Getting here and advice about your stay
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Bahrain.
You will need a visa to enter Bahrain. Ensure that you check the latest entry requirements with the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain at: http://www.bahrainembassy.co.uk/, before you travel.
You can obtain a single entry visit visa on arrival at Bahrain International Airport or at the King Fahd Causeway. Depending on need and the discretion of the Immigration Officer, visas can be issued for 24 hours, 72 hours, 2 weeks or 3 months. You may need to provide evidence of onward or return travel, and business visitors should bring a letter of invitation.
Alternatively, to avoid potential problems on arrival, you can get a visa in advance, either online at: https://www.evisa.gov.bh/ or from the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain in the UK. See: http://www.bahrainembassy.co.uk/. Journalists or representatives of NGOs visiting Bahrain should get a visa before travelling rather than on arrival.
Once in Bahrain it is possible to renew your visa via Nationality, Passport and Residence Affairs (NPRA) at the Ministry of Interior, and you can apply for residency through the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA).
Visiting Saudi Arabia
Check the terms of your Saudi visa before travelling if you are planning to visit Saudi Arabia, as Saudi visas may only allow for entry into the country by air rather than across a land border such as the causeway from Bahrain.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are not valid for entry into Bahrain. However, they are accepted for airside transit and exit from Bahrain.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
You can check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website at: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/20/bahrain#Vaccine_recommendations.
You must have legal status in Bahrain when you leave, and not have any unpaid debt, not be involved in legal proceedings nor subject to a travel ban, or you may be prevented from leaving. If you overstay, or fail to extend your legal residency, you can be fined.
Previous travel to Israel
If you have previously visited Israel and have evidence such as an Israeli entry/exit stamp in your passport, this should not normally cause a problem when entering Bahrain. However, the Bahraini authorities determine the right of entry into the country, so it is best to contact the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain in London at: http://www.bahrainembassy.co.uk/ if you have any concerns before you travel.
You are not permitted to work in Bahrain with just a visit visa. You will need to apply for a work permit in Bahrain. Your employer can arrange and process the necessary application documents via the Labour Market Regulatory Authority, at: http://lmra.bh/portal/en/home.
Further details on visas and work permits can be found on the Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs website at: https://www.mofa.gov.bh/Default.aspx?tabid=256.
[Source – Government of Bahrain, FCO Foreign Travel Advice: Bahrain, gov.uk]
Local laws and customs
Although Bahrain is a socially liberal state, many Bahrainis are conservative. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and dress conservatively in public places, particularly religious sites. Be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan and Shia religious festivals.
In 2020, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 24th April and finish on 23rd May. See the UK Government’s guidance on travelling during Ramadan at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travelling-during-ramadan. Bahrainis observe some additional religious anniversaries that may not be celebrated in other Gulf countries.
Same-sex activity between consenting adults who are at least 21 years of age is not criminalised under Bahraini law, although sodomy is illegal. Bahrain is a liberal country compared with most others in the region, but many Bahrainis do hold conservative social views. Before you travel, see the UK Government’s information and advice page for the LGBT community at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-foreign-travel-advice.
Under Bahraini law, all residents and visitors must carry photographic ID, and it is an offence not to be able to present photographic ID if you are asked to do so by a member of the Bahraini authorities, or you may be subject to a fine of up to 300 BHD.
[Source – FCO Foreign Travel Advice: Bahrain, gov.uk]
Safety and security
Demonstrations and protests do take place regularly, particularly on the anniversary dates of significant events and sometimes with attempts to disrupt traffic. Protests in villages and near economic centres occur, with burning tyres, the throwing of Molotov cocktails and improvised explosive devices potentially being used. There are often clashes between government security forces and protesters, so you need to remain vigilant and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Historic trouble-spots where such incidents have taken place include Sitra, Bani Jamra, Karbabad, Saar, Karzakan, the Budaiya Highway and surrounding villages, and further protests could erupt at any time without warning. During demonstrations, roads can become blocked, resulting in diversions. There have been no direct threats or attacks on British nationals but you should remain vigilant and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
If you encounter a large public gathering or demonstration, leave the area immediately. If you see a suspicious item, do not approach or touch it but move away and call the police on 999 or the Police Hotline 8000 8008.
