April 12, 2004
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Bangladesh has a developing economy. Tourist facilities outside major cities and tourist areas are minimal. The capital city is Dhaka.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport, visa and onward/return ticket are required. All travelers to Bangladesh, including American citizens, must have a valid visa in their passport prior to arrival. Note that airport visas (landing permits) are no longer available upon arrival by air. Some Americans seeking visas from the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington, D.C. or from Bangladesh Embassies or Consulates in other countries have reported that they are erroneously advised to enter Bangladesh on a landing permit. There are two recent exit requirements. As of March 13, 2003, the government of Bangladesh has levied a departure tax on foreign national adults and children age two and older. The amount of the departure tax varies for travel to different regions. There is no tax for transit passengers traveling through Bangladesh without a visa and in country for 72 hours or less. These requirements may be subject to change, and travelers are advised to check with the Embassy of Bangladesh before traveling. Also, as of April 15, 2002, departing foreign nationals are required to comply with the income tax ordinance of 1984 and submit an income tax clearance certificate/income tax exemption certificate to local airline offices upon departure from Bangladesh. For further information on entry requirements and possible exceptions to the exit requirements, please contact the Embassy of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, 3510 International Drive, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone 202-244-0183, fax 202-244-5366, website http://www.bangladoot.org , or the Bangladesh Consulates in New York, 211 E. 43rd Street, Suite 502, New York, NY 10017, telephone 212-599-6767, or Los Angeles, 10850 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1250, Los Angeles, CA 90024, telephone 310-441-9399.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: There may be an increasing threat to U.S. interests from extremists in Bangladesh. In response to this potential threat, the U.S. Embassy in early 2004 took a number of measures to ensure the security of its staff.
In general, demonstrations occur on Friday afternoons but may take place at any time and any place. However, most demonstrations occur in downtown Dhaka, some five miles south of the U.S. Embassy. Some of these demonstrations have been violent and, in some instances, property belonging to U.S.-affiliated businesses has been damaged or destroyed. During this period of heightened tension in the Middle East, Americans are urged to avoid, if possible, travel to the downtown Dhaka area, especially on Fridays.
In Bangladesh, attending large gatherings or public events, as well as demonstrations, may pose a very real safety risk for Americans. In December 2002, bombs exploded at four packed movie theaters in the town of Mymensingh, located approximately 70 mi/112 km north of Dhaka, killing or injuring many people. A similar coordinated attack occurred in September 2002, when bombs exploded in a movie theater and at a circus in the town of Satkira, located approximately 112 mi/180 km southwest of Dhaka. There have been no American citizens among the victims of these bombings. The Mymensingh bombings reinforce continued Embassy warnings about the possibility of violence in public places where large crowds gather. While the coordinated nature of these bombings raises further security concerns in Bangladesh, the State Department has no information to indicate that these bombings are related to terrorist attacks against Americans elsewhere in the world.
Domestic, politically inspired violence has not abated since the 2001 election campaign. This type of violence is a particular problem on university campuses. While Americans in Bangladesh have not been the targets of this violence, they should factor it in when planning their movements. Public demonstrations, marches and labor strikes are widely used as a means of political expression in Bangladesh. A number of general strikes, or "hartals," have been called by the political opposition over the past several years, resulting in the virtual shutdown of transportation and commerce, and sometimes attacks on individuals who do not observe the hartals. Clashes between rival political groups during hartals have resulted in deaths and injuries. American citizens are therefore urged to avoid all political protests, demonstrations, and marches. During hartals, American citizens should exercise caution in all areas and remain inside their hotels, residences, schools, or workplaces whenever possible.
Due to several kidnappings, including those of foreign nationals, U.S. citizens are advised against travelling to the Khagrachari, Rangamati and Bandarban Hill Tracts districts (collectively known as the Chittagong Hill Tracts) unless the travel is absolutely essential. Individuals who choose to visit these districts are urged to exercise extreme caution. Visitors to Bangladesh should check with the consular section at the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka for updated information on planned political activities.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.
The Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.
CRIME: Crime is a growing problem, particularly in the major cities of Dhaka and Chittagong. Weapons are increasingly used in criminal incidents. Pick-pocketing, purse-snatching, and other forms of street crime occur often, especially in areas frequented by foreigners. Visitors 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.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is 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.
U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlets A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to South Asia for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlets are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov .
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities in Bangladesh do not approach U.S. standards, even in tourist areas. Medical evacuations to Bangkok or Singapore are often needed for serious conditions.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at telephone 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization's website at http://www.who.int/en . Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith .
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 be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
The Bangladesh road network is in poor condition and poorly maintained. The streets of Dhaka are extremely congested, with hundreds of thousands of bicycle rickshaws competing with baby taxis, auto tempos, cars, overloaded buses, and trucks for limited road space. Inter-city roads are narrow. Driving at night is especially dangerous. Streetlights are rare even in cities. Road accidents are common in Bangladesh. Numerous American residents in Bangladesh report having had at least one traffic accident. Fatal head-on collisions on inter-city roads are common. When vehicle accidents occur, a crowd quickly gathers and judges the more affluent party to be at fault. Travelers are strongly urged not to use rickshaws or three-wheeled baby taxis due to their high accident rate, as well as the increased possibility of purse snatchings or muggings. Rental cars with drivers and regular taxis are the preferred means of transportation.
For additional information about road safety, click here or contact the Bangladesh Parjan Corporation, National Tourism Organization, 233 Airport Road, Tejgaon, Dhaka-1214, telephone (880-2) 811-9192 or 811-8559, fax (880-2) 811-7235, internet web site http://www.parjatan.org , e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org .
WATER TRANSPORTATION: Bangladesh is a riverine country with a wide network of waterways used for public transportation. Ferries and other boats compete with the railroads as a major means of public transport. Typically overloaded and top-heavy, ferries are subject to capsizing, particularly during the monsoon season from May to October when encountering thunderstorms or wind gusts that arise unpredictably. Every year there are many fatalities, including Americans, resulting from ferry accidents.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Bangladesh's civil aviation authority as category 2 -- not in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Bangladesh's air carrier operations. While consultations to correct the deficiencies are ongoing, the Bangladesh air carriers currently flying to the United States will be subject to heightened FAA surveillance. No additional flights or new service to the United States by Bangladesh's air carriers will be permitted unless they arrange to have the flights conducted by an air carrier from a country meeting international safety standards. Because of safety concerns about the operation of Biman Airlines, the Department of State authorizes its personnel to use alternative carriers or means of transportation whenever practical for trips to/from Bangladesh. Americans who are required to travel by air within Bangladesh may wish to consider using an alternative airline, if available, or consider alternate means of transportation. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.intl.faa.gov .
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. In addition, the DOD does not permit its personnel to use air carriers from category 2 countries for official business except for flights originating from or terminating in the United States. Local exceptions may apply. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone 618-229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Bangladesh 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. It is advisable to contact the Bangladesh Embassy or Consulates for specific information regarding customs requirements.
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. Persons violating Bangladesh's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Bangladesh are strict. The death penalty or life imprisonment can be imposed for some drug-related crimes, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
The judicial system is slow, trial proceedings are subject to frequent delays, and the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka hears complaints of corruption. Jail conditions are far below U.S. standards.
CONSULAR ACCESS: U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a photocopy of their U.S. passport with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. In accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations to which Bangladesh is a signatory, a U.S. citizen under detention in Bangladesh has a right to request that the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka be notified regarding his or her situation and gain access. Bangladeshi authorities have repeatedly failed to notify U.S. consular officials of the arrest of American citizens.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone the Overseas Citizens Services' call center at 1-888-407-4747. The OCS call center can answer general inquiries regarding international adoptions and abductions and will forward calls to the appropriate country officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living in or visiting Bangladesh are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka where they may also obtain updated information on travel and security within Bangladesh. The U.S. Embassy is located some four miles south of Zia International Airport, and five miles north of downtown in the Diplomatic Enclave, Madani Avenue, Baridhara, Dhaka, telephone (880-2) 885-5500, fax number (880-2) 882-3744. The work week is Sunday - Thursday. The Consular Section is open for American citizens services Sunday through Thursday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. For emergency services during business hours, please call (880-2) 882-3805. For emergency services after hours, please call (880-2) 885-5500 and ask for the duty officer. The Embassy's Internet home page is http://dhaka.usembassy.gov/ .
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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet for Bangladesh dated April 21, 2003, to update information on Entry/Exit Requirements, Safety and Security, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, Water Transportation and Registration/Embassy Location.
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