Foreign travel advice

Bangladesh

Summary

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to the Chittagong Hill Tracts. This does not include the city of Chittagong or other parts of Chittagong Division.

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Bangladesh. The threat extends across the country. Since March 2017, militants have focused their attacks on the security forces but there is a risk that foreign nationals may also be directly targeted.

The Bangladeshi authorities have successfully disrupted a number of planned attacks and remain at high alert; there may be increases in security force presence and restrictions on movement may be put in place at short notice. Crowded areas and places where foreign nationals are known to gather may be at higher risk of attack. You should minimise your exposure to these areas, consider your movements carefully and follow any specific advice of the local security authorities.

Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) has claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks in Bangladesh since September 2015.

Groups affiliated to Al Qaeda in the Indian Sub-continent (AQIS) are also active.

The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has carried out assessments of security at Dhaka International Airport. Following these, the DfT has assessed that security at Dhaka airport does not meet some international security requirements. The UK government is working to support the Bangladeshi authorities to ensure that all international aviation security requirements are met. Read more about the DfT assessment.

Heavy monsoon rains continue to affect the northern and central regions of Bangladesh (including Sylhet region, Dinajpur and Rangpur) leading to disruption of train services and road travel. If you’re travelling to an affected part of the country, monitor local and international weather updates and follow the advice of local authorities and your travel company.

Tropical cyclones and flooding can affect parts of the country. You should monitor the progress of approaching weather systems on the website of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, and follow the advice of local authorities.

Bangladesh lies in a zone of seismic activity. In the event of an earthquake you should remain vigilant, stay in a place of safety and follow any advice provided by the local authorities.

UK health authorities have classified Bangladesh as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Up to 150,000 British nationals visit Bangladesh every year. Most visits are trouble free.

Safety and security

Political violence

Bangladesh has a long history of political violence. If you’re currently in Bangladesh, or intend to travel there, even if you’re a regular visitor with family or business links you should monitor the media and regularly consult travel advice. Details of English language news broadcasts are as follows:

  • ATN Bangla - 6pm
  • ATN News 1pm and 7pm
  • BTV 4pm and 10pm
  • Independent TV 4.30pm

There are also several online English language newspapers and agencies.

In addition to long-standing political tensions between the government and opposition in Bangladesh, the current Rohingya refugee crisis may lead to protests and demonstrations in Dhaka, including in the Gulshan and Baridhara areas of the city.

In Bangladesh protests and demonstrations can quickly turn violent and lead to clashes with law enforcement agencies. In cases of political unrest, incidents of arson, violence and vandalism can suddenly break out across the country, mainly in towns and cities.

Be vigilant at all times. If you see a demonstration developing, or are in a situation in which you feel unsafe, move away to a place of safety. Stay away from large gatherings, and avoid political offices and rallies. If you’re travelling during a hartal (strike) avoid demonstrations and protests as they may quickly turn violent. There could be attacks on property and public transport.

Crime

Dhaka police have highlighted the increasing number of criminal gangs operating in the city and reminded people to be aware of potential threats including robbery and violent crime.

Armed robbery, pick pocketing, and purse snatching can occur. Don’t carry large amounts of money with you or wear jewellery in the street. Thieves often work in pairs on motorcycles or motorised rickshaws known as ‘CNGs’. Passengers using rickshaws, or travelling alone in taxis are particularly vulnerable, especially at night. Avoid using public transport if you’re on your own. Cycle rickshaws aren’t safe; they offer little protection for passengers in the event of a crash.

There have been reports of officials abusing their authority. Make sure you’re accompanied if you visit a police station.

There have been reports of theft and harassment at Dhaka and Sylhet airports. Beware of touts offering to carry your bags. Arrange transfers in advance. Taxis, including those serving the airport, often overcharge and drivers have been known to rob passengers. Passport theft at Dhaka and Sylhet airports is a particular concern. Be vigilant and make sure your documents and any valuables are kept secure at all times.

Abductions

Abduction of children and businessmen for ransom is not unknown. Although this does not appear to be particularly directed at foreigners, you should be aware that the long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.

Local travel

Consult a reliable local contact before going into unfamiliar areas or areas where there is a history of trouble.

Chittagong Hill Tracts

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the Chittagong Hill Tracts, which comprise the districts of Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban. This area doesn’t include Chittagong City, or other parts of Chittagong Division.

Security in the Chittagong Hill Tracts continues to be a cause for concern. There are regular reports of violence and other criminal activities, particularly in the more remote areas. If you propose to visit the Chittagong Hill Tracts you must give the Bangladesh authorities 10 days’ notice of your travel plans.

