How to Enter Bangladesh

Do I need a passport or visa to enter?

Travelers to Bangladesh should be aware that Dhaka’s Shahjalal International airport has been resurfacing its sole runway since December 1, 2012. The project has shut down all commercial arrivals and departures from 12:45 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. daily for the remainder of the project. The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) estimates the project will run till September 1, 2013, but could run more or less time depending on local conditions. As a result, several flights per day have been rescheduled. The project has created stress on airport check-in counters, immigration/customs desks, and access roads. Travelers should expect delays both arriving to and departing from Dhaka during this time. In addition, flights unable to land while the runway is open may be diverted to Chittagong Shah Amanat International Airport. CAAB has urged airlines to instruct their passengers to allow extra time for check-in and immigration processing for all flights.

A passport valid for six months longer than your planned length of stay in Bangladesh and at least one blank visa page, visa, and 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, Bangladesh. 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 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 on credit card with them and must possess a return ticket if in Bangladesh on a short visit. Please note that visas on arrival are also now available at Shah Amanat International Airport located in Chittagong and Osmani International Airport in Sylhet. 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 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 (effective June 1, 2012). 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 by the nearest Bangladeshi Embassy or Consulate. This endorsement allows travelers multiple entries into Bangladesh with no restriction on duration of stay, for the validity of the bearer’s passport. 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 hasprovided 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 introduced in October 2006 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 visas. 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, foreigners are required to obtain a road permit from the Director General, Immigration and Passports, Dhaka.

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.

As of December 2012 the Bangladesh Customs Authority has established a currency export policy for travelers as they are departing the country. Travelers are not allowed to carry more than 2000 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 $5000 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 visitors to and foreign residents of Bangladesh. 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.

Special Travel Circumstances in Bangladesh

Air quality in Dhaka is extremely poor, especially in the dry months running November through May. Press reports indicate that Dhaka’s sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide concentrations far exceed World Health Organization’s permissible levels. Particulate matter, largely from diesel engine exhaust and dust churn from vehicles, is exceedingly high in Dhaka, far surpassing any healthful norms. Even Bangladesh’s national encyclopedia calls the air pollution problem in Dhaka “acute” and further notes that lead levels, both suspended in air and blood levels in children and adults far exceed allowable levels. The encyclopedia further notes that levels of volatile organic compounds greatly exceed healthful norms, that dust pollution causes many respiratory diseases including asthma in Bangladesh, and that 200 different organic compounds have been detected in Dhaka’s atmosphere. Additional sources of air pollution cited in a 2011 study by Bangladesh’s Department of Environment and the Norwegian Institute for Air include hundreds of brick kilns located on the periphery of Dhaka, re-suspension of road dust from traffic, open burning of all varieties of garbage including plastics, and industrial sources such as cement manufacturing and metal smelting.

Garbage Collection - One of the most notable features of Bangladesh’s large cities and towns is the accumulation of garbage in all areas where people live and work. Though most authorities in Bangladesh seem to be aware of the problem, efforts to manage Bangladesh’s waste stream have been severely challenged. A 2007 study by the Asian Productivity Organization suggests that of Dhaka’s 4000 metric tons of waste produced daily, more than half is left uncollected and is left to disperse unmanaged throughout the local environment. Further, the same report indicates that substantial amounts of highly infectious and hazardous biomedical waste is simply dumped by local hospitals and clinics into surface drains, sewer and storm systems, and city trash bins.

Water Quality - Water directly from the tap, whether in homes or hotels, is not fit to drink without treatment or filtration and should be avoided. Municipal authorities have standards in place, but deteriorating infrastructure and inadequate sewage and treatment facilities have led to spoliation of water destined for human consumption. A study from a 2012 issue of the Journal of Environmental Science and Natural Resources indicated 62% of house tap water in Dhaka, 60% of pipeline water, and 45% of samples at the municipal water pump exceeded World Health Organization and Bangladesh national guidelines for safe consumption, suggesting both inadequate treatment at the source and contamination en route to homes and businesses.

Communication – Modern mobile and 3G network coverage exists in major urban areas in Bangladesh. Basic mobile coverage exists nationwide, even in most remote rural areas. The mobile network is occasionally subject to delays or blocks or both due to massive demands on the network, especially during national holidays, and the government has previously shut down the mobile network in times of civil unrest. WiFi connectivity exists in most hotels and some retail shops and restaurants. Internet packages are available by subscription. Landline telephones are generally reliable but are also subject to periodic failure. Radio frequencies are tightly regulated by the national government.

Traffic Congestion - Roads in Bangladesh, particularly in Dhaka, are extraordinarily crowded. In addition to inconvenience, congestion can delay arrival of emergency services including fire, ambulance, and police responses by multiple hours. Economic development in Bangladesh has lead to increasing wealth in some segments of society and a concurrent dramatic rise in the number of personal vehicles on inadequate roads.

Ferry Safety - Bangladesh is a country criss-crossed with rivers and uses a wide network of water-based public transportation. Ferries and other boats compete with the railroads as a major means of public transport. Typically overloaded and top-heavy, ferries do capsize, particularly during the monsoon season from June to October or during unexpected thunderstorms or windstorms. Dozens of people die in ferry accidents every year. Most recently, in March 2012, a ferry with over 200 people on board collided with a cargo boat and capsized, killing more than 30 people.

Maritime Piracy - The International Maritime Bureau, a specialized division of the International Chamber of Commerce, reports that Bangladesh is a piracy and armed robbery prone area with most attacks at Chittagong anchorages and moorages. However, the same source maintains that attacks in Bangladesh have fallen significantly over the past few years because of efforts by Bangladesh authorities. Press reports indicate fishing vessels in Bangladeshi waters are frequently attacked and seized, and crewmembers are sometimes lost. Mariners entering Bangladeshi waters should take appropriate precautionary measures. Pleasure boating is not common in the waters of Bangladesh.

Customs Restrictions - 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. currencyvisitors may bring into Bangladesh, amounts in excess of USD $5000 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 and an airplane ticket in hand. 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.

Commercial and Land 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. For more information, please contact the U.S. Trade Center at ustc-dhaka@state.gov.

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 next to impossible 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 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 if they are not 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, having killed untold hundreds of thousands of people even within the modern era. During the monsoon season, generally from June to October, between 30% and 70% of the country is under water due to flooding from the Ganges, Meghna, and the Brahmaputra Rivers. Cyclones, the local name for hurricanes, occur most frequently in May through October. Severe cyclones strike Bangladesh on average once every three years. Storm surges of up to 10 meters associated with these cyclones are relatively common. According to the World Bank, 60%of the worldwide deaths caused by cyclones in the last 20 years were in Bangladesh. Tornadoes are also common in Bangladesh, one of the mosthard-hit countries in the world for these storms. Earthquakes are most common 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.

Forced Marriages - The U.S. Embassy occasionally receives reports of parents attempting to force their sons or daughters into an unwanted marriage. 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) 885-5500 from the United States, (02) 885-5500 from inside Bangladesh, or 885-5500 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.

Visas to Other Countries - Visitors seeking to travel onward to India should obtain a visa to India in their home country. Appointments to apply for Indian visitor visas are extraordinarily difficult to obtain and visas issued to U.S. citizens in Bangladesh are limited to a single entry and are valid for only three months. Following the initial entry those who wish to re-enter India must wait two months to reapply for another visa. An Indian visitor visa issued in the United States is valid for multiple entries and for up to ten years. U.S. citizens seeking to obtain visas to Saudi Arabia in Bangladesh will encounter bureaucratic difficulties that render it effectively impossible to obtain that visa. We recommend all visa applications for Saudi Arabia be made in the United States.

Disclaimer

You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.

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