Bahrain Traveler Information - Travel Advice
Travel Advice with a Travel Advisory overview from the US State Department. Here we cover Visa, Safety & Security, local Laws and Insurance in our Bahrain Traveler Information guide.
At AARDY we can’t recommend travel insurance enough. Whether you are just traveling a few hundred miles from home to see family, or traveling to the other side of the world, travel insurance should be considered an essential part of your holiday packing. The hope is that you won’t have to use your travel insurance, and that you’ll have a fun and enjoyable trip. The following Bahrain Traveler Information should help you make the most of your trip to Bahrain.
Note: Always check that your destination country is one approved for travel by your travel insurance provider.
PASSPORT VALIDITY: 6 months
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES: 1 page per entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED: Yes
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY: $10,000
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT: See “Exit Restrictions” info below
Embassies and Consulates
Building No. 979
Road 3119, Block 331
Kingdom of Bahrain
Telephone: +(973) 1724-2700
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(973) 1727-5126
Fax: +(973) 1727-2594; 1725-6242 (Consular Section)
The workweek in Bahrain is Sunday through Thursday.
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Bahrain for information on U.S. – Bahrain relations.
Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
**Requirements for Entry: **
- Passport valid for at least six months
**Types of visas: **
_Tourist visas: _Apply for two-week tourist visas online on the Bahraini government website or upon arrival in the country. Ask for five-year multiple entry visas at Bahraini embassies.
_U.S. Diplomatic and Official passport holders: _Request a no-fee two-week visa upon arrival.
Journalism visas: Journalists must have a journalism visa.
Be prepared to answer questions regarding your purpose of travel. Be sure to leave Bahrain before your visa expires; otherwise, you face heavy fines and possible arrest and/or deportation.
Working in Bahrain: To work in Bahrain you must have the following:
- Valid work visa
- Residency permit
- Local identification card
Consult Bahrain’s Labor Market Regulatory Authority for complete details.
Obtain a valid work permit and signed employment contract before arriving in Bahrain. The contract should clearly state:
- Provisions related to relocation expenses
- Type of housing and number of occupants
- Any visa fees to be paid by the employee
- Salary payment schedule and any salary penalties
- Terms of probation period
- Who pays transportation expenses, should the contract be terminated
Do not work in Bahrain on a tourist visa. Even if employers advise you otherwise, Bahraini authorities will hold you personally liable if you do not have a valid work permit.
**Authenticating Documents for Your Employment Permit **
Have all required documents authenticated before arriving. The U.S. Embassy in Manama cannot provide this service. For information on authentication of U.S. issued documents, see Authentication of American Academic Credentials for Use Abroad and contact our Office of Authentications.
Employer Retention of U.S. Passports: It is illegal, but a common practice for Bahraini employers to retain your passport. Such retention could delay your travel or grant undue leverage to your employer in case of a dispute. U.S. passports are the property of the U.S. government.
While many U.S. citizens have a positive experience working in Bahrain, we have received a number of complaints from U.S. citizens employed in the education sector.
Exit Restrictions: If you have unpaid debt or are involved in legal proceedings (including debt, traffic tickets, unresolved traffic accident to include repair, labor, or custody disputes), authorities may not allow you to leave Bahrain until the issue is resolved, even if takes several years to close the case. Additionally, this could force you to stay in Bahrain beyond the validity of your visa, at which point you would begin to accrue daily fines. Should this happen, _the U.S. Embassy cannot pay your debt, fines, tickets, legal expenses or living expenses. _
Residents intending to return to Bahrain: Be sure to obtain a re-entry permit valid for at least six months before leaving. Renew visas and residency permits through the General Directorate of Nationality, Passports, and Residence (GDNPR).
HIV/AIDS Restrictions: All declared HIV-positive foreigners risk immediate deportation; deportation may be applied to all “communicable diseases.” Although you are not required to declare HIV status upon arrival, the government revokes visas of non-Bahrainis who are HIV positive. Please verify this information with the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain before traveling.
