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Travel Security Advice for Bangladesh

 

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BANGLADESH_MAPBangladesh_Overview


COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

Bangladesh is a democratic republic with a parliamentary form of government.  Bangladesh remains a developing country with poor infrastructure.  Tourist facilities outside major cities and tourist areas are minimal.  Read the Department of State’s Background Notes on Bangladesh for additional information.

REGISTRATION:

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Bangladesh are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate at the Department of State’s travel registration page in order to obtain updated information on local travel and security.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

A passport, visa and onward/return ticket are required.  The United States is on a list of countries eligible for visitor (tourist) visas on arrival (landing permits); however, the government of Bangladesh has not widely publicized its policy for visas on arrival, and travelers may encounter delays in airport visa issuance or be refused entry if they do not have visas prior to arrival.  Additionally, if issued, landing permit validity is usually limited to a maximum of fifteen days.  Therefore, we recommend that travelers obtain visas prior to arrival.  A valid visa in an expired or canceled U.S. passport is not acceptable to the Bangladeshi authorities; if you are issued a new U.S. passport, you will need a new visa.

If you intend to use Dhaka as a hub from which to visit other countries in the region, ensure that you obtain a multiple-entry Bangladeshi visa before arrival.  If you intend to work for a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Bangladesh, you should ensure that your sponsor has provided you with up-to-date advice on the kind of visa you must obtain before arrival.  It is difficult and time-consuming to change your immigration status after you have arrived in Bangladesh.

Bangladeshi visas may be extended at the Directorate of Immigration and Passport, located at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Agargaon, and Dhaka.  The phone numbers are (880-2) 913-1891 and 913-4011.

Visa rules introduced in October 2006 require that foreign nationals coming to Bangladesh for work or long-term visits have the appropriate work permits and clearances on arrival.  There are increased financial penalties for overstaying visas.  Additionally, those who overstay for more than 90 days face the possibility of being charged with violating the Foreigners Act of 1946.  For further information on these rules, please check with the nearest Bangladeshi Embassy or Consulate (U.S. addresses listed below) before traveling, or visit the Bangladeshi Immigration Police web site , which provides further details on rules relating to foreigner registrations.

When departing the country by air, all foreigners except children under the age of two must pay a departure tax.  This tax is often included when air tickets are purchased.  Otherwise, it is collected at the airport at the time of departure.  The amount of the departure tax varies, depending on the destination (e.g., the departure tax for the U.S. is the most expensive, at USD $43).  There is no travel tax for transit passengers transiting Bangladesh without a visa and in country for 72 hours or fewer.  These requirements may be subject to change, and travelers are advised to check with the Embassy of Bangladesh before traveling.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY:

Elections were held on December 29, 2008 and a new government was sworn in on January 6, 2009.  The security situation in Bangladesh is fluid, and Americans are urged to check with the U.S. Embassy for the latest information.  Spontaneous demonstrations take place in Bangladesh from time to time.  American citizens are reminded that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence quickly and unexpectedly.  American citizens are therefore urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations.  American citizens should stay up-to-date with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times.  Information regarding demonstrations in Bangladesh can be found on the U.S. Embassy Dhaka’s website .

Protests involving workers from the large garment-manufacturing industry are not uncommon.  Visitors to Bangladesh should check U.S. Embassy Dhaka’s web site for updated information on the current political and security situation.

U.S. citizens are advised against traveling to the Khagrachari, Rangamati and Bandarban Hill Tracts districts (collectively known as the Chittagong Hill Tracts) due to kidnappings and other security incidents, including those involving foreign nationals.  Foreigners traveling in the Chittagong Hill Tracts are required to register with local authorities.  Additionally, the U.S. Embassy has in the past received reports of incidents of kidnapping, arms and narcotics smuggling, and clashes between local Bangladeshis and Rohingyan refugees in areas near Rohingyan refugee camps in the Teknaf, Kutupalong, Ukhia, and Ramu areas of the Cox’s Bazar district.  The U.S. Embassy also recommends against travel to these areas.  Individuals who choose to visit these districts are urged to exercise extreme caution.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s, Bureau of Consular Affairs websiteIt contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide CautionAmericans traveling to or living in Bangladesh who are registered at the U.S. Embassy will receive updated security information about Bangladesh via e-mail.  All Demonstration Notices and Warden Messages are posted on the Embassy’s web site .

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad.

