Bhutan Visa for Indians

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Bhutan Visa for Indians

When planning your trip to Bhutan, do not forget to get Tata AIG’s travel policy!

Bhutan has long been a favoured destination for Indian travellers because of its proximity to our country. The Kingdom of Bhutan has much to offer to every traveller that enters its borders. Going to Bhutan is like being transported back in time, from scenic locations to a culture preserved through the centuries.

People who have visited the kingdom have often stated that they felt they were transported back in time and found themselves among royalty. Bhutan also has much to offer in terms of art and cuisine. So when you are considering travelling to Bhutan, prepare for a cultural surprise and the adventure of a lifetime.

Now, because of how close Bhutan is to us and how convenient it is to reach there, Indians often forget that it is, in fact, a different country that they are visiting. But like all countries you visit, you need to get some essential documents in place when going to Bhutan. Of course, some leniencies are in place, given the cordiality between India and Bhutan. However, you do need to have your travel documents in order before making your way over.

As you are getting your documents in place for Bhutan, do not forget to get your travel policy in place as well. Travel insurance gives you a sense of security whenever you go to a new place, away from your home. You can rest a little easier knowing that your travel policy will help you if things get difficult. You must be careful about finding travel insurance from the right provider.

Tata AIG’s travel insurance plan can be the right fit for you if you are looking for a comprehensive travel policy that you can customise per your needs. You can get your policy online in a few minutes and do not have to worry about paying exorbitant prices when getting your travel insurance. We also offer you several plans you can choose from based on your needs, so we always suggest you compare travel insurance plans and use our travel insurance premium calculator before making a purchase.

With all of this in mind, let us look into the Bhutan visa requirements and how we can get the visa.

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Bhutan Visa for Indians

If you are thinking about what Bhutan visa requirements you need to adhere to or if you can get a visa on arrival for Bhutan, we have good news for you. There is no requirement for a Bhutan visa for Indians. The 1949 treaty between India and Bhutan made the need for a visa to visit Bhutan void. Therefore, you can comfortably travel to the country without worrying about getting a visa before you get there, nor do you need to worry about wasting time once you reach there trying to get a visa on arrival for Bhutan. However, this is not to say that you can go to Bhutan without supporting travel documents.

You must get a travel permit to enter the country when going to Bhutan. This travel permit can be obtained from the Department of Immigration of Bhutan. You do not need to get your travel permit before entering Bhutan. You can get it once you arrive in the country. The Department of Immigration in Phuentsholing is where you will get your permit to travel through Bhutan. Phuentsholing is the Bhutanese town at the Indo-Bhutan border that shares a border with Jaigaon in West Bengal, India. You can reach Phuentsholing by road or by rail, as per your choice. It is the entry checkpoint where all your supporting documents will be checked. Keep in mind that this privilege of entering Bhutan without a visa is not granted to all countries. So, if you are travelling with a citizen of a different country, check the travel requirements in place for them before you start your journey toward Bhutan.

Bhutan Travel Permit –The Application Process

We have already mentioned that you do not require a Bhutan Visa to enter the country. However, you need a travel permit. You are required to follow no elaborate process to get the permit, as it is available on arrival for Indians. To get a travel permit, you need to;

  • Go to the Immigration Office of the Royal Government at Phuentsholing.
  • Once there, you must submit the documents you are being asked for.
  • The official will check the documents you submit to see that you adhere to all requirements to enter the country.
  • If all your documents are in place, you will be provided with an ‘Entry Permit’, which allows you to enter the country and travel through it.
  • If you enter the country via air, you must get your entry permit at the Paro International Airport.

Remember that the entry permit allows you to travel through Thimpu and Paro. However, if you wish to see other parts of the country, you must apply for a ‘Special Area Permit’, which you can get at the RGoB Immigration Office in Thimphu. So if you are concerned that you will need to spend a lot of time post your arrival in Bhutan to get your permits, you need not worry. The immigration office works fast and efficiently, and if you have all your documents in place, you can get your permit in under an hour and start your holiday.

