When I flew from Kathmandu, Nepal to Paro international airport, I ran into an issue concerning my entry permit. Indians traveling to Bhutan are not required to arrange their visa through an authorised tour operator. Knowing this, I was led to believe that I was not required to book a hotel either.
I just ended up at Paro airport without a hotel booking and the officer asked me where would I be staying at. When I told her I didn’t make prior bookings, she told me that she could not issue a 15 day permit to me as I didn’t have a booking.
After discussing the matter with her superior, I was issued a permit for 5 days. I had to convince the officer that I didn’t have any intention other than tourism activities in Bhutan.
After receiving my Bhutan entry permit, I hired a taxi and reached the Paro town. I wandered around the town before entering a shop. The shop owner and her husband helped me find a farmhouse where I spent three nights.
After a wonderful stay at this farmhouse, I had to leave for Thimphu – the capital of Bhutan – where I was supposed to renew my entry permit. In this article, I will explain how to renew your Bhutan entry permit that allows you to spend a few more days in this beautiful country.
Bhutan Entry Permit
At the time of entering the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, you are issued an entry permit valid for up to 15 days. The validity of your entry permit depends on the discretion of the immigration officer but they will not issue a permit for more than 15 days.
It is possible to renew your permit for another 15 days if required. Unless you renew your permit before it expires, you must leave Bhutan to avoid legal issues. I was advised that I should reach Thimphu a day before the expiration of my entry permit. Failing to renew the permit or not leaving Bhutan on time could lead to hefty charges, I was told.
A Bhutan entry permit allows you to visit Paro, Thimphu, and Phuntsholing only. To visit ‘restricted areas’ of Bhutan, you must obtain a ‘special permit’ by following the same process mentioned below.
Also read: Understanding Bhutan visa requirements
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Renewing Bhutan Entry Permit
I will divide this section into two parts: For Indians, Bangladeshis, and Maldivians and for other foreign tourists.
Citizens of India, Bangladesh, and Maldive are not required to arrange their visa through a tour operator. They are also not required to pay a $250 per day fee like other foreign nationals. It means that travellers from these three countries can visit the Department of Immigration office in Thimphu and renew their permit themselves.
Other foreign nationals will have to depend on their tour operator to get their permit renewed. Ask your tour operator that you would like to spend a few more days in Bhutan. The operator will do the required process on your behalf and get your permit renewed.
In any case, your Bhutan permit can only be renewed at the Department of Immigration in Thimphu. After submitting a form along with the copy of your passport and other documents you are asked for, your permit shall be renewed by an officer.
If you would like to visit restricted areas like Bumthang or Punakha, you can apply for a ‘special permit’ at the same time. You will have to fill another form for the same.
The duration of your renewed permit will depend on the discretion of the immigration office and your request could be denied as well. You will not be granted a permit for more than 15 days. My permit was renewed for 10 days only. If you applied for a special permit, its validity will not exceed the validity of your entry permit.
Indians, Bangladeshis, and Maldivians can renew their entry permit or obtain a ‘special permit’ without a fee. All other nationals are required to pay a fee for the same.
Renewing Bhutan Entry Permit: Summary
Renewing Bhutan entry permit is a straightforward process. You need to visit the immigration office in Thimphu along with your passport and other documents. Tell an immigration officer that you would like to renew your permit, fill the form given to you carefully, and give it back to the officer along with your passport. The immigration officer shall renew your permit for up to 15 days.
This process is typically done by tour operators on behalf of the visitors. But if you are an Indian, Bangladeshi, or Maldivian citizen visiting Bhutan without an organised tour, you can personally visit the immigration office and get your permit renewed by yourself.
That’s it, folks! This was a quick little article explaining how to renew your Bhutan entry permit. I hope you found this article useful and I would like to thank you for reading.
Already visited Bhutan? How was your experience? Do share it with me. Can this article be improved? Did I miss something? Do share your suggestions.