For further information, contact:

  • Chittagong Divisional Commissioner’s Office (tel: 031 615247) or;
  • Chittagong Deputy Commissioner’s Office (tel: 031 619996).

Burmese border

As a result of ongoing violence in Burma (Mynamar) since August 2017, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have arrived in the south-east of Bangladesh, close to the border with Burma. They are concentrated in the sub-districts of Ukhia and Teknaf in the southern part of Cox’s Bazar division.

You should exercise caution and consult with the local authorities about the latest situation before visiting Ukhia and Teknaf. If you want to offer assistance to the refugees you should contact aid agencies already involved in the humanitarian response.

Indian border

Take particular care near the border areas. There are regular reports of individuals being killed for illegally crossing the border with India. There are occasional skirmishes between the Indian and Bangladeshi border guards, including exchanges of gunfire.

Road travel

If you intend to drive you should get an International Driving Permit.

Roads are in poor condition, and road safety is also very poor. Drivers of larger vehicles expect to be given right of way. Speeding, dangerous and aggressive overtaking and sudden manoeuvres without indicating often cause serious accidents. You should take particular care on long road journeys and use well-travelled and well-lit routes where possible. Traffic is heavy and chaotic in urban areas. City streets are extremely congested and the usual rules of the road not applied. Many drivers are unlicensed and uninsured.

Driving at night is especially dangerous as many vehicles are unlit, or travel on full-beam headlights. There’s also a risk of banditry if you travel between towns after dark, by train, bus or ferry.

Air travel

The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has carried out assessments of security at Dhaka International Airport. Following these, the DfT has assessed that security at Dhaka airport does not meet some international security requirements. The UK government is working to support the Bangladeshi authorities to ensure that all international aviation security requirements are met. Read more about the DfT assessment.

The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list isn’t exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s unsafe.

In 2012 the International Civil Aviation Organisation carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Bangladesh.

You can find a list of recent incidents and accidents on the website of the Aviation Safety network.

Rail travel

Bangladesh has an extensive but old rail network. Rail travel in Bangladesh is generally slow. There are occasional derailments and other incidents, which can result in injuries and deaths. Trains have been actively targeted and derailed during the current unrest.

On some trains, first class compartments may be lockable. Make sure the compartment door is locked if you are travelling overnight. For further information see the Bangladesh railways website.

Sea and river travel

River and sea ferries are often dangerously overcrowded, particularly in the days around religious festivals and other holidays. There have been a number of serious accidents in Bangladesh and capsizing is common. Take care if you use the ferries.

There are frequent acts of piracy in and around Bangladeshi waters.

Terrorism

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Bangladesh. The threat extends across the country. Since March 2017, militants have focused their attacks on the security forces but there is a risk that foreign nationals may also be directly targeted. Crowded areas and places where foreign nationals are known to gather may be at higher risk of attack. You should minimise your exposure to these areas, consider your movements carefully and follow any specific advice of the local security authorities.

Since July 2016, the Bangladeshi authorities have successfully disrupted a number of planned attacks and made a number of arrests; a number of their operations against suspected militants have also resulted in fatalities. The Bangladeshi authorities remain at high alert following previous incidents: there may be increases in security force presence and restrictions on movement may be put in place at short notice.

Since September 2015 Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) has claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks in Bangladesh including:

  • the 1 July 2016 attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery in the Gulshan 2 district of Dhaka, which resulted in the death of 20 hostages, mainly foreign nationals, and 2 police officers.
  • the murders of 2 foreign nationals and sporadic attacks against minority religious communities and law the security forces, including attacks using suicide bombers.

Groups affiliated to Al Qaeda in the Indian Sub-continent (AQIS) have also claimed responsibility for the murder of a number people who they consider to have views and lifestyles contrary to Islam. Online activists, including secular bloggers and two members of the LGBTI community, have been murdered most recently in April 2016.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

Local laws reflect the fact that Bangladesh is a mainly Islamic country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.

In 2017, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 27 May and finish on 25 June.

You should dress modestly to avoid causing offence. Women should cover their shoulders and wear long skirts or trousers.

Same-sex relations are illegal.

If you’re a dual British-Bangladeshi national you’ll be considered by the Bangladesh government to be a Bangladeshi citizen, even if you don’t hold, or have never held, a Bangladeshi passport and were born outside Bangladesh. This may limit the assistance the British government can offer you. For further information on Bangladesh nationality, check with the Bangladesh High Commission.

