Travel Advice

Australian Government advice for Bahrain

Flag of Bahrain

When travelling to Bahrain, you should always get travel insurance in case the worst happens. To help you ensure you travel safely, we have included the travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for Bahrain.

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Tuesday, 18 November 2014.   This advice contains new information in the summary and under Safety and Security (protests are expected to increase in the lead up to, and following, parliamentary elections on 22 November 2014). The level of the travel advice for Bahrain has not changed. We continue to advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Bahrain due to the uncertain security situation and threat of terrorist attack.

Bahrain overall



Summary

  • We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Bahrain due to the uncertain security situation and threat of terrorist attack.
  • Following a number of bombings in Manama in which people have been killed and injured, Bahraini authorities advised residents and visitors to Bahrain to avoid all suspicious objects. Further such bombings could occur.
  • There are reports that radical militant groups have called for a campaign of violence against government security forces from April 2014.
  • Attacks could occur at any time and could be directed against government buildings, public areas and locations known to be frequented by foreigners including tourist sites, hotels, shopping areas, restaurants, cafes, and large scale sporting and cultural events.
  • Protests and demonstrations are expected to increase in the lead up to, and following, parliamentary elections on 22 November 2014. You should avoid all public gatherings and protests as they often turn violent. If you are in an area where a protest is occurring you should either leave the area if it is safe to do so, or remain indoors and away from windows.
  • There continues to be a visible security presence in Bahrain, particularly around Manama city centre and Shia-majority villages. You should follow the instructions of local authorities and security forces.
  • You should take particular care in the period surrounding Friday prayers and at night due to the potential for civil disturbances. Shia-majority areas, including the Sanabis area, Hamad town, Saar, Budaiya and the Sitra area, may continue to experience unrest. Visitors to Bahrain should reconsider their need to travel outside the central business area after nightfall and should restrict their movements to major routes at all times.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Bahrain. The Australian Embassy in Saudi Arabia provides consular assistance to Australians in Bahrain.
  • See also our general advice for business travellers .
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Map of Bahrain ( This map is presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature.  Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy. )

Entry and exit

You should ensure that your travel documents are available for inspection by local authorities. Some travellers face close scrutiny from Bahraini authorities and should be prepared to answer questions regarding the purpose of their travel to Bahrain. The Government of Bahrain has refused some Australian citizens permission to enter Bahrain.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. You may experience difficulties as you enter Bahrain if your passport has evidence of travel to Israel, such as entry or exit stamps. Visit the website of the Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the most up-to-date information. Bahrain does not have an embassy in Australia, the closest Embassy of Bahrain is located in Bangkok, Thailand.

Children born of a Bahraini father require their father's permission to depart Bahrain (regardless of their parents' marital status).

People involved in commercial disputes, including unpaid debts, may be prevented from leaving Bahrain until the dispute is resolved.

Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Bahrain at this time due to the uncertain security situation and the threat of terrorist attack. You should think seriously about the need to travel. This may mean deferring non-essential travel, staying as short a time as possible, eliminating some activities from your itinerary or choosing a less risky destination.

Terrorism

Terrorist attacks have caused a number of deaths and casualties in recent years. In light of this, Bahraini authorities have advised residents and visitors to Bahrain to avoid all suspicious objects. Further such bombings could occur.

Attacks could occur at any time and could be directed against government buildings, public areas and locations known to be frequented by foreigners including tourist sites, hotels, shopping areas, restaurants, cafes, and large scale sporting and cultural events. Increased security measures are currently in place and may be reinforced at short notice.

There are reports that radical militant groups have called for a campaign of violence against government security forces from April 2014.

Recent incidents include:

  • On 4 July 2014, a policeman was killed in an explosion in East Eker.
  • On 19 April 2014, two people were killed and three injured when a car bomb exploded in Mughsha, near Manama.
  • On 3 March 2014, three policemen were killed in an explosion during clashes between police and anti-government protestors in Daih.
  • On 14 July 2013, four policemen were injured when a bomb exploded in Janabiyah in Northern Governorate.
  • On 6 July 2013, a policeman was killed and two others were injured when a home-made bomb exploded near a police station in Sitra in Central Governorate.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.

Civil unrest/political tension

Since February 2011, there have been periodic violent clashes surrounding protests and funerals throughout Bahrain, including in Manama and in Shia-majority villages. Demonstrations and disruptions are expected to continue and may include attempts to disrupt traffic, the use of burning tyres, throwing Molotov cocktails and the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Additional IED attacks are likely.

Protests and demonstrations are expected to increase in the lead up to, and following, parliamentary elections on 22 November 2014. You should avoid all public gatherings and protests as they may turn violent. Security forces have responded violently to some demonstrations. Avoid areas where Bahraini Ministry of Interior forces are gathered due to the threat of pending unrest. You should monitor local and international media for information on current political developments and regional tensions affecting your safety and security and follow the advice of local authorities. If you are in an area where a protest is occurring you should either leave the area if it is safe to do so, or remain indoors and away from windows.

