Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, and other aspects of international travel.
Personal contact is an important element in building business relationships in Bangladesh. Bangladeshi business executives are usually very courteous and try to make their foreign guests feel at ease. Business visitors should be aware in Bangladesh men and women do not usually shake hands with each other and may avoid doing so with a visitor of the opposite sex. Foreign visitors often find hosting meals for their Bangladeshi agents or business contacts helps to smooth business negotiations. Visitors may also be invited to share meals as guests of their Bangladeshi hosts. Attire for social functions is often “informal,” meaning business attire as opposed to formal wear. Women tend to dress conservatively but are not expected to cover their heads. While meetings generally start on time, conferences and social functions often start significantly later than scheduled.
The Bangladesh workweek is Sunday through Thursday.
Please consult the Department of State’s Consular Information Sheet for Bangladesh for the most up to date travel information.
Travelers are also advised to sign up for the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service allowing U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trips with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. With STEP, travelers:
- Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
- Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
- Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.
Passports and Visas
Your passport must be valid for six months beyond your planned stay in Bangladesh, have at least one blank visa page, and contain a Bangladeshi visa and an onward or return ticket.
U.S. citizens are eligible for visas on arrival unless the Bangladesh government temporarily bans on-arrival visas for foreign nationals; however, we strongly recommend obtaining a visa before traveling. Visit the Embassy of Bangladesh website for the most current visa information.
Short term travelers can be denied entry if they cannot demonstrate sufficient liquidity to support their stay.
Visas must be in a valid passport. In country, you may obtain a visa in a new passport at the Department of Immigration and Passports. Replacing a visa, which is required in order to exit the country, may take three to four business days.
There are financial penalties for overstaying the terms of your visa and it can be very difficult and time-consuming to change your immigration status after you have arrived in Bangladesh. For further information on these rules, visit the Bangladeshi Immigration Police website at http://www.immi.gov.bd/.
U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following link(s): State Department Visa Website.
When traveling by air, all foreigners except children under the age of two must pay a departure tax. While, often included when air tickets are purchased, the tax may be collected at the airport at the time of departure. The amount of the departure tax varies depending on the destination.
If departing by road in a private vehicle, you must obtain a road permit by contacting the Director General, Immigration and Passports. A refundable cash deposit is typically required; the amount of the deposit is based on the value of the vehicle.
U.S.-Bangladeshi dual nationals and their immediate family members are eligible for a “No Visa Required for Travel to Bangladesh” seal, which can be issued in their U.S. passports by the nearest Bangladeshi Embassy or Consulate. Accepting the “No Visa Required” seal means a U.S. dual national acknowledges Bangladeshi nationality and accepts its associated responsibilities.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on the U.S. Embassy website.
Up-to-date information regarding entry and exit requirements is available at the State Department’s website.
The local currency is the Bangladeshi taka (BDT). Currency exchange centers/money changers can be found in commercial centers throughout the country. The U.S. dollar is the most commonly exchanged currency. Other currencies, such as euros and British pounds, may also be exchanged in banks and hotels.
Travelers’ checks can be cashed in commercial banks. It may be difficult, however, to have them exchanged at banks outside of major cities.
Major credit cards and debit cards are widely accepted.
Banks are open from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Sunday to Thursday; ATMs are open 24 hours.
Mobile phone networks have rapidly expanded to cover nearly 100 percent of Bangladesh. Access to 4G mobile networks is widely available in most cities. In 2016, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications implemented a rule requiring that SIM cards be registered together with their user’s biometric data.
The normal voltage in Bangladesh is 220 volts and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. Four types of power supply plugs used in Bangladesh: types G, C, D and K; the primary power supply plugs are type G.
Road Conditions and Safety
Traffic in Bangladesh moves on the left, the opposite of U.S. traffic, and large vehicles generally take the right-of-way.
Roads are extremely crowded, poorly maintained, and often lack shoulders, have numerous potholes, sharp drop-offs, and barriers that are not sign-posted.
Drivers are often unlicensed, aggressive, and poorly trained. Many vehicles, particularly large trucks and buses, are badly maintained.
