International Travel

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Country Information

The Bahamas

Bahamas
Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Exercise increased caution in The Bahamas due to crime.

Exercise increased caution in The Bahamas due to crime.

Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault is common, even during daylight hours and in tourist areas. U.S. government personnel are not permitted to visit the Sand Trap area in Nassau due to crime. Jet-ski operators are known to commit sexual assaults against tourists, including minors. As a result, U.S. government personnel are not permitted to use jet-ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise Islands.   

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to The Bahamas:

  • Avoid the area known as "Over the hill" (south of Shirley Street) and Fish Fry at Arawak Cay in Nassau at night.
  • Do not answer your door at your hotel/residence unless you know who it is.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for The Bahamas.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
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Embassy Messages

Alerts

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Must be valid at time of entry

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

Two pages are required for entry stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

No

VACCINATIONS:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

None

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Nassau

P.O. Box N-8197
#42 Queen Street
Nassau, The Bahamas
Telephone: +(242) 322-1181
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(242) 357-7004
Fax: +(242) 356-7174

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on The Bahamas for information on U.S. - Bahamas relations.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Generally, all U.S. citizens are required to present a valid U.S. passport when traveling to The Bahamas, as well as proof of anticipated departure from The Bahamas. Those traveling to The Bahamas on a cruise may use another Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant document. However, we strongly recommend visitors obtain a passport before travel in case of an unforeseen emergency that requires a cruise passenger to disembark and return by air. U.S. travelers coming for tourism will not need a visa for travel up to 90 days. All other travelers will need a visa and/or work permit. Please visit Bahamas Immigration.

The Bahamas requires compliance with regulations to divert child abduction similar to U.S. policies. Please review those policies before travelling.

HIV/AIDS restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of The Bahamas.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

Safety and Security

CRIME: The criminal threat level for New Providence Island (includes Nassau and Paradise Island) is rated as critical by the Department of State. Crime in Grand Bahama has increased this past year. Criminal activity on the outlying family islands does occur, but to a much lesser degree than on New Providence or Grand Bahama.

Armed robbery and sexual assault are major criminal threats facing U.S. citizens in New Providence. The U.S. Embassy has received multiple reports indicating tourists have been robbed at gunpoint or knifepoint in tourist locations in the downtown areas of Nassau; several of these incidents occurred during daylight hours. The U.S. Embassy has received reports of sexual assaults in tourist areas as well. The Bahamas has one of the highest incidences of sexual assault in the Caribbean, according to 2012 United Nations report. The majority of sexual assaults reported occurred after excessive consumption of alcohol. The loss of ability to remember facts and details due to alcohol consumption makes prosecution of sexual assaults more difficult. For the latest security messages, visit our website.

The Bahamas, due to its numerous uninhabited islands and cays, has historically been favored by smugglers and pirates. As a tourist, you would not have noticeable interaction with organized crime elements; however, persons operating on their own in boats or planes should be alert to the possibility of encountering similar craft operated by smugglers.

Terrorism: The threat of terrorism is low, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could take place in public areas, including places frequented by travelers.

Find more information about common safety and security concerns in The Bahamas including credit card fraud, real estate and time share scams, and water sport and scooter safety on our website.

VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police at 919 or 911, and then the U.S. Embassy.

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law.  For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, request that police or prison officials notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information. Travelers should also be aware that Bahamian laws do not include a right to a public defender in lower courts. Any legal representation is at the expense of the visitor.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

Faith-Based Travelers: See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report.

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in The Bahamas.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: While in The Bahamas, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from in the United States. The Bahamas passed the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities) Act in 2014 that should help to improve accessibility and accommodation. Newer buildings, especially in tourism-centric areas are accessible, but many older buildings are still not accessible to persons with disabilities.

Students: See our Students Abroad and Spring Break pages and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: The Bahamas has one of the highest incidences of sexual assault in the Caribbean, according to the 2012 United Nations statistics on crime, violence, and development trends. See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Jet Ski Operators: The U.S. Embassy has prohibited personnel under U.S. Embassy Chief of Mission authority from using the services of jet-ski rental operators in Nassau. This includes jet-ski operators on Cabbage Beach and Cable Beach. We strongly advise that U.S. citizens do the same and not patronize these services. Jet-ski rentals in The Bahamas are only minimally regulated.

Hurricanes: Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, although hurricanes have been known to occur outside that period. During hurricane season, visitors are advised to monitor local weather reports closely in order to be prepared for any potential threats. Visitors should also be aware that airports and seaports cease operations well before a predicted storm actually arrives, and that seats on most commercial transportation are sold out far in advance.

For more information on hurricane preparedness, please refer to the following pages: Hurricane Season: Know Before You Go, and the U.S. Embassy Nassau’s Hurricane Preparedness page.

For more information about customs concerns, boating, and wildlife, please visit our website.

Health

Adequate medical care is available on New Providence and Grand Bahama islands. Visitors should be aware that serious health problems requiring hospitalization and/or air ambulance evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars in up-front costs. Medical care on outer islands is sparse with only limited services available at small clinics. 

Ambulance service is available on the major islands, but is limited in more remote locations. The endemic traffic congestion on New Providence Island may also impede a quick response. Service is likely to be extremely slow in the event of a major emergency or disaster.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare and Medicaid does not apply overseas.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Zika Virus: Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that can be spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby as well as through sexual contact. The CDC has concluded that the Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects in some fetuses and babies born to infected mothers. For additional information about Zika, including travel advisories, visit the CDC website

Further health information:

 

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Driving in The Bahamas is on the left side of the road (i.e. opposite to the United States). Traffic congestion in Nassau is severe, and drivers occasionally display aggressive or careless tendencies. You should always drive defensively and be alert to cars pulling out in front of you from side streets. Local practice is to allow this on an individual basis. It is not uncommon to see poorly maintained or excessively loaded vehicles on roadways. Rural roads can be narrow, winding, and in poor condition.

Road flooding occurs frequently in many areas, including Nassau and Freeport, during and after rainstorms. Drivers should be alert for unmarked or poorly marked construction zones.

Traffic Laws: It is the law that all drivers and their passengers wear seat belts while riding in a vehicle in The Bahamas. Wearing helmets while riding on a scooter or motorbike is also compulsory.

Public Transportation: Public transportation is available by minibus (referred to as jitneys) and taxi. Jitneys do not only stop at designated stops and do so without warning. Taxi fares are based on zones and surcharges can apply for additional passengers and luggage. It is important to agree on a fare prior to departing for the destination.

See our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of The Bahamas’ for more information.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of The Bahamas’ Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of The Bahamas’ air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

International Parental Child Abduction

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in The Bahamas. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

Last Updated: January 10, 2018

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Nassau
P.O. Box N-8197
#42 Queen Street
Nassau, The Bahamas
Telephone
+(242) 322-1181
Emergency
+(242) 357-7004
Fax
+(242) 356-7174

Bahamas Map