Bahrain Consular Information Sheet - Tips

Bahrain Consular Information Sheet May 14, 2007 COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Bahrain is a hereditary kingdom governed by the Al-Khalifa family. In 2002, the country became a monarchy with a new constitution that reinstated a legislative body with one elected and one appointed chamber. Islamic ideals and beliefs provide the conservative foundation of the country's customs, laws and practices. Bahrain is a modern, developed country and tourist facilities are widely available. The capital is Manama. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Bahrain for additional information. ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and a visa are required. Passports should be valid for at least six months after date of arrival. U.S. passport holders outside of Bahrain may apply and pay for a two-week tourist visa online through the Bahraini government websitehttp://www.evisa.gov.bh , or may obtain it upon arrival at the airport. U.S. diplomatic passport holders receive a no-fee two-week visa. Prior to travel, visitors may obtain five-year multiple-entry visas valid for stays as long as one month from Bahraini embassies overseas. Bahrain assesses heavy fines on visitors who fail to depart Bahrain at the end of their authorized stay. The exact amount of the fine is determined by a formula related to the visa type, duration, and location of issuance. An exit tax is included in the ticket price for flights out of Bahrain, and no additional exit fees are required upon departure. Residents of Bahrain who intend to return must obtain a re-entry permit before departing. For further information on entry/exit requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain, 3502 International Drive, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 342-1111; or the Bahrain Permanent Mission to the U.N., 2 United Nations Plaza, East 44th St., New York, N.Y. 10017, telephone (212) 223-6200. See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Bahrain and other countries. Visit the Embassy of Bahrain web site at www.bahrainembassy.org for the most current visa information. See Entry and Exit Requirements for more information pertaining to dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction. Please refer to our Customs Information to learn more about customs regulations. SAFETY AND SECURITY: Americans in Bahrain should maintain a high level of security awareness. The security situation in Bahrain has changed significantly since the September 11, 2001 attack against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the initiation of U.S. military operations in Iraq in 2003, and the onset of the current cycle of violence in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Several anti-American demonstrations occurred in 2002, one of which resulted in the U.S. Embassy being attacked with firebombs, and in 2003 at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Isolated incidents of aggressive or violent confrontations with individual Americans have also occurred. Events in the region can spark a mass response locally and further inflame current sentiments. Spontaneous demonstrations pertaining to local issues have occurred, and in the past, protests against Israel’s military actions in Lebanon included criticism of the U.S. Visiting U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Manama upon arrival and to maintain a low profile. The Embassy recommends that visitors limit their activities to tourist attractions and major urban commercial districts, particularly at night. The Embassy also suggests that all Americans maintain an unpredictable schedule and vary travel routes whenever possible. Americans also are urged to treat mail from unfamiliar sources with caution and to avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar objects. Please report any suspicious activity, individuals, vehicles, or objects to the U.S. Embassy's Regional Security Office at telephone (973) 1724-2700 during office hours or (973) 1727–5126 after hours. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Middle East and North Africa Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and other Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad. CRIME: The crime rate in Bahrain is low and violent crime is rare. However, burglary, petty theft, and robberies do occur. Visiting Americans are urged to take the same security precautions in Bahrain that one would practice in the United States. Hotel room doors should be locked when visitors are in their rooms, and travelers are encouraged to store valuables in hotel room safes when they are available. Women are encouraged to keep their purses firmly under their arms, and men should avoid keeping their wallets in their hip pockets while in the old market area (Souk). The U.S. Embassy in Manama recommends that travelers using local taxis insist on the use of a meter since unexpectedly high fares may otherwise be charged. Bahrain has a professional police force, and visitors are encouraged to contact the police if problems are encountered. INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how to transfer funds. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. See our information on Victims of Crime. MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Basic modern medical care and medicines are available in several hospitals and health centers in Bahrain. Two government hospitals, several private hospitals, and numerous private clinics located throughout the country offer a wide range of medical services. Cardiac care, general surgery, internal medicine, obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics, orthopedics and dentistry services are readily available, as are x-rays, CT-scan and MRI testing. The government hospitals house both trauma and ICU units. Pharmacies are common throughout Bahrain and carry a wide range of medications. Prescriptions are normally required. Payment at all medical facilities is due at the time of service. Some hospitals have limited direct billing capability for certain insurance carriers. Billing and insurance practices vary among the medical facilities. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith. MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas. TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Bahrain is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance. Travel by road in Bahrain is generally safe although unsafe driving practices are common. Highways and major roads in the northern third of Bahrain are four to six lanes wide and well maintained; roads in villages and older parts of Manama and Muharraq are narrow and twisting. As in the United States, traffic in Bahrain moves on the right. Roundabouts (traffic circles) follow the British system, with those automobiles within the traffic circle having right of way over those attempting to enter. While there is a fine of at least 50 Bahraini Dinars (135 US dollars) for speeding, it is not uncommon for drivers to drive well over the posted speed limits of 50-120 km per hour. A driver flashing the car’s high beams is generally asking for a chance to pass. It is illegal to use a cell phone while driving. Under Bahraini law, any sign of having consumed alcohol may be taken as prima facie evidence of driving under the influence, which can lead to imprisonment and/or fines of up to 1,000 Bahraini Dinars (2,700 U.S. dollars). Except for minor accidents, drivers may not move their vehicles after an accident until a report has been filed with the traffic police. This is true even in cases of single-car accidents. Insurance companies may not provide coverage if the cars are moved. However, drivers involved in minor, non-injury accidents no longer need to wait at the scene for the police. Individuals should get their vehicles off the road to avoid further accidents. Drivers must then call the Bahrain Accident Hotline (1768-8888 or 1768-5999) where they will be directed to one of five new centers to file the accident report. This report must be filed within 24 hours of the accident. Both drivers may be prohibited from leaving the country until the matter is resolved if an accident results in legal proceedings. Emergency numbers are as follows: Fire/Ambulance/Police: 999 Traffic/Accidents: 1768-8888 or 1768-5999 Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of Bahrain’s national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.traffic.gov.bh/main.htm. AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Bahrain, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Bahrain’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa. SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Individuals subject to Bahraini court orders arising from indebtedness, labor disagreements, or other legal disputes may be prevented from departing Bahrain until their cases are resolved. Instances have occurred in which departure was prohibited for several years, since the legal process can be both lengthy and complex. A list of local attorneys capable of representing Americans in such matters is available from the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Manama. Please see ourinformation on Customs Regulations. CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Persons violating Bahrain’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Disrespect to officials in word or deed can result in heavy fines. Travelers who are driving should be aware that one drink may be sufficient grounds for a DUI arrest. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Bahrain are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website. REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living or traveling in Bahrain are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Bahrain. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at Bldg. 979, Road no. 3119, Zinj District(next to Al Ahli Sports Club). The mailing address is P.O. Box 26431, Manama, Bahrain. The telephone number is (973) 1724-2700. The after-hours number is (973) 1727-5126. The Consular Section’s fax number is (973) 1725-6242. The Embassy's website, which includes consular information and the most recent messages to the American community in Bahrain, is at http://bahrain.usembassy.gov/. The workweek in Bahrain is Sunday through Thursday. * * * This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated October 2, 2006, to update sections on Entry/Exit Requirements, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, and Criminal Penalties. *********************************************************** See http://travel.state.gov/travel_warnings.html for State Department Travel Warnings

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