BangladeshOfficial Name: People's Republic of Bangladesh
Six months longer than planned stay in Bangladesh
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Recommended for Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies, and Malaria
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
USD 5, 000 or more must be declared
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
2,000 Bangladeshi Taka (BDT) or more may not be taken out of the country
Embassies and Consulates
Baridhara, Dhaka, 1212
Telephone: +(88) (2) 5566-2000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(88) (2) 5566-2000, press "0" and ask for the duty officer
Fax: +(88) (2)5566-2915
Bangladesh is located on the northern edge of the Bay of Bengal; it is bordered on three sides by India and shares a small border with Burma. Approximately 160 million people inhabit Bangladesh, which has a land area of 55,598 square miles, slightly less than that of Iowa. It is the eighth most populous nation in the world and the most densely populated country, aside from some city states and tiny island nations.
Bangladesh consists primarily of low-lying deltaic plains. The Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers (known as the Padma and Jamuna in Bangladesh) and countless tributaries crisscross the country. The capital, Dhaka, is about 25 feet above sea level. During the monsoon season from June to October, up to 30% of the country is under water due to seasonal flooding. On occasion, as much as 70% of the country may be flooded if the monsoons are particularly heavy. Heavy rainfall is characteristic of Bangladesh, with most parts of the country receiving about 200 centimeters (80 inches) of rainfall per year. Annual cyclones can cause extreme flooding and have led to extensive loss of life and property damage.
Bangladesh is a parliamentary democracy with a unicameral legislature. The nation is a developing country with severe infrastructure shortcomings. Outside of Dhaka, tourist facilities are under-developed as are capacities to deal with emergency situations.
Though by almost any gauge Bangladesh remains a developing country, the impact of two decades of nearly six percent annual growth is visible throughout the country. Bangladeshis now can expect to live longer (65.7 years for males and 68.3 years for females), infant and maternal mortality have been dramatically reduced, gender parity has been attained in primary and secondary education, and the living standards and opportunities afforded to women and children have noticeably improved. Moreover, both rural and urban incomes have increased, and food production largely satisfies Bangladesh’s domestic needs.
Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Bangladesh for additional information on U.S. – Bangladesh relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
Visit the Embassy of Bangladesh website for the most current visa information.
A passport valid for six months longer than your planned length of stay in Bangladesh, at least one blank visa page, a Bangladeshi visa, and an onward or return ticket are required to enter Bangladesh. The United States is on a list of countries eligible for visitor (tourist) visas on arrival at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, Shah Amanat International Airport located in Chittagong, and Osmani International Airport in Sylhet. However, Bangladesh has not widely publicized their policies for visas on arrival. Travelers are encouraged to secure visas before travel as visas on arrival are not a traveler’s right but a privilege that may be extended to travelers by the immigration officer at the port of entry. You may encounter delays in airport visa issuance or be refused entry to countries en route to Bangladesh if you do not have a visa before arrival in Bangladesh. Therefore, we highly recommend that you obtain a visa prior to arrival.
While visas on arrival can be issued with single-entry validity up to a maximum of 30 days, most visas on arrival are issued only with the validity of the duration of the visitor’s planned travel in Bangladesh. The visa on arrival fee for U.S. citizens is US $50 plus taxes (about US $1) payable upon arrival in Dhaka in U.S. dollars, cash only. Validity is single-entry, 15 or 30 days. Travelers other than those on government duty must have a minimum of US $500 in cash or a credit card with them and must possess a return ticket if in Bangladesh on a short visit. A valid visa in an expired or canceled U.S. passport is not acceptable to Bangladeshi authorities. If you are issued a new U.S. passport for any reason, you will need a new visa. You may obtain a visa in your new passport at the Directorate of Immigration and Passport, located at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Agargaon, Dhaka. The phone numbers are 88-02-913-1891 and 913-4011. The fee for the new visa is US $160 plus taxes. Please carry photocopies of the bio-data page of your U.S. passport and the pages containing the Bangladeshi visa and Bangladeshi immigration stamps. If your passport is lost or stolen, copies will help you apply for a replacement passport and an exit visa from the Bangladesh government. Replacing a lost visa, which is required in order to exit the country, may take three to four business days.