Bhutan Permit Types for Indians

There are a few different types of permits you need to know about when travelling to Bhutan. We have briefly spoken about them above; however, if you have a comprehensive idea of the different kinds of permits you can choose, you can plan your trip better and get your belongings in place accordingly.

The different kinds of permits include;

Bhutan Entry Permit by Road - If you are travelling to Bhutan by road, you will need to get your entry permit at the checkpoint in Phuentsholing. The checkpoint is located at the border of India and Bhutan, at the end-point of Phuentsholing in Bhutan and Jaigaon in West Bengal, and you will need to show your documents at the checkpoint to get your permit. Remember that the entry permit only allows you to visit Thimpu and Paro.

Bhutan Entry Permit by Air - If you are flying to Bhutan, you will get your entry permit at Paro airport. Do not worry, as it does not take too long to get the permit, and if you have your documents in place, you will be on your way in no time. But, again, this permit only allows you to visit Paro and Thimpu.

Bhutan Special Area Permit - If you wish to travel to places beyond Paro and Thimpu in Bhutan, you will be required to get a special permit. You can get this permit at the RGoB Immigration Office in Thimphu. Keep in mind that you will need to submit a special set of documents to visit these areas, and the process might take a little longer, given that these areas are not the usual tourist areas of the country.

Bhutan Permit to Travel By Car - If you are travelling to Bhutan by your car, you will need a special permit in addition to the entry permit. This permit will include special permission that allows an out-of-country car to run on the roads of Bhutan. The permit for your car is called an Extension Permit.

No Permit - If you are travelling to Phuentsholing, there are some special conditions where you do not need any permit. Since Phuentsholing is at the border of India and Bhutan, you can enter the city up to 5 kilometres in the daytime. However, keep in mind that you may not venture beyond the approved 5 kilometres, and you must head back to your home ground before 10 pm.

Who Should Apply for Bhutan Permit Indians?

Any Indian who wishes to travel to and through Bhutan needs to apply for an entry permit to Bhutan. You will not be allowed to enter the country without a permit. This rule is only put aside if you travel to Phuentsholing and will return to India before 10 pm. However, if you are travelling to Bhutan for a holiday and intend to be there for some time to see and enjoy the place, you must get your permit. Any non-Bhutanese found in Bhutan without a valid permit will face severe penalties and consequences. Also, you will not be allowed to pass the checkpoints in Phuentsholing if you are travelling by road and in Paro if you are travelling by air unless you have a stamped permit. Furthermore, if you are travelling to the special permit areas, having a valid permit becomes even more important as there are several points at which you could be asked to present your permit, and if you cannot show one, there could be dire consequences.

When Should One Apply for the Entry Permit to Bhutan?

You are not required to apply for an entry permit to Bhutan ahead of time. You can get it on arrival when travelling by road or by air. All you need to do is present the documents being asked for, and you should get your permit in no time. Further, getting your permit will not take you over an hour, after which you can freely enjoy your stay in Bhutan.

Documents Required to Get an Entry Permit For Bhutan

To get your entry permit to Bhutan, you must present a few documents at the checkpoints to get your entry permit to Bhutan. These documents will include:

  • Proof that you are an Indian citizen
  • Your Indian passport with a validity of at least 6 months which must have at least 3 blank pages and any old passports that you have
  • Or
  • Any Indian Government issued ID and Address Proof, like a copy of your Voter’s ID card, which the Election Commission of India has issued, in case you do not have a passport
  • If you have a child under the age of 18 who does not have a valid passport, you can present their birth certificate and their school ID card
  • Travel insurance policy with Covid coverage
  • Details about where you will be staying with proof as the government needs to know where they can reach you if the need for it arises
  • If you wish to apply for the special area permit, you will need to provide some extra documents, which include;
  • The special application form that is filled out
  • Your entry permit with the specially included Route Permit
  • An extension permit from the Road Safety and Transportation Authority (RSTA) if you are planning to travel through Bhutan in your car

Bhutan Visa Cost for Indians

If you are wondering about the Bhutan visa fees for Indians or the Bhutan visa on arrival cost, we have some news you need to know. Firstly, as we have already established, you do not need a visa for Bhutan, so there is no question about the Bhutan visa fees for Indians. However, you need to be aware of the Bhutan entry permit fees. Many people may think Indians are not required to pay fees for their permit to enter Bhutan. This was true until a few years ago when Indians were not required to pay anything for their entry permit.

