The SDF - the Sustainable Development Fee - is a daily levy paid by all visitors on a tourist visa to support Bhutan’s development. 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.
NB: Selective Asia includes all SDF and visa costs in your travel quotes. We take care of the applications and handle all paperwork as part of our service.
In a nutshell, the results are phenomenal.
A percentage of the money collected is used to fund the administration costs involved in tourism (i.e. airports, tourist services, and other administration), and a far greater amount is allocated to various projects that enhance facilities, services and infrastructure for Bhutanese nationals, as well as for visitors.
This income also goes towards funding wider areas of society, such as free education, including university places in Bhutan and abroad for the smartest pupils. Further budget is committed to ensuring that Bhutan is the cleanest, least polluted and most sustainability-focused country on the planet - lest we forget, this is the first carbon-negative country in the world.
This is not just hearsay; the results are clear. Throughout your travels in Bhutan, you’ll see evidence of it at every turn.
For all but Indian, Maldivian and Bangladeshi nationals, SDF is US$100 per person, per night. Children aged 6 to 12 at the time of travel receive a 50% concessionary discount on their SDF. Children under six are exempt from paying any SDF.
Yes, 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. The refund will be processed after visitors leave Bhutan.