Bhutan, a kingdom in the foothills of the Himalayas, is a traveller’s paradise. Every year many Indian tourists from India travel to Bhutan to immerse themselves into the panoramic beauty of the landscape. If you are an Indian and have included Bhutan in your travel bucket list, then you must keep your worries aside for the Bhutan visa formalities. This article will provide you with complete guidance into the documents and other necessary formalities required for Bhutan visa.
- Documents required for Bhutan visa
- How to obtain Bhutan permit for entry
- Bhutan permit online
- Extension of Bhutan Visa
The Documents required for Bhutan Visa for Indians
The countries of India and Bhutan had signed an agreement way back in 1949, thus eliminating the need for applying for Bhutan Visa. Indians can obtain Bhutan visa on arrival, but there are certain documents which all Indians need to carry and show before the Immigration office of Bhutan.
The documents are:
- Your Indian passport which is valid for six months from the date of arrival at Bhutan
- Your voter card, issued by the Indian Election Commission, as an identity proof
As per the visa requirements for Bhutan, the Immigration office will grant a 7 day Bhutan visa applicable for visiting Paro, Thimpu, and Phuentsholing. If you are travelling to other destinations in Bhutan, in addition to these three places, then you need to extend your Bhutan permit from Thimpu. Also, if you want to extend your stay in Bhutan for more than 7 days, then also you need to extend the permit as per the guidelines mentioned in the visa requirements for Bhutan.
Tip: Please focus adequate attention in obtaining the permit to avoid any disruptions while travelling in Bhutan
The additional documents that you need to keep ready while extending the Bhutan visa are:
- The itinerary details of your trip to Bhutan with the arrival and departure dates and the places to be visited
- Two passport size photographs of each traveller
- Photocopies of the first and last page of your passport
- The Accommodation details or the hotel booking/ reservation details of your stay in Bhutan. As per the new immigration rules for Bhutan visa for Indians, it is mandatory to record the booking details for each day and submit.
- A photocopy of the marriage certificate for couples
- If you are travelling with children of age below 18 years and without an Indian passport, then you need to produce the birth certificate or an identity proof from the school
Bhutan Permit for entry
The Department of Immigration of Bhutan issues the Bhutan permit for Indians. You may opt to travel by road or travel by air. In either of the cases, you require the entry permit to Bhutan.
Phuentsholing is located at the border of the two countries India and Bhutan. Hence if you are travelling by road, then you need to collect the Bhutan permit from Phuentsholing. The Immigration office of Bhutan government issues the permit for the Indians.
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Please note: The Immigration office is open only on the weekdays from morning 9:30 AM IST till evening at 5:30 PM IST. Hence it is advisable to plan your itinerary accordingly. Indian tourists can not obtain their Bhutan visa on weekends or Bhutan holidays.
You must carry your travel tickets, accommodation and booking details, photographs positively to avoid any inconvenience to receive the Bhutan visa. Newly or young married couples are advised to carry the marriage certificate as proof. The Immigration Officers may ask for it as evidence.
If you are travelling by air, then you need to apply for a Bhutan visa on arrival or the permit at the Paro International Airport of Bhutan. The Immigration officers will verify the documents and your passport at the airport. They will grant Bhutan permit only for the cities of Paro and Thimpu. For visiting the other cities of Bhutan, the extension permit needs to be approved from the Thimpu Immigration office.
Please note: The Immigration office at Thimpu is only open during the weekdays from Monday till Friday from morning 9:30 AM IST till evening 5:30 PM IST. You need to plan your visit accordingly for obtaining the special Bhutan permit. Weekends and Bhutan holidays are to be strictly avoided for obtaining Bhutan visa.
If you do not possess a valid travel document, i.e. your Indian passport and the Indian voter identity card, then you need to apply for an “Identification Slip”. The slip must be applied in Phuentsholing at the office of the Indian Consulate.
