Yes, you do need permits to go to Tibet. We can help you get these permits. There is a service charge (by the government) 0f 7-10 US dollars per person.
1) If you only go to Lhasa, a Tibet permit will be sufficient but, if you want to go further to the "unopened" areas, you also need an Alien's travel permit issued by the PSB of Tibet.
2) If you have not booked a tour, the travel agencies can not help you get the permits. No travel agency can provide "permit-only" service. Here is a note from Lonely Planet:
"Lhasa PSB will not issue travel permits to individuals and will direct you to a travel agency. Agencies can arrange a travel permit to almost anywhere but only if you book a Land Cruiser, driver and a guide."
It is impossible for a travel agency to SELL you a Tibet permit if you have not booked a tour with them. Do not "buy" a travel permit only or you may get in trouble!
3) Most people can obtain a Tibet permit through their travel agency except diplomats, journalists and government officials who should travel to Tibet under the arrangement by the Foreign Affairs Office of the Tibet Government.
4) If you want us to help you with your Tibet permits, you need to give us your information including: full name, gender, date of birth, passport number, nationality and occupation.