During daylight hours travel on main routes is generally orderly. There are some police checkpoints but there can be explosive devices on major highways.
Political developments in the region continue to have an impact on local public opinion, so you should be aware of local sensitivities, follow news reports and be alert to any developments which may trigger public disturbances.
Around 10,000 British nationals live in Bahrain, and thousands more visit each year. Although most visits are trouble free, female visitors should take care when travelling alone at night and are advised to use one of the reputable taxi companies.
You are permitted to drive for up to three months in Bahrain with a valid UK driving licence, after which you will need to get either a local licence or an International Driving Permit (IDP). However, an IDP will need to be certified by the Bahrain Traffic Authority upon arrival.
If you intend to use an IDP in Bahrain, since 28th March 2019, this has to be a 1968 IDP as 1926 IDPs previously issued by the UK will no longer be accepted for use in Bahrain. IDPs are available over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices, but as you cannot buy one outside the UK, you will need to get one before you travel. See: https://www.gov.uk/driving-abroad/international-driving-permit for further information.
There is zero tolerance to drink-driving in Bahrain. First time fines are at least £900 and a possible driving ban.
Security checks on arrival at Bahrain International Airport can be lengthy.
Be careful when travelling by dhow, and always ensure life jackets are available. The safety of dhows may not be up to UK standards.
Many areas of the Gulf are highly sensitive. Vessels entering these areas may be detained and inspected, and passengers even arrested, so you should always check before entering these waters or visiting ports.
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.
Terrorist attacks are very likely in Bahrain. You should always maintain a high level of security awareness as indiscriminate attacks against civilian targets and Western interests – including crowded places frequented by foreigners such as international hotels, restaurants and bars, beaches, shopping centres as well as energy sector facilities, residential compounds, mosques, military, oil, transport and aviation interests – cannot be ruled out.
You should also be vigilant around significant high-profile occasions and events, particularly in public places. Always report anything suspicious to the local authorities.
Visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/reduce-your-risk-from-terrorism-while-abroad to find out how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
[Source – FCO Foreign Travel Advice: Bahrain, gov.uk]
You should visit your GP or health provider a minimum of eight weeks prior to travelling to Bahrain, to assess any health risks specific to you or the country itself, and to allow time for any necessary vaccinations.
For information and advice about any risks, visit the Bahrain-specific pages of the TravelHealthPro website at: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/20/bahrain. You can also receive useful information, advice and guidance from the NHS via the FitForTravel website at: https://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations and the NHS Choices website at: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/.
Some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be of an alternative legal status and regulations surrounding their usage may vary in other countries. If it is necessary for you to travel with either prescription or over-the-counter medication you should consult the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) or TravelHealthPro at: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/factsheet/43/medicines-abroad.
For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you should contact the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain in London, at: https://www.mofa.gov.bh/Default.aspx?tabid=3256&language=en-US before you travel.
You will be charged for emergency medical treatment in Bahrain, so you should ensure you have adequate travel health insurance and funding to cover the cost abroad and possible repatriation.
If you need emergency healthcare you can visit a hospital’s emergency room or attend a walk-in clinic. If needed, dial 999 and ask for an ambulance, and contact your insurance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
FCO foreign travel advice
If you are travelling to Bahrain for business, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) website has travel advice to help you prepare for your visit overseas and to stay safe and secure while you are there.
For up-to-the-minute advice please visit the foreign travel pages on the gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/bahrain.
Make sure you have comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel, as well as accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
[Source – FCO Foreign Travel Advice: Bahrain, gov.uk]
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