Speed limits and other traffic laws are not commonly posted and are rarely observed by motorists. Vehicles often run red lights and merge directly into traffic without stopping. The practice of using one’s car horn or flashing high-beam headlights to announce one’s presence is the norm in all areas of Bangladesh at all times of day or night.
Road accidents, including fatal head-on collisions, are common in Bangladesh. When traveling by road you should:
- Exercise extreme caution when crossing streets, even in areas frequented by pedestrians;
- Use seatbelts if available and wear helmets on motorcycles and bicycles;
- Exercise particular vigilance along intercity highways, as banditry and carjacking have been known to occur; and
- Monitor local news for any reports of road disturbances as protestors and demonstrators often use road blockage as a means of publicizing their grievances.
- You should not travel by road without an experienced local driver or guide.
If a serious accident occurs, or if a driver hits a pedestrian or a cow, crowds quickly gather and the behavior of the crowd is often unpredictable. The vehicle and its occupants may be at risk of being attacked in such circumstances depending on who the crowd believes is at fault and what damage occurred. Such attacks may pose significant risk of injury or death to the vehicle’s occupants or incineration of the vehicle. It is unsafe to remain at the scene of an accident of this nature. Seek shelter at the nearest police station.
Please refer to the U.S. Department of State’s Road Safety page for more information. More information is also available at Bangladesh’s National Tourism Organization (Parjatan Corporation) website at
The U.S. Embassy prohibits U.S. government officials and their family members from using buses, trains, motorcycles, rickshaws, and compressed natural gas autorickshaws (CNGs) due to high accident rates and crime issues.
The Bangladesh passenger rail system is antiquated and overburdened. Some political activists target the rail lines during civil unrest by hurling explosives and removing rail ties from the tracks, making the trips unusually dangerous and causing cancellations. Even in calm times, foreigners are often the center of attention at train stations because of the relatively atypical presence of foreign railway travelers.
Aviation Safety Oversight
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Bangladesh’s Civil Aviation Authority as not in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Bangladesh’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Although Bangla (Bengali) is the official language of Bangladesh, English is widely spoken and used in official and business circles. U.S. businesspeople may greet their Bangladeshi counterparts with normal English salutations. The usual greeting among Bangladeshis is the Arabic phrase “As-salaam-u-alaikum” (meaning “peace be with you”). The cordial response is “Walaikum As Salaam” (“peace to you as well”). A polite parting phrase is “Khuda Hafez” (“God preserve”).
Medical care is limited and well below U.S. standards. U.S. citizens often travel outside of Bangladesh for medical treatment, including for many routine procedures.
There have been reports of counterfeit medications within the country, but medication from major pharmacies and hospitals is generally reliable.
Water supplies in Bangladesh are not potable, though bottled drinking water is generally safe for consumption.
Fecal-oral contamination is common and improperly prepared meat and improperly cleaned vegetables can lead to food-borne illnesses. Wash, soak, peel, and thoroughly cook food to minimize chemical, insecticide, bacterial, and parasitic contamination. Although the Embassy cannot provide medical advice or services to the public, a list of hospitals and doctors in Dhaka can be found on the Embassy website.
Additional information regarding healthcare is available at the State Department’s website.
Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays
Bangladesh Standard Time is six hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+6). Bangladesh observes a Sunday to Thursday workweek. Business hours are generally 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The Embassy, government offices, and most businesses observe a two-day weekend (Friday and Saturday). Muslim religious holidays may vary with the appearance of the moon. Please see this list of holidays observed by the U.S. Embassy for more information.
Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings
Agents and representatives of foreign manufacturers are allowed to import machinery and equipment from their principals for purposes of demonstration or exhibition, subject to the following conditions:
- The goods brought into Bangladesh will be re-exported within a period of one year.
- The importer shall execute a bond and furnish a bank guarantee or understanding or a legal instrument to the satisfaction of Bangladeshi Customs at the time of clearance indicating that the goods will be re-exported in a timely manner.
- If the goods include any banned or restricted items, prior permission is required from the Chief Controller of Imports and Exports. Equipment or machinery imported on a temporary basis is exempt from duty if the importer obtains an import/export permit.