Violating local laws may result in a jail sentence, served in a local prison. Delays and inefficiency in the judicial system can result in long detentions until court hearings eventually take place. Prison conditions are far below UK standards.

A British national under detention in Bangladesh has a right to request that the British High Commission be notified about his or her situation and gain access to them. In most circumstances this right does not extend to those with dual nationality.

There are severe penalties for possession and trafficking of illegal drugs. Some drugs-related offences are punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment.

Carry a photocopy of the data page and Bangladeshi visa from your passport at all times, plus copies of other important travel documents. Local officials may ask you for proof of identity. Keep the originals separately, and leave copies with friends or relatives in the UK.

Family law in Bangladesh is very different from UK law. You should take particular care when, for example, child custody becomes an issue.

Property disputes

The British High Commission has no authority to intervene on behalf of British nationals of Bangladeshi origin with regard to land or property problems. The High Commission can provide a list of local lawyers.

The ‘Probashi Kollan Cell’ (also known as ‘The Expatriates’ Welfare Cell’) is a service set up by the Sylheti Police to provide advice to foreign nationals in Bangladesh, including dual national British/Bangladeshis. The Cell can offer assistance with land and family disputes, threats, violence and other legal issues within their remit. The contact numbers are:

  • Sylhet Metropolitan: +8801713374375
  • Sylhet District: +8801926999902
  • Habigonj District: +8801926999903
  • Sunamgonj District: +8801926999905
  • Moulvibazar District: +8801926999905
  • Head Quarters, Deputy Inspector of Police 9DIG), Alompur, Sylhet: +8801713374364; Email: digsylhet@police.gov.bd.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

You’ll need a visa to enter Bangladesh. You can get a visa from the Bangladesh High Commission in London or a 1 month visa on arrival for the purpose of official duty, business, investment and tourism. Visa extensions are available at the Department of Immigration and Passport of Bangladesh.

If you intend to use Dhaka as a hub to visit other countries in the region, make sure you get a multiple entry visa. If you’re intending to work in Bangladesh make sure you get the correct visa before you travel.

If you have had your passport renewed in Bangladesh, you’ll need a new visa. The Bangladesh Immigration & Passport Department (telephone: 880 2 8159878 / 8123788 / 8123323) is able to issue an ‘exit visa’ or a ‘no visa required’ stamp. Officers there are unlikely to speak English, so you may need an interpreter.

Make sure you have an entry stamp placed in your passport on entry into Bangladesh otherwise you may have problems on departure.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Bangladesh. Holders of an ETD must apply for the appropriate Bangladesh visa to enter Bangladesh.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Working in Bangladesh

Foreign nationals working in Bangladesh must get an Income Tax Clearance Certificate or an Income Tax Exemption Certificate before each departure from Bangladesh. Full details are available on the Bangladesh Board of Revenue website.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

Medical facilities in Bangladesh are poor. Routine tests and X-rays are unreliable. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip and have access to a vehicle, it may be quicker to head straight to the nearest hospital yourself. If you don’t have access to a vehicle, or are unsure where the nearest hospital is situated, dial 02-9555555 or 01730336699 and ask for an ambulance. If you suspect a heart attack, ask for a ‘cardiac ambulance’. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Natural disasters

Tropical cyclones

The climate in Bangladesh is sub-tropical and governed by monsoon winds. Extreme weather episodes like tropical cyclones can occur. Updated weather reports can be found on the websites of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department and the World Meteorological Organisation.

See our tropical cyclones page for advice about what to do if you’re caught up in a storm.

Monsoon season

In the monsoon season from June to September there is widespread and extensive flooding.  This can disrupt travel particularly in rural areas. Check that routes are passable before setting out on long journeys.

Earthquakes

Around one half of Bangladesh, including the cities of Moulvibazar and Sylhet, is located in a high-risk earthquake zone. Most of the rest, including Dhaka, is considered moderate risk. Tremors and earthquakes, usually minor ones, occur from time to time. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see the website of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Tsunamis

Bangladesh can be affected by tsunamis and the government of Bangladesh can issue tsunami warnings. Monitor local news and follow any advice given by the local authorities.

Money

The local currency is Taka. Travellers’ cheques can be cashed at banks and at the airports. Take care when using credit cards as there’s the potential for fraud. Standard Chartered Bank has ATMs across Bangladesh. HSBC has ATMs in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet. Some of the five-star hotels in Dhaka have ATM facilities. UK cards are accepted. There are commercial money transfer services available in Dhaka and in towns and cities across Bangladesh where you can receive money sent from the UK.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.