Bangladesh loves bureaucracy. They seem to require permits and paperwork for many things, and entering and leaving the country is one of them. It’s simple: if you enter the country by one mean of transportation and want to leave the country by another, you will need a “Change of Route Permit” or “Land Permit”.
Here is our experience. I hope that it can help anyone else attempting to obtain said permit – the information here is much more detailed than what is in the guidebook.
Our first item of business today was to go to the Passport Bureau and get a “Land Permit”. This is something that we will need in order to be able to exit the country via land, and is only needed if you had entered the country via air. It’s supposed to be easy and complicated, free, quick and long. As such, we figured it would be best to get it out of the way first.
We got to the passport office, and of course, we showed up on a holiday (that isn’t in the guidebook – something soon to become a theme in Bangladesh). We would have to try again tomorrow. On the upside though, there had been people in the office and we were told to go to the 5th floor to get our paperwork sorted.
The passport office was full of life this morning. Lineups, people everywhere. Seems to be the passport office for everyone, which would explain why it’s filled with locals.
We ask an army officer where to get a land permit, and he explains to us where the stairs are – we were looking for those! We go to the 5th floor, where we had been told to go yesterday. They tell us to go to the 4th floor. There an officer tells us to go to window 3. Window 3 is packed solid with people fighting each other to be in front, waiving a piece of paper. Eventually everyone goes away and we get our form. We fill it out, stick our photo on it, and go to window 2. There, we find out that we need photocopies of our passport.
Conveniently, just around the corner from the passport office is a photocopy place. Unlike Kinkos, this is a 3-wall concrete shack only big enough to hold a table with a large, old photocopier on it. It’s right outside, open to the elements, in amongst the food stalls. We get our copies (on tiny paper!) and go.
Back at window 2, we hand off our form and passport copies. The gentleman behind the counter staples everything together, scribbles something on the form and tells us to go to the window next to number 3 (it has no number). There, the guy stares at our papers for a while – he seems confused. Eventually we get a slip of paper, and he informs us that we need to come back tomorrow at 10 AM.
We head straight to counter 3 for pickup. The man behind the counter stares at us as though we are from the moon and asking the most outlandish thing. He just stands there, looking confused. He then decides to ignore us and walks off. Finally we are given a new form to fill out – we realize that this would be our actual permit and they were too lazy to fill it in themselves. The man window 3 tells us to go to window 2, the man at window 2 tells us to go to window 3.
Eventually we are let into the back in some guy’s office, past the big, locked wooden doors (between window 2 and 3). He is not a friendly guy, and looks feed up with his job. We stand around, unsure as what to do. There is another tourist there waiting as well, he is from France, and appears to have been there a while. Our forms finally get stamped and embossed and we are on our way (before the French guy).
In the end, what we anticipated to be a simple pick up turned out to take well over an hour.
The address to the Passport Office is in the guidebook and seemed to be known by all rickshaw drivers.
What you will need:
– 1 passport photo
– Photocopy of the main passport page and visa page
– Something to read for all that time spent in traffic