CRIME:

Urban crime can be organized or opportunistic, conducted by individuals or groups, and commonly involves fraud, theft (larceny, pick-pocketing, snatch-and-grab), robbery (armed and unarmed), carjacking, rape, assault, and burglary (home and auto).  Levels of violence and crime are higher in low-income residential and congested commercial areas, but are on the rise in wealthier areas as well. 

The Embassy has recently noted an increase in crime directed against foreigners in the Diplomatic Enclave in Dhaka.  Many of the reported attacks occurred while the victims were riding in rickshaws; other incidents involved the targeting of small groups of foreigners on foot.

To reduce your risk while riding in a rickshaw, keep your bags or valuables under your legs or behind your back, away from passing vehicle traffic, and make sure that your bags’ carrying straps are not visible.  For security reasons, the Embassy recommends that Americans avoid riding in taxis, buses, and engine-powered rickshaws (CNGs).

Americans should avoid walking alone after dark, carrying large sums of money, or wearing expensive jewelry.  Valuables should be stored in hotel safety deposit boxes and should not be left unattended in hotel rooms.  Police are generally responsive to reports of crimes against Americans.  Crimes, however, often go unsolved.

If you fall victim to a crime, the Embassy recommends that you not fight with your attacker.  Flee to a safe area and report the situation to the local authorities.  We remind all Americans to exercise vigilance when traveling in Dhaka.  Please be alert and aware at all times and vary routes and schedules.  We encourage all American citizens to carry their mobile phones at all times.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available.  Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law.  In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. 

VICTIMS OF CRIME:

If you are the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see end of this sheet or see the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates ).  This includes the loss or theft of a U.S. passport.  The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds may be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime are solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Bangladesh is 999, which connects you to the Dhaka Metro Police Exchange.  There is no guarantee that English will be spoken or understood at the Dhaka Metro Police Exchange.  The Police Exchange can only transfer calls to the appropriate local police station within the Dhaka metropolitan area, and then the caller will have to speak with that police station in order to actually have any police services performed.  There is similarly no guarantee that English will be spoken or understood at the local police station.

Outside of Dhaka, the caller will need to include the city code for Dhaka by dialing 02-999.  The Dhaka Metro Police Exchange will receive the call and should be able to provide the number of the appropriate police station within Bangladesh; however, they are unlikely to be able to transfer the call to a police station outside Dhaka.  The caller should then hang up and dial the number provided by the Dhaka Metro Police Exchange.  The ability to speak and/or understand English is even more unlikely at local police stations outside of Dhaka.


Please see our information on victims of crime , including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.


CRIMINAL PENALTIES:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States .

Persons violating Bangladeshi laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.  Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Bangladesh are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Bangladesh is a country crisscrossed with rivers, and thus uses a wide network of water-based public transportation. Ferries and other boats compete with the railroads as a major means of public transport.  Typically overloaded and top-heavy, ferries do capsize, particularly during the monsoon season from May to October and during unexpected thunderstorms or windstorms. Every year there are dozens of fatalities resulting from ferry accidents.

Bangladeshi customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Bangladesh of items such as currency, household appliances, alcohol, cigarettes and weapons.  While there is no restriction as to the amount of U.S. currency visitors may bring into Bangladesh, visitors must declare to customs authorities if they are carrying more than USD $5,000 at the time of arrival.  It is advisable to contact the Bangladeshi Embassy or Consulates for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Land disputes are common in Bangladesh and are extremely difficult to resolve through legal channels.  Court cases can last for months, and sometimes years, without there ever being a final and accurate determination of which party has legitimate claim to the title.

The U.S. Embassy currently has on file nearly thirty cases of American citizens who claim to have been victimized in land-grabbing disputes.  Rarely are these simple cases of a legitimate property owner versus an opportunistic land-grabber.  More often, it is a case of disagreement between an owner who believes he has historical ownership of the property and a buyer who has just purchased the same property.  One of them has been swindled, both of them have deeds, and it is next to impossible to determine whose deed is valid.

The dangers in becoming involved in a property dispute range from being threatened by bullies to being involved in a lengthy court dispute.  Those involved in a court dispute run the risk of having cases filed against them, and may be arrested and jailed, sometimes for months.

American citizens wishing to purchase property in Bangladesh should be thoroughly aware of the risks involved and should only purchase property from a seller whose ownership is beyond doubt.  Additionally, they should recognize the risks associated if they are not physically present to oversee their property.  American citizens should bear in mind that the U.S. Embassy cannot protect personal property and cannot take sides in a legal dispute.