Travelers with HIV: Carry enough medication to cover your intended stay, since obtaining drugs locally could be difficult and/or lead to deportation. Pharmacies reportedly will not sell AIDS drugs to non-Bahraini citizens without a permit from the Ministry of Health. Similarly, health facilities and pharmacies are required to report HIV-positive foreigners to the Ministry of Health.
Dual nationality: Bahrain does not recognize dual nationality, though some exceptions are made. In early 2017 Bahrain launched a campaign requiring all dual nationals to declare and register their other nationality with the government.
If you are eligible for Bahraini citizenship, authorities will not issue you a Bahraini passport unless you relinquish your U.S. passport.
Safety and Security
Potential for Terrorist Activity: Spontaneous and violent anti-government demonstrations may occur, particularly at night and on weekends. Such activity is usually confined to specific locations and is rarely widespread.
Demonstrations sometimes result in blocked highways and unofficial checkpoints. Participants occasionally throw rocks, Molotov cocktails, and utilize improvised explosive devices and shotgun-like projectile launchers. The Ministry of Interior maintains official checkpoints and routinely uses tear gas, stun grenades, and other crowd dispersal techniques against demonstrators.
Avoid all demonstrations. To date, no U.S. citizens have been specifically targeted during protest activity. Local media outlets have sometimes expressed anti-U.S. sentiment, and demonstrators have occasionally burned U.S. flags.
Remain alert to local security developments. For assistance, call the local police at 999.
Restricted travel: The U.S. Embassy restricts its employees from traveling to specific areas where protest activity is more likely and advises all U.S. citizens to do the same.
See the Embassy’s website for travel restrictions and security updates.
Stay informed about local events through the local media.
Crime: The crime rate in Bahrain is low, and violent crime is rare. Thieves are active in the old market area.
Victims of Crime: Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime. Report crimes to the local police at 999 and contact the U.S. Embassy, if you need assistance. During business hours, call +(973) 1724-2700; after hours, call +(973) 1727-5126.
U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the local police and then follow up with the U.S. Embassy.
U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Police/Fire Department/Ambulance/ National Emergency call center – 999
Fire accidents – 997
Casualty bureau – 990
Criminal Investigations (CID) – 992
Coast Guard (CGD) – 994
Traffic police – 199
International Emergency Number – 112
Call center – 17872287
Main Switchboard – 17872222
East Riffa Police Station – 1777 3158
West Riffa Police Station – 1766 4606
Exhibition Road Police Station – 1755 0629
Hawak Police Station – 1784 9009
Hidd Police Station – 1767 1212
Hoora Police Station – 1729 1555
Naim Police Station – 1725 8210
Samaheej Police Station – 1733 4401
Umm-Al Hasam Police Station – 1772 8229
Zallaq Police Station – 1763 1211
Household _Emergencies _– 8000 1810
_Violence against Women _– 1787 0302
Other Useful Numbers:
National contact number for government related appointments – 8000 8001
Civil Aviation Department, Bahrain – 1732 1100
Bahrain International Airport – 1732 1997
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
**Tourism: **The tourism industry is generally regulated and rules with regard to best practices and safety inspections are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are identified with appropriate signage and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. Embassy officials can more readily visit you while you are still being detained at a police station than after you have been transferred to a prison. See our webpage for further information and our embassy website for a list of local lawyers.
**Extra-marital sexual relations are a criminal offense. **If a child is born out of wedlock, obtaining a civil birth certificate is extremely difficult and frequently leads to the deportation of the mother and the child. Without a birth certificate, obtaining a passport for the child’s travel can be difficult. Additionally, transmission of citizenship is typically through the father which could lead to the child being stateless. In the case of U.S. citizen mothers, the embassy may be able to document such children as U.S. citizens or may be able to process an immigrant visa petition. Consult the embassy for options, but it is advisable to depart the country before giving birth.
Drug Usage: Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs are severe, including long jail sentences and heavy fines. You can be arrested for public drunkenness and disorderly behavior.
Driving under the Influence: Penalties include imprisonment and/or heavy fines. Any sign of alcohol consumption may be taken as evidence of driving under the influence.
Using vulgar language or hand gestures can result in heavy fines or criminal charges.
