VISA AND PERMIT
Do visitors need a visa to visit Bhutan?
Yes, all visitors will need a visa to visit Bhutan, except for visitors from India, who will require a permit. Nationals of Bangladesh and the Maldives shall be eligible for a visa on arrival at the port of entry. Nationals of Switzerland and Thailand holding diplomatic and official passports shall be eligible for a visa on arrival at the port of entry. Visitors from India will need a permit to visit Bhutan. This applies to anyone holding an Indian passport, or an Indian voter ID card. For Indian nationals aged under 18 years, a passport or a birth certificate will suffice, and they must be accompanied by legal guardians.
How can visitors process their visa or permit?
Visitors can process a visa or permit online from the website of the Department of Immigration. Visitors can also engage tourism service providers (see www.bhutan.travel for more details) to process the travel documents and plan a trip. The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) will also offer customer service to help answer questions regarding visa applications and to answer questions about travel within the country.
Although visitors from Bangladesh and Maldives can process visas on arrival and visitors from India can process permits on arrival at the port of entry, it is recommended that these be applied online to reduce wait time and for faster clearance at the port of entry.
What are the documents required to process the visa?
A passport copy is required. The passport must be valid for six months from the intended date of departure from the Kingdom of Bhutan. Travel insurance valid for the duration of the trip and a recent passport size photograph.
How much is the visa fee and how long does it take to issue?
The visa fee is USD 40 per person and it is non-refundable. While the process to issue the visa is usually quick, the visa can take up to five working days to process.
What are the documents required to process the permit (for Indian guests)?
Visitors from India can use a passport or voter ID card. Children under 18 years of age can use a birth certificate or passport, and must be accompanied by a legal guardian. Passport size photograph is also required. Travel insurance is required and should be valid for the whole duration of the trip.
How can I purchase insurance if I don’t have any?
There is also an option to purchase domestic travel insurance from Bhutanese insurance providers at the port of entry during arrivals. There are also tourism information officers stationed at all ports of entry who can assist travelers. Click here to get details on the insurance from Bhutan Insurance Limited.
Sustainable Development Fee
What is Sustainable Development Fee (SDF)?
With the Opening of Bhutan after COVID -19, Visitors to Bhutan will make an active contribution to Bhutan's economic, social and cultural development. The sustainable development fee enables investment in transformative programmes that preserve our cultural traditions, protect our heritage and environment, upgrade infrastructure, create opportunities for our young people and build resilience.
How much is the SDF and where do the Funds go?
Guest from India are levied SDF of Nu. 1200 or equivalent amount in INR per person per night, which will remain in effect for two years, following which time it may be reviewed and revised in keeping with the principle of the preferential rate after two years. Visitors from all other countries are levied SDF of USD 200 per person, per night. There will be a concessionary levy of 50% on the SDF for children between the ages of 6 -12 years and exemptions of SDF for children aged 5 years and below. The SDF fund go to the national exchequer and are allocated to various projects that enhance facilities, services and infrastructure for nationals and guests who visit Bhutan, as well as funding free healthcare and education.
How can the SDF payment be made?
The SDF must be paid during the visa or permit application via wire transfer or using a credit card. The SDF must be paid in USD; however, Indians can also pay in INR. A guest who is eligible for a visa on arrival, should also pay the application SDF in USD at the port of entry.
Will day visitor be levied SDF?
The SDF will be waived for visitors to the Bhutanese Towns bordering India, until the first designated point identifies by the government. The SDF will be levied on visitors spending the night within border towns.
Planning a Trip to Bhutan
How does one plan a tour or trip to Bhutan?
while visitors to Bhutan can plan their own trip, we here at Untold Bhutan believe that we can do better at planning your trip. However if you choose to do it yourself, it is mandatory to stay in certified accommodation for the whole duration of the trip.
How can visitors find the best tour operator in Bhutan?
In case you haven't noticed, you have found the best tour operator. But if you want to keep your options open, you can always check out more certified tour operators on www.bhutan.travel. Only the licensed operators are listed on this website after lots of scrutiny by the Bhutan Government.
How can the tour payment be made?
All payments can be made directly to the business account of the service providers. Check our tour payment details.
How long can a visitor stay in Bhutan on a visitor visa or permit?
The visa or permit will be issued for a maximum of 90 days.
How can I extend a visa or permit while in Bhutan?
