SDF – Sustainable Development Fees

SDF – Sustainable Development Fees

The Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) is a daily levy paid by all visitors holding a tourist visa in Bhutan.

Since the kingdom first opened its doors in 1974, visiting guests have played a critical role in the country’s growth. The main objectives of the SDF system are to ensure that tourists visit in sustainable numbers and that a sizeable proportion of the income made through tourism is shared by, and invested in, all Bhutanese people.

The SDF is collected by the National Exchequer of Bhutan as part of the visa application process. Your visa, or permit to travel in Bhutan, is only issued once the SDF has been paid.

A significant portion of the SDF fund is allocated towards the development of tourism infrastructure, including the enhancement of airports, construction of essential facilities like toilets, and strengthening administrative capacities. The majority of the fund, however, is directed towards broader societal initiatives, such as providing free education and healthcare services. Additionally, these funds contribute to Bhutan’s commitment to environmental preservation, ensuring that it remains among the cleanest, least polluted, and most sustainability-focused countries globally. The tangible outcomes of these efforts are evident throughout Bhutan, demonstrating the tangible impact of the SDF in fostering sustainable development.

How much is the SDF?

For all (except Indian, Maldivian and Bangladeshi nationals), from September 1, 2023, the SDF is reduced by half to US$100 per day. Children ages six to 12 pay $50 per day, and there’s no fee for children age five or under. Similarly, Indian tourists are required to pay a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) of INR 1,200/- per person per night. Children aged 5 years and below are exempted from SDF, and children ages 6-12 pay 50% at INR600/-per.

Wind Horse takes care of all SDF applications, payments, and handles all paperwork and refunds as part of our service.

Waiver in Border Towns:

With effect from April 14, 2023, SDF is waived in the border towns of Phuentsholing, Samtse, and Gelephu for visits up to 24 hours. So long as one can exit within 24 hours and do not travel beyond the designated zone of the border towns, SDF is free. This program was approved for the period of 1 year.

Refund Policy:

If the guest cancels the trip, the SDF will be refunded by the Department of Immigration for any cancelled or shortened trips; any bank charges or direct costs incurred will be deducted from the total refunded.

Wind Horse will facilitate the refunds from the Department of Immigration for our guests, ensuring a seamless experience for travelers.

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Wind Horse Tours is well established adventure travel outfitter since 1998. We specialise in small group journeys and personalised custom private trips to Bhutan, India, Nepal and Tibet. Guide Books, Bhutan Tourism and several popular travel organisation recognises Wind Horse Tours as a leading tour operator for the region.

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