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Latest travel advice for Bahrain including safety and security, entry requirements, travel warnings and health

2017-03-23T10:50:58.633+00:00: Latest update: Safety and security section - information about demonstrations from 23 to 24 March 2017

Demonstrations and protests take place regularly and can turn violent. You should be vigilant, avoid large crowds and demonstrations and be alert to local and regional developments. See Safety and security

There were civil disturbances on the evening of 15 and 16 January 2017, following death sentences carried out on 15 January against 3 men convicted of killing 3 police officers in 2014. There is an increased security presence in Bahrain. You should follow the advice of the local authorities. If you encounter a large demonstration, leave the area immediately. Travel around Bahrain may be affected.

On 1 January 2017, there was a security incident at Jau prison, leading to the escape of several prisoners.

The government of Bahrain has imposed a curfew on the waterways around Bahrain between 6pm and 4am. You should respect the curfew. See Sea travel

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Bahrain. See Terrorism

You must have legal status in Bahrain when you depart. See Exit requirements

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. 

Safety and security

Demonstrations

On Thursday 23 March 2017:

On Friday 24 March 2017:

Demonstrations and protests take place regularly. These activities may include attempts to disrupt traffic, protests in villages and near economic centres, burning tyres, throwing Molotov cocktails, and the use of improvised explosive devices. As a result there could be clashes between government security forces and protesters.

While there have been no direct threats or attacks on British nationals to date, you should remain vigilant and be aware of your surroundings wherever you are on the island. Violent protests pose a risk to those who might inadvertently find themselves near to an active demonstration.

If you encounter a large public gathering or demonstration, leave the area immediately. If you see any suspect item, don’t approach or touch it. Move away from the vicinity and notify the police calling on 999 or the Police Hotline 8000 8008.

Travel on the main routes during daylight hours is generally orderly. There are some police checkpoints. In September 2012 the Ministry for the Interior issued a warning about explosive devices on major highways.

During demonstrations, roads can become blocked, resulting in diversions. These may re-route you to areas you are unfamiliar with. You should familiarise yourself with alternative routes.

Developments in Syria, Iraq and on the Middle East Peace Process continue to have an impact on local public opinion in the region. You should be aware of local sensitivities on these issues. Follow news reports and be alert to local and regional developments, which may trigger public disturbances.

The Ministry of Interior has issued a reminder that all residents and visitors must carry photographic ID. Under Bahraini law, it is an offence not to be able to present photographic ID if asked to do so by a member of the Bahraini authorities, and you may be subject to a fine of up to 300BHD.

Crime

Around 8,000 to 10,000 British nationals live in Bahrain, and thousands more visit each year. Most visits are trouble free. Female visitors should take care when travelling alone at night. You should use one of the reputable taxi companies.

Road travel

You can drive using a UK licence for 3 months. If you are staying for a longer period of time, you should get an International Driving Permit. Bahrain operates a zero tolerance to drink-driving. If you are caught you will be arrested and put in the drivers prison. Your case will not be heard until the next working day. First time offenders will have to pay a minimum £900 fine and could be banned from driving in Bahrain. British visitors from Saudi Arabia will subject to the same punishment but with the addition of a driving ban there also. For repeat offenders the fine and ban will be more serious.

Air travel

You may face lengthy security checks on arrival at Bahrain airport.

Although alcohol is available at Bahrain airport, security officers and airline staff deal firmly with passengers believed to be drunk - even those who are in transit through the airport. You may be denied boarding, detained and fined.

Sea travel

Take care when travelling by Dhow. The safety of these vessels may not be up to UK standards. Make sure life jackets are available.

Many areas of the Gulf are highly sensitive. Vessels entering these areas have been detained and inspected, and there have been occasional arrests. Make careful enquiries before entering these waters or visiting ports.

Regional tensions may affect your route. Vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, Northern Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden and Bab El Mandeb regions may be at increased risk of maritime attack.

Terrorism

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Bahrain. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.

On 30 June 2016, a roadside IED in East Eker killed one person and injured a number of others.

On the 28 August 2015, an attack took place near Karranah village against security personnel. One person was reportedly killed and several others injured.

On 28 July 2015, there was an IED attack on a bus transporting security personnel in Sitra, which led to two deaths and a number of injured. The attack is believed to have been carried out by the al-Ashtar Brigades, a Shia militant group.

Following this and the recent terrorist attacks on mosques in the neighbouring Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia and in Kuwait, you should be particularly vigilant and report anything suspicious to the local authorities.