The visa or permit extension can be processed by the Department of Immigration before the expiry of the visa or permit, whichever is applicable. The appliocable SDF and visa or permit extension fees shall be paid to the Department of Immigration.
How long does it take to extend the visa or permit?
While the process is usually quite quick for visa or permit extension, it can take up to five working days.
How does one make SDF payment for visa or permit extension while in Bhutan?
Visitors can extend their stay via the online visa application portal, using the same log-in details that were used to process the orginial visa. The SDF payment can also be made via the same portal.
Who can apply for visa or permit extension?
a guest or a service provider can process an application for a visa or permit extension.
Is there a refund on SDF f the trip is cancelled or shortened?
Yes, the SDF will be refunded by the Department of Immigration for any cancelled or shortened trips and any bank charges will be deducted from the amount that is refunded. a refund request of the SDF shall be submitted online using the immigration system. The refund will be processed only after the exit of the visitors from the kingdom.
Travelling within Bhutan
What is the best way to travel to a hotel from the airport?
Visitors can pre-arrange a pick up service from the airport with their accommodation. Or you can email us and we will customize your service to the extend that you need.
How to travel within Bhutan?
There are domestic flights to Bumthang (Central Bhutan), Gelephu, Sarpang (Southern Bhutan) and Yongphula, Trashigang (Eastern Bhutan). Visitors can also book helicopter service for special itineraries. Other option is for you to contact us, we will make all the arrangements.
What is the most convenient local transport?
The most convenient transport facility is to hire a vehicle and driver from any car rental company. It is not possible to hire a vehicle without a driver in Bhutan.
Can visitors go trekking on their own?
It is mandatory to arrange trekking trips that require overnight stays through a local tour operators. We can help you with all the logistical support for the hiking or trekking trips.
Do visitors need a Guide?
A guide is strongly recommended for all visitors to Bhutan. It is also mandatory by the department of the tourism of Bhutan. This is to ensure that all visitors have a good experience while visiting our country, and see the best that Bhutan has to offer. Guide also help look after the safety and security of the visitors, as there are wild animals in the country side and the altitude and landscape can sometimes pose unique challenges. While the guides do not have to accompany visitors for all experience (such as restaurants and shopping), it is recommended that guides accompany visitors for experiences such as visiting temples and local places of interest. When it comes trekking activities and for any journeys that extend beyond Thimphu and Paro, Guide is mandatory.
For any visitor who enter Bhutan via the land borders, Guides are mandatory when the visitors leave the border towns. If visitors follow the itineraries or journeys set by hotel, they will not need a guide as they will already have a guide who will be arranged by the hotels.
How can visitors find the best guide for their trip?
All the tour guides listed on www.bhutan.travel website are licensed by the government. If you want we can arrange guide when ever and where ever you want.
What type of accommodation are available in Bhutan?
Bhutan offers a wide range of accommodation facilities, from luxurious 5 star hotels to cozy homestays in traditional village settings. If you want we can send you a list of hotels that is approved by the government.
Where can I find information about accommodation?
We can send you a list of certified hotels categorically listed with contact details and website.
Can the visitors stay in a private home or camp at campsite areas?
Guest must stay in an accommodation certified by Department of Tourism or if trekking, camp at the designated areas only.
COVID - 19 Protocols
Is there a vaccination requirement to visit Bhutan?
Although it is recommended by the government that all visitors to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to help stop the spread of the disease, there are now no COVID-19 vaccination requirements for adults or children to enter Bhutan. However, all individuals (12 years and above) entering Bhutan may be subject to random RT-PCR testing at the formal points of entry or at the worksite to maintain COVID-19 surveillance for new variants. No fee shall be charged for the RT-PCR testing for surveillance.
Can unvaccinated guests enter Bhutan? If so, what is the procedure?
Yes, unvaccinated guests can enter Bhutan and there will be no quarantine period.
If someone gets COVID-19 while travelling in Bhutan, what happens?
If a guest tests positive for COVID-19 during their stay in Bhutan, they will be required to quarantine in their hotel until they test negative. The cost for the additional quarantine nights and the PCR tests will be borne by the guest. The SDF will be waived during the quarantine period.
Will there be any COVID-19 protocols for leaving Bhutan?
There will be no COVID-19 protocols to leave Bhutan, unless they will be required by the country the guest is travelling to.