Study Abroad in Bhutan: Policies

Potential applicants to the Bhutan study abroad program should be aware of in-country laws, as well as Naropa study abroad policies, in regards to tobacco, alcohol and illegal drug use in Bhutan. It is the policy of Naropa that violation of the following policies during the study abroad experience (including travel, excursion or "free" time) will result in disciplinary sanctions, up to and including an immediate dismissal from the program.


Per the Bhutanese Tobacco Control Act of 2012, cigarette smoking in public places is prohibited by national law in Bhutan. There is a black market for cigarettes but all RUB campuses have a policy of no smoking. Students are responsible for observing campus and Bhutan policies prohibiting smoking of cigarettes.


While Naropa University does not encourage the use of alcohol while studying abroad, there does exist some latitude in the individual choices of students regarding alcohol consumption. Alcohol may be consumed as long as consumption is in strict accordance with local laws and customs.  Students are responsible for knowing and understanding local laws and customs, as well as host school policies, pertaining to alcohol use.

The legal drinking age in Bhutan is 18, and students who are of legal drinking age in Bhutan may consume alcohol but must take full responsibility for their conduct. Any misuse of alcohol will result in disciplinary action that could result in dismissal from the program.

The policies of the Royal University of Bhutan strictly forbid alcohol use on campus. Students who violate these policies may be immediately removed from the program.

Misuse of Alcohol

If alcohol consumption is allowed under local law and cultural norms, the following guidelines apply:

  1. Students must obey the rules of their dormitory or homestay. If the host school dormitory has a no-alcohol policy, students may not drink alcohol on campus, regardless of local laws.
  2. Students must always act in a culturally appropriate manner.
  3. Students must not misuse alcohol or engage in inappropriate behavior, which includes the following:
    1. Acting in a manner that is offensive to others;
    2. Destroying property;
    3. Posing risk to the safety of self or others;
    4. Drinking to the point of visible drunkenness;
    5. Abusing alcohol to the point of affecting school performance;
    6. Causing embarrassment to self or others;
    7. Acting in a way that causes detriment to the program.

Students are encouraged to use good judgment if consuming alcohol. Due to impaired judgement under the influence of alcohol, accidents, injuries, and sexual assault are more likely to occur after students have been drinking. Students are encouraged to discuss issues with the program leader(s) related to alcohol abuse by other members of their group. Peers should look out for one another and keep each other safe.

Illegal drugs

While studying and living in Bhutan, students, faculty, and staff are subject to the laws of Bhutan. This applies especially with regard to the use or sale of controlled substances—i.e., drugs and alcohol. The use and sale of drugs is illegal and can result in severe penalties. A U.S. passport will not protect anyone from arrest or detention. Furthermore, judicial procedures in many countries provide for lengthy investigatory detention without bail. Neither the U.S. Embassy nor Naropa will be able to assist Naropa students to a great extent, nor can Naropa students be guaranteed due process or judicial considerations typically followed in the U.S. and/or in Naropa's student handbook.