Terrorists continue to issue statements threatening to carry out attacks in the Gulf region. These include references to attacks on western interests, including residential compounds, military, oil, transport and aviation interests as well as crowded places, including restaurants, hotels, beaches, shopping centres and mosques. You should maintain a high level of security awareness, particularly in public places.

In the last year, incidents involving home-made explosive devices have killed and injured a number of individuals. These explosions occurred in public places including outside a cinema, in a shopping mall and on motorways.

There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

Bahrain is a socially liberal state, but many Bahrainis are conservative.

Respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they don’t offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan and Shia religious festivals. Bahrainis observe some religious anniversaries that may not be celebrated in neighbouring Gulf countries.

In 2017, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 27 May and finish on 25 June. See Travelling during Ramadan

Dress conservatively in public places, especially religious sites.

Don’t bring video cassettes or DVDs into the country. They may be withheld on arrival at the airport.

Bahraini law doesn’t criminalise same sex-activity between consenting adults who are at least 21 years of age, although sodomy is illegal. Bahrain is a liberal country compared with most others in the region, but many Bahrainis hold conservative social views. There are some reported cases of individuals punished for same-sexual activity, but in practice arrests for homosexual behaviour are relatively rare.

All residents and visitors must carry photographic ID. Under Bahraini law, it’s an offence not to be able to present photographic ID if you’re asked to do so by a member of the Bahraini authorities, and you may be subject to a fine of up to 300BHD.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

Make sure you check the latest entry requirements with the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain before you travel.

You can get a visa on arrival, but to ensure a smoother process at the border in Bahrain it is best to get a visa in advance, either online or from the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain in the UK.

On arrival in Bahrain, visitors can be issued visas for 24 hours, 72 hours, 2 weeks or 3 months, depending on their need and at the discretion of the Immigration Officer. You may be asked to provide evidence of onward or return travel. If you enter as a visitor you must not take up employment.

In Bahrain you can apply to renew your visa at Nationality Passport and Residence Affairs (NPRA) at the Ministry of Interior. You can apply for residency through the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA).

Business visitors should bring a letter of invitation Journalists or representatives of NGOs visiting Bahrain should get a visa before travelling.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Bahrain.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are not valid for entry into Bahrain.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Exit requirements

You must have legal status in Bahrain when you leave. You may be prevented from leaving Bahrain if you are subject to a travel ban, involved in legal proceedings, have unpaid debt, or are a child subject to a custody dispute. You can be fined if you overstay or fail to extend your legal residency.

Previous travel to Israel

Evidence of a previous visit to Israel like an Israeli entry/exit stamp in your passport doesn’t normally cause any difficulties when entering Bahrain. It is, however, for the Bahraini authorities to determine the right of entry into the country. If you have any concerns, you should contact the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain in London.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

You will be charged for emergency medical treatment. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 999 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

See also

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Select a country below:

  • British Embassy Manama

    Title:British Embassy Manama, main contact
    Email:
    Address:

    British Embassy
    21 Government Avenue
    Manama 306
    P O Box 114 Manama
    Bahrain

    Contact: Telephone: + 973 17574100
    Fax (Programme / Political Affairs): +973 17574161
    Fax (UK Trade and Investment): +973 17574101
    Fax (Consular/Corporate Services): +973 17574101
    Fax (Press and Public Affairs): +973 17574101
    Visa International Enquiry Service: https://www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-outside-uk
    Consular enquires: BahrainConsularEnquires@fco.gov.uk
    Visiting:Sunday to Thursday, 04:30am to 1130am GMT
    Sunday to Thursday, 07:30 to 02:30pm Local Time

    Consular counter hours: Sunday and Thursday: 08:00 to 10:00am. You will need to make an appointment in advance for all routine notarial and documentary services.
    Services:Emergency Travel Documents service (Assistance Services)
    Transferring funds for prisoners / for financial assistance service (Assistance Services)
    Issue certificate of no impediment (Documentary Services)
    Legalisation Service (Other Services)
    Lost or Stolen Passports (Assistance Services)
  • Department for International Trade Bahrain

    Title:Department for International Trade Bahrain
    Email:DITBahrain@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    British Embassy
    21 Govt Avenue
    Manama
    Bahrain

    Contact: Enquiries: +973 17 574 100
    Visiting:
    Services:
  • UK Science & Innovation Network in Bahrain

    Title:
    Email:
    Address:
    Contact:
    Visiting:
    Services:

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