Can a foreigner marry a Bhutanese?


Yes, foreigners can marry Bhutanese, but there are restrictions. Nonetheless, it can be done. The Bhutanese know that nothing can stand in the way of love.

Can a foreigner marry a Bhutanese? The answer is...yes!

Bhutanese law recognises that love knows no skin colour nor borders.

According to the Marriage Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2017, “Every Bhutanese national and other person residing in Bhutan has the right to marry any other person irrespective of their faith, sex, status, caste, wealth or appearance, provided the persons contracting the marriage thereof have expressly consented to their marriage and shall have to abide with the provisions laid down in this Act in matters relating to marriages.”

In 2015, the Supreme Court in Bhutan ruled that Bhutanese that marry foreigners can receive a marriage certificate. 

In order to obtain a marriage certificate in Bhutan, you must first attend an interview conducted annually by the Supreme Court, whereupon successfully passing it, you may be eligible to obtain the actual certificate from the district court that your spouse has registered his or her census with. 

Upon the submission of all the necessary documents, you would receive your certificate within a year.

However, Bhutanese citizenship does not come easy for foreigners

If you wish to marry a Bhutanese, first ask yourself this: do you plan to live in Bhutan?

Unfortunately, you do not naturally become a Bhutanese citizen upon marrying a Bhutanese.

At this point, if you wish to live in Bhutan, you could:

Apply for Bhutanese citizenship through naturalisation, or
Apply for a special residence permit to reside in Bhutan

Option A is not easy. To qualify, you’ll have to live in Bhutan for 10 years and own agricultural land within the kingdom, although there are instances when the King has made exceptions.

Option B, of course, is easier.

Restrictions on Bhutanese and Foreign Spouse

Following the union, you and your Bhutanese spouse are not allowed to join political parties, the military, or certain public services in Bhutan.

Should you have children, Bhutanese law stipulates that the children of Bhutanese men are naturally granted Bhutanese citizenship, but not Bhutanese women. This means that if a Bhutanese woman marries a foreign spouse, their children will not be granted citizenship. These kids would have to go through a lengthy application process to achieve citizenship.

On top of that, Bhutan does not recognise dual citizenship, so if you receive Bhutanese citizenship, it might mean that you have to give up your original passport.

The Marriage Act of Bhutan

Here’s a summary of the Marriage Act in 10 points:

  1. Two guarantors must be present before the court, one of which must be a Bhutanese citizen who is familiar with the matters of the court and the bride and groom.
  2. The non-Bhutanese spouse may acquire citizenship and live in the kingdom.
  3. The non-Bhutanese spouse must obey the rules and regulations of Bhutan.
  4. A Bhutanese who is working for the government and is married to a foreigner shall not be promoted beyond the post they held at the point of the marriage.
  5. A Bhutanese married to a foreigner shall not serve in the national defence department or Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  6. A Bhutanese married to a foreigner shall not be awarded a certain welfare entitlement.
  7. A Bhutanese married to a foreigner shall not be entitled to education and training abroad.
  8. A Bhutanese married to a foreigner forfeits the privilege of land allotment and medical treatment overseas.
  9. The non-Bhutanese spouse is not to spread or start a new religion apart from that of the religion of Bhutan.
  10. A non-Bhutanese spouse is required to follow the culture of the kingdom and government orders.

The Story About a Bhutanese Tour Guide and a Foreign Tourist Who Fell in Love

Photo credit: Karen Lim

In 2018, Karen Lim wrote a blog post titled “I Went to Bhutan on a Holiday and I Ended Up Marrying My Guide” that went viral.

She talked about the spiritual awakening she experienced in 2017, which led her to visit Bhutan. She contacted Druk Asia and booked a one-week cultural trip. She specifically requested a senior guide with a good grasp of history and culture, telling them that she was a journalist and museum guide.

And Ngawang was assigned to be that tour guide.

That week in Bhutan was magical for her — and Ngawang.

Karen made a secret wish at Tiger’s Nest. Much later, she found out that Ngawang had told his friend that it was at Tiger’s Nest that he fell in love with her.

