Visas for Bhutan: Your Step-by-step Guide On Getting It

Visas for Bhutan: Your Step-by-step Guide On Getting It

Going to Bhutan? Here’s how you can get its elusive visa!

One of the most mysterious countries in the world, Bhutan government has strict control on the numbers of tourist visiting the country. This policy has been implemented since the 80s, to protect and maintain Bhutan’s unique culture and environment. Today, more and more people are attracted to this last sanctuary on Earth to unveil the mystery. Now let’s go through the steps to get the visas for Bhutan.

Image credit: Aymaan Ahmed

As mystery as the country, it is confusing how to apply for a travel visa to Bhutan as there isn’t a Bhutanese embassy in most countries. It may seem troublesome at first glance, but let us guide you through this journey step-by-step and you’ll realise that it is much easier than you think!

1. Fix a travel date

Being a popular holiday destination, it is always a good idea to plan early, especially during holiday seasons. The peak seasons are in Spring and Autumn when the air is crisp and clear, and the climate is dry and cool. We recommend setting aside at least one to two months for the visa application!

how to get bhutan visa

Image credit: Robert GLOD

2. Find a Bhutanese travel agent

After fixing the travel dates, you will have to find a registered Bhutanese travel agent to apply travel visas on your behalf. As Bhutan has not established formal diplomatic relations with most of the countries, Bhutanese government required all tourists that wish to visit Bhutan to apply the travel visas through a registered Bhutanese travel agent or their international partners. You can find the list of registered Bhutanese travel operators on Bhutan Tourism website.

After deciding on which travel operator to go with, the process is pretty simple – where you will just require to submit a colour copy of your passport and pay a fee of USD 40 to the travel agent for visa application.

3. Book a tour with the travel operator

Bhutanese government does not allow tourist traveling in Bhutan independently without joining a tour or having a tour guide. Hence, all travelers to Bhutan are required to book themselves a tour with their respective travel operators. Travellers can discuss with their travel operators where to go and visit in Bhutan, and they will arrange the schedule for you.

If you are travelling solo to Bhutan, fret not, the travel operator will also arrange a driver and tour guide for you during your stay!

Note: If you are holding a passport from India, Bangladesh or Maldives, you do not require a travel visa nor sign up for  a tour to visit Bhutan.

4. Pay the fee

After deciding on which tour package to take, visitors have to pay the fee according to the number of nights staying in Bhutan, according to the Bhutanese government policy. Part of this fee paid is used in supporting free education, healthcare and poverty alleviation in Bhutan.

how to get bhutan visa

Image credit: Robert GOLD

Every foreigner visiting the country has to pay a minimum fee of USD 200 per person per day (USD 250 per person per day during the peak season, which is between March to May and September to November). The fee includes accommodation, three meals a day (soft drinks and alcohol not included), transportation, driver, tour guide, attractions entrance fees, and tax. The quality of service is pretty up to standard, so sit back and relax as everything is arranged by your tour operator.

Do note that tourists travelling in a group of two or less will be subjected to a surcharge, in addition to the minimum daily package rates. Single travellers will have to pay USD 40 per night, and groups of two will be charged USD 30 per person per night. This surcharge is not imposed on representatives of foreign travel agents on business study or promotional visit duly approved and cleared by the Tourism Council of Bhutan.


Upon receiving your payment, your travel operator will then start to apply for your travel visa. It usually takes one to four weeks, depending on the seasons.

Be mindful that some travel companies may offer a lower price, which is illegal – the travel visa might not be done properly and you may end up to be refused from entering Bhutan!

how to get bhutan visa

Image credit: Juan Carlos Madrigal

5. Get your visa when arriving at Bhutan

After the travel visa application is approved, your travel operator will provide you with a scanned copy, which must be printed out, as you will be asked to show the printed copy when clearing customs at the Paro Airport in Bhutan. The officer will then issue you the official travel visa accordingly.

6. If you’re canceling your trip…

If something crops up and you are no longer traveling to Bhutan, you have to notify your travel company at least 30 days before the travel date to request for a full refund. If you cancel the trip 21 days before the travel date, 10% of the fee will be deducted. For notice shorter than 7 days, 50% of the fee will be deducted. If you only cancel your trip after arriving in Bhutan, you will not get any refund.

Image credit: Mai An Hoa

Now you’re all set – ready for your next trip to Bhutan?

Also read: 17 Things to Do in Bhutan on Your First Trip

About Author

Sophie Yong
Sophie Yong

Always eating something, or on her way finding good food, Sophie has the ultimate dream of becoming a full-time traveller and freelance writer to share her travel and food-hunting story. Interested in learning new languages, she has learned French, Japanese and Vietnamese, and hopes to speak like the natives in future. Things she enjoys? French pastries, Impressionism artworks, non-fiction books, Korean drama, and a good cup of coffee (or wine!).


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