Bangladeshi-Americans and their immediate family members are eligible for a “No Visa Required for Travel to Bangladesh” seal, which can be issued in their U.S. passports by the nearest Bangladeshi Embassy or Consulate. This endorsement allows travelers the privilege of multiple entries into Bangladesh with no restriction on duration of stay for the validity of the bearer’s passport. Please note that by accepting the “No Visa Required” seal and its associated privileges, you may also be implicitly acknowledging Bangladeshi nationality and accepting its associated responsibilities. As with visas, “No Visa Required” seals are no longer valid in expired passports. If the passport bearing your original “No Visa Required” seal is lost or expires, you must obtain a new seal in a valid passport prior to entering or departing Bangladesh.
If you intend to use Dhaka as a hub to visit other countries in the region, ensure that you obtain a multiple-entry Bangladeshi visa before your 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 your arrival. It is difficult and time-consuming to change your immigration status after you have arrived in Bangladesh.
Visas to Bangladesh that are expiring may be extended at the Directorate of Immigration and Passport, located at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Agargaon, and Dhaka. The phone numbers are 88-02-913-1891 and 913-4011.
Visa rules require foreign nationals who come to Bangladesh to work, or for long-term visits, to have the appropriate work permits and clearances on arrival. There are increased financial penalties for overstaying the terms of your visa. Additionally, those who overstay for more than 90 days could be 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 website for further details on rules relating to foreigner registration.
When traveling 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 United States is the most expensive, at 3,000 Bangladesh Taka [BDT]). There is no tax for transit passengers transiting Bangladesh without a visa and in country for 72 hours or fewer. These requirements are subject to change, and travelers are advised to check with the Embassy of Bangladesh before traveling. If departing the country by road in a private vehicle, foreigners are required to obtain a road permit. They should contact the Director General, Immigration and Passports, Dhaka for further information. A refundable cash deposit is typically required; the amount of the deposit is based on the value of the vehicle.
If your visa or “No Visa Required” seal has expired or is in a passport that is no longer valid, you should expect delays upon departure. Travelers who have overstayed by 1–14 days will be fined 200 BDT per day, which can be paid at the Shahjalal International Airport Immigration Office. Fines for overstays of 15 days or more cannot be paid at the Shahjalal International Airport. Travelers who have overstayed 15–90 days are subject to a fine of 500 BDT per day, which must be paid at the Immigration and Passport Office at 7th Sher-E-Bangla Nagar, Agargaon, Dhaka. Individuals who overstay in excess of 90 days face prosecution by the Bangladeshi Immigration and Passport Authority.
The Government of Bangladesh has announced that a new security surcharge will be levied on departing passengers, but no date of implementation has been set.
A currency export policy exists for travelers departing Bangladesh and is enforced by the Bangladesh Customs Authority. Travelers are not allowed to carry more than 2,000 BDT when exiting Bangladesh. This is applicable for all land, sea, and airport travel. Some travelers have reported being questioned by customs officials on how much Taka they are carrying and even having to surrender excess Taka. Foreign travelers can bring in and take out up to US $5,000 without declaration. Travelers must declare more than this amount in the airport customs office.
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 foreigners. 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. For further information on entry requirements and possible exceptions to the exit requirements, please contact the Embassy of Bangladesh, 3510 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone 202-244-0183/7248 /7216/3830/ 3571, fax 202-244-2771/7830, or the Bangladeshi Consulates in New York at 211 E. 43rd Street, Suite 502, New York, NY 10017, telephone 212-599-6767/6850/1874, fax 212-682-9211 or Los Angeles at 10850 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1250, Los Angeles, CA 90024, telephone 323-932-0100, fax 323-932-9703.
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.
Safety and Security
In Bangladesh, a common method for political parties and other organizations to articulate their demands is by calling for a hartal, or general strike. The purpose of hartals is to disrupt or shut down services, either locally or throughout the country. They can turn violent when those involved move to enforce the shutdown. Even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can become violent and unpredictable. Hartals are frequently called with little notice, so we strongly recommend that private U.S. citizens enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive the latest important safety and security announcements.
Sources of political and social unrest may include: displeasure over judicial verdicts, labor disputes, or displeasure with electoral preparations, processes, or results. Demonstrations sometimes lead to violent clashes between police and protesters or between rival groups, resulting in injuries, deaths, and property damage. In some cases, demonstrators may block highways and roads to traffic. Trains and railways may be sabotaged. Participants throw rocks, debris, and small homemade explosive devices. Security forces may use tear gas, less-than-lethal crowd control measures, and firearms with rubber bullets against demonstrators. Protests occur in major metropolitan areas, including Dhaka, Sylhet, and Chittagong, but also take place in other parts of the country, including in rural areas.