She said, “Perhaps I had unknowingly fallen in love, because the two secret wishes that I made there have all come true.”

After that one week in Bhutan, Karen went back to her city life, but she and Ngawang kept in touch. He visited Singapore, where Karen was based, over the new year to be with her and she volunteered as a media trainer in Bhutan.

When she received her work permit to work in Bhutan for a year, Ngawang asked her to marry him.

Read more about what Karen has to say about Bhutan in Bhutan: Travelog. Click HERE to pre-order a copy of the travelogue now!

Perhaps, upon reading the book, you’ll be inspired to pay Bhutan a visit too. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll fall in love.

Related Posts

The Unique Dream Wedding Destination in Asia - Bhutan

Bhutan, a Himalayan landlocked kingdom located between China and India has a reputation for its mystery and magical...

Feb 11, 2021 09:07

Chillies, a spicy affair in Bhutan

The Bhutanese love it hot.

Jun 07, 2022 23:55

Bhutan is traditionally a matriarchal society

Women are the decision-makers at home, but something is keeping them from public life.

May 27, 2022 22:14

What are those singing bowls that you see in Bhutan

The vibrations from the bowl affect your body and mind.

May 22, 2022 12:06

The hot springs of Bhutan are believed to have miraculous healing...

The Bhutanese believe that hot springs are a blessing from the Buddha.

Apr 08, 2022 21:52

What are the five main fruits in a Bhutanese fruit bowl 'thokay'?

There are usually five fruits that make it to the 'thokay' (fruit bowl) placed on the altars or in front of the King,...

Mar 08, 2022 15:54



Bhutan to host the world’s toughest race

The race will cover a distance of 222 kilometres through difficult terrain, majestic mountains, and lofty glaciers.

Aug 29, 2022 22:08

New Riverside Market opens in Thimphu

As the old centenary farmers market undergoes its much-awaited renovations, the vendors of the first floor have now set up shop at the new...

Aug 15, 2022 18:04


Cordyceps Sinensis, the super mushrooms of Bhutan

Cordyceps Sinensis has many health benefits, which includes being an aphrodisiac.

Sep 25, 2022 16:50

The King of Bhutan regularly visits his people

The royals of Bhutan have an honourable legacy. Visiting their people is part of it.

Sep 25, 2022 16:35


The enormous role of hydropower in Bhutan

Bhutan uses hydropower to conserve the environment, produce electricity, and achieve economic self-reliance.

Jan 25, 2022 11:43

Online businesses are becoming more and more popular in Bhutan

Even though the Internet was developed in the 1960s, the tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan was only introduced to it in June 1999.

Jan 20, 2022 12:41


More Bhutanese youths are engaged in football

Sitting at the 186th position in the FIFA rankings, Bhutan looks to improve its rankings in the years to come.

Aug 03, 2022 20:19

BOB Bhutan Premier League is coming back soon with a bang

There’s an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation growing in the valleys of Bhutan as football fans in the country await what appears to...

Jul 24, 2022 14:47


What you need to know about birdwatching in Bhutan

The best seasons and locations for birdwatching in the Kingdom of Bhutan.

Sep 25, 2022 16:57

Bhutan revises its tourism policy to redefine High Value Low Volume tourism

Visitors to Bhutan will now have to pay more than triple the previous Sustainable Development Fees (SDF).

Jul 20, 2022 21:44


Chillies, a spicy affair in Bhutan

The Bhutanese love it hot.

Jun 07, 2022 23:55

Bhutan is traditionally a matriarchal society

Women are the decision-makers at home, but something is keeping them from public life.

May 27, 2022 22:14


A detailed summary of Bhutan's COVID-19 management and plans moving forward

With offices and all businesses open, movement of vehicles allowed and critical services resumed from 21st March 2022, Bhutan braces for a...

Mar 22, 2022 11:23

Vaccinated tourists to undergo 5-day quarantine in Bhutan from April 25

What you need to know about entering Bhutan from April 25.

Mar 14, 2022 14:21

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!