Must read: Guide To Visa Photo Size Requirements
Bhutan Permit Online
On January 26, 2017, the Tourism Council of Bhutan, the Home and Cultural Affairs Ministry of Bhutan and the Immigration Department of Bhutan launched the Online regional permit system. Through this system, Indians can apply for Bhutan permit online. This process will assist Indians to seamlessly obtain their Bhutan visa, well before their arrival in Bhutan.
The application needs to be filled up electronically. All personal, passport and travel details must be properly mentioned in the passport. Once completed the application must be duly signed and submitted. You will receive an email confirmation once you submit the form.
Please note: All the questions in the application must be answered appropriately without any errors to avoid any delay or further questioning or rejection in receiving the Bhutan visa.
Processing time for Bhutan permit
Once you reach the Immigration office, you will notice that there are three counters. One for submitting the application form, the next is for the biometric and the third is to collect the permit. The entire process is completed in approximately 30 minutes. The application form for Bhutan permit must be filled up accurately, duly signed and submitted at the first counter along with the required documents. You may be asked a few questions by the Immigration officers on the purpose of your visit to Bhutan and which are the places you are visiting. Indians seldom face any difficulties in obtaining Bhutan visa. At the second counter, the officer will take your picture and fingerprints. You have to wait for a few minutes before you can receive the permit from the third counter.
Please Note: As per the visa requirements for Bhutan, Indians need to provide proof of hotel reservations. The print out of the email confirmation letter from the hotels must be shown at the Immigration office counters for validation.
Extension of Bhutan Visa or Bhutan Permit
The initial Bhutan permit for Indians allows for a stay of 7 days. If you want to stay more than 7 days then the visa requirements for Bhutan mandates an extension of the Bhutan visa. The extensions for Bhutan permit can only be applied at the Immigration office of Thimpu.
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An application form needs to be filled up for the extension of the Bhutan permit. The form must be duly signed and submitted at the Immigration office counters. The extension takes only 1 hour to be ready for collection. You need to provide a photocopy of the initial Bhutan permit documents and your photo along with the application form.
Other than Paro and Thimpu, all other areas in Bhutan are restricted. Hence it is essential to obtain an extension of Bhutan permit if you are travelling to the restriction prone areas.
Please note: You must not ignore the fact of obtaining Bhutan permits for restricted areas and stay beyond 7days. There are several check posts in Bhutan which verify the permits. You might be imposed heavy fines for violating the rules and even your original permit may be seized by the Immigration office authorities.
Applying Bhutan visa or Bhutan permit in advance
In India, the Bhutan High Commission is present in New Delhi and the Bhutan Consulate is located in Kolkata. You may apply for Bhutan permit in either of these places, as per your location convenience, in advance of your travel to Bhutan. It takes almost 1 week to receive the permit. All travelling members must be present at the embassy or the consulate to apply for the Bhutan permit.
Tip: Cooperate with the Immigration officers and provide correct details of your stay
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How long can an Indian stay in Bhutan?
An Indian travelling by road can apply and obtain Bhutan permit at the Immigration office in Phuentsholing. The permit is granted for a stay in Thimpu and Paro for 7 days. If you wish to extend your stay to a maximum of 30 days or enter into any other places of Bhutan, then you need to apply for an extension. The extension of the Bhutan permit can only be done at the Immigration office of Thimpu.
For Indians travelling by air, the Bhutan permit or Bhutan visa on arrival can be obtained at the Immigration office of Paro International Airport. The permit is granted for a stay of 30 days at Thimpu and Paro. For entry into other places of Bhutan, you need to apply at the Immigration office of Thimpu.
2. Is Bhutan visa on arrival?
Indians do not need any Visa for travelling to Bhutan. They only need to obtain the Bhutan permit for entry into the country. Though the permit can be termed as Bhutan visa on arrival, it is essentially permission stamped on the passport granting entry into Bhutan.
3. What is the Bhutan visa on arrival fee?
The Bhutan visa cost for Indians is nil. Indians do not need to pay for the Bhutan permit as well as for the extension of the permit. Hence while travelling with a tour operator or a travel agent, ensure that they are not charging Bhutan visa cost as part of your travel expenses.