Visa & Entry in Bhutan
Before traveling to any countries, one must know and be sure that they have the correct visa documentations and should be aware of the legal processions that come on the way. Here is the legal formalities related to visa and processing one should know before traveling to Bhutan.
To enter Bhutan, visa is required which is obtained only through the travel agency that organizes Bhutan Trip. You cannot travel to Bhutan solely, except in the cases where you are invited by the government, where you will require a “special invitation” as Bhutan visa.
For visa requirements before going to Bhutan, you will have to fill a form and pay the money to the agency you are traveling from with the date of traveling and returning compiled. You will have to attach the copy of your passport and a passport photo, in color, that will be inserted into the visa form by the agency.
The cost of a visa is included in the travel, as well as exit tax also known as tourism tax from the country. Furthermore you should be aware that some people may ask for it separately, and may say it is payable on arrival and exit: this is not correct for both the visa and exit tax.
There are two ways of entering Bhutan: by air to Paro Airport or by road to the Bhutanese border towns of Phuentsholing, Samdrup Jongkhar or Gelephu.
At present two carriers operate to Bhutan, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. And there are domestic airports in Yonphula in eastern Bhutan, Bumthang in central Bhutan, and Gelephu in south-central Bhutan. A second international airport is currently under construction in Gelephu along the southern border to India.
Today the main roads entering the country are through Phuentsholing in the south, linking Bhutan with the Indian plains of West Bengal, through the border towns of Gelephu, in the central region and Samdrup Jongkhar, in the east, that link with the Indian state of Assam.
All travellers entering the country by road must ensure that they have the necessary documentation for transiting through India. Visitors are advised to contact their nearest Indian embassy or high commission to check exactly what documents may be required.
You cannot purchase air tickets to Bhutan without visa clearance. Bhutan Visa is only issued to tourists booked with a local licensed tour operator, or through a foreign travel agent. All applications are submitted through the tour operator. Bhutan Visa is issued (stamped in passport) on arrival.
Customs Regulations in Bhutan
You will receive a baggage declaration form to complete when you arrive in Bhutan. For tourists, the main purpose of this form is to ensure that you re-export anything you bring into the country. List any expensive equipment that you are carrying, such as cameras and laptops. Don’t lose the form as you must return it when you leave the country.
Duty-free allowances include 1L of liquor. You can bring in only one carton (200) of cigarettes and these attract a 200% duty upon arrival. A packet or two is normally allowed in gratis. There are no restrictions on other personal effects, including trekking gear, brought into the country.
Departure formalities are straightforward, but you’ll need to produce the form that you completed on arrival and may need to show all of the items listed on it. A lost form means complications and delays. If you lose the form, let your guide know as soon as possible so that special arrangements can be made to avoid any inconvenience.
The export of antiques and wildlife products is prohibited. If you wish to purchase a souvenir that looks old, have your guide clear it as a non antique item with the Division of Cultural Properties, part of the Department of Culture inside the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs. Customs authorities pay special attention to religious statues. It would be prudent to have any such statue cleared, old or not.
It is always necessary to carry your legal documents including your passport and citizenship with you while traveling to Bhutan. In case of trouble, you can contact to your travel agency of the nearby embassy for assurance. Be sure to carry your visa authorization form from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.