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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Bhutan

Bhutan - Consular Information Sheet
October 24, 2000

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Bhutan is a small land-locked Himalayan monarchy. By treaty, it accepts the guidance of India in foreign affairs. Facilities for tourism are limited.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Tourists are admitted only in groups by pre-arrangement with the Tourism Authority of Bhutan, P.O. Box 126, Thimpu, Bhutan, tel. (975-2) 23251, 23252; fax (975-2) 23695. Entry is available only via India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Thailand. The border with China is closed.

Visitors to Bhutan are required to book through a registered tour operator in Bhutan. This can be done directly or through a travel agent abroad. The minimum daily tariff is regulated and fixed by the Royal Government. The rate includes all accommodations, all meals, transportation, services of licensed guides and porters, and cultural programs where and when available.

A passport and visa are required for entry into and exit from Bhutan. All visitors, including those on official U.S. Government business, must obtain visas prior to entering the country. There are no provisions for visas upon arrival.

For additional entry/exit information, please contact the Bhutan Mission to the United Nations (Consulate General), 2 UN Plaza, 27th floor, New York, NY 10017, tel. (212)826-1919, fax (212)826-2998, or via the Internet at http://www.embassy.org/embassies/bt.html.

CRIME INFORMATION: There is relatively little crime in Bhutan. Petty crime, such as pick-pocketing and purse snatching, is occasionally reported. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlets, A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to South Asia, for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlets are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities in Bhutan are limited. Some medicine is in short supply. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties.

Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States or elsewhere can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via their Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Bhutan is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Not Applicable (Tourists pay a set fee per day, which includes supplied transportation.)
Road Conditions/Maintenance in Urban Areas: Good
Road Conditions/Maintenance in Rural Areas: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Although Bhutan's road network is not extensive, principal sites likely to be visited by travelers are connected by reasonably well-maintained, paved, two-lane roads. Traffic is rarely heavy, but sharp curves, narrow lanes, and limited visibility in mountainous terrain make traveling slow and potentially hazardous. Reduced speeds and special caution are advisable.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service between the U.S. and Bhutan, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Bhutan's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. (618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Bhutan customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Bhutan of items such as firearms, ammunition, explosives and military stores; narcotics and drugs (except for medically prescribed drugs); wildlife products, especially those of endangered species; and antiques. Please contact the Tourism Authority of Bhutan for specific information on customs requirements. (Please see the section on Entry/Exit Requirements.)

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than penalties for similar offenses in the United States. Persons violating Bhutan laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession of, use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strictly enforced in Bhutan. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Bhutan is an earthquake-prone country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_ issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

EMBASSY LOCATION AND REGISTRATION: There is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Bhutan. Although no formal diplomatic relations exist between the United States and Bhutan, informal contact is maintained through the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. Updated information on travel and security in Bhutan may be obtained at any U.S. consulate or embassy in India or Bangladesh. Americans living in or visiting Bhutan are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. They may also obtain assistance from the U.S. consulates in India or, to a more limited degree, from the U.S. Embassies in Dhaka, Bangladesh or Kathmandu, Nepal.

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is located at Shanti Path, Chanakyapuri 110021, tel. (91)(11)419-8000, fax:(91)(11)419-0017. The Embassy's Internet home page address is http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/in1/wwwhmain.html

The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai (Bombay) is located at Lincoln House, 78 Bhulabhai Desai Road, 400026, tel. (91)(22) 363-3611/ Internet home page address is http://usembassy.state.gov/mumbai/.

The U.S. Consulate General in Calcutta is at 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, 700071, tel. (91)(033)282-3611 through 282-3615. The Internet home page address is http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/in4/wwwhmain.html

The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai (Madras) is at Mount Road, 600006, tel. (91)(44) 827-3040. Internet home page address is http://usembassy.state.gov/chennai/.

The U.S. Embassy in Dhaka is located at Diplomatic Enclave, Madani Ave, Baridhara, Dhaka 1212, tel. (880) (2) 882-4700-22, fax (880)(2) 882-3744.

The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu is located at Pani Pokhari, Kathmandu, tel. (977)(1)411179, 410531, fax(977)(1)419963. The Internet home page address is http://www.south-asia.com/USA/.

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated September 15, 1999 to expand information on Entry/Exit Requirements, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, and Embassy Location and Registration, and to add information on Customs Regulations.

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