The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations or political gatherings in Bangladesh. Foreigners may become caught in the violence that often arises from such gatherings. There have been no direct attacks on U.S. citizens, nor do foreigners appear to have been targeted; however, in isolated instances, Westerners and U.S. citizens have been caught in the middle of clashes and demonstrations or stranded when highways have been blocked. U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security by knowing the locations of police and fire stations, hospitals, and other secure places for shelter, if needed. U.S. citizens should also carry identification and a cell phone or other means of communication that works in Bangladesh. Be alert and aware of your surroundings and pay attention to local news reports. U.S. citizens in Bangladesh are encouraged to make common sense plans to deal with security situations, and to investigate alternate means of communication in country, evacuation insurance, and alternative destinations both within and outside the country in case of emergency. If you are concerned for your security you should exercise personal responsibility, remove yourself from the situation and relocate to an area where you feel secure.
While Dhaka’s Diplomatic Enclave, which includes the areas of Banani, Baridhara, and Gulshan, is generally considered safe, political violence occasionally occurs in this area too. During hartals, the travel of U.S. Embassy employees and their family members is restricted to the Diplomatic Enclave (Banani, Baridhara, and Gulshan) from 6:00 p.m. the night before the start of a hartal until it officially ends. The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services outside of the Diplomatic Enclave is therefore limited for the duration of the hartal. Visitors to Bangladesh should check U.S. Embassy Dhaka’s website for updated information on the current political and security situation.
The U.S. Embassy also recommends that in times of demonstrations, national strikes, or elections, U.S. citizens avoid Road 86 in the Gulshan-2 area of Dhaka as one of the major national political party’s headquarters is located on that road. Large unscheduled events occur frequently and usually spill out on to this and adjoining roads, making them impassable and potentially dangerous. Pedestrian, rickshaw, bicycle and other exposed means of movement should always be considered carefully, and using such forms of transportation during hours of darkness – especially during hartal periods -- is not advised. Unpredictable violence, including the use of homemade explosive devices has occurred on several occasions inside the diplomatic enclave, and the use of incendiary devices (Molotov cocktails) has occurred outside the enclave, in multiple locations across Bangladesh. Those who travel within the Gulshan neighborhood of Dhaka should take particular precaution against exposed movement during hours of darkness in the vicinity of Gulshan-2 Circle (DIT-2). Remain alert, exercise caution, minimize movement and limit exposure during hartals.
On January 5, 2015, political opposition leaders called for a non-stop nationwide blockade of transportation between cities until their demands for a caretaker government leading to national elections is met. The blockade has contributed to ongoing violence involving attacks using Molotov cocktails and explosives, vandalism of vehicles, and derailment of trains. Travelers should be attentive to the potential for blockade-related disruptions and violence and make travel decisions accordingly.
Naya Paltan area in Dhaka, Baitul Mukarram Mosque (National Mosque), Muktangan (bordered by Baitul Mukarram Mosque to the east, the General Post Office (GPO) to the south, the Secretariat to the West, and Topkhana Road to the North), and Topkhana-Motijheel Road should be avoided because political rallies can occur at these locations.
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. Foreigners traveling in the Chittagong Hill Tracts are required to register with local authorities. Individuals who choose to visit these districts are urged to exercise extreme caution.
The fire department is accessible by dialing 199 if in Dhaka and (88) (02) 199 if outside of Dhaka. The fire department can also be reached by mobile phone from anywhere in Bangladesh by dialing (88) 01713-038181, (88) 01713-038182 or (88) 01730-336699. Improper storage of chemical accelerants, improperly installed electrical systems, lack of fire escapes, burglar bars on windows preventing escape, and hours-long delays in fire department response make fires in Bangladesh both common and extremely dangerous.
