All foreign nationals except nationals of India, Bangladesh and the Maldives require a visa to visit Bhutan. It is noteworthy that none of the foreign missions provide Bhutan tourist visas. Bhutan visas are issued only when you arrive in Bhutan, either at Paro Airport (if entering by air/flight) or at Phuentsholing, Gele Phu or Samdrup Dzongkha (if entering by road). You must apply in advance through a Bhutan tour operator and obtain visa approval before visiting Bhutan.
For Bhutan visa, you must email the tour operator a clear scan copy of your passport information pages and your passport photo with details of your permanent address and occupation. For visa application, your passport must have a minimum validity of six months. Your tour operator applies for your visa at the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) in Thimphu.
Before the visa process starts, TCB checks whether you have paid the full payment for your holiday (including the USD 40 visa fee). Once they know you have paid, they issue an approval letter to your tour operator. With this approval in hand, the tour operator makes a final application to Bhutan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which takes up to three working days to process the visa.
When visa clearance is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they send a visa confirmation number to the tour operator and Druk Air/Bhutan Airlines. The airline will not issue your tickets to Paro until they receive this confirmation number and recheck your visa information when you check in for the flight.
When you arrive at Paro International Airport by flight or by drive at other ports (names mentioned above) your passport will be stamped with genuine visa approval. You will receive a visa for the exact period you have arranged to stay in Bhutan. If due to some unusual event, you need to extend your stay in Bhutan, you can extend the visa by paying the extension fee.
Bhutan Entry by Flight and Drive
Paro International Airport (PBH/VQPR) is the only entry point into Bhutan by flight/air. This airport is located in the south-west of Bhutan. Paro Airport is served by Druk Air (Bhutan government-owned carrier) and Bhutan Airlines (private airline). Druk Air has four aircraft (3 Airbus and 1 ATR-42). Its routes are Kathmandu (Nepal), Bangkok (Thailand), New Delhi (India), Kolkata (India), Bodh Gaya/Gaya (India), Bagdogra (India), Guwahati (India) and Dhaka (Bangladesh). Bhutan Airlines operates two Airbus A319s. It also flies to Kathmandu, Dhaka, Bangkok and various cities in India. Routes and flight schedules of both airlines are constantly updated seasonally.
Bhutan has three land borders with India only on the southern border. It includes Phuntsholing in the west, Gelefu in the central region and Samdrup Dzongkhar in the east. No border crossings are open on China’s northern border. Road permits are also required; However, these are processed by your local tour operator along with your visa.