Customs regulations and required documents
Personal effects import regulations
Local customs and traditions are taken very seriously. You should always respect them to avoid giving offence. You should dress respectfully in temples and dzongs (fortified buildings).
Homosexual acts are illegal in Bhutan. Although prosecutions are very rare; conviction for a homosexual act could lead to a prison sentence. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
There are strict penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
It is illegal to sell or buy tobacco products in Bhutan. Up to 200 cigarettes may be imported on payment of tax and import duty of 200%. You must be able to produce your customs receipt if asked by the police or you will be charged with smuggling and could face a prison sentence of up to 3 years. Smoking is forbidden inside public spaces such as hotels, restaurants and bars.
You will need prior authority to visit some parts of the country. This is usually arranged by your travel company or sponsoring agency.
The export of all antiques is strictly prohibited and monitored.
Commercial filming requires a permit, which can be processed though the tour agent. Further fees and surcharges may be levied.
All visitors are required to complete a customs form and hand it over to the customs authorities on arrival. All articles as mentioned in 3. and 4. must be declared on the customs form. If these items are disposed of in Bhutan (sale or gift), they become liable for customs duty.
Import of plants, soils etc. is subject to quarantine and these items must be declared on arrival.
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Prohibited: Import and export of wildlife products, especially those of endangered species.
Import Permit required from the Royal Bhutan Police.
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Same regulations as for export apply.
Local currency is Bhutan Ngultrum – BTN. However, Indian Rupee (INR) is also in use.
Foreign currency: up to a max. of USD 10,000. – (or equivalent). Foreign hard currency like USD, JPY, GBP, EUR, CHF, AUD, HKD, SGD will be acceptable at the Bank of Bhutan.
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No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation at the airport.
Flights in and out of Bhutan are operating on a severely reduced schedule due to COVID-19 restrictions on tourism.
Druk Air (Royal Bhutan Airlines) is the National Flag carrier in and out of Bhutan. Normally, daily air services between Paro and Bangkok and Paro and Kolkata and weekly services between Paro and Kathmandu are also operated by Tashi Air (Bhutan Airlines), an independent Bhutanese airline. A domestic flight operated by Druk Air flies between Paro, Bumthang, Yongphula and Gelegphug. Flights can be subject to disruption due to weather conditions.
Phuntsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar in eastern Bhutan are the only land border areas normally open for international tourists. You can get more information on the Tourism Council of Bhutan website.
Accidents are common, particularly in monsoon season. Observe the speed limit and make sure you have adequate insurance. Special care should be taken on highways, where conditions are often dangerous.
If you’re visiting Bhutan as a tourist, you should request temporary authorisation to drive through your tour agency. For longer stays, visitors can request a Bhutanese driving licence from the Road Safety and Transport Authority of Bhutan upon presentation of a valid UK driving licence.
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