To stay connected:
· Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Visit the Embassy’s website, Twitter and Facebook.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Dhaka's crime rate is high; the types of crime are comparable to any other world capital or large city. Always take precautions such as being alert and aware, locking home and vehicle doors, varying routes and schedules, traveling in groups, never walking alone at night, and parking near entrances or security lamps. Hiring a 24-hour guard is highly recommended due to the possibility of trespassing and break-ins. In general, crime dramatically increases in the hours of darkness, including dusk and dawn. Urban crime can be organized or opportunistic, conducted by individuals or groups, and commonly encompasses fraud, theft (larceny, pick-pocketing, and snatch-and-grab), robbery (armed and unarmed), carjacking, rape, assault, and burglary (home and auto). Incidents of crime and levels of violence are higher in low-income residential and congested commercial areas, but are seen in wealthier areas as well, including the Diplomatic Enclave in Dhaka.
Passengers in Bangladesh's various forms of public transportation are common targets for theft. The use of rickshaws is not recommended. If you must travel by rickshaw, reduce your risk by keeping your bags or valuables under your legs away from passing vehicle traffic, and ensure that your bag’s carrying straps are not visible. Because passengers in engine-powered rickshaws (also known as CNGs) are more at risk of robbery and violence, this form of public transportation should be avoided. Taxis can be unsafe and unreliable. Long-term visitors typically hire a car and driver; short-term visitors should hire a car through their hotel or other reliable party. Pick-pocketing, theft and other larceny are common on buses. Thieves and robbers frequent trains in Bangladesh at all hours of the day on all routes and larceny commonly occurs. Train tracks are often sabotaged as part of political protests and train derailments are common.
Avoid carrying or displaying large sums of money or wearing expensive jewelry, and be aware of your surroundings when you use ATMs. Valuables should be stored in hotel safety deposit boxes and should not be left unattended in hotel rooms.
Women should observe stringent security precautions, including avoiding use of public transport after dark without the company of known and trustworthy companions, restricting evening entertainment to well-known venues, and avoiding isolated areas when alone at any time of day. Keep your hotel room number confidential and make sure hotel room doors have chains, deadlocks, and spy-holes. Hire only reliable cars and drivers and avoid traveling in vehicles hailed on the street.
Police responsiveness to criminal reports varies widely. U.S. citizens may receive more active assistance. However, crimes often go unsolved or unprosecuted. Dual nationals holding both U.S. and Bangladeshi citizenship may not be immediately recognized as U.S. citizens by the local authorities and may initially be treated solely as Bangladeshi citizens.
If you are assaulted, do not fight with your attacker. Flee to a safe area and report the situation to the local authorities. Let go of your purse or backpack rather than fight to retain possession of it. Use hotel safes or lock-boxes for valuables. We encourage all U.S. citizens to carry their mobile phones with them at all times and to travel in pairs or groups. It is also a good idea to travel with a native Bangla-speaker if you intend to travel outside urban areas.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only is it illegal in the United States, you may be breaking local law too.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport.
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and, if you want us to, contact family members or friends.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Bangladesh is (88) (02) 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 police station within the Dhaka metropolitan area, and 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. The Dhaka Metropolitan Police Department has established the following special phone number and e-mail address to assist non-Bangladeshi citizen victims of crime: mobile number (88) 01713-398355 and e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The Sylhet Metropolitan Police also have a Foreigners’ Help Desk with the following phone number: (88) 01713-374364.
Outside Dhaka, the caller will need to directly contact the nearest police station. If you do not have the contact information for the nearest police station, call (88) (02) 999 to reach the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Switchboard, which 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 or understand English is even more unlikely at local police stations outside of Dhaka. The Police Exchange can also be reached by mobile phone from anywhere in Bangladesh at (88) (02) 712-4000.
Another resource in Bangladesh, specifically for victims of violent crime such as rape or domestic violence, is a 24 hour toll-free helpline, managed by the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs. The helpline number, dialed from any phone within Bangladesh is 10921. Operators are trained to respond in both English and local language and can provide information on shelters, police resources, and hospital facilities in Bangladesh.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Bangladesh, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. 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, or death. In Bangladesh, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you or if you take pictures of certain buildings. In Bangladesh, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. If you break local laws in Bangladesh, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution.
There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted in the United States for engaging in sexual conduct with children or for using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country regardless of the legality of these activities under that country’s laws. Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well.
Arrest notifications in host country: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in that country, others may not. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
Customs: Bangladesh customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation or export of items such as currency, household appliances, alcohol, cigarettes, and weapons. While there is no restriction on the amount of U.S. currency visitors may bring into Bangladesh, amounts in excess of US $5,000 must be declared to customs authorities at the time of arrival. The Government of Bangladesh does not allow the exchange of local currency (Bangladesh taka) for US dollars, unless the customer has a ticket for travel outside of Bangladesh. This is true for both cash and traveler’s checks. Contact the Bangladeshi Embassy or Consulates for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please see our Customs Information.
