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.
Passports and visas are required. Three-day and seven-day visas may be obtained upon arrival at the airport in Manama, but obtaining visas before travel is recommended. 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) 342-0741/2; 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
Americans in Bahrain should maintain a high level of security awareness. The U.S. Embassy in Manama advises Americans to use caution when visiting villages, as they have been the sites of occasional demonstrations and police operations. Bahrain has experienced sporadic acts of politically related arson or vandalism over the past several years. Although there is no evidence that Americans have been targeted, discretion should be exercised at all times.
Although crime is generally not a problem for travelers in Bahrain, there have been demonstrations in and around Manama, in which property owned by American citizens, such as vehicles, has been damaged by acts of arson or vandalism. 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. U.S. citizens can refer to Department of State pamphlets, A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to the Middle East and North Africa, for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlets are available 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, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
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.
Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services, and U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties. Those with insurance should check with their insurance company to confirm whether their policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether 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. For areas not covered by your own insurance, supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage has proven to be useful. 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.
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.
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Travel by road in Bahrain is generally safe. Most major roads in the northern third of Bahrain are four-lane and well maintained. In the older parts of Manama and Muharraq, many streets are narrow, twisting and often in poor condition. Traffic is congested in some areas of Manama. Drivers should exercise caution at roundabouts (traffic circles) found at most intersections. Travel at night is more hazardous.
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.
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.
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. Most businesses and banks in Bahrain no longer accept old-style U.S. one hundred dollar bills.
For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.
Americans living in or visiting Bahrain are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy and obtain updated information on travel and security within Bahrain. The U.S. Embassy is located in Manama at Bldg. 979, Road No. 3119, Zinj District (next to Al Ahli Sports Club), P.O. Box 26431, telephone (973) 273-300, fax (973) 256-242. The Embassy maintains an English-language hotline providing information on current travel conditions in Bahrain at 973-255-048. The Embassy's web site, which includes consular information, is http://www.usembassy.com.bh. The workweek in Bahrain is Saturday through Wednesday.