However, in recent years there has been a change in the rules. Since many tourists are making their way into Bhutan every year, the Bhutanese government has decided to charge a certain amount for entry permits for all countries, including India, to regulate tourism. So people who travel to Bhutan from India post-2020 need to pay ₹1200 per day for adults and ₹600 per day for children between the ages of 6 and 12. Children under 6 do not need to pay anything to enter the country.

The country's National Assembly has levied this fee as part of the Tourism Levy and Exemption Bill of Bhutan, 2020. The fee is called the Sustainable Development Fee (SDF). While Indians may find the entry fee to be quite reasonable, this is not the case for tourists from other foreign countries who need to pay USD 65 or ₹4,631 with a per day cover charge of USD 250 or ₹17,811 (These rates will change as per the Dollar and Rupee conversion rate.) Adding these fees is expected to impact the tourism industry in Bhutan heavily.

Travel Insurance from Tata AIG for Bhutan

When travelling to any place, no matter how close you may feel it is, it is always better to have a little extra protection. This protection is what a travel policy offers you. It offers you peace of mind knowing that should anything go wrong at any point; you will not have to face the problem alone.

For example, you may lose your luggage, or there may be an intermittent delay in your flight; in such cases having travel insurance can prove to be a huge boon. And if you are travelling with family, you do not want to leave anything to chance; you must always get family travel insurance. Additionally, a travel insurance plan is now mandatory to enter Bhutan, and you will not be allowed beyond the checkpoint without presenting your insurance papers.

Let us take an example where you fall ill or have an accident when you are in Bhutan. Now, falling ill or having an accident can be daunting at any place and time, but facing such a situation when you are away from the security of your home and people in a land where you do not speak the language, can be even more daunting. It can leave you feeling lost and alone. However, if you have travel insurance means, you do not need to feel alone. Your insurance will be with you and provide for you at every step. For example, it will take care of your expenses if you need hospitalisation.

Now, taking off the previous point, let us talk about Covid-19. Say you are in Bhutan and you have contracted the dreaded virus. What happens next? You may feel stuck in a situation where you cannot find a way out. But if you have a travel policy from Tata AIG, you do not need to worry even if you get Covid while on your trip. You can get the care you need and even opt for quarantine if that is being advised to you, and we will take care of the financial aspect of your care.

We have spoken about a few instances where your travel policy may be handy. But, there are several scenarios where you can find yourself rescued by your travel insurance. From lost baggage to evacuation, your travel insurance will provide you with aid in all situations where you need help. So, if you are thinking about where you should buy your travel policy, do not look beyond Tata AIG!

Travelling to Bhutan- Post-COVID Restrictions

Bhutan is among the last countries to reopen their borders post-Covid. The country has been very strict in dealing with the virus to safeguard the interests of its citizens. They remain closed even right now and will open on the 23rd of September 2022, albeit with restrictions. A few restrictions you need to follow while travelling to Bhutan post the 23rd of September, 2022, include:

  • People who are fully vaccinated need to carry and show their vaccination certificates.
  • People who are not fully vaccinated need to quarantine for 21 days.
  • All travellers entering Bhutan need to present a negative PCR test.
  • You can be asked to be tested for Covid at any given time, and you need to comply with the authorities when they ask you to take one.
  • Know what the Covid-related laws in the country are and follow them at all times.
  • If your PCR comes positive, inform the authorities and quarantine at once.
  • Keep your vaccination certificate with you at all times, especially while travelling by road.
  • You will be asked to pay for any Covid tests you will need to take while in Bhutan.
  • A Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) will be levied on all travellers entering Bhutan, and the fee will differ according to a person’s nationality. Indians will now have to pay an SDF of ₹1200 per day for adults and ₹600 per day for children between the ages of 6 and 12.