It is illegal to photograph certain buildings in Bahrain.
Carry a form of identification with you at all times, such as a passport, local ID card (CPR card), or driver’s license.
Child Abduction and Custody Cases: There are no treaties in force between Bahrain and the United States concerning international parental child abduction and custody cases. Bahraini courts may ignore child custody decrees issued in the United States.
Sharia law generally controls custody issues. Decisions are often based on age and gender of the children rather than the U.S. “best interest of the child” standard.
Social Services: Information concerning family and child services can be found on the Ministry of Labor and Social Development’s website.
Divorce: Seek legal counsel and ascertain your rights in Bahrain before visiting the country if you are a U.S. citizen divorced from/in the process of divorcing a Bahraini citizen. This is particularly important regarding child custody issues. See our website on Bahrain and international child abduction for additional information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report.
**LGBTI Travelers: **While the law does not criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity between people over 21, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activities are not accepted socially.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance:Transportation is not wheelchair-accessible, and sidewalks and crosswalks—even in large cities—are not accessible.
Outside of the more expensive hotels in the capital, virtually no hotels offer accessible accommodations.
There are very few accessible restaurants, shops, or historical sites. Handicap-accessible bathrooms, even in major hospitals, are generally not available.
Women Travelers: Women traveling alone should maintain vigilance. Review this report’s section on Local Law,as well as our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Medical Care: Basic medical care is available through public and private hospitals, as well as private clinics. In most facilities the care is below U.S. standards. Public hospitals have trauma and ICU units. Most postoperative and trauma centers do not provide adequate pain management. People with chronic general medical or mental health conditions and HIV-related health issues may not be able to obtain appropriate emergency care in Bahrain. American privacy and confidentiality laws may not apply to Bahraini medical providers.
Prescription Medication: Check with Customs Affairs of Bahrain to ensure your medications are legal in the country. Most narcotic painkillers, stimulants, and controlled sedatives/hypnotics are not easily available, and may be illegal in many cases. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging along with your doctor’s prescription.
Payment: Payment at all medical facilities is due at the time of service. Some hospitals have very limited direct billing capability for certain insurance carriers. Billing and insurance practices vary among the medical facilities.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Travel and Transportation
**Road Conditions and Safety: **Road travel is generally safe. Highways and major roads in northern Bahrain are wide and well maintained. Roads in villages and older parts of Manama and Muharraq are narrow, congested and twisting.
Traffic Laws: Traffic moves on the right. At roundabouts (traffic circles), cars within the traffic circle have right of way over those attempting to enter.
Drivers frequently speed in spite of stiff penalties, including fines and possible imprisonment.
Police can detain drivers for traffic violations.
It is illegal to use a cell phone while driving, and drivers are required to wear seat belts.
Traffic is more congested on the weekends with an influx of vehicles from neighboring countries whose drivers are less disciplined than local residents.
Traffic Accidents: Except for minor accidents, do not move the vehicle until you have filed a report with the traffic police. This applies to single-car accidents as well. If you move the car, insurance companies may deny coverage.
For minor accidents with no injuries, move your vehicle off the road to avoid further accidents. You do not have to wait at the scene for the police.
Filing Accident Reports: You must file a report within 24 hours of the accident.
- For minor accidents with no injuries, call 199.
- For accidents involving injury, call 999.
- For the traffic department’s main switchboard, call 1787-2222.
If an accident results in legal proceedings, both drivers may be prohibited from leaving the country until the matter is resolved. Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
Public Transportation: Bahrain has a newly expanded public bus system that extends throughout most of the country. A car is still needed to access most locations.
Taxis are available in Bahrain and are typically arranged by phone. Uber also operates in Bahrain.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Bahrain, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Bahrain’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards.
See FAA’s safety assessment page for further information.
MARITIME TRAVEL: Mariners planning travel to Bahrain should also check:
U.S. Coast Guard homeport website
NGA broadcast warnings (select “broadcast warnings”)
For additional travel information
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution and Travel Advisories.
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
International Parental Child Abduction
Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Bahrain. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.”
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