No Issue for travel document holders travelling to Australia, Thailand

Government still talking with the foreign nations regarding passport replacement with travel document
The Chief of the passport division, Tshewang Dorj T with the Ministry of Foreign Affair said that the Australian High Commissioner returned a confirmation, accepting travel document as a passport.
He said, “Hence, the Bhutanese travelling to Australia to study will not face any issue related to passport. It was never a problem even before because the residents used the travel document even before issuing it in lieu of passport,” said Tshewang Dorji T.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Tandi Dorji said that two or three people landed in Thailand using the travel document without any issue at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. 
The Thai immigration officers are aware of travel documents used in place of the ordinary passport as Bhutan ran out of the stock.
 Lyonpo Tandi Dorji said, “It’s a cheap allegation against the government when people say that the ministry is using passport shortage as the way to stop them from going abroad. If it was the government’s plan, it would be very easy to just say that we ran out of ordinary passport and we won’t even care to issue travel document in lieu of passport.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister said that it is not possible to print such highly secured passports and travel documents in the country. However, the ministry is talking with the heads of the foreign countries to accept the travel document as a legit passport.
“Those who are looking to travel abroad should wait till October until the ordinary passports are restocked, if they think it’s going to cause them problem,” said the Lyonpo.
MoFA also provides advises to the outbound Bhutanese travellers regarding the requirements of prior visa or visa on arrival. However, Lyonpo advises the people to look for more information themselves too.
Lyonpo said, “People should also research and check to avoid inconveniences rather than fully depending on the government.”
Lyonpo also stated that the Bhutanese people are issued prompt passport and travel document services. It takes less than six working days to obtain the passport after the application. 
“In some developed countries, it takes more than four months to obtain the passport due to global supply shortage,” added Lyonpo.
Lyonpo said that the people who were handed travel document has the privilege to replace it with the ordinary passport free of cost when it is restocked in October. “But they can also choose to use it till the travel documents validity expires,” added the minister.
Passport division issue six standard booklets, namely diplomatic passport, official passport, ordinary passport, travel document, emergency travel document and emergency passport.
According to the Chief of the passport division the Bhutanese travel document is a standard booklet with different inscription on its cover with highly secure feature like the rest of the passports and travel documents.
Except for the ordinary passport, the division has adequate stock of rest of the travel booklets.
Emergency passports are also in stock but it can’t be issued in place of ordinary passport. According to Tshewang Dorji T, the emergency passports are issued to inbound Bhutanese 
Travellers who either lost or damaged their passport. It is also issued to newborn babies born in foreign land to return to the country.
The travel document has the validity of five years with 32 pages whereas the ordinary passport has the validity up to ten years with 64 pages. Yet, the fee paid for both the booklet is Nu 1,000.
Citizens are confused regarding the pricing at par despite the differences in the number of the pages and validity. “It should be half the price lesser compared to the ordinary passport, given the feature of the booklets,” said a confused citizen.
“Despite the difference in the number of pages and validity date, we procure both the booklets from Germany at same price,” said the Chief.
However, children 15-years-old and below need to pay Nu 800 to obtain the ordinary passport.
Passport division stated issuing travel documents since August 20 as an interim measure.
The division has adequate official and diplomatic passports and travel documents that will last for more than seven months. There are 16,000 travel documents.
According to the chief of the passport division, even some Developed countries in the world doesn’t have such technology to print passport.
The passport division said that Bhutanese travelers are unlikely to have passport problem with the United States of America (USA).
The Chief also claimed that the European countries were informed. “But there’s no objection from them. But also, there’s no assurance as of now,” said the Chief.
The chief said that they are yet to receive a confirmation from some countries regarding the status of acceptance and rejection of the travel documents as a passport.
Tshewang Dorji T claimed that some countries asked for further clarification. MoFA’s passport division provided the sample of travel documents used in place of the ordinary passport.
“The travel document is as good as the ordinary passport,” reconfirmed the Chief.
In the past travel documents were used by the Bhutanese residents living in USA, Canada and Australia. He said that It’s the same booklet used by the Bhutanese residents to travel abroad.
The ministry is Facilitating the requirement of prior visa on the travel document. 
The surge in passport issuance with more than 19,000 passports issued after the relaxation of lockdown kept the division the busiest. “We issued passports that would last more than a year and a half in the last three months,” said the Chief.
“The division applied for procuring more passport since April. Now that we issue travel document in place of passports there’s not much backlog left.”
It’s not just the people chasing Australian or Canadian dream, but many are also chasing gulf dreams. Youths travelling for work in the gulf countries were seen requesting to speed up the passport issuance process.
The incredible number of crowds at the passport office is also fueled by the rumours that the government will stop issuing the passport to stop the ‘brain drain’ in the country. Thus, many are hoarding passport although they don’t have travel plans.
Whereas official passports are issued the next day after applying for the passport. However, it takes longer time for the collection due to crowds gathered at the passport division.