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Bangladesh

Visas

With some obscure exceptions, visas are required for citizens of all countries. Israeli passport holders are forbidden from entering Bangladesh.

Visas on arrival (either by air or land) have not been available for some years, but in March 2008, 15-day landing permits started to be issued again in exceptional circumstances. The immigration department doesn’t encourage tourists to arrive without a visa and there is no guarantee you will be granted entry (especially if you have just arrived from a country with a Bangladeshi embassy), but the word is that some people had managed to obtain them. For the moment, we recommend that you do all you can to obtain a visa in advance, but this is an encouraging sign that visa rules might be further relaxed.

Visa validity and the granted length of stay seems to vary from embassy to embassy, but normally you will be issued with a visa valid for two or three months from the date of issue, and good for stays of one to two months. Visa fees vary according to nationality, whether you are seeking single or multiple entry and which embassy you are applying through, but they normally cost around US$50/€30/£25.

Requests for visas for stays longer than three months are usually denied. If you decide to extend your stay, extensions can be obtained, though this requires tangling with Bangladeshi bureaucracy and isn’t a good idea.

Visa extensions & change of route permits

To apply for visa extensions and change of route permits you will need to visit the Immigration and Passport Office (889 750; Agargaon Rd, Dhaka; Sat-Thu). This is also the office where long-term visitors are ­required to register.

Travellers have reported poor service and misinformation at this office. You will need to be both persistent and patient.

If you overstay your visa, you will be fined for each extra day. In some cases travellers have been charged even more, given no receipt and the extra charge has not been explained.

Extensions up to a total stay of three months are generally easy to obtain. If you’ve been in Bangladesh for three months and wish to extend beyond that, the process can take up to a week or more, and there is no assurance that you’ll receive an extension. The more convincing your reasons for wanting an extension, the better your chances of getting one.

Processing of requests to stay longer than three months is notoriously inefficient, so start the process early – at least a fortnight before the expiration date, if you’ve already been there three months.

If you exit Bangladesh by means other than that by which you entered (ie you flew in but are leaving by land), you will need a change of route permit, also sometimes referred to as a road permit. Change of route permits shouldn’t take more than 24 hours, but sometimes take up to 72 so start the process early. The permit is free. You will need a couple of passport photos.