is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka. OSAC encourages travelers to use this report to
gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Bangladesh. For more
in-depth information, review OSAC’s Bangladesh
country page for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and
contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector
representatives with an OSAC password.
current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this
report’s publication assesses Bangladesh at Level 2, indicating
travelers should exercise increased caution due to crime and terrorism. Reconsider
travel to Dhaka due to crime and terrorism; and to Southeast Bangladesh,
including the Chittagong Hill Tracts, due to crime, terrorism, and kidnapping. Review
OSAC’s report, Understanding the Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Department of State has assessed Dhaka as being a HIGH-threat
location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Dhaka
remains the world’s most densely populated city, with nearly 20 million
inhabitants. Despite being the largest metropolitan city in
Bangladesh, crime rates impacting foreigners are surprisingly low. However,
travelers should be aware of petty crimes such as scams
and pickpocketing in crowded areas.
burglary, financial scams, and petty drug crimes comprise the majority
of criminal activity in Dhaka and other major cities in Bangladesh. There
is no specific indication that foreigners are specific target because
of their nationality. Review OSAC’s report, All That You Should
card and ATM use is relatively safe, with few reports of fraud,
especially when using these instruments of commerce in locations catering to an
international clientele. Review OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking Credit.
sexual assaults, robberies, and residential
break-ins frequently occur, but do not exceed average levels of major
cities in the U.S. Violent crime tends to be situational with the perpetrators
having some level of familiarity with the victims as opposed to random violent
criminal acts. Review OSAC’s reports, Hotels: The Inns and
Outs and Considerations for
Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics,
Best Practices for Maximizing
Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling with Mobile
Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite Phones:
Critical or Contraband?
Road Safety and Road Conditions
is on the left side of the street. Road conditions and quality varies
throughout Bangladesh. Most roads are generally passable; however, varying
conditions in roadway infrastructure, lack of roadside lighting and
traffic signals; and aggressive driving behaviors lend
to hazardous driving conditions when compared to U.S.
cities. Roads often accommodate, in equal measure, pedestrians, farm animals,
rickshaws, bicyclists, motorcycles, scooters, delivery carts, overloaded buses, and
motorists sometimes travel against the flow of traffic and without functioning
brake lights, turn signals, or headlights. Likewise, pedestrians sometimes
step in front of moving vehicles, and commuters exit and enter from moving
buses without warning. Drivers use car horns or flash their high-beam
headlights to announce their presence in all areas of Bangladesh day or night. Vehicular
collisions often result in fatalities, as most occupants do not use seat belts (or
helmets when on motorcycles), and drivers tend to travel at excessive
speed. Vehicle accident scenes can become confrontational and violent as
bystanders or related parties take sides as to who is at fault. It is
common practice for individuals involved in a vehicular accident to expect a
monetary payment on behalf of the injured party, regardless of fault.
OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad, Driving Overseas: Best Practices,
and Evasive Driving Techniques; and
read the State Department’s webpage on driving and road safety abroad.
Public Transportation Conditions
public transportation (e.g. buses, taxis, rickshaws, motorized rickshaws (known
as "CNGs")), which can be hazardous. Safety standards do not
exist. Lone passengers riding in taxis, CNGs, and rickshaws can
easily become targets of crime. Several app-based ride-sharing
services operate in Bangladesh, but the U.S. Embassy does not
endorse using these applications, as the Government of
Bangladesh has not established an official protocol or safety standard for
ride sharing services. Review OSAC’s report, Security In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and
railway system is overcrowded, and allows
passengers to ride on the rooftops of the train. Some
political activists target rail lines during civil unrest by hurling explosives
and removing rail ties from the tracks, making trips unusually dangerous and causing
frequent cancellations. Derailments have resulted in severe injuries to passengers.