Dual Nationality: U.S. citizens holding both U.S. and Bangladeshi citizenship may not be immediately recognized as U.S. citizens by the local authorities and may initially be treated solely as Bangladeshi citizens.
Forced Marriage: The U.S. Embassy continues to receive reports of parents attempting to force their sons or daughters into unwanted marriages. 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 a U.S. citizen is being forced into a marriage against his or her will, help and advice from the Embassy are available. Please refer to the U.S. Embassy’s information on forced marriage, contact the American Citizens Services unit by e-mail at DhakaACS@state.gov, or by phone at (88-02) 5566-2000 from the United States, (02) 5566-2000 from inside Bangladesh, or 5566-2000 from within the city of Dhaka. All travelers to Bangladesh, including Bangladeshi citizens, should maintain possession of their passports and return plane tickets to ensure independence to travel.
Property Disputes: If you are involved in commercial or property matters, be aware that the legal environment in Bangladesh is complex. Formal, regulated, and transparent land dispute mechanisms are not fully developed. Individuals and businesses cite corruption and an ineffective and painfully slow court system as serious problems.
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 a final and accurate determination as to which party has legitimate claim to the title. Documentation and property records are often non-existent, incomplete, or poorly maintained.
The U.S. Embassy has received reports of cases of U.S. 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 or she has historical ownership of the property and a buyer who has just purchased the same property. One or both of them may have been swindled, both of them may have deeds, and it is difficult even for the courts to reliably determine whose deed is valid.
The dangers in becoming involved in a property dispute range from being threatened, injured, or murdered by hired thugs to being involved in a lengthy court dispute. Those involved in a court dispute run the risk of having cases filed against them, and they may be arrested and jailed, sometimes for months.
U.S. 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, buyers should recognize the risks associated with not being physically present to oversee their property. U.S. citizens should bear in mind that the U.S. Embassy cannot protect personal property and cannot take sides in a legal dispute.
Natural Disasters: Bangladesh is considered at extreme risk for natural disasters related to weather or other natural events. One recent survey ranked Bangladesh the country most at risk in the aggregate for natural disasters. Flooding is the most common hazard. During the monsoon season, generally from June to October, 30 percent of the country or more may be under water due to flooding from the Padma (Ganges), Meghna, Jamuna (Brahmaputra) and other rivers. Cyclones, the local name for hurricanes, occur most frequently in May through October. Severe cyclones strike Bangladesh on average once every five to ten years. Storm surges of up to 10 meters associated with these cyclones can occur. Tornadoes are also common in Bangladesh, one of the most hard-hit countries in the world for these storms. Earthquakes generally occur in the northern and eastern parts of Bangladesh, but as Bangladesh is close to the intersection of the Indian, Eurasian, and Australian tectonic plates, the potential for catastrophic earthquakes anywhere in the country is ever-present. As a general matter, disaster preparedness of local and national authorities in Bangladesh is far below U.S. standards.
WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: Consensual same-sex sexual activity is criminalized in Bangladesh and penalties include up to life imprisonment. Although the U.S. Embassy is not aware of any recent arrests or prosecutions for such activities, they remain illegal. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Bangladesh, you may review the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Bangladesh, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from in the United States. Most roads in Bangladesh do not have proper sidewalks and those that do are often in disrepair and not easily accessible by persons with disabilities. Few roads have proper crosswalks for pedestrians. There are few ramps or elevators to assist those with disabilities. The public transportation system is overcrowded and not easily accessible by those with disabilities. Individuals with wheelchairs will find public transportation virtually impossible to use. Most public places, including buildings, hotels, and restaurants, have little to no accommodation for persons with disabilities. A handful of modern hotels built in the last few years are wheelchair accessible, but virtually no properties have been built with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards in mind.
Disabled persons are legally afforded the same access to information rights as their non-disabled peers. The Ministry of Social Welfare, the Department of Social Services, and the National Foundation for the Development of the Disabled are the Bangladesh government agencies responsible for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. Government facilities for treating persons with mental disabilities are largely inadequate. Several private initiatives exist for medical and vocational rehabilitation, as well as for employment of persons with disabilities. Several NGOs, including Handicap International, have programs focusing on helping and raising awareness of the challenges faced by the disabled.
