Country Guide: Bhutan

Due to the current coronavirus/COVID-19 situation and restrictions in various countries, the below information may not be accurate. This pandemic is a fluid situation. Check with authorities for local laws and restrictions concerning movements.

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Updated: November 16, 2016

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Used Household Goods and Personal Effects

Documents Required

  • Copy passport
  • Original bill of lading (OBL) / air waybill (AWB)
  • Letter of employment (must include dates of employment)
  • Resident visa / work visa
  • Import permit obtained from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Detailed inventory
  • Diplomatic franchise (diplomats)
  • Receipts of purchase (if new items are included in the shipment)


Specific Information

  • All shipments are subject to inspection, except diplomatic shipments.
  • Owners of the goods must be present during Customs clearance.
  • Returning citizens are exempt from taxes subject to completion and availability of the required documents for entry (passport, OBL / AWB, letter of employment, IKEC, and BSTEC).
  • Diplomats, personnel of the United Nations and its agencies, personnel of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and embassy employees with non-diplomatic status may import used household goods duty free.
  • The IDEC and BSTEC are issued by the Department of Revenue and Customs in Thimphu upon request and submission of the documents required for entry and import.
  • An import license is required for shipment through the Kolkata Port per treaty between India and Bhutan.
  • Household goods and personal effects may be imported in small quantities only.

Motor Vehicles

Documents Required

  • Original certificate of title / registration
  • OBL
  • Original purchase invoice
  • Proof of insurance


Specific Information

  • Only privileged personnel of foreign diplomatic organizations and international agencies may import or acquire new, used, and second-hand vehicles within 12 months of arrival in Bhutan duty free.
  • Contact the destination agent for additional information.


Documents Required

  • Vaccination record
  • Veterinary health certificate


Specific Information

  • Check with the destination agent for regulations and requirements regarding the importation of pets as transportation options are limited.

Restricted/Dutiable Items

  • Alcohol (2 L; 200% taxes and duties; however, alcohol is available in duty-free shops)
  • Cigarettes (20 packs)
  • Firearms (permission is required from the Royal Bhutan Army prior to import)
  • Second-hand vehicles (only privileged organizations and Embassies may import)
  • Drugs (drugs by medical prescription are permitted)
  • Electronic goods (photographic equipment, video cameras, etc. are exempt from Customs duties but must be declared upon arrival)

Prohibited Items

  • Explosives
  • Military equipment
  • Pornographic and subversive materials
  • Antiques
  • All narcotics and drugs (medically-prescribed drugs pare permitted)
  • All wildlife products, including those from endangered species

Consignment Instructions

Recommended: Contact the destination agent to ensure all requirements have been met prior to import, especially for differences regarding air / sea shipments.


Cultural and Other Information

CIA World Factbook

Wikipedia Entry for Bhutan

IAM Note: Customs regulations can change at any time with or without notice. This document is provided as a guide and for information only. While IAM has exercised reasonable care in publishing this document, IAM makes no representation, either expressed or implied, as to its accuracy or applicability.