Indian Tourists are required to obtain Entry Permit for entry to Bhutan and getting an Entry Permit becomes a key attribute of planning your trip. It becomes even more important since one has to obtain it on the spot prior to entering Bhutan. To help our fellow travelers, we are summarizing key questions about Bhutan Entry Permit below –
Q. Tourists from which countries require an Entry Permit for Bhutan?
Citizens of India, Bangladesh and Maldives are allowed to travel Bhutan by getting an Entry Permit/Pass and do not need a VISA. Tourists from all other countries require a Visa. Details in this blog apply for Indian tourists only. We hope process will remain same for citizens of Bangladesh and Maldives too.
Q. Places from where one can get the Entry Permit for Bhutan?
Indians coming to Bhutan by road are required to obtain an Entry Permit from the Immigration Office of Royal Government of Bhutan at Phuentsholing, located on the Indo-Bhutan border opposite Jaigaon, West Bengal (Nearest Railway Station: Hasimara, Nearest Airport: Bagdogra). In case, you are not carrying a valid travel document (Passport/Voter ID), you should approach the Indian Consulate Office in Phuentsholing and apply for the “Identification Slip” with proper proof of Indian nationality. Indians coming by air can get the Entry Permit at the Paro International Airport. Samdrup Jongkhar is another entry/exit point for Bhutan but it is not so frequently used as compared to Phuentsholing. We got our entry permit at Phuentsholing and all details pertain to this office only.
Q. Can I get an Entry Permit in advance?
Yes. You can get entry permits in advance from Bhutan High Commissioner’s Office at Delhi or Kolkata Bhutan Consulate. This may save you from any uncertainty of getting permit on last day but these offices usually take more than a week to give you a permit. One of the members from the travelling group should be compulsorily present to apply for Entry Permit of all members.
Q. On which days is Immigration office at Phuentsholing open? What are the timings?
Immigration office at Phuentsholing opens only on working days (Monday to Friday) from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Bhutan Standard Time (9:30 AM to 5:30PM IST). Please check for Bhutan public holidays in advance as office remains closed on public holidays. Lunch hours are from 1 PM to 2 PM BST.
Please note that immigration office at Phuentsholing is no longer open on weekends as it used to be earlier (post Jan 2016). So, plan your travel accordingly to avoid a last minute delay in getting permit.
Q. How long does it take to get the permit? What is the process?
Usually it takes around 30 minutes to get all formalities done and get your permit. You need to fill in a form, attach your photographs and submit at first counter. You are asked basic questions about the purpose of your travel to Bhutan by an official here and then your form is queued up for next counter. Once your name is called at next counter, you need to reach there to get your picture clicked and provide finger prints. You can collect your Entry Permit from third counter in another 10 minutes, stamped and signed.
It may take longer time on Mondays as office remains closed on weekends. Bhutan officials usually refrain from issuing Entry Permits to solo travelers for safety concerns. However, in most of the cases, you will get permit if you convince them that you are fully capable of travelling solo and there are no concerns.
Q. What all documents are required to obtain the Entry Permit?
2 Photographs + Passport copy/Voter ID card (Please carry originals also for verification). In case, you are not carrying Passport/Voter ID card, you will be required to visit Indian Consulate Office, get an identification slip and then again go back to Bhutan Immigration Office to get your Entry Permit. This will certainly waste a lot of time and thus do remember to carry your Passport or Voter ID. For children below 18 years without valid passport, Birth Certificates and valid school ID are required to get Entry Permit. (both are required in case of school going kid)
Sometimes, Bhutan officials may accept Aadhar card also as identification proof, so do make a request in case you are not carrying passport. This may save you time and inconvenience of running around offices. During our trip, request from a couple was heeded by the officials 🙂
Important Update: You also need to show a confirmation of your hotel booking for initial days of stay in Bhutan. You have to carry the print out of email confirmation. Also, you need to present your itinerary for your stay in Bhutan. You may refer our blog for booking a Hotel in Bhutan here.
For Booking your hotel in Bhutan, you may also consider using Booking.com. They do not require any upfront payment or card details for booking a hotel
Q. How long and which places will this permit be applicable?
Q. How do I extend my permit if want to stay over 7 days or visit places beyond Paro and Thimphu?
You need to extend your permit both for stay over 7 days (up to a max 30 days) or visit places beyond Paro and Thimphu. To get extensions, you need to visit Immigration Office at Thimphu (9 AM to 4 PM BST, Mon to Fri, Closed on Bhutan Public Holidays) and fill extension request forms. Post submission of form and documents, you can collect your extension permits from the same office after 1 hour.
Documents Required for extension: A copy of Original Entry Permit, 1 photograph
Though there is an immigration office in Paro, but extension is provided only at Thimphu immigration office.
Q. What happens if I enter Bhutan without Permit?
Q. What happens if I travel beyond Paro and Thimphu without getting permit extended for visit to restricted places?
There are immigration check posts at all routes and it is traveler’s responsibility to get his entry and extension passes stamped both during entry and return. In case you miss getting your pass stamped, there is a hefty fine (on daily basis) and also the chances that your permits may be confiscated by authorities. So, please do make sure to stop at all these check points both at entry and exit.
Dochula Pass, though only 20 kms east to Thimphu requires restricted areas entry pass. There is an immigration check post at Hongtsho just before Dochula Pass where your permits will be checked. So, please ensure to get the required extensions in advance to avoid any inconvenience.
Q. Is there any fee for getting Entry Permits and extension thereafter?
No, No fee is charged either for the Entry Permits or time and restricted area extension at Thimphu.
Q. Do I need to keep my Entry Permits with me all the time while travelling?
Yes, as your pass is checked at various immigration points while travelling between cities and also to enter in all key Dzongs and Monasteries including Paro, Punakha & Thimphu Dzongs and Tiger’s Nest Monastery.
Q. Can I keep my Entry Permit as a memorabilia for my Bhutan trip?
No. Entry Permits and extensions are submitted at last immigration point during exit. So, do take a picture of your permit with all the stamps for your memories like we did 🙂
Wish you an awesome exploration !! Still, if you have any queries, do write us or comment below. We will be happy to assist you.
Edit 1: Online Permit for Bhutan
Bhutan Government has recently launched an online permit facility too for tourists from India, Bangladesh and Maldives. Online permit application facility can be availed only through registered Bhutanese tour operators and TCB certified hotels. You may find more details here. This facility will be applicable for entry from Paro and Phuntsholing. – Inputs from one of our readers Jigme. Thanks so much, Jigme 🙂