Even in peaceful times, foreigners are often the center of attention at train
stations because of the relatively atypical presence of foreign travelers on
rail in the country.
ferries and boats also experience overcrowding, and do not
have enough life vests or safety equipment for passengers. Several ferries
have sunk due to weather, overcrowding, and/or unsafe conditions.
and departing Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (DAC) in Dhaka can be chaotic
and intimidating for the less-seasoned traveler. Long lines at immigration and
delays in getting luggage are common. Decline help from
anyone who offers assistance unless you have pre-coordinated
that assistance via your employer or a travel expeditor. Pre-arrange
transportation from the airport to your hotel or follow-on
destination. Rental vehicles and drivers are available at the airport,
but are unreliable and present an opportunity for crime.
aviation safety and security protocols for Bangladeshi airports are not
equivalent to those of the United States. The U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) current determination is that the Government of
Bangladesh’s Civil Aviation Authority does not provide safety oversight of its
air carrier operators in accordance with the minimum safety oversight standards
established by the International Civil Aviation Organization. U.S. Department of Defense personnel may not use Biman Airlines.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Dhaka as being a HIGH-threat
location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government
interests. The U.S. government assesses that there remains a credible
terrorist threat against foreigners in Bangladesh. Although there are have
been no successful attacks against Western interests since the Holey Artisan
Bakery restaurant attack of 2016, terrorism events can happen with little
or no warning, targeting tourist locations, airports, university
school campuses, restaurants, places of worship, and other public areas. Terrorist
elements retain a presence in Bangladesh. Remain vigilant and be alert to
local security developments.
adult family members, 18 years of age and older, may accompany U.S. government
employees assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Bangladesh. U.S. government
personnel in Bangladesh live, work, and travel under strict security guidelines
and may not:
- Travel on foot (e.g. walking, running)
and biking outside of designated areas and times;
- Travel via non-registered rickshaws
outside designated areas and times;
- Travel via motorcycle or CNG on public
thoroughfares and sidewalks;
- Visit public establishments outside of
designated areas and times; and
large gatherings, including events at international hotels, without prior
previous years, ISIS viewed Bangladesh as a strategic operation base for
establishing a caliphate and facilitating attacks inside India, a symbolic and
important target. Throughout 2015 and 2016, ISIS claimed several fatal
attacks on religious minorities, including Buddhist, Christians, Shias, and
Hindus. The Holey Artisan Bakery restaurant attack in 2016 was
the most sophisticated attack to date, resulting in the death of one
dual U.S.-Bangladeshi national and 23 others.
2017, ISIS claimed responsibility for several bombings in multiple locations in
Bangladesh, including two suicide attacks that targeted security forces near DAC
Airport. In 2019, no fatalities occurred after ISIS-claimed responsibility
for six Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks targeting
Bangladesh Police. In January 2020, police arrested two suspected militants involved
in attacking police with these IEDs.
2017 to 2019, local media and law enforcement agencies
reported the Bangladesh government’s success
in conducting counter-terrorism raids. Several of these raids
resulted in explosions, gunfire, injury, apprehension, or deaths of suspected
militants residing within the targeted areas.
terrorist groups are active in Bangladesh, including: Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh
(HUJI-B), Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, Ansar al-Islam, and Ansarullah
Bangla Team. There has been no specific targeting of U.S. citizens or
interests. Although the risk has greatly diminished from the
levels experienced between 2015-2017, the risk level remains high and travelers
should take proper security precautions.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
U.S. Department of State has assessed Dhaka as being a HIGH-threat
location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S.
government interests. Demonstrations can lead to violent clashes
resulting in injuries, deaths, property damage, blocked highways, and to a
lesser extent sabotaged trains/railways. Protestors commonly throw rocks,
debris, and small homemade explosive devices into crowds. Security
forces typically deploy tear gas and use firearms with
rubber bullets to disperse crowds and control demonstrators.
In August 2019, hundreds
of students protested when members of the ruling party’s youth wing killed a
student at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). The
student had used Facebook to criticize the Bangladeshi Prime Minister’s
agreement on water sharing with the Indian government. In September 2019,
approximately 20,000 people in the city of Bhola (70 miles from Dhaka) protested
a Facebook post they perceived to insult Islam. Clashes between protestors and
security forces caused four deaths and about 50 injuries.
OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.
is a Muslim-majority country with constitutional guarantees of religious
freedom to its citizens, stressing its principle of “Friendship towards all,
malice towards none.” However, some discrimination has occurred, most notably
against non-Muslims and minorities. Religious or ethnic violence has targeted
minority groups, including Hindus and Buddhists. In
2019, several violent attacks against religious minority
communities occurred, possibly motivated by transnational violent
extremism, economic/political reasons and/or disparities,
and/or property disputes.
ethnic-Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have fled to Cox’s Bazar District,
located in southeastern Bangladesh. Many representatives
from the international community, including numerous humanitarian
aid organizations, are in Cox’s Bazar to provide
humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya. With the latest
wave of Rohingya into Bangladesh, Cox’s Bazar has reportedly become
the country’s third-most densely populated area. There
may now be 1.1 million Rohingya refugees in the country. The Government
of Bangladesh is currently negotiating with
the Government of Myanmar on a process to return the Rohingya to
Myanmar. The influx of Rohingya has severely degraded public
infrastructure capacity and resources in and around Cox’s Bazar,
which has contributed to increased tensions between the Rohingya
and the Cox’s Bazar host community.
