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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Bahrain

Bahrain - Consular Information Sheet
May 7, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Bahrain is a hereditary emirate, governed by the Al-Khalifa family in consultation with a council of ministers. Islamic ideals and beliefs provide the conservative foundation of the country's customs, laws and practices. In Bahrain, a modern developed country, tourist facilities are widely available. The capital is Manama.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Passports and visas are required. Two-week visas may be obtained for a fee upon arrival at the airport. Prior to travel, visitors may obtain from Bahraini embassies overseas five-year multiple entry visas valid for stays as long as one month. Visitors who fail to depart the country at the end of their authorized stay are fined. An exit tax is charged all travelers upon departure. Residents of Bahrain who intend to return must obtain a re-entry permit before departing. For further information on entry requirements, travelers can contact the Embassy of the State of Bahrain, 3502 International Drive, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 342-0741; 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. Information also may be obtained from the Embassy's Internet home page at http://www.bahrainembassy.org.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of the relationship between the child and an accompanying adult and, when the child's parent(s) or legal guardian is not traveling with the child, permission from that adult for the child's travel. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

DUAL NATIONALITY: The Bahrain government does not recognize dual nationality. Bahrain authorities have confiscated the U.S. passports of dual (Bahrain/U.S.) nationals when they applied for a Bahrain passport. This does not constitute loss of U.S. citizenship, but should be reported to the U.S. Embassy in Manama. For additional information, please refer to the Consular Affair home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/ and click on the dual nationality flyer.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Americans in Bahrain should maintain a high level of security awareness. Over the past several years, Bahrain has experienced sporadic acts of politically related vandalism and arson in which explosive devices have been used. Although domestic political tensions have been reduced by recent government initiatives, political developments in either Bahrain or the Middle East region can inflame emotions and, potentially, anti-American sentiments. The Department of State remains concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks against United States citizens and interests throughout the world. The U.S. Embassy in Manama recommends that visitors limit their activities to tourist attractions and major urban commercial districts. The U.S. Embassy in Manama 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 suspicion 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 973-273-300.

The Embassy informs the registered resident American community of security matters through a warden system (please see the registration section below for more information). The U.S. Embassy in Manama also maintains an English language hotline providing information about current travel conditions in Bahrain. This hotline may be accessed by telephoning 973-255-048.

CRIME : Crime is not a major problem in Bahrain. However, 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 the rooms, and travelers are encouraged to store valuables in hotel room safes, when these are available. While in the old market area (Souk), women are encouraged to keep their purses firmly under their arm, and men should avoid keeping their wallets in their hip pocket. 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. Useful information on ways to promote a more trouble-free trip is available in the Department of State pamphlets, A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa. The pamphlets may be obtained by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402; via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs;

The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Basic modern medical care and medicines are available in several hospitals and health centers in Bahrain. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more.

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. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties, whereas travelers who have purchased overseas medical insurance have found it life-saving when a medical emergency has occurred. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions 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); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/.

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 concerning Bahrain is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside/Ambulance Assistance: Fair

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 they are well maintained; roads in villages and older parts of Manama and Muharraq are narrow and twisting. As in the United States, Bahrain traffic 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 Bahrain Dinars for speeding (speed limits range from 50 to 100 km. per hour), it is not uncommon to be passed by cars traveling 120 to 140 km. per hour on the highway. A car flashing its high beams is generally asking for a chance to pass.

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. If involved in an accident, drivers may not move their vehicles until a report has been filed with the traffic police. If the cars are moved, insurance companies may not provide coverage. If an accident results in legal proceedings, both drivers may be prohibited from leaving the country until the matter is resolved.

Emergency numbers are as follows:
Fire/Ambulance/Police: 999
Traffic/Accidents: 688-888

Passers-by commonly stop to assist stranded drivers; many have mobile phones and will offer to call for assistance. Members of the American Automobile Association (AAA) can call for assistance from the red and white Automobile Association boxes located on highways.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present between the United States and Bahrain, nor economic authority to operate such service, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Bahrain's civil aviation authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. As a result of the August 23, 2000 crash of a Gulf Air flight in the Persian Gulf, the DOD has recommended that military commanders use air carriers other than Gulf Air for DOD official travel, at least until investigation of the crash is complete. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Bahrain customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import or export of items such as: firearms, ammunition, or other weapons; pornography or seditious literature; and habit-forming or hallucinatory drugs. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of the State of Bahrain in Washington, D.C. or Bahrain's Consulate in New York for specific information regarding customs requirements.

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. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Bahrain's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Bahrain are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Individuals subject to Bahraini court orders arising from indebtedness, labor disagreements, or other legal disputes may be prohibited 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. Businesses and banks in Bahrain no longer accept old-style U.S. one hundred dollar bills.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and international child support enforcement issues, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living in or visiting Bahrain are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Manama and obtain updated information on travel and security within Bahrain. 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 973-273-300. The Consular Section fax number is 973-256-242. The Embassy maintains an English language hotline providing information on current travel conditions in Bahrain at telephone 973-255-048. The Embassy's website, which includes consular information, is http://www.usembassy.com.bh. The workweek in Bahrain is Saturday through Wednesday.

This replaces the consular information sheet for Bahrain dated November 9, 2000, and includes updated information on entry/exit requirements, safety and security, traffic safety and road conditions, and crime information.

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