FAQs about Peace Corps in Bangladesh

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How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Bangladesh?

Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds those limits.

The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limits. The Peace Corps’ allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 80 pounds total with a maximum weight of 50 pounds for any one bag.

Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted), automobiles, or motorcycles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution.

What is the electric current in Bangladesh?

It is 220 volts, so 110-volt appliances from the United States will not work without voltage converters. Converters are available locally but are quite expensive.

How much money should I bring?

Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. You will be given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover your expenses. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs.

When can I take vacation and have people visit me?

Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). Leave may not be taken during training, the first three months of service, or the last three months of service, except in conjunction with an authorized emergency leave. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training and the first three months of service as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and may require permission from your country director. The Peace Corps is not able to provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance.

Will my belongings be covered by insurance?

The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects; Volunteers are ultimately responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. However, you can purchase personal property insurance before you leave. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application forms will be provided, and we encourage you to consider them carefully.

Do I need an international driver’s license?

Volunteers in Bangladesh do not need to get an international driver’s license because Volunteers are prohibited from operating privately owned motor vehicles. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from trains, buses, and minibuses to trucks and lots of walking. On very rare occasions, a Volunteer may be asked to drive a sponsor’s vehicle, but this can occur only with prior written permission of the country director. Should this occur, the Volunteer may obtain a local driver’s license. A U.S. driver’s license will facilitate the process, so bring it with you just in case.

What should I bring as gifts for Bangladeshi friends and my host family?

This is not a requirement. A token of friendship is sufficient.

Some gift suggestions include knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; or photos to give away.

Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?

Peace Corps trainees are not assigned to individual sites until after they have completed pre-service training. This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites, in addition to finalizing site selections with their ministry counterparts. If feasible, you may have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, and living conditions.

However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you would ideally like to be. Most Volunteers live in small towns and are usually within one hour from another Volunteer. Some sites require a 10-to-12-hour drive from the capital.

How can my family contact me in an emergency?

The Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, you should instruct your family to notify the Office of Special Services immediately if an emergency arises, such as a serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 800.424.8580; select option 2, then extension 1470. After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays, the Special Services duty officer can be reached at 202.638.2574. For nonemergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 800.424.8580, extension 2412 or 2414.

Can I call home from Bangladesh?

Calling home is possible in Dhaka and in some of the larger towns, but obtaining an international line can be difficult without prior planning. Low-cost calling cards for international calls are available throughout the country.

Should I bring a cellular phone with me?

Most cellphones manufactured for the American market do not work in Bangladesh. All Peace Corps/Bangladesh Volunteers are issued mobile telephones for use in-country. Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer? Internet service is growing rapidly, so you are likely to find a cybercafe in or near the town where you are posted. The rate for access is reasonable, usually less than $1 an hour. While dust, high humidity, and frequent power fluctuations can damage computers, a laptop could be a very useful tool. The possibility of theft is also a consideration, but crime against foreigners has not been a major problem in Bangladesh.