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Good News: Bhutan New SDF Incentives For 4, 7, & 12 Nights (2023-2024)

Bhutan Government Announces New SDF Incentives For 4, 7, & 12 Nights (Thimphu, Bhutan, May 31, 2023). The incentives are available for full US dollar SDF-paying tourists, and for stays in Bhutan between June 01, 2023 and December 31, 2024.

Depending on their planned itinerary, visitors can choose any of the following options with effect from June 01, 2023 till 31st of December, 2024:

• 4 + 4: Pay the SDF of USD 200 per night, per person, for four nights, and receive up to four additional nights without the daily levy.
• 7 + 7: Pay the SDF of USD 200 per night, per person, for seven nights, and receive up to seven additional nights without the daily levy.
• 12 + 18: Pay the SDF USD 200 per night per person, for twelve nights, and receive up to eighteen additional nights without the daily levy.

Check the document from Bhutan Government:
New SDF incentives of 4, 7 and 12 nights from 1st of June, 2023 to 31st of December, 2024.pdf

Paro Tiger's Nest, Bhutan

Paro Tiger's Nest, Bhutan

Sustainable Development Fee - FAQ about new SDF incentives June 1, 2023

1.What is the SDF and how is it used?

The Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) is a daily levy paid by visitors to support Bhutan’s development. Since the kingdom first opened its doors in 1974, guests have played a critical role in our country’s growth.

The SDF is collected by the national exchequer and funds are allocated to various projects that create long-term, sustainable opportunities for the Bhutanese people, through free healthcare, education and training, upskilling the tourism and hospitality industry, improved infrastructure, environmental preservation and conservation, cultural preservation programmes and initiatives that support local businesses and economies. The SDF is also a vital means of maintaining the exceptional forest cover and carbon-neutrality for which our small nation is world-renowned and globally critical. The SDF also helps us to ensure that we can continue to offer guests tranquillity and an intimate experience.

2.How much is the SDF?

For all visitors except those from India, the SDF is USD 200 per person, per night. For guests from India (who have an Indian passport or Indian voter ID card), the SDF is 1,200 ngultrum, or the equivalent amount in Indian rupees, per person, per night.

Children who have not yet turned six are exempt from paying any SDF. Children aged between 6 and who have not yet turned 12 at the time of travel receive a 50% concessionary discount on their SDF. Children aged 12 and above pay the full SDF rate. The same long-stay SDF incentives can be applied to US dollar SDF-paying children.

There are various duration-based SDF incentives in place for US Dollar -SDF paying guests to encourage long-stay visitors to Bhutan.

Day visitors to the Bhutanese towns bordering India are also exempt from paying the SDF until they reach a point designated by the Bhutanese government.

3.What are the exclusive SDF incentives available for extended stays?

Depending on their planned itinerary, visitors can choose any of the following options with effect from June 01, 2023:
– 4 + 4: Pay the SDF of USD 200 per night, per person, for four nights, and receive up to four additional nights without the daily levy.
– 7 + 7: Pay the SDF of USD 200 per night, per person, for seven nights, and receive up to seven additional nights without the daily levy.
– 12 + 18: Pay the SDF USD 200 per night per person, for twelve nights, and receive up to eighteen nights without the daily levy.

These incentives are only available for USD 200 per day SDF paying guests.

Visitors are also being given another opportunity to meaningfully contribute to Bhutan’s progress. Each visitor to Bhutan will be offered the chance to plant a tree towards Bhutan’s goal of one million new trees, helping to maintain the kingdom’s carbon-negative status and exceptional forest cover. Tree saplings will be provided to guests who wish to plant them during their stay in Bhutan, before being maintained by Bhutan’s De-suung national service project.

*After the SDF incentive ends, the standard SDF will apply once again.

**These temporary offers may be retracted or extended at any time.

Paro Airport, Bhutan

Paro Airport, Bhutan

4.Is everyone entitled to an SDF incentive?

All guests who pay USD 200 per day SDF rate are entitled to select one of the SDF incentives.

5.Does this offer represent a lowering of the SDF?

No. Bhutan’s SDF is fixed at USD 200 per person, per day, and this incentive should never be communicated as an SDF of USD 100 per person, per day.

6.If my guest takes the 4+4 SDF incentive (or any other incentive) and then spends a night in the border town, can they only pay for three nights SDF and still get four nights free?

No. This incentive is not combinable with the SDF waiver for border towns. So, if guests wish to visit the border towns before or after receiving the SDF incentive, the guests will need to apply for another visa to do so.

7.How can I calculate what my total SDF payable will be?

An online tool to help calculate the total SDF payable per person is available to view on the Department of Immigration’s website at: https://visit.doi.gov.bt/ and also below:
For guests choosing the 4 + 4 option, please click here.
For guests choosing the 7 + 7 option, please click here.
For guests choosing the 12 + 18 option, please click here.

8.Can the various SDF incentives be combined or repeated?

The different SDF incentives cannot be combined; however, they can be repeated. For instance, for a long-stay guest cannot select a 4+4 and a 7+7 option in the same trip. However, they can select the 4+4 option twice for stays of 16 nights.

9.Can guests combine the SDF incentives with the 24-hour border-town SDF waiver?

No. This incentive is not combinable with the SDF waiver for border towns.

Bhutan Monks

Bhutan Monks

10.What is the 24 hour SDF border town waiver?

Tourists visiting Samtse, Phuentsholing, Gelephu, and Samdrupjongkhar towns for 24 hours need not pay Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) beginning April 14, 2023. The waiver will be enforced for a year. The SDF waiver will only apply for tourists who do not travel beyond the designated zones of border towns. However, SDF will apply for visitors who travel beyond the designated zone of border towns.

Tourists will be charged SDF if they go beyond Gurung Basti in Samtse, and beyond Rinchending Checkpost in Phuentsholing. The designated zone in Gelephu is at Aipoli Bridge and Pinchinna checkpost in Samdrupjongkhar.

11.If guests who are already in Bhutan wish to extend their stay, what is the process?

The SDF of USD 200 per day will apply for each day of extension in Bhutan. The guests can also choose one of our SDF incentive options if they wish to stay longer than a few nights. The extensions must be made in person at the Department of Immigration and must be paid in US Dollars.

For Indian Nationals, extensions can be made in person at the Department of Immigration and must be paid in INR.

Can individuals in group visa applications select different SDF incentive options? Yes, individuals in group visa applications can choose different SDF incentive applications.

12.What happens if a guest wants to change the SDF incentive option after the visa application is submitted, but before any action has been taken by the Department of Immigration?

The guests should cancel their visa application and apply again. Please allow at least five working days to process the visa application. The SDF that they have already paid can be used when applying again.

13.Can guests who have already obtained a visa take advantage of the new SDF incentives?

Yes, guests who have already obtained visa and booked trips to Bhutan can take advantage of the new SDF incentives. They will need to cancel their existing visa application and re-apply. Please note that DoI will forfeit their original visa fee (USD 40) and guest will be required to pay the USD 40 visa fee again when they process their new visa application. The SDF that they have already paid can be used when applying again.

Bhutan Tshechu Festivel

Bhutan Tshechu Festivel

14.Are guests from Bangladesh and Maldives eligible to pay the reduced SDF?

No, all guests are required to pay the SDF of US$ 200 per person, per day (with discounts applied for children). Only guests from India are eligible to pay the rate of Nu. 1,200 (or equivalent in Indian Rupees) per day.

15.If I cancel my trip will my SDF be refunded?

Yes, the SDF will be refunded by the Department of Immigration for any cancelled or shortened trips; any bank charges will be deducted from the total refunded. Requests for SDF refunds should be submitted online using the visa portal. The refund will be processed after visitors leave Bhutan.

16.If a guest decides to leave Bhutan earlier than planned, are they eligible for an SDF refund?

Any complimentary nights issued as part of the SDF incentive will not be refunded. However, if a guest pays the SDF for four nights (for example), and leaves after staying for three nights, they will be refunded the SDF for one night. If the guest pays the SDF for four nights and originally plans to stay for eight nights, but leaves after five nights, they will not be entitled to any refund.

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