- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Bangladesh due to the unpredictable security and political situation.
- Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media and local information sources for news about possible safety or security risks.
- You should exercise particular caution in the period surrounding the general election scheduled for 5 January 2014. There are likely to be hartals (general strikes), transport blockades and violent clashes between political groups and security forces in the period surrounding the election. Political protests may also result in attacks on property and vehicles.
- You should also exercise particular caution around the following events:
- the trials of alleged war criminals. Following the 12 December execution of one of those sentenced in the trials, a number of people have been killed and injured in associated protest and violence. Earlier hartals and protests associated with the war crimes tribunals have been violent, resulting in death and injury. Clashes between security forces and groups opposing the trials may continue for the duration of the trials, and at the time of any further executions.
- hartals (general strikes) which can involve the shutdown of all activity, particularly in urban areas. Hartals are frequently accompanied by violence targeting public transport or private vehicles moving on the roads. Hartals may be imposed on a nationwide basis or limited to a particular city or district;
- periodic blockades of rail, road and river transport networks by political groups, which may involve disruption of communications in Dhaka and around Bangladesh. Blockades can result in shortages of fuel and other supplies.
- Australians should keep clear of all protests, demonstrations, large crowds, political rallies and sit-ins as they may turn violent without warning. Should a hartal occur you should avoid unnecessary travel. You should follow the instructions of local authorities.
- Significant dates and anniversaries can attract violence and public celebrations have been targeted for attacks in the past. For further details, including a list of significant dates and anniversaries, see the Civil unrest/political tension section.
- There have been a number of terrorist incidents in recent years and security agencies in Bangladesh continue to arrest people connected to terrorist organisations. Further attacks are possible, including against Western interests.
- The number of reported crimes, including armed robbery and mugging, has increased in Dhaka over the past two years (see Crime section).
- Local laws impose penalties, which include fines and imprisonment, on Bangladeshi citizens if they purchase, carry, possess, transport or consume alcohol without a permit. These laws apply to dual nationals as well.
- We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the Chittagong Hill Tracts region because of the high risk of politically motivated violence and kidnapping.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Bangladesh for the most up-to-date information.
Travellers to Bangladesh must declare to customs authorities if they are carrying more than US$ 5,000 when entering or exiting the country.
Australian citizens working in Bangladesh are required to obtain an Income Tax Clearance Certificate or an Income Tax Exemption Certificate prior to each departure from Bangladesh. Full details of the requirements and those exempted from these requirements can be obtained from the Bangladesh Board of Revenue.
Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Safety and security
There have been a number of terrorist incidents in recent years and security agencies in Bangladesh continue to arrest people connected to terrorist organisations. Further attacks are possible, including against Western interests.
In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. Possible targets include commercial and public areas, government buildings including courts, foreign government and commercial interests, military and police facilities, embassies, hotels, clubs, restaurants, bars, schools, markets and shopping areas, banks, places of worship, political rallies, cinemas, outdoor recreation and cultural events, public transport including bus terminals and railway stations, tourist areas and historic sites.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.
Civil unrest/political tension
We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Bangladesh at this time due to the unpredictable security and political situation. Pay close attention to your personal security and closely monitor the media and local information sources for news of safety and security risks and threats.
General elections have been announced for 5 January 2014. Political activity, including nation-wide hartals (general strikes), demonstrations, sit-ins and road blockades, has increased in frequency in the lead up to the election. There may be violent clashes between political groups and security forces in the period surrounding the elections. Political protests may also result in attacks on property and vehicles. You should avoid all political protests and demonstrations.
Political groups are enforcing periodic blockades of rail, road and river transport networks by political groups, which may involve disruption of communications in Dhaka and around Bangladesh. Blockades can result in shortages of fuel and other supplies
Fatal bomb blasts linked to political activity have occurred in the past, including at rallies and in Dhaka.
Hartals (general strikes) can involve the shutdown of all activity, particularly in urban areas. Hartals are frequently accompanied by violence targeting public transport or private vehicles moving on the roads. Hartals may be imposed on a nationwide basis or limited to a particular city or district.
Judicial proceedings, such as the announcement of verdicts and the implementation of sentences, involving high profile cases can also prompt strong public reaction, including violent acts.
The trials of alleged war criminals have been accompanied by violence. Following the 12 December execution of one of those sentenced in the trials, a number of people have been killed and injured in associated protest and violence. Earlier hartals and protests associated with the war crimes tribunals have been violent, resulting in death and injury. Following the verdict of one trial on 28 February 2013, at least 70 people were killed and many more injured throughout Bangladesh following clashes between security forces and groups opposing the trials.Clashes between security forces and groups opposing the trials may continue for the duration of the trials, and at the time of any further executions.
Groups supporting and opposing the war crimes trials in Bangladesh have staged a number of rallies in Dhaka and other locations across the country. These rallies may continue for the duration of the war crimes trials. You should avoid these events and all other protests, demonstrations, political rallies and sit-ins as they may turn violent.
You should monitor the media and local sources of information for news about possible safety or security risks. Demonstrations, street rallies and public gatherings, including localised industrial and social disputes, can develop with little or no warning in provincial centres, major cities and at educational institutions and become catalysts for violence and civil disorder. These demonstrations often occur can occur at any time. Protests involving religious issues can occur after Friday prayers in the vicinity of major mosques. You should avoid all such events as they have the potential to turn violent with little warning.
In September 2012 anti-US demonstrations, including ones which resulted in clashes between protesters and security forces, took place in Dhaka and elsewhere in Bangladesh. Further protests are possible, including in locations close to the US and other embassies.
You should avoid Road 86 in Gulshan 2 in Dhaka where a Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) office is located as it regularly attracts large crowds and protests. On 31 March 2013 a number of shots were fired at the BNP office, without injury to people.
Significant dates and anniversaries can attract violence. Dates of national significance include: Mother Language Day on 21 February; Independence Day on 26 March; Bengali New Year on 14 April; and Victory Day on 16 December. Crowds at these celebrations have been targeted for attacks in the past. We advise Australians to avoid crowds and areas where such celebrations are taking place.
International events and political developments in the region may trigger demonstrations in Bangladesh.
Chittagong Hill Tracts region: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region because of the high risk of politically motivated violence and kidnapping. Political violence between indigenous groups, and clashes between Bengali settlers and the indigenous people, continues to take place in the CHT. These clashes involve killings and attacks on property. In June 2007, three employees of a foreign aid agency were kidnapped in the Thanchi area of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
The Government of Bangladesh has committed to implementing the terms of the 1997 CHT Peace Accord, but the political situation remains unpredictable.
For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping Threat travel bulletin.
The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. If you do decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should ensure you have personal security measures in place, seek professional security advice and take out kidnapping insurance.
Criminal violence and armed robbery are common in Bangladesh.
There has been an increase in reported criminal activity over the past two years, including in Gulshan and Banani in Dhaka, where resident expatriates have been victims of armed robbery.
Law enforcement agencies have increased the number of check posts around Dhaka. We recommend Australians, including dual nationals, carry copies of their passports with them, especially when travelling at night, to assist identification at these check posts.
Thieves, often armed and operating in teams, prey upon people travelling in rickshaws (a popular mode of transport), taxis and CNGs (motorised rickshaws, also known as baby taxis). Petty crime, including theft and purse snatching, is also common.
The risk of robbery increases after dark, especially on public transport. Avoid walking or travelling alone on public transport after dark.
Money and valuables
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas.
Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
In 2013, passenger trains were derailed or set on fire as acts of political violence, resulting in injury to passengers. We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution when using the transport networks in Bangladesh.
Road travel, particularly at night and outside the major cities, is dangerous and fatalities are common. Cars, buses and trucks frequently drive at high speed without headlights illuminated or on full beam. Drivers overtake other vehicles at inappropriate moments and head-on collisions are common. The practice of people sitting on the roof of buses and trains, coupled with severe overcrowding inside vehicles, adds to the risks. Roads are congested, road conditions can be hazardous and the traffic is chaotic. For further advice, see our road travel page.
Avoid Road 86 in Gulshan 2 where a Bangladesh Nationalist Party office is located which regularly attracts large crowds and protests.
Due to monsoon floods, most rural roads are built up and the shoulders can have a two to three metre drop. Flooding can result in roads being damaged and impassable, hampering overland travel. Travellers should monitor the media for road closures.
Traffic accidents, even minor ones, often attract large crowds of onlookers. The situation can quickly get out of control and turn violent. You should drive with caution and immediately contact police if you are involved in an accident.
Rickshaws and CNGs travel erratically and their drivers show little traffic sense, failing to indicate and emerging from side streets at speed. Many are unlit at night and therefore difficult to see in the dark.
Train travel is risky as the tracks are dilapidated and there are a high number of unauthorised and unmanned crossings.
River craft such as ferries may be overloaded or lack necessary life-saving equipment. Hundreds of lives can be lost in major accidents.
Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.
When you are in Bangladesh, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
Local authorities can demand to see identification. We recommend Australians, including dual nationals, carry copies of their passports with them, especially when travelling at night.
Australians who might engage in activities that involve local legal matters, particularly with regard to family law (divorce, child custody and child support), are strongly advised to seek professional advice and ensure they are aware of their rights and responsibilities.
Penalties for drug offences are severe and include mandatory prison sentences (including for small amounts of illegal drugs) and the death penalty.
Illicit drugs are increasingly available in Bangladesh, especially in venues frequented by teenagers and young people. Law enforcement agencies have raided such sites. “Hukka (or smoking) pipes”, common in some bars and cafes, have sometimes been spiked with illicit drugs. You should avoid using these pipes.
The death penalty may be imposed for crimes including murder, trafficking of children, rape causing death, abduction, espionage and hijacking an aircraft.
Corporal punishment (whipping) may be used as an alternative sentence to jail.
Homosexual acts are illegal and penalties include imprisonment. See our LGBTI travellers page.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australian overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
Standards of dress and behaviour are conservative in Bangladesh and you should take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.
Shorts are not worn and women should wear scarves around their necks and shoulders.
During Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims.
Public displays of affection are not socially acceptable.
Information for dual nationals
If you or your parents are of Bangladeshi origin, the Bangladeshi Government may consider you a Bangladeshi citizen, even if you have never held a Bangladeshi passport. In these circumstances, our ability to provide consular assistance, if needed, may be limited.
Local laws impose penalties, which include fines and imprisonment (between two and five years), on Bangladeshi citizens if they purchase, carry, possess, transport or consume alcohol without a permit. These laws apply to dual nationals as well.
Our Dual nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
The standard of medical facilities in Bangladesh is poor and is very limited outside the capital, Dhaka. Doctors and hospitals generally require up-front payment prior to commencing treatment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with the appropriate facilities would be necessary. Medical evacuation costs could exceed $A25,000.
Malaria is prevalent throughout rural areas of Bangladesh and outbreaks of other mosquito-borne diseases (including dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis) occur in many areas. We recommend that you seek medical advice on taking prophylaxis against malaria and take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.
The mosquito-borne disease Japanese encephalitis is found throughout many regions of North, South and South-East Asia and Papua New Guinea. A Japanese encephalitis vaccine is registered for use and is currently available in Australia. For further details please consult your travel health doctor.
Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, Nipah virus, tuberculosis and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We recommend you boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne parasites. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
Several hundred cases of the coetaneous form of anthrax were reported in 2010 in people who consumed beef or had close contact with diseased animals. Further outbreaks could occur. Travellers should avoid handling raw meat or butchering. Beef and beef products bought from reliable sources, and which are fully cooked, are safe to eat.
Avoid temporary 'black henna' tattoos and body painting as they often contain a dye which can cause serious skin reactions and permanent allergies. For further information see the Australasian College of Dermatologists' website.
Where to get help
In Bangladesh, you can obtain consular assistance from the:
Australian High Commission, Dhaka
184 Gulshan Avenue
Telephone: (880 2) 881 3105
Facsimile: (880 2) 881 1125
The Australian High Commission is open Sunday to Thursday in accordance with local practice.
If you are travelling to Bangladesh, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the High Commission you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Monsoon season and cyclones: During the monsoon season (June to September) and cyclone season (May to June and October to November) flooding and landslides can occur with little warning throughout the country. Services and transport are often affected. If you are travelling during either typhoon or cyclone season, you should contact your tour operator to check whether tourist services at your planned destination have been affected.
In the event of a cyclone, monitor local media reports and follow the instructions of local emergency officials. The direction and strength of cyclones can change with little warning. You can check the latest information at the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre website. You should identify your local shelter if one is available. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe cyclone may not be available to all who choose to stay. You should also familiarise yourself with your hotel's evacuation plans.
Flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended. Available flights may fill quickly. You should contact your airline for the latest flight information. The cyclone could also affect access to sea ports in the region. You should carry your travel documents at all times (i.e. passport, photo identification, etc.) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. We also suggest that you contact friends and family in Australia with updates about your welfare and whereabouts.
For further information, see our Severe Weather – Cyclones, Hurricanes and Typhoons bulletin.
Earthquakes: Bangladesh is in an active seismic zone and is subject to earthquakes. You should take precautions and be prepared for a major emergency, including by maintaining a functional emergency kit.
Tsunamis: All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis. The Indian and Pacific Oceans experience more frequent occurrences of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the Tsunami Awareness page from the Australian Emergency Management Institute.
Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.