Presently, for citizens except for India, Bangladesh & Maldives, all other countries citizens require Visa to visit Bhutan. The current trend of visiting Bhutan in increasing exponentially. I have noticed that they are not encouraging tourism as a whole when I stood in the queue at Phuentsholing immigration office. I noticed that there are lots of confusions and various queries coming up with Bhutan’s Permit System. Therefore, I have tried to create this post after through research both online and offline. I believe this post- Bhutan visa for foreigners will certainly help those foreigners who are coming to visit Bhutan.
The Royal Kingdom of Bhutan is strict about the entry permits. So please make sure your documentation is correct. Travel to the kingdom of Bhutan is extremely regulated below the policy “High worth, Low Impact Tourism” in order to minimize the impact on the country’s unique society and environment. Bhutanese policy ensures that solely a restricted variety of tourists enter the country at any one time, preventing it from being overwhelmed by mass tourism and thus altering its character, which the tourists who do return get the foremost out of their visits. For those who are going first time to Bhutan must be well informed regarding, the variety of permits needed to visit different geographical areas and the alteration of procedures.
This article should make things easier for prospective visitors to the Land of Thunder Dragon.
I’ll briefly point to point about each of the processes below:
Bhutan visa for foreigners
- Not like in most countries, where visas are issued from embassies abroad and stamped into your passport before you travel, visas for Bhutan are issued only when you arrive in the country, either at Paro airport or (if entering by road) at Phuentsholing, Gelephu or Samdrup Jongkhar.
- Nationals of most countries (except India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives) need a visa to visit Bhutan. As a foreigner, if you are traveling overland to or from Bhutan via the border post in Phuentsholing, Gelephu or Samdrup Jongkhar, you will need an Indian visa and Bhutan visa both.
- Visa is processed through your licensed Bhutanese tour operator directly or through a foreign travel agent.
- It’s not necessary to fill in a special visa application form. Just send a scan of your passport scan image and your passport info pages to your tour operator/local factor. You may additionally get to offer your permanent address and occupation.
- VISA is issued at Paro airport. One also can get VISA at Phuentsholing, Gelephu or Samdrup Jongkhar in Bhutan if you are entering by road. Visitors are required to book travel through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator, directly or through an authorized foreign travel operator.
- You are required to send the photocopy of your passport to your tour operator who will then apply for your visa. The visa is processed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) once the complete payment of your vacation (including a USD $40 visa fee) has been transferred and received in the TCB bank account. Once received, the visa will be processed within 72 working hours.
- All tourists ought to pay US$250 per person per day (US$200 on a daily basis from Dec to February and June to August), with a US$40/30 surcharge per person for those in a group of one/two. This covers hotel, transport in Bhutan, a guide, and food and entry fees.
8. At your point of entry, you will be required to show your visa clearance letter, the visa will then be stamped into your passport.
9. Remember, if you are not a citizen of India / Bangladesh / Maldives then you cannot visit Bhutan on your own and you must plan your whole trip through an authorized Bhutanese Tour Operator. Please note that, even if you are an NRI and do not hold Indian Passport OR Voter ID Card, then also this rule is applicable for you and you cannot visit Bhutan of your own.
10. All VISA forms are processed in the Thimphu – capital of Bhutan and issued to tourists who have booked Bhutan travel with a local authorized tour operator, either directly or through a foreign travel agent. The native tour operator then submits the applications for traveler visas to the Tourism Council of Kingdom of Bhutan in Thimphu. The link of the tourism council of Bhutan is given below.
11. Before moving to Bhutan, all guests should get VISA clearance from capital Thimphu. The VISA clearance takes a minimum of ten days to process and without it, air tickets to Bhutan cannot be purchased in any way.
12. Direct flights to Bhutan are available from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Singapore, and Thailand. So the rest of the international travelers must require any of those countries VISA before transiting through. Nepal and Thailand provide visas on entry or visa waiver for a few nationalities. However, India needs visas for many nationalities to enter. India permits fifty nationalities to accumulate an electronic visa online while not sending travel papers or getting to a consulate.
13. If you have a friend who is a Bhutanese citizen, then you can ask him/her to write to the Department of Immigration to procure a Personal Guest Visa for you. In this case, you’ll be exempted from paying the daily tourist Tariff.
Checkpoints and Important Addresses
1. Border Immigration Office: This is the most common way of entering Bhutan and thus Border Immigration Offices faces huge rush during peak season and long holidays.
There are immigration checkpoints in Bhutan. On the Phuntsholing-Paro-Thimpu route you may encounter checkpoints at Chhukha, Rinchending, and Hongtsho. Your documents are going to be checked at every of those points.
Address of Royal consulate office (immigration office) of Kingdom of Bhutan
Maysel Apartments, Near Bank Colony, Phuentsholing,
Fax no: 00975-5-252992
Immigration office in Thimphu
Norzim Lam, Thimphu, Bhutan
Address and phone number of Embassy of India, Bhutan (for the use of Indian nationals facing legal/ official issues in Bhutan):
Embassy of India – PO Box: 193, Jungshina, Thimphu
Phone: 2-322162, Fax: 2-323195
All the Immigration Offices works on weekdays from 9 AM – 5 PM BST with a lunch break of 1 Hour (1 PM – 2 PM). All the Immigration Offices are closed on Weekends and Bhutan Govt. Holidays. Immigration Counter at Paro Airport is the only exception to the above which works on all days. Please note that 30 minutes ahead of Indian Standard Time (IST).
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