The general levels of sanitation and health care in Bangladesh are far below U.S. and European standards. There is limited ambulance service in Bangladesh and attendants seldom are trained to provide the level of care seen in the United States. Traffic congestion and the lack of a modern centralized emergency services system (on par with 911 in the United States) make patient transport slow and inefficient. Several hospitals in Dhaka (e.g., United, Apollo, and Square Hospitals) have emergency rooms that are equipped at the level of a community hospital, but most expatriates leave the country for all but the simplest medical procedures. Hospitals in the provinces are less well equipped and supplied. Psychological and psychiatric services are limited throughout Bangladesh. There have been reports of counterfeit medications within the country, but medication from major pharmacies and hospitals is generally reliable. Medical evacuations to Bangkok or Singapore are often necessary for serious conditions or surgical procedures and can cost thousands of dollars. See the Medical Insurance section below for useful information.
Despite government efforts, community sanitation and public health programs are inadequate in Bangladesh. Water supplies in Bangladesh are not potable. Typhoid fever, cholera, infectious hepatitis, giardia, cyclospora, and bacillary and amoebic dysentery are only a few of the serious diseases transmitted by impure drinking water. Bottled drinking water, especially major brands, is generally safe for consumption. Fecal-oral contamination is common; improperly prepared meat and improperly cleaned vegetables can lead to food-borne illnesses such as cysticercosis, neurocysticercosis, and campylobacter gastroenteritis plus hepatitis A, B, C, and E. Press reports indicate that fish and other raw foods are frequently treated with formalin to slow decomposition, that fruits, particularly bananas, are generally treated with toxic chemicals to speed ripening, that milk products are adulterated with melamine, and that vegetables tend to show elevated levels of arsenic due to contaminated groundwater. Washing, soaking, peeling, and thoroughly cooking food are mandatory procedures to minimize chemical, insecticide, bacterial, and parasitic contamination.
Multiple strains of influenza continue to circulate annually in Bangladesh including H1N1 influenza A pandemic strain. Peak influenza circulation occurs during the rainy season, approximately May through October. CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against the most common influenza viruses (seasonal flu). For more information about seasonal influenza, please refer to the CDC’s seasonal Flu website.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza A virus H5N1 (Bird flu) is known to circulate among poultry in the country. Subtype A(H5N1), excreted in large amounts in the droppings of infected birds, is endemic. Only sporadic human cases acquired by direct contact with poultry are reported in this country. The last human case was reported in February 2013. Although avian influenza A viruses usually do not infect humans, rare cases of human infection with avian influenza A viruses have been reported, most often following direct or close contact with infected poultry. As Bangladesh continues to be affected by H5N1, it is recommended to avoid poultry farms, contact with birds in live food markets, and consumption of poultry products that are not thoroughly cooked. For information on avian influenza (bird flu), please refer to the Center for Disease Control’s Influenza Fact Sheet.
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.
Dengue fever, a mosquito-borne illness, is prevalent in Dhaka and surrounding areas, in particular from June through December, but can happen at any time of year. Prevention is key, as there is no vaccine or treatment once infected.
Malaria is a problem in the surrounding areas outside Dhaka. If you are planning to travel outside Dhaka, consider starting prophylaxis medication prior to travel.
Japanese B encephalitis, also a mosquito-borne disease, is a problem throughout Bangladesh, although less so in Dhaka. While there is no specific treatment for Japanese encephalitis, there is a recommended vaccine available. Chikungunya was found in Bangladesh in 2008, and this mosquito-borne illness is slowly making headway throughout the country, including in Dhaka. No vaccine or specific treatment exists for chikungunya. In all areas, use of mosquito repellent and bed nets is strongly recommended to help prevent mosquito-borne diseases.
Outbreaks of anthrax in rural communities in Bangladesh have occurred among persons who slaughtered sick animals. Individuals who avoid this activity are not at risk. Though a small risk still exists of consuming anthrax-infected meat, human vaccination against anthrax is not recommended.
Rabies is a more serious problem, with several thousand people dying yearly in Bangladesh from this endemic disease, generally passed on via bites from infected dogs. Seek prophylactic advice from your health-care practitioner before coming to Bangladesh. Avoid and do not feed stray animals. Seek immediate medical attention if bitten by any animal.
