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Joint Press Release on Mutual Visa Exemption Agreement between Bhutan and Switzerland

Thimphu, 8 October 2014 – A mutual visa exemption agreement for holders of diplomatic and official passports was signed today by Foreign Secretary Yeshey Dorji and H.E. Linus von Castelmur, Ambassador of Switzerland to Bhutan at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gyalyong Tshokhang. The waiver of the visa requirement for officials and diplomats is an expression of trust and solidarity between the two countries and of the desire to further strengthen friendly relations. This arrangement will greatly facilitate official travel between the two countries and strengthen contacts and cooperation. Holders of official and diplomatic passports are permitted to stay for a period of up to 90 days without visa.

Switzerland is the 5th Country with which Bhutan has concluded such an agreement. Bhutan is the 27th country with which Switzerland has concluded such an agreement.

Bhutan and Switzerland formally established diplomatic relations in 1985. However, development cooperation started since the 1960s, firstly through private initiatives, later through Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Today, Bhutan and Switzerland enjoy a mutually beneficial, successful and close relationship.

The agreement does not extend to business travelers and tourists. Swiss tourists will continue to require a tourist visa and be subject to the royalty as before. In 2013, there were 1035 visitors from Switzerland to Bhutan, up from 781 only three years ago.

Private Bhutanese travelers to Switzerland are advised to address their visa applications to the Swiss Cooperation Programme Office in Thimphu, Langjophakha, not later than six weeks ahead of the expected travel date.

For further information contact:

Department of Bilateral Affairs,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Telephone: 02-322278

Swiss Cooperation Programme Office,
Lanjophaka, Thimphu
Telephone: 02 328570

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