Get travel and medical insurance
Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
We advise Irish citizens in Bahrain to exercise a High Degree of caution.
The 15 January 2016 execution of three individuals convicted of killing a number of police officers in 2014 have resulted in unauthorised street protests. There have also been reports of attacks on security personnel.
Irish nationals are advised to be extra vigilant at this time and should comply with any instructions issued by the Bahraini Authorities. You are also advised to avoid any large crowds or unauthorised demonstrations.
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There is a general threat from terrorism and there is a need to be particularly vigilant having regard to recent terrorist incidents in and around mosques in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Demonstrations and protests take place regularly in Bahrain. Protests are illegal in Bahrain and can lead to violent confrontations with security forces. Protestors may disrupt traffic, block roads and occupy economic centres. Irish travellers should monitor local social media and news outlets for announcements of planned protests and avoid affected areas. Traffic diversions may force you to travel through unfamiliar areas and you should plan journeys carefully in advance.
Violence can break out spontaneously and the overall security situation remains uncertain.
All residents must carry photographic ID. It is an offence not produce ID when requested by a member of the Bahraini authorities and you could be subject to a fine of 300 BHD.
The best help is often close at hand; try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.
There is no Irish Embassy in Bahrain, so we are limited in the help we can provide in the event of an emergency. You can contact the Irish Embassy in Riyadh if you require assistance or advice. Irish citizens with a genuine emergency can leave a voicemail message on the outside of office hours. Make sure to leave your name, mobile number, current location and the nature of the emergency. An Embassy Duty Officer will return your call.
Other EU embassies
You can also contact the Embassies or Consulates of other EU countries for emergency consular assistance, advice and support.
Our tips for safe travels:
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
- Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
- Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
- Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
- Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Irish nationals in Bahrain are advised to maintain a high level of security awareness especially in public places and on the roads. Avoid crowds and demonstrations.
If you come across any suspicious objects, avoid touching them and inform the local authorities immediately on 999 or 8000 8008.
Always keep yourself informed of what is going on around you by monitoring local media and staying in contact with your hotel or tour organiser.
The Bahraini authorities announced a ban on public protests and gatherings in October 2012. However, protests continue across various parts of Bahrain and can be violent. Tensions may also be high at religious gatherings. We advise you to respect the ban on public protests and gatherings, and avoid crowds and all demonstrations.
Demonstrations can occur spontaneously in reaction to certain events or news. Protests may include attempts to disrupt traffic, protests in villages and near economic centres, burning tyres, throwing Molotov cocktails, and the use of improvised explosive devices. There could be clashes between government security forces and protesters. Irish citizens should monitor local media sources for any reporting that may prompt local unrest and adjust your routine accordingly.
In addition to regular demonstrations, government security operations continue and there is a sea curfew on the waters around Bahrain between 6pm and 4am, which we strongly advise you to respect. In the past, vessels entering certain sensitive areas of the Gulf have been detained and inspected, and there have been occasional arrests.
There is a general threat from terrorism in the region. Attacks could be indiscriminate, and targeted against Western interests as they have been elsewhere in the Middle East.
In the last year, incidents involving home-made explosive devices have killed and injured a number of individuals. These explosions occurred in public places including outside a cinema, in a shopping mall and on motorways.
Crime remains relatively low in Bahrain but you should take sensible precautions:
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place;
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home;
- Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you’re alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business;
- Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible; and
- Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations.
If you are a victim of a crime while in Bahrain, report it to the local police immediately. If you require further assistance you can contact the Irish Embassy in Riyadh.
If you’re planning to drive in Bahrain, you should be extremely careful. Unsafe driving practices, roaming animals and drifting sands can make driving hazardous, and off-road driving can be particularly dangerous. Always make sure your vehicle is well equipped and properly maintained. If you want to drive:
- Bring your Irish and/or international driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance;
- There is zero tolerance to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught;
- Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights; and
- While travel on the main routes in Bahrain has returned to normal, police checkpoints remain but have been reduced along the main highways.
Hiring a vehicle
If you are hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you are allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
Local laws and customs
Local laws and customs
Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.
Illegal drug use carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.
It’s against the law for any Muslim to purchase alcohol from retail outlets. There is zero tolerance for drunk driving.
Bahrain is a relatively liberal state in comparison to other countries in the region. But some Bahrainis may find scanty clothing or immoderate behaviour in public offensive. It is best to dress conservatively, except within the confines of hotels or clubs, at least until you know your way around, and avoid public displays of affection.
Hotels may refuse accommodation to couples unable to provide proof of marriage.
Bahrain is a Muslim country so be sure to observe and respect religious and social sensitivities, especially during Ramadan as well as during other religious festivals when black flags and banners may be in evidence. Bahrainis observe a number of religious anniversaries that may not be celebrated in other Gulf countries.
While Bahraini law does not criminalise same sex-activity between consenting adults who are at least 21 years of age, sodomy is illegal and same sex activities are not socially accepted. Given prevailing conservative attitudes in the region, caution and discretion are advised at all times.
You should not bring DVDs into the country, as these may be withheld on arrival at the airport.
If you’re involved in commercial disputes with Bahraini companies or individuals, you may be prevented from leaving the country until the dispute is resolved.
Entry requirements (visa/passport)
All travellers to Bahrain face increased scrutiny from the Bahraini authorities and a number have been refused entry. Visitors must have legal status when they depart and may incur heavy fines if they overstay or fail to extend their legal residency.
If you are unsure of the entry requirements for Bahrain, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Bahrain.
It is possible to obtain a visa on arrival but to ensure a smoother process at the border in it is best to get a visa in advance, either online or from the nearest the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
On arrival in Bahrain, visitors can be issued visas for 24 hours, 72 hours, 2 weeks or 3 months, depending on their need and at the discretion of the Immigration Officer. You may be asked to provide evidence of onward or return travel. If you enter as a visitor you must not take up employment. Business travellers and journalists must obtain a visa before travelling.
Your passport must be valid for 6 months from the date of entry into Bahrain.
It is advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.
You must have legal status in Bahrain when you leave. You may be prevented from leaving Bahrain if you are subject to a travel ban, involved in legal proceedings, have unpaid debt, or are a child subject to a custody dispute. You can be fined if you overstay or fail to extend your legal residency.