According to the World Health Organization, Bangladesh has also seen cases of nipah virus, visceral leishmaniasis. Visceral leishmaniasis is a deadly disease caused by parasitic protozoa, leishmaniadonovani, transmitted to humans by the bite of infected female sandflies. The disease lowers immunity, causes persistent fever, anemia, liver and spleen enlargement, loss of body weight and if left untreated, kills.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a major public health problem and endemic in Bangladesh. The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks Bangladesh among the world’s high-burden TB countries. Additionally, Bangladesh was also listed as high-burden for multi-drug resistant TB.
In March 2014, the WHO declared Bangladesh to be polio-free, meaning that for the past three years Bangladesh has had zero confirmed cases of polio.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Bangladesh. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: Bangladesh’s road conditions 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. Conditions differ around the country.
Traffic in Bangladesh moves on the left, the opposite of U.S. traffic. Roads are extremely crowded, particularly in the cities, with bicycles, rickshaws, three-wheeled mini-taxis (CNGs), cars, overloaded buses, and trucks all vying for road space and right of way. Drivers are often unlicensed, aggressive, risk-taking, and poorly trained. Many vehicles, particularly large trucks and buses, are badly maintained and driven by inexperienced young men recently arrived from rural Bangladesh seeking quick employment. Exercise extreme caution when crossing streets, even in areas frequented by pedestrians. When in vehicles, use seatbelts if available, though seatbelts are not common in taxis. Helmets should always be worn on motorcycles and bicycles. Roads, including most major highways, are poorly maintained and often lack safe shoulders, have numerous potholes, sharp drop-offs, and barriers that are not sign-posted. Speed limits and other traffic laws are not commonly posted and are rarely observed by motorists in any case. Drivers should exercise extreme caution when traveling at night by road, as many vehicles do not have proper illumination and most roads are inadequately lit. Rickshaws rarely have any lighting on them at all. Travel by road without an experienced local driver or guide is not recommended.
On Bangladeshi roads, the safest driving policy is to always assume that other drivers will not respond to a traffic situation in the same way you would in the United States. On Bangladeshi roads, large vehicles generally take the right-of-way. Cars, buses, and trucks often run red lights and merge directly into traffic at yield points and traffic circles without stopping. Rickshaws, bicycles, and pedestrians behave only slightly more cautiously. The practice of frequently using one’s car horn or flashing high-beam headlights to announce one’s presence is the norm in all areas of Bangladesh at all times of day or night.
Road accidents, including fatal head-on collisions, are common in Bangladesh. If a serious accident occurs, or if a driver hits a pedestrian or a cow, crowds quickly gather and the behavior of the crowd is often unpredictable. In these cases, some members of the crowd may try to assist injured parties, while other individuals may seek to impose their own sense of justice on perceived responsible parties, especially foreigners. The vehicle and its occupants may be at risk of being attacked in such circumstances depending on who the crowd believes is at fault and what damage occurred. Such attacks may pose significant risk of injury or death to the vehicle's occupants or at least of incineration of the vehicle. It is unsafe to remain at the scene of an accident of this nature, and drivers may instead wish to seek out the nearest police station.
Travelers are strongly urged not to use public transportation, including buses, rickshaws, and CNGs due to their high accident rate and crime issues. An alternative to consider is a rental car and driver.
Banditry and carjacking, particularly along intercity highways, have been known to occur but are unusual. Those using these roads should exercise particular vigilance.
Protestors and street demonstrators, especially during times of local and national elections, often use road blockage as a means of publicizing their grievances, causing severe inconvenience to travelers. Visitors should monitor local news for any reports of road disturbances.
For those traveling by rail, the Bangladesh passenger rail system is antiquated and overburdened by high demand, but has been generally safe to use. Some political activists target the rail lines during civil unrest by hurling explosives and removing rail ties from the tracks on some lines, making the trips unusually dangerous and causing scheduled trips to be cancelled. Even in calm times, foreigners are often the center of attention at many train stations because of the relatively atypical presence of foreign travelers on rail in the country. The major urban centers of Dhaka, Sylhet, Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, and many other cities are connected by rail. Prices for trips are low compared to air travel. Accommodations range from clean air-conditioned first class cabins to crowded, non-AC, uncomfortable second class.
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 oversight of Bangladesh’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.