To enter Bangladesh, you will need a passport that’s valid for at least six months beyond the duration of your stay. An onward/return ticket is preferred, although not always essential.
Rules and procedures for entering and exiting Bangladesh seem to be in a constant state of flux. Since 2011, Bangladesh has offered visas on arrival to citizens of USA, Canada, Australia and the bigger European countries, but check with your local Bangladesh embassy or consulate to see if you are still on that list before arriving.
The usual ‘200 cigarettes, 1L of alcohol’ rule applies, though a relatively casual approach is employed at border crossings. Foreigners are permitted to bring in US$5000 without declaring it and Bangladeshis can bring in US$2500.
On departure, tourists are allowed to reconvert 25% of the total foreign currency encashed in the country. This is only possible at the airport in Dhaka, and you will need to have your encashment slips with you as proof.
Note that Bangladesh currently refuses entry to Israeli passport holders.
With some obscure exceptions, visas are required for citizens of all countries, but note that Israeli passport-holders are forbidden from entering Bangladesh. Maximum stay is usually two months, but can be extended. Travellers from several Western nations can obtain a one-month ‘visa on arrival’ upon arriving at Dhaka airport.
Visa validity and the granted length of stay seems to vary from embassy to embassy, but typically you will be issued with a visa, which is valid for 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.
If you are coming from USA, Canada, Australia or Europe and just want an ordinary one-month, single-entry tourist visa, you may get them on arrival at the airport (although not at land borders).
You’ll see a visa payment counter just before you reach the immigration desks. You can only get a one-month visa on arrival, and you have to pay for one full month even if you plan to stay for less time. It costs the same as a one-month visa would have cost you at the Bangladesh embassy in your home country. You can pay in any major currency, or in taka, but you get the best rate if you pay in American dollars.
The whole process takes five minutes. There’s no need for any photos, photocopies or application forms. You just need your passport and some cash.
Note that visas on arrival were only reintroduced in 2011, and immigration rules in Bangladesh are changeable. Before you leave, double-check your visa status with the Bangladeshi embassy or consulate in your country.
To apply for visa extensions, you will need to visit the Immigration & Passport Office in Dhaka. This is also the office where long-term visitors are required to register.
Extending a tourist visa is relatively painless: fill in the relevant form, pay the fee (this should be the same as the fee for a one-month visa), and pick up a receipt, which will tell you when to return (usually three or four days later – you can keep hold of your passport during this time).
If you just want an extension of a few days, it may be simpler to pay the penalty fee at the airport for overstaying your visa, although that's not something we recommend. It’s Tk 200 per day, for up to 15 days. If you stay more than 15 days, though, this rises to Tk 500 per day, from day one.
Officially, 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 can be acquired at the Immigration & Passport Office in Dhaka. They are free and shouldn’t take more than 24 hours to process. You will need a couple of passport photos.
However, it’s worth noting that in recent years, very few travellers have been asked to show this permit, so in practice, you may be able to get by without it. To be absolutely sure, though, check the Thorn Tree forum (www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree) to see what other travellers have had to do recently.