These are the Covid rules that you need to follow as of now. However, these rules keep changing as per the needs of the country. If you plan to travel to Bhutan, ensure you read up on the latest guidelines.

Reasons for the Rejection of your Bhutan Travel Permit Application

Bhutan rarely stops passengers from India from crossing the border into their country. Getting the permit is fairly easy and does not require too much time. However, there are certain rare instances when your application may be rejected. These instances include;

  • If you are known for committing immigration crimes
  • If you do not have all the documents needed to get the travel permit
  • If you do not cooperate with the authorities
  • If you are not willing to take a Covid PCR test
  • If there are indications that you have malicious intent toward the country

Things to Know About Bhutan

When travelling to a new place, it is always good to learn as much as possible about it to absorb the essence of the place. When travelling to a place like Bhutan, you should make the extra effort to read up a little on it, given the rich history and culture of the land. Knowing bits of information about a place or landmark you visit helps you enjoy the place a lot more.

Here are some things that all travellers of Bhutan should know;

  • The first television sets came to Bhutan in the 1990s
  • The Indian Rupee is accepted at most places in Bhutan
  • Smoking in public is banned in Bhutan, and Bhutan also does not allow the sale of cigarettes and tobacco in the country
  • Basic healthcare and education are free for all citizens of Bhutan
  • It is the only carbon-negative country in the world
  • Plastic is banned in Bhutan
  • The king abdicated his throne to create a democracy in 2005
  • Takin is a goat-antelope that is the national animal of Bhutan
  • Bhutanese love spicy food and use chillies liberally in all the food they make
  • Your SIM card might not work when you are in Bhutan, so get a local one for your stay there

Places to See and Things to Do in Bhutan

You will never run out of things to do and places to see when you are in Bhutan. However, travelling to Bhutan for a short holiday, you may not have time to see everything the country offers. In that case, make sure you at least see and do the things mentioned here.

  1. Visit the Trongsa Dzong to get a feel of the royal history of Bhutan.
  2. Climb to the Tiger Nest Monastery
  3. Tour the royal city of Thimpu
  4. Try archery at many of the local spots that offer you a quick tutorial
  5. Try the cham dance with the Bhutanese monks
  6. Get a close look at the Everest
  7. Go trekking on any of the many peaks you can scale there
  8. Visit the Temple of Divine Madman
  9. Try the local cuisine for a spicy punch
  10. Go to the Thimpu Valley to try your hand at fishing

Disclaimer

All the information mentioned above is well-researched and sourced from reliable sources. Since this information is subject to change, it is advisable to check the latest travel guidelines and other location-specific information before planning a trip to any location.

*Subject to change based on the nature and extent of the coverage.

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Frequently Asked Question

1. What does the Bhutan visa on arrival cost?

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You do not need a visa to visit Bhutan; however, you need an entry permit, for which you need to pay ₹1200 for adults and ₹600 for children per day.

2. Can you apply for a Bhutan visa online?

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You do not need to apply for a Bhutan visa online as you do not need a visa to visit the country. However, you need an entry permit that cannot be obtained online. Therefore, you need to get the permit on arrival in Bhutan.

3. Can I go to Bhutan without a permit?

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Yes, you can go to Bhutan without a permit if you are going to Phuentsholing or even if you are going to any other part of the country for a distance of 5 kilometres. However, you must be back to your base before 10 pm.

4. How many days can I stay in Bhutan after receiving my entry permit?

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You can stay in Bhutan for 7 days after receiving your entry permit.

5. What are the covers that Tata AIG’s travel policy affords me?

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With Tata AIG’s travel policy, you can get

  1. Passport Loss Cover
  2. Flight Delay and Cancellation Cover
  3. Baggage Cover
  4. Hijack Cover
  5. Sickness and Accident Cover
  6. Covid-19 Cover
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