Toggle Menu SearchSearch

Bahrain

smartraveller.gov.au smartraveller.gov.au

Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Bahrain due to the threat of terrorist attack and civil disturbance.
  • Terrorist attacks, directed mainly against the government and security forces, could occur at any time. Foreigners, particularly Westerners, could be targeted by extremist groups or caught up in attacks aimed at Bahraini security services. See Safety and security.
  • On 5 June 2017 Bahrain closed all air and sea borders with Qatar and severed diplomatic ties between the two countries. If you have an upcoming flight from Bahrain to, or transiting through Qatar, contact your airline or travel provider for further information and to make alternate arrangements.
  • The Government of Bahrain has stated that it is an offence to display sympathy towards Qatar, or to object to the Bahraini Government's current policy in relation to Qatar. This includes social media or any other written or verbal form. Offenders could be imprisoned and subject to a large fine. 
  • Demonstrations and protests occasionally occur in Shia-majority areas and could occur in other parts of Bahrain. Avoid public gatherings and protests. They are illegal and could turn violent. If you are in an area where a protest is occurring leave the area if it is safe to do so, or remain indoors and away from windows.
  • There is a visible security presence in Bahrain, particularly in Shia-majority areas. Follow the instructions of local authorities and security forces.
  • Take particular care in Shia-majority areas, around Friday prayers and after dark, due to the potential for civil unrest. 
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Bahrain. The Australian Embassy in Saudi Arabia provides consular assistance to Australians in Bahrain.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Visit the Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for up-to-date information. Bahrain does not have an embassy in Australia, the nearest Embassy of Bahrain is in Bangkok, Thailand.

Other formalities

Entry

You may be refused entry or face other difficulties on arrival in Bahrain if your passport has evidence of travel to Israel, such as entry or exit stamps.

Bahraini authorities may ask you detailed questions about the reasons for your travel to Bahrain. Some Australians have been refused entry to Bahrain due to their responses to such questions.

Exit

If a child has a Bahraini father, the child is not allowed to leave Bahrain without their father's permission (regardless of their parents' marital status).

If you're involved in a commercial dispute, or have any unpaid debts in Bahrain, you may not be allowed to leave Bahrain until these issues are resolved.

Bahrain's only land exit is into Saudi Arabia. The border with Saudi Arabia can close without notice, for example in response to a worsening security situation in Bahrain. Saudi Arabia does not offer visas on arrival to Australian nationals. It may not be possible to obtain a Saudi Arabian visa.

More information: Travel advice for Saudi Arabia

Passport

Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from your planned date of return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

 Money

Check with the Embassy of Bahrain about restrictions on the amount of currency you can bring into or out of Bahrain as currency limits can change.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorist attacks, targeting mainly the police and security services, have caused a number of deaths and casualties in recent years. Bahraini authorities have advised residents and visitors to Bahrain to avoid all suspicious packages or objects.

Attacks could occur at any time and could be directed against government buildings, security personnel, critical infrastructure, 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.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Civil unrest and political tension

Since February 2011, there have been periodic protests and clashes throughout Bahrain, including in Manama and in Shia-majority villages. These incidents have also occurred in Budaiya, Hamad town, Saar, Sanabis and the Sitra areas.

Public rallies and gatherings are illegal in Bahrain. In recent years, security forces have responded violently to some demonstrations. Participants in illegal rallies or gatherings could also face legal action. Bystanders could get caught up in demonstrations and could be arrested.

  • Avoid public gatherings and protests as they are illegal and may turn violent.
  • Monitor local and international news for information on current political developments and regional tensions, which could lead to unrest.
  • Avoid areas where Bahraini Ministry of Interior forces are gathered.
  • Plan your activities to avoid potential unrest on days of national or commemorative significance.
  • Take particular care around Friday prayers and at night due to the increased likelihood of protests.
  • Avoid travel outside the central business area at night.
  • Follow the advice of local authorities.
  • Be prepared to change your travel plans in case of disruptions.
  • If you are in the area of a protest, leave the area if safe to do so or remain indoors and away from windows.
  • If you're affected by transport disruptions, contact your airline, travel agent or insurer for assistance.

