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Bangladesh - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to Bangladesh due to the threat of terrorism, political demonstrations, nationwide hartals (enforced strikes) and violent clashes.
Travel Health Notice - Zika virus
The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued advice for travellers on the Zika virus, recommending that Canadians practice special health precautions while travelling in affected countries. Pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant should avoid travel to Bangladesh. See Health for more information.
Safety and security
Safety and security
There is a threat of terrorism. Since September 2015, there have been numerous attacks on individuals and groups, including religious minorities.
On July 1, 2016, gunmen stormed the heart of the diplomatic neighbourhood at Holey Artisan Bakery, in Dhaka’s Gulshan 2 district, taking hostages and engaging in a standoff with police. Two police officers and 20 hostages, most of them foreigners, were killed.
Recent incidents include unsuccessful suicide bombings near the Dhaka International Airport. One of these incident occurred close to an airport police checkpoint on March 24, 2017.
Further attacks cannot be ruled out and could be indiscriminate. Attacks can occur at any time and could target areas frequented by foreigners, such as commercial and public areas, hotels, markets, restaurants, shopping centres, religious sites and historic sites.
Limit your attendance at events where a large number of people, including foreigners, may gather. These include outdoor recreation and cultural events, places of worship, festivals, hotels and conference centres. In Dhaka and other city centres, avoid areas and establishments known to be frequented by foreigners. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, particularly on Fridays after afternoon prayers as well as in the lead-up to and on days of national significance, such as Mother Language Day (February 21), Independence Day (March 26), Bengali New Year (April 14) and Victory Day (December 16). Monitor local media for the latest information on threats to security and follow the advice of local authorities.
Chittagong Hill Tracts region
There is a serious risk of politically motivated violence, kidnapping and ethnic clashes in this region. If you are visiting the Chittagong Hill Tracts region despite this Advisory, you should register at the Divisional Commissioner’s Office in Chittagong City before making your way there.
Demonstrations, hartals, blockades and politically motivated violence
Political demonstrations, nationwide hartals (enforced strikes), blockades and violent clashes have occured and are likely to continue.
Hartals can effectively shut down all businesses and disrupt transportation, including in the diplomatic/expatriate areas. Passengers at Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport may be stranded without transportation. During hartals and blockades, travel within Dhaka outside the Baridhara and Banani areas and all travel outside Dhaka is strongly discouraged due to the high incidence of violence. Be particularly vigilant in Dhaka around the Parliament building, the Secretariat Area, the National Mosque, Dhaka University, Purana Paltan, Naya Paltan, Motijheel, Mirpur, Kawran Bazar and Shahbag. Explosive devices and firearms have been used during confrontations between groups including rival political factions, police and demonstrators.
Sudden demonstrations and violent clashes can take place following Juma prayers (after noon) on Fridays. Avoid Road 86 north of the Gulshan 2 circle, as well as Road 79 at the corner of Gulshan Avenue, during hartals, demonstrations or during election periods as large gatherings are frequently held there, making it difficult to pass safely.
Avoid travelling during blockades as road, rail and marine transportation may be attacked or blocked. Prepare to have sufficient food, water and fuel available as shortages may occur.
Previous violent demonstrations have resulted in several hundred reported deaths. Attacks using explosive devices occurred in crowded public places, hotels, movie theatres, railway stations, and at political rallies in cities such as Dhaka, Sylhet, Khulna, and Chittagong. During blockades, protesters set fire to vehicles, including trains, and damaged railway tracks, leading to derailments and injuries. Fire bombs thrown at a bus on February 3, 2015, left seven people dead and 16 injured. Such violence could take place again if the security situation deteriorates and disturbances resume.
Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, as well as areas where they are taking place, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.
Violent crimes such as armed robberies and rapes occur. Foreigners are not particularly targeted, though crimes of opportunity have taken place against them in various areas, including Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Feni and Khulna.
Pickpocketing, purse snatching and mugging are common and have increased recently, especially in areas frequented by tourists and expatriates. Thieves target rickshaw, CNG (motorized rickshaw) and taxi passengers, particularly around dusk. They are also present on trains.
Cases of abduction for ransom have occurred, though they rarely involve foreigners.
Exercise caution when travelling outside urban areas. Do not show signs of wealth and do not wear jewellery. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.
Avoid walking alone or taking public transportation after dark. Victims of crime should contact the High Commission of Canada in Dhaka for assistance before filing a police report.
Unaccompanied women face the highest risk of being victims of crime. Physical and verbal harassment of women occurs. Avoid travelling alone, including on public transportation, especially at night. Do not go to police stations alone. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.
Canadians have been forced into marriage without their prior knowledge or consent. For more information, consult our Forced Marriage page and our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide.
Travellers have reported being scammed by security officials in the departures section of the Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport in Dhaka. During security pat downs at the boarding gate, security officials have asked travellers if they had any money in their pockets. When travellers presented local currency, they were advised that it is illegal to export Bangladeshi taka and were asked to turn over their money. If you are confronted with this situation, you should refuse to comply and ask to speak with the Chief of Airport Security. You are also encouraged to report such incidents to the High Commission of Canada in Dhaka.
Road conditions are poor. Road travel is dangerous and should be avoided after dark since many vehicles operate without headlights or with full high beams. Traffic in urban areas is extremely congested and chaotic. Road accidents causing injuries or death are common.
Ferries and long-distance buses on major roads between towns have been targeted by gangs of thieves. Exercise caution when using these means of transportation. Ferry accidents are not uncommon in Bangladesh due to the overloading and poor maintenance of some vessels. Do not board vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy.
Rail travel is slow and derailments occur. Ensure your compartment is locked when travelling at night.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
General safety information
Tourist facilities are inadequate.