In 2012 Bahraini authorities announced the banning of all public rallies and gatherings. Participants in illegal rallies or gatherings will face legal action. Australians should be aware that bystanders could get caught up in demonstrations and could face arrest.

There continues to be a visible security presence in Bahrain, particularly around the city centre and Shia villages. You should follow the instructions of local authorities and security forces.

You should take particular care in the period surrounding Friday prayers and at night due to the potential for civil disturbance. Shia-majority areas, including the Sanabis area, Hamad town, Saar, Budaiya and the Sitra area, may continue to experience unrest. Visitors to Bahrain should reconsider their need to travel outside the central business area after nightfall and should restrict their movement to major routes at all times.

The Causeway to Saudi Arabia is open but may be subject to intermittent closure without notice should the security situation in Bahrain deteriorate further.

We are aware of reports of unauthorised roadblocks being formed in some communities.

Crime

Petty crime including pick pocketing and bag snatching does occur, particularly in the old market areas (souks).

Money and valuables

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Review the general advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.

Local travel

Carrying photographic ID is compulsory for all residents and visitors to Bahrain. Fines may apply.

Road travel can be dangerous due to unsafe driving practices (particularly speeding). Roaming animals and drifting sands are additional road hazards.

Off road driving can be hazardous. You should ensure vehicles are well equipped and properly maintained. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Women should take particular care when travelling alone, especially at night.

You should be aware that maritime vessels may not meet the safety standards you would expect in Australia. In March 2006, a dhow capsized in Bahrain killing 58 people, including foreigners. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, you should use another provider. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if the locals don't.

Travellers entering the Gulf area by sea should be aware that many areas of the Gulf are highly sensitive, and the Government of Bahrain may impose curfews on waterways around Bahrain. The islands of Abu Musa and the Tunbs in the Southern Gulf are particularly sensitive. There have been reports of inspections of vessels and detentions and arrests.

Piracy occurs in the Gulf. See our piracy bulletin for further information. The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports on its website .

Airline safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Bahrain.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Bahrain, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research local laws before travelling.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter .

The Australian Embassy in Riyadh does not have direct access to Bahraini Government institutions (police stations, jails, hospitals, etc) and is obliged to formally seek access via the Bahraini Embassy in Riyadh. This can cause delays for those requiring consular assistance.

Penalties for drug offences, including for possession, are severe and include the death penalty and life imprisonment.

Serious crimes, such as murder, may attract the death penalty.

Australians who might engage in activities that involve local legal matters, particularly with regard to family law (divorce, child custody and child support), are strongly advised to seek professional advice and ensure they are aware of their rights and responsibilities. See also Entry and Exit Requirements .

Be aware that you may not be allowed to leave Bahrain if you are involved in commercial or labour disputes, legal proceedings or have unpaid debts.

While Bahraini law does not criminalize homosexual activity between consenting adults over 21 years of age, LGBTI activity is not socially accepted and is likely to attract the attention of Bahraini authorities under a number of broader morality and public order laws. See our LGBTI travellers page .

There is zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol. Offenders may be detained, fined and banned from driving.

The penalty for some offences, including stealing, may be corporal punishment (lashing).

It is illegal to attempt to convert a Muslim to another religion.

It is illegal to photograph sensitive buildings. If in doubt, you should ask local authorities.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to begin in mid-June 2015. During Ramadan, Australians travelling to countries with significant Muslim communities should take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, people who are not fasting are advised to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting. For more information see our Ramadan travel bulletin .

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Bahrain. Any displays of disrespect for Islam will cause great offence. Men and women should dress modestly, with clothing that covers their elbows and knees, and take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.

Australians travelling to Muslim countries and countries with significant Muslim communities should take great care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. Ramadan and Shia religious festivals are particularly sensitive times.

Hotels may refuse accommodation to couples unable to provide proof of marriage.

Public displays of affection may offend.

The Bahraini weekend is Friday - Saturday.

Information for dual nationals

Bahrain does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Bahraini dual nationals who are arrested or detained.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The standard of medical services in Bahrain is high. Costs can be high and payment may be required before treatment begins. The Bahraini Government may seek to recover costs from foreign nationals receiving emergency treatment. In the event of a serious illness or an accident or for complex medical procedures, medical evacuation may be required to a location with appropriate facilities. Costs for medical evacuation are considerable.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases can occur. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas. Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Bahrain. You can contact the Australian Government at the Australian Embassy in Saudi Arabia for consular assistance. See contact details below:

Australian Embassy - Riyadh

Abdullah Bin Hozafa Al-Shami Avenue
Diplomatic Quarter
Riyadh, KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA
Telephone: +966 11 250 0900
Facsimile: +966 11 250 0902
Website: www.saudiarabia.embassy.gov.au
Email: reg.riyadh@dfat.gov.au

The working week of the Embassy in Riyadh is Sunday to Thursday in accordance with local practice. See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are travelling to Bahrain, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register on-line or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Bahrain often experiences extremely high temperatures. During the hottest months of the year(July and August), the temperature can exceed 50˚C.

Sand and dust storms occur regularly.

Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service . If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional Resources

For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in Bahrain, see the following links: