Customs regulations for your trip to Bhutan

Last modified: July 20, 2023
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Customs 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.

Dutiable Items

Free import of:

  • personal effects for daily use;
  • 1 liter of alcohol (spirits or wine);
  • instruments or appliances for professional use;
  • photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic equipment for personal use.

Commercial filming requires a permit, which can be processed though the tour agent. Further fees and surcharges may be levied.

  • One carton of 200 cigarettes is permitted for personal use but subject to tax of 200%.

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.

  • All arms and ammunition are prohibited from entering the country unless special permission has been granted from the Royal Bhutan Army.
  • Plant and plant materials will require permission from the Ministry of Agriculture before being granted permission to enter the country.
  • Animal and animal products will also require permission from the Ministry of Agriculture to enter the country. All cats, dogs and other pets will also need a travel health certificate clearing the creature of any potential infection or contamination.
  • Wireless and remote sensing telecommunications equipment will need a permit from the Ministry of Communication.

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Prohibited Items

  • Illegal drugs
  • Guns, explosives and ammunition
  • Knives and deadly weapons
  • Plant and plant products
  • Meat and meat products
  • Pets and animals
  • Religious or rare cultural artefacts
  • Hazardous materials
  • Counterfeit money and goods
  • Pornographic material
  • Any other goods which are prohibited by any laws or international conventions or treaties to which Bhutan is a signature

Click here to view : customs

Miscellaneous (Pets, Motors, and others.)

Prohibited: Import and export of wildlife products, especially those of endangered species.

Arms and Ammunition regulations:

Import Permit required from the Royal Bhutan Police.

Motor: 

  • No vehicles of third country origin of any type shall be imported into Bhutan without an import license issued by the Royal Government of Bhutan.
  • Import of third country vehicles, including gifts and prizes received or won abroad, will be subject to Customs duty and Sales tax.
  • Privileged personnel of foreign Diplomatic Missions and International agencies, within 12 months of their arrival in Bhutan are permitted to import or acquire a vehicle locally on duty exempt basis.
  • Import of vehicles on duty exempt basis by eligible civil servants including those posted abroad shall be governed by Foreign Vehicle Allotment Rules 1994 or such amendments made by the Ministry of Finance from time to time.
  • Import of second hand vehicles shall not be permitted except for officials of Foreign Diplomatic Missions and International Organizations and expert who may bring in their used vehicles along with them on their transfer to Bhutan, subject to re-export on repatriation
  • Import of used vehicles by Bhutanese nationals, temporarily stationed abroad, shall be permitted, only if the following conditions are fulfilled:
    • A Bhutanese national has worked in a third country for a period of at least two years;
    • The vehicle must be procured and registered in his/her name in the country of residence at least one year prior to its importation into Bhutan; and
    • The vehicle procured abroad, is new and not second hand.
    • Duty and sales tax applicable shall be payable.

Click here to view : shipping rules

Currency Import regulations:

Same regulations as for export apply.

Currency Export regulations:

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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