Crime

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

Local travel

By law, you must carry photographic identification at all times in Bahrain.

Avoid travelling alone or at night, wherever possible.

Road travel

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. Ensure vehicles are well equipped and properly maintained

Sea travel

Many areas of the Gulf are highly sensitive to security issues and territorial disputes. Maritime boundaries and the islands of Abu Musa and the Tunbs in the Southern Gulf are the subject of jurisdictional disputes. There have been reports of inspections of vessels, detentions and arrests in sensitive areas. The Government of Bahrain sometimes imposes curfews on waterways around Bahrain.

Piracy is a risk in the Gulf.

More information:

Maritime vessels in Bahrain may not meet the safety standards you would expect in Australia. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider.

Air travel 

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

More information: Air travel

Laws

Local laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

The Australian Embassy in Riyadh does not have direct and immediate access to Bahraini Government institutions (police stations, jails, hospitals, etc). It needs to formally seek access via the Bahraini Embassy in Riyadh on a case-by-case basis. This can cause delays in providing consular assistance to Australians in Bahrain.

Drug laws

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

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Other laws

In June 2017, the Government of Bahrain announced it had severed all diplomatic ties between Bahrain and Qatar. It is an offence to display sympathy towards Qatar, or to object to the Bahraini Government's current policy in relation to Qatar. This includes social media or any other written or verbal form. Offenders could be imprisoned and subject to a large fine.

If you have family, commercial or other local interests in Bahrain, seek professional advice on your rights and responsibilities under Bahraini law. Bahrain's laws on commercial matters, divorce, child custody, child support and several other issues differ from Australia's. You may not be allowed to leave Bahrain if you are involved in a commercial or labour dispute, legal proceedings or if you have unpaid debts. See also Entry and exit.

Serious crimes, such as murder and drug offences, may attract the death penalty. The penalty for some offences, including stealing, may be corporal punishment (lashing).

The following activities are illegal in Bahrain:

  • failing to carry photographic identification at all times – fines apply
  • driving under the influence of alcohol - offenders may be detained, fined and banned from driving
  • attempting to convert a Muslim to another religion
  • photographing sensitive buildings - if in doubt, ask local authorities
  • association with an unregistered political group
  • protests and demonstrations.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal offences apply to overseas. You can be prosecuted for them in Australia. These offences include, but are not limited to:

  • child sex offences and child pornography
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • drug trafficking
  • people smuggling and human trafficking
  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • money laundering
  • terrorism and foreign incursions.

More information: Staying within the law

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.

More information: Dual nationals

Local customs

The Bahraini weekend is Friday - Saturday.

Take to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. Ramadan and Shia religious festivals are particularly sensitive times.

Ramadan

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to occur between early May and early June 2019. Avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting.

More information: Ramadan

Dress

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.

Sex outside of marriage and LGBTI issues

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

Avoid public displays of affection, as they may offend others.

While Bahraini law does not criminalise 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.

More information: LGBTI travellers

Health

Travel insurance 

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

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 your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are, and are not, covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health 

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

If you need counselling services, contact the Australian Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 and ask to speak to a Lifeline telephone counsellor.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

Before you leave Australia:

  • check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and what is required to take that medication into the country
  • get medical documents authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade before you depart (if required).

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Respiratory Illness

Cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) have been reported in a number of countries in the Middle East. Other countries outside the Middle East have also reported imported cases from returned travellers.

More information: Infectious diseases

Other diseases and health issues

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases can occur.

Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

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.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you may need to be evacuated. Medical evacuation could be very expensive. 

Natural disasters

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.

If a natural disaster occurs:

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer, or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Firefighting and rescue services: 999
  • Medical emergencies: 999
  • Criminal issues, contact police: 999

Always get a police report when reporting a crime

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Bahrain. The Australian Embassy in Saudi Arabia can provide consular assistance to Australians in Bahrain.

Australian Embassy - Riyadh

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

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

If you're unable to contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 from oversease or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Additional resources