Post Specific Concerns
-- and particularly Dhaka, with its mega population and growth
rate -- is one of the most seismically vulnerable regions in the world. Although
earthquakes are more likely to occur in the north of the country, destruction
from an earthquake would be most acute in urban areas. Stanford University, the leading
school on seismic risk management, has identified Dhaka as one of the 20 most earthquake-vulnerable
cities in the world. The concentration of seismic risks in urban centers
of Bangladesh is a major source of concern; continued and unplanned
urbanization compounds the threat. The overwhelming majority of
structures in Bangladesh would not withstand a moderate earthquake. The
current urban development regulatory and enforcement structure does
not clearly define authority and accountability, making
effective, resilient development planning difficult. Post-earthquake
disaster relief capabilities are extremely limited.
flooding is also a constant threat, with substantial flood events and damage
occurring in recent years. Bangladesh is also at severe risk from tornadoes. The
government is proactive in addressing these issues, but has work to do in terms
of creating the proper infrastructure and providing sufficient material resources
to deal with large-scale catastrophe.
to Air Quality Index, Bangladesh has fourth-worst Environmental
Performance Index for Air Quality in the world. According to the
most recent World Health Organization data, Dhaka’s
average annual air quality score corresponds to
“Unhealthy to Hazardous” rating on the Air Quality Index.
disputes are common in Bangladesh, and are extremely difficult to resolve
through legal channels. The U.S. Embassy cannot protect personal property, and
cannot take sides in a legal dispute. Prior to purchasing property in
Bangladesh, be aware of the risks, including those of not being physically
present to oversee your property. Involvement in a property dispute may pose
dangers ranging from lengthy court disputes to physical threat, injury, or
murder. Anyone involved in a court dispute runs the risk of having cases filed
against them, and may be arrested and jailed.
Critical Infrastructure Concerns
has a history of fatal building fires, especially in factories and
warehouses where safety and structural standards have long been inadequate.
In 2019, Dhaka experienced two devastating fire incidents: one
in Old Dhaka, and the other one in Banani.
2019 Old Dhaka incident resulted in 67 deaths, and
44 reported injuries. The fire started in a warehouse used to
store chemicals and plastics, then spread
into five neighboring buildings; it took nearly twelve hours to
second incident occurred in Banani, which is part of the
Diplomatic Enclave, about 1.5 km from the U.S. Embassy. The fire
started in a commercial high-rise building. At least 25
people died, and another 75 people received injuries. After
the incident, officials released findings reporting that a lack
of adequate fire safety systems in the building, along with a
locked emergency fire exit, caused the deaths.
Personal Identity Concerns
homosexuality is illegal, arrests for offenses are rare and are usually only
made after a third party files a complaint. Open displays of homosexuality are
generally met with public disapproval. Even with opposite sex couples, public
displays of affection, other than holding hands, are frowned upon. In
2016, AQIS specifically targeted and killed a prominent member of the Bangladesh
LGBTI community in his apartment because of his human rights activism and
sexual orientation. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+ travelers.
marriage must be entered into with the full and free consent of both
individuals. The U.S. Embassy can provide help and advice for any U.S. citizen forced
into a marriage against their will. Refer to the State Department’s information
on forced marriage. All travelers to Bangladesh, including Bangladeshi
citizens, should maintain possession of their passports and return plane
tickets to ensure independence to travel. Review the State Department’s webpage
on security for female
OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice,
and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based
transportation, sidewalks, many buildings, and most public areas are not
wheelchair accessible. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers
illegal use, possession, or distribution of narcotics can result in severe
punishment. Yaba is an illegal methamphetamine available on the street. Avoid
purchase of this or any other illegal drugs.
are typically not random in nature, but are related to either a domestic or
familial dispute. Reconsider travel to the Khagrachari, Rangamati,
and Bandarban Hill Tracts districts (collectively known as the
Chittagong Hill Tracts) due to kidnappings and other security incidents. The
government continues to impose restrictions on all foreigners
who travel to the Khagrachari, Rangamati, and Bandarban Hill
Tracts districts, collectively known as the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). Travel
to CHT has been fraught with kidnappings and other security
incidents. Political demonstrations, blockades, and violent clashes have
occurred and are likely to continue. Official and unofficial U.S.
government travel to CHT requires prior approvals from Government of Bangladesh,
through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), and registration with the
respective District Administrative Commissioner’s Office (DACO). Travelers must
first register and obtain DACO approval prior to visiting CHT. All travelers
should exercise caution when traveling to CHT. Review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics
Other Areas of Concern
regulates and restricts all forms of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS),
colloquially known as “drones,” and subjects them to import and flight
restrictions. Failure to obtain import and/or flight permission can
result in detention and/or arrest, as well as confiscation of the RPAS. Read
the State Department’s webpage on customs
and import restrictions for information on what you cannot take into or out
of other countries.
travel to the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s
Bazar, MOFA requires notification of official/non-official travel.
emergency line in Bangladesh is 999. The Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP)
is the capital’s primary law enforcement entity, enforcing national
and local statutes.
Local police and medical emergency
Gulshan: +88 02 989-5826
Banani: +88 01 769-691-801
Vatara: +88 01 769-691-796
+88 02 988-2652
Bangladesh Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs also supports “One-stop Crisis
Centers (OCC)” located at eight division and large city hospitals, and 60
crisis “cells” located at smaller clinics. Services provided at OCC facilities
include medical treatment, counseling, and legal advice, and are free of
of crime can also seek information and assistance from the “National Helpline
Centre for Violence against Women and Children,” which offers a toll-free,
24-hour/day, 7-day/week number: 10921. Call
center staff provide information on local victim’s assistance resources,
including hospitals, shelters, and police contacts, in both Bangla and English.
Information provided is confidential. The website for the National Helpline is:
www.mspvaw.org.bd. The email
address is: email@example.com. Download
the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
medical emergencies, dial:999. Though
quality of care is below U.S. standards, most common illnesses are treatable
locally. U.S. citizens often travel outside Bangladesh for routine surgical
procedures and complicated medical treatment. Find contact information for
available medical services and available air ambulance services on the U.S.
has no prohibitions on specific medications. There have been reports of
the sale of counterfeit medications, but medications from major pharmacies and
hospitals are generally reliable. Review OSAC’s report, Traveling with Medication.
should have some form of medical/evacuation insurance in place prior to arrival
or have a plan in case of medical emergency. The U.S. Department of State
strongly recommends purchasing international health insurance before traveling
internationally. Review the State Department’s webpage on insurance overseas.
the past few years, there have been a large number of reports of both
Chikungunya and Japanese Encephalitis cases; consider the Japanese Encephalitis
vaccine for prevention. Dengue is endemic in Bangladesh; the 2019 summer season
brought an increase of reported cases compared to the last five years. Should
you develop symptoms of fever, headache, rash, or muscle/joint aching, seek
medical attention. Malaria exists in 13 districts in the northeast and
southeast Bangladesh. If planning travel to these areas, consult with your physician
regarding taking medication for malaria prophylaxis.
is an area with risk of Zika infection, though it is uncommon. Pregnant women,
travelers with a pregnant partner, and women considering becoming pregnant
should speak to their healthcare provider about possible Zika risk before
travel. Use mosquito repellant and avoid contact
with stray dogs and cats. The CDC offers additional information
on vaccines and health guidance for Bangladesh.
Water supplies in Bangladesh are non-potable. Bottled drinking
water is generally safe for consumption. Review OSAC’s report, I’m Drinking What in My Water? Foodborne illnesses are
common. Wash, soak in sanitizing solution, peel, and thoroughly cook all food
to minimize chemical, bacterial, and parasitic contamination.
OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.
OSAC Country Council Information:
has an active OSAC Country Council. More more information or to join,
contact OSAC’s South & Central Asia Team
or email DS_RSO_DHAKA@state.gov.
U.S. Embassy Contact Information:
Madani Avenue, Baridhara,
Working Hours: Sunday –
Thursday 0800 – 1630
Telephone: +88 02 5566-2000
you travel, consider the following resources: