Bangladesh

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Wednesday, 29 July 2015.   This advice has been reviewed and updated. The level of advice has not changed. We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh overall

Chittagong Hill Tracts Region

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Bangladesh due to the uncertain political and security situation. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible security risks.
  • Political violence occurs regularly in Bangladesh. You should exercise particular caution around hartals (general strikes), blockades by political groups and trials of alleged war criminals, as these events may prompt violent reactions.
  • During an escalation of political tensions in early January 2015, violent incidents, including arson attacks took place across the country, resulting in death and injury.
  • Australians should be aware that normal travel in many parts of Dhaka is often not possible due to these arbitrary acts of violence. Travellers should follow the advice of local authorities, carefully plan their movements, and keep clear of all protests and large crowds as they could turn violent without warning.
  • Bangladesh has experienced a number of terrorist incidents in the past and security agencies in Bangladesh continue to arrest people connected to terrorist organisations. Further attacks are possible, including against Western interests.
  • Criminal violence and armed robberies are common in Bangladesh, including in Banani, Baridhara and Gulshan in Dhaka where resident expatriates have been victims of robbery, pickpocketing and snatch and grab attacks.
  • 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 risk of violence and kidnapping.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
click on image to expand

Entry and exit

Australians departing from Australia require a visa to enter Bangladesh. For information about visas, please see the Bangladesh High Commission website.

As visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice, you should 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.

Safety and security

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Bangladesh due to the uncertain political and security situation. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible security risks.

Civil unrest/political tension

Political violence in 2015

During an escalation of political tensions in early January 2015, violent incidents including arson attacks took place across the country, resulting in death and injury. Hartals and blockades usually take place during the working week (Sunday to Thursday). Violent clashes between anti-Government protestors and the security forces have been reported.

Indiscriminate attacks involving the detonation of small improvised explosive devices (known locally as ‘cocktails’) periodically occur in public areas. Dhaka’s expatriate and diplomatic areas of Banani, Baridhara and Gulshan have also seen an increase in security incidents in 2015.

Australians should be aware that normal travel in many parts of Dhaka is at times inhibited by protests and arbitrary acts of violence. Travellers should follow the advice of local authorities, carefully plan their movements, and keep clear of all protests and large crowds as violence could occur without warning.

Due to the uncertain security environment in Bangladesh, Australian officials in Dhaka plan and undertake their movements cautiously, including with the assistance of local authorities where necessary.

Events potentially triggering violence

You should exercise particular caution around the following events, which have been accompanied by the shutdown of services and movements, and by violence resulting in death and injury:

  • hartals (general strikes) enforced by political groups, which can involve the shutdown of all activity nationwide or in a particular area, and are frequently accompanied by violence targeting public and private transport;
  • periodic blockades of rail, road and river transport networks by political groups, which are also frequently accompanied by violence targeting public and private transport, and by shortages of fuel and other supplies;
  • the trials of alleged war criminals under the International Crimes Tribunal, including the when verdicts are handed down and sentences are implemented.

Avoid Road 86 in Gulshan 2 where a Bangladesh Nationalist Party office is located, which regularly attracts large crowds and protests.

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.

Chittagong Hill Tracts region: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the Chittagong Hill Tracts region because of the risk of politically motivated violence and kidnapping. Violence between indigenous groups, and clashes between Bengali settlers and the indigenous people, continues to take place in this region.

For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping threat bulletin.

Terrorism

Bangladesh has experienced a number of terrorist incidents in the past and security agencies in Bangladesh continue to arrest people connected to militant and 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. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.

Crime

Criminal violence and armed robberies are common in Bangladesh, including in Gulshan and Banani in Dhaka where resident expatriates have been victims of robbery, pickpocketing and snatch and grab attacks.

In recent months, 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

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 online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Local travel

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution when using the transport networks in Bangladesh. In 2013, passenger trains were derailed or set on fire as acts of political violence, resulting in injury to passengers.

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.

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.

Piracy occurs in the coastal areas of Bangladesh. See our travel advice on piracy for more information. The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports on its website.

Airline safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Bangladesh.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Bangladesh, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

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. See our Drugs page.

Illicit drugs are increasingly available in Bangladesh, especially in venues frequented by teenagers and young people. Law enforcement agencies have raided such sites. See our Drugs page. “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 Australians 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.

Local customs

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan occurs annually. During Ramadan, Australians travelling to countries with significant Muslim communities should take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, people who are not fasting are advised to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting. For more information see our Ramadan bulletin.

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.

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.

Health

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 AUD$25,000.

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.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed human cases of avian influenza in Bangladesh. See our health page and Avian Influenza bulletin for further information on influenza.

Where to get help

Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.

If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:

Australian High Commission, Dhaka

184 Gulshan Avenue
Gulshan
Dhaka, BANGLADESH
Telephone: (880 2) 881 3105
Facsimile: (880 2) 881 1125
Website: www.bangladesh.highcommission.gov.au
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AustralianHighCommissionDhaka

The Australian High Commission is open Sunday to Thursday in accordance with local practice. See the High Commissions website for more information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

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.

Additional information

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 page.

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.

Additional resources



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.