Planned power cuts, termed “load shedding,” are a common daily occurrence in most parts of the country and can last for many hours. Water is also not supplied on a consistent basis and several areas of the country can go for days without any water.
Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Bangladeshi authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the High Commission for the People's Republic of Bangladesh or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Bangladesh, which must be valid for at least six months at the time of arrival. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
While single entry tourist and business visas can be purchased upon arrival at the airport in Bangladesh, we recommend that you obtain your visa from the High Commission of Bangladesh or one of its consulates before your departure.
Tourist Visa: Not required before departure (for up to 30 days)
Business Visa: Not required before departure (for up to 30 days)
Student Visa: Required
You must carry all documents pertaining to the purpose of your visit and declare funds in excess of US$5000. Be prepared to show proof of both onward travel and sufficient funds for your stay.
If you are travelling for business, you are also required to produce a hotel booking confirmation and a letter of invitation or letter of offer from a local company providing details regarding the purpose and duration of your stay as well as confirmation of accommodation.
Dual citizens can obtain a "No Visa Required" stamp on their passport but should note that it may limit the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services. If you entered Bangladesh with a "No Visa Required" stamp, ensure that it is transferred to any new passport obtained while in the country.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is low for most travellers. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to mosquito bites (e.g., spending a large amount of time outdoors) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Travellers to countries in South Asia should speak to a health care provider about getting vaccinated.
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in South Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a risk in parts of this country. Most travellers are at very low risk.
For protection of cholera
All travellers should practise safe food and water precautions.
Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Travellers at higher risk include those:
- visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation
- visiting areas where outbreaks are occurring.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher for children, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in South Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria and Zika virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Visceral leishmaniasis (or kala azar) affects the bone marrow and internal organs. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly. It can also be transmitted by blood transfusion or sharing contaminated needles. If left untreated it can cause death. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from sandfly bites, which typically occur after sunset in rural and forested areas and in some urban centres. There is no vaccine or medication to protect against leishmaniasis.
Lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, is caused by filariae (tiny worms) spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can cause a range of illnesses. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for lymphatic filariasis although drug treatments exist.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. Recent or ongoing cases of Zika virus have been reported in this country.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites day and night.
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects such as abnormally small heads (microcephaly). Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted.
Travellers who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy:
- Should avoid travel to this country
- If travel cannot be avoided follow strict mosquito bite prevention measures.
- Talk to your health care professional about the risk of Zika infection in pregnancy.
- Use condoms or avoid having sex for the duration of the pregnancy, if you are pregnant and your partner has travelled to this country.
- Female travellers: wait at least 2 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive (get pregnant) to ensure that any possible Zika virus infection has cleared your body.
- Male travellers: wait 6 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive. Use condoms or avoid having sex during that time.
See travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Southern Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
There have been human cases of avian influenza in this country.
Avian influenza is a viral infection that can spread quickly and easily among birds. In rare cases, it can infect people.
- avoid high risk areas such as poultry farms and live animal markets
- avoid areas where poultry may be slaughtered
- avoid contact with birds (alive or dead)
- avoid surfaces that may have bird droppings or secretions on them
- ensure all poultry dishes, including eggs, are well cooked
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Medical facilities are generally inadequate compared to Western standards. Medical evacuations to Thailand or Singapore are often required for serious conditions. Doctors and hospitals may expect immediate cash payment for health services.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
The work week in Bangladesh is from Sunday to Thursday.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can face life imprisonment or a death sentence.
There are import and export restrictions on local currency. It is illegal to import more than 5,000 taka and export more than 500 taka.
Property disputes, including those between family members, are common and can turn violent. You should contact a local lawyer if you find yourself in such a situation.
Muslims are prohibited from consuming alcohol. Transgressions could be punished by detention or other penalties.
You should carry a photocopy of your passport in case local authorities ask to verify your identification.
Traffic drives on the left.
An International Driving Permit is required.
Homosexual activity in Bangladesh is illegal. Other related offences include being in a same-sex marriage and promoting homosexuality. Convicted offenders can face life imprisonment. LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Bangladesh.
See Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians abroad for more information.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Bangladesh. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Bangladeshi citizen. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Bangladeshi passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
If your parents are Bangladeshi, authorities may consider you a Bangladeshi citizen, regardless of your place of birth or whether you have obtained Bangladeshi citizenship.
During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), use discretion when drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. In 2018, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around May 15. Business transactions are considerably slower during this period.
Bangladesh prides itself on being a secular nation with a predominantly Muslim population. Local laws reflect the fact that Bangladesh has strongly conservative social norms.
Dress conservatively, behave discreetly, and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities. Women in particular should avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless garments.
Public displays of affection are not socially acceptable.
The currency is the taka (BDT). Credit cards are becoming more widely accepted; however, exercise caution when using them. Incidents of credit card fraud have been reported at automated banking machines (ABMs) and with merchants in Dhaka. Traveller's cheques can be exchanged at banks and at the airport in Dhaka. U.S. dollar traveller's cheques are recommended.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Bangladesh is located in an active seismic zone. It is not unusual for Bangladeshi authorities to issue tsunami warnings immediately following a significant earthquake.
The rainy (or monsoon) season extends from June to October. Seasonal flooding can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged. Every year during the monsoon season, a third of the territory is seriously affected. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly. See Typhoons and monsoons page for more information.
There is no centralized number to reach emergency services outside of Dhaka. If you are in Dhaka dial:
- police: 88 017 133 98311 / 8802 951 4400
- firefighters: 8802 955 5555 / 8802 955 6666 / 8802 955 6667
For all other areas, research and carry contact information for local police and medical facilities.
Dhaka - High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the High Commission of Canada in Dhaka and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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