The entry procedure to Bhutan is relatively simple because you will meet your tour guide on arrival. Just make sure you carry the visa authorization form with you from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Custom Rules & Regulations
When you arrive in Bhutan, you will receive a baggage declaration form. You need to list any expensive equipment which you are carrying with you such as cameras and laptops. Keep the form with you as you would need to return it when you leave the country.
The duty-free allowances include 1 L of liquor and you can bring only one carton (300) of cigarettes which attracts 200% duty upon arrival. Only a packet or two is allowed for free. There are no restrictions on other personal effects, including trekking gear, brought into the country.
The departure formalities are pretty straightforward but you need to produce that form which you filled in upon arrival and may need to show all the items which are listed. In case you lose the form, immediately notify your guide so that special arrangements can be made to avoid any inconvenience.
Please note that the export of antiqued and wildlife products is strictly prohibited. In case you wish to purchase a souvenir that looks vintage, make sure you get your guide to clear it as a nonantique item with the Division of Cultural Properties, part of the Department of Culture inside the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs. Custom authorities pay strict attention to religious statues and it is advisable to get these cleared.
Visas are arranged by the tour company and issued on arrival only to tourists who are on a prepaid all-inclusive tour.
Unlike countries, where the visas are issued from embassies abroad and stamped to your passport before you travel, Bhutan visa is issued only when you arrive in the country either through the Paro airport or at Phuentsholing, Gelephu or Samdrup Jongkhar (via road). Apply in advance via a tour operator and get the visa approval before you reach Bhutan.
All applications for tourist visas need to be initialized by a Bhutanese tour operator and should be approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thimphu. The operator submits an online application for visa with a copy of the photo page of your passport to the Tourism Council of Bhutan in Thimphu. The system further checks that you have paid for your trip and subsequently issues an approval letter to the tour operator. With this approval, the tour operator makes a final application to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which processes the visa after three or four days.
Once the visa clearance is done by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it sends visa confirmation number to the tour operator and also to Druk Air/Bhutan Airlines. You will not be provided with the ticket till the time the airline receives the confirmation number, rechecks the visa information at the time of checking in the flight.
The actual visa endorsement is stamped in your passport when you arrive at one of the ports of entry for tourists. You receive a visa for the precise and exact period you have planned to stay in Bhutan.