) per day will be charged.

Entry Permit/Pass is considered as a visa and it is easily provided on presentation of a registered government ID proof.

If Indian citizens are entering the country by air then they can obtain the Entry Permit at the Paro Airport itself.

bhutan entry permit

If in case they are entering by road from the border entry points, an entry permit can be obtained from the immigration office in Phuentsholing, Gelephu, or Samdrup Jongkhar.

Every tourist needs a special area permit to visit other places in Bhutan.

Travel Documents Required for Visa

A passport with a minimum validity of 6 months or a voter ID card or Citizen ID card is required to apply for a Visa (Entry Permit). A few other documents that are required are:

  • A duly filled form
  • An itinerary on an A4 sheet
  • Booked Hotel Voucher (Mandatory)
  • Passport Size Photo
  • An Undertaking Letter (Only for Solo Travellers)
  • Visa For 18 years 18-year-old copy of the birth certificate can be considered in case if there’s no other ID proof.

Please note that the Aadhar Card is not considered a valid document while applying for Entry Permit to Bhutan.

Visa Cost for Indians

As per the recent status [February 2020], an entry permit fee of ₹1,200 ($17) per day is applicable for the people of India, Bangladesh, and Maldives from the beginning of July 2020.

Timing for Bhutan Immigration Office

The Border Immigration Office is open on all working days (Monday to Friday) from 0900 IST to 1700 IST. The same goes for the office in Thimphu.

Please note the offices are closed on Saturday, Sunday and all the Public Holidays.

So if you’re planning to enter the country on the weekend, make sure to change your plan.

Conclusion

I hope this guide helped you answer all the questions you were looking for related to the travel documents and visa formalities to visit Bhutan.

I’ve summed up a few most popular questions I receive with an easy and simple answer.

Do Indians need a visa to visit Bhutan?

No. Citizens of India, Bangladesh, and Maldives don’t need a visa to visit Bhutan. Entry Permit is provided instead of Visa to visit the country.

Can I visit any part of Bhutan with just a visa?

With a Visa or Entry Permit, you’re only allowed to visit Thimphu and Paro. In brief, to visit other parts of the country you need a Route Permit and that’s only available at Thimphu Immigration Office.

What is the Validity of the Entry Permit?

Entry Permit is valid only for 7 days. However, it can be extended for a maximum of 30 days.

What’s the cost of the Entry Permit for Indians?

₹1,200 ($17) per day as a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) is applicable for Indian citizens from the beginning of July 2020.

How much does the Visa cost for Foreigners?

A visa costs USD$40 for International tourists visiting the country.

How long does it take to get the Entry Permit for Indians?

Getting the permit would take roughly 30 minutes.

Also Read:

How to Enter Bhutan? A Step-by-Step Guide

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