The tourist visa of Bhutan, unlike other countries, is not provided on arrival at the airport. Embassies abroad cannot grant the visa either. It has to be arranged through a local tour company.
All travelers must book tour through a licensed local tour operator and is required to be on a guided trip with own guide and driver. This is why independent travelers and backpackers have limited scope to be of their own.
Along with Bhutan visa, there are also other travel documents required for touring Bhutan, such as the route permit to ply from one place to another and trek permit to hike through areas spanning to the restricted northern borders. Once the trip is finalized, all the travel documents will be taken care of by your chosen local company.
Indian passport holders can enter Bhutan without a visa either by air or land.
Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals can obtain a permit at the port of entry on producing a valid passport with a minimum of 6 months validity (Indian nationals may also use their Voters Identity Card (VIC)).
Bhutan recently decided to end free travel for Indian passport holders visiting the country. The country will now charge a Sustainable Development Fee of Rs.1,200 (approx USD 17) per day from July 2020. Other countries included in the scheme are Maldives and Bangladesh.
All other tourists must obtain a visa clearance prior the travel to Bhutan. Visas are processed through an online system by your licensed Bhutanese tour operator directly.
Bhutan Visa fee is USD 40 payable one time. Bhutan visa fee can be only paid in US dollar. The fee is usually included in the tour package cost.
The validity of your Bhutan visa corresponds with the length of the trip. Visa is granted for the exact dates of your visit as applied in advance. However, extension of visa is possible after arrival in Bhutan.
The visa will be processed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. The regulation mandate visitors to make full advance payment prior to their travel to Bhutan. Once the operator receives full payment, they process visa with the government through a single window online system. Tourism Council would endorse your visa and ultimately Immigration Department clears your visa within 5-7 working days. Your e-Visa clearance is a letter stating that the visa is being approved. It’s a page with a government insignia holding details of individual travelers with names, dates, flights, passport number and route that would be used for tour.
Your tour operator will then send this e-Visa clearance letter to you before you begin your journey. You are required to carry this clearance letter with you to be shown at the airport from where you board your flight to Bhutan. It can be carried either in hard copy or electronically in your phone. You will not be allowed to board your flight without this e-Visa clearance letter. The actual Bhutan Visa will be stamped on your passport on arrival at Paro international airports on strength of this e-Visa clearance.
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