The U.S. Embassy occasionally receives reports of parents attempting to force their sons or daughters into an unwanted marriage.  A marriage must be entered into with the full and free consent of both individuals.  The parties involved should feel that they have a choice.  If an American citizen is being forced into a marriage against his/her will, help and advice are available.  Please refer to the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka’s information on forced marriage, or contact the This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it directly by calling 011-88-02-885-5500 from the United States, 02-885-5500 from inside Bangladesh, or 885-5500 from anywhere in the city of Dhaka.  All travelers to Bangladesh should retain their passports and their return plane tickets to ensure independence to travel.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

Medical facilities in Bangladesh do not approach U.S. standards, even in tourist areas.  There is limited ambulance service in Bangladesh.  Several hospitals in Dhaka (e.g., Apollo Hospital and Square Hospital) have emergency rooms that are equipped at the level of a community hospital. Hospitals in the provinces are less well equipped and supplied.  There have been reports of counterfeit medications within the country, but medications from major pharmacies and hospitals are generally reliable.  Medical evacuations to Bangkok or Singapore are often necessary for serious conditions or invasive procedures.

The Bangladesh government has reported the first cases of H1N1 Influenza.  Local authorities have been monitoring the situation closely.  The Department of State reminds U.S. citizens that most cases of influenza are not 2009-H1N1 Influenza.  Any questions or concerns about influenza or other illnesses should be directed to a medical professional.  Although the Embassy cannot provide medical advice or provide medical services to the public, a list of hospitals and doctors in Dhaka can be found on the
Embassy website .

Bangladesh’s Ministry of Health requires all incoming travelers to complete a health questionnaire.  If they report flu symptoms, a sputum sample is collected from them.  If the test result is positive for H1N1 Influenza the traveler is contacted by the Ministry after 24 hours for further treatment.

For information on avian influenza (bird flu), please refer to the
Department of State's Avian Influenza Fact Sheet .

The Government of Bangladesh has no written policy regarding the entry of individuals with HIV/AIDS.  However, according to anecdotal reports, some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions may exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Bangladesh.  The Government of Bangladesh has informed the Embassy that a health officer or immigration officer at the airport who has concerns about an individual's possible HIV/AIDS status will make a case-specific determination regarding that individual's entry.  Please verify this information with the Embassy of Bangladesh before you travel.

For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) websiteThe WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

MEDICAL INSURANCE:

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad.  Important questions are whether the policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.



TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.  The information below concerning Bangladesh is provided for general reference only, and may not apply to every location or circumstance.  Conditions differ around the country.

The Bangladeshi road network is in poor condition. The streets of Dhaka are extremely congested; bicycle rickshaws compete with three-wheeled mini-taxis (CNGs), cars, overloaded buses, and trucks on limited road space.  Inter-city roads are narrow and poorly maintained.  Driving at night is especially dangerous, as streetlights are rare even in cities.  Also, driving on the left-hand side of the road may be confusing to American visitors.

Road accidents are common in Bangladesh.  Fatal head-on collisions on inter-city roads are common.  When vehicle accidents occur, a crowd quickly gathers and violence can occur if the crowd becomes unruly.  Travelers are strongly urged not to use public transportation, including buses, rickshaws, and three-wheeled mini-taxis due to their high accident rate and crime issues.  An alternative to consider is a rental car and driver.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.  Also, we suggest that you visit the website of the country’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Bangladesh’s Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for the oversight of Bangladesh’s air carrier operations.  Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:

Please see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption, international parental child abduction and the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka’s information on forced marriage .

EMBASSY LOCATION:

Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates .

U.S. Embassy Dhaka is located approximately four miles south of Zia International Airport, and five miles north of downtown in the Diplomatic Enclave, Madani Avenue, Baridhara, Dhaka.  The workweek is Sunday through Thursday.  The Consular Section is open for American Citizens Services Sunday through Thursday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. For emergency services and general information during business hours, please call (88-02) 882-3805.  For emergency services after hours, please call (88-02) 885-5500 and ask for the duty officer.  Facimile (88-02) 882-3744.

This replaces the Country Specific Information for Bangladesh dated January 16, 2009, to update the sections on Entry/Exit Requirements, Crime, Victims of Crime, Special Circumstances, Medical Facilities and Health Information, and Traffic Safety and Road Conditions.

 


 

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office for advice on Bangladesh HERE......

The CDC has an Interactive Malaria Map which you can access HERE.....

Need to find an Embassy ?, check out our World Wide Embassy Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens)..........

Regards

The SW Team..........

 

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