International Travel

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Country Information

The Bahamas

Bahamas
Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Exercise increased caution in Freeport, Grand Bahama due to Hurricane Dorian. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Freeport, Grand Bahama – Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Exercise increased caution in Freeport, Grand Bahama due to Hurricane Dorian.

On August 29, The Department of State ordered non-emergency personnel and family members of U.S. government employees to depart Freeport, Grand Bahama in The Bahamas in advance of Hurricane Dorian.

If you decide to travel to The Bahamas:

  • Exercise caution in the area known as "Over the Hill" (south of Shirley Street) and the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay in Nassau, especially 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 and medical situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

The Bahamas – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution in the Bahamas due to crime. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault, occurs even during the day and in tourist areas. Although the family islands are not crime-free, the vast majority of crime occurs on New Providence and Grand Bahama islands. U.S. government personnel are not permitted to visit the area known by many visitors as the Sand Trap area in Nassau due to crime. Activities involving commercial recreational watercraft, including water tours, are not consistently regulated. Watercrafts are often not maintained, and many companies do not have safety certifications to operate in The Bahamas. Jet-ski operators have been known to commit sexual assaults against tourists. 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.

Last Update: Reissued for information on Hurricane Dorian.

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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:


Visitors must declare currency and other negotiable instruments of $10,000 or more upon entry.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


Visitors must declare currency and other negotiable instruments of $10,000 or more upon exit.

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) 322-1181
Fax: +(242) 356-7174
Email:

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

Visit the Bahamas Immigration website for the most current visa information. U.S. citizens are generally 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 you obtain a passport before travel in case of an unforeseen emergency that requires you 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.

The Bahamas requires compliance with regulations to divert child abduction similar to U.S. policies. Review those policies before traveling.

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 Department of State rates the criminal threat level in New Providence Island (includes Nassau and Paradise Island) as critical. 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. We have received multiple reports of tourists being robbed at gunpoint or knifepoint in downtown and tourist areas of Nassau, including during the day. We have also received reports of sexual assaults in tourist areas. For the latest security messages, visit our website.

If you are operating on your own in boats or planes, be alert to the possibility of encountering similar craft operated by smugglers. U.S. citizen residents in the outer islands have occasionally reported being threatened by local drug smugglers and human smugglers in an attempt to coerce them into smuggling on their behalf.

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

Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police at 919 or 911, and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(242) 322-1181. 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 United States
  • 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.

Adventure Tourism: Activities involving commercial recreational watercraft, including water tours, are not consistently regulated. Watercraft are often not maintained, and many companies do not have safety certifications to operate in The Bahamas. U.S. citizens seeking to engage in adventure tourism-related activities, including boat tours, are strongly encouraged to confirm the following with any tour operator:

  • Credentials and certification to operate in The Bahamas
  • Liability in the event of an accident
  • Safety and rescue protocols for guides

Jet-Ski Operators: The U.S. Embassy prohibits personnel from using jet-ski rental operators in Nassau, including on Cabbage Beach and Cable Beach. We strongly advise against patronizing these services. Jet-ski rentals in The Bahamas are only minimally regulated, and reports of sexual assaults by jet-ski operators are common.

Hurricanes: Hurricane season generally runs from June through November, although hurricanes can occur outside that period. Monitor local weather reports closely. Airports and seaports cease operations well before a predicted storm arrives, and seats on most commercial transportation may sell out far in advance.

For more information on hurricane preparedness, please refer to the Department of State’s page on Hurricane Safety and the U.S. Embassy Nassau’s Hurricane Preparedness page.

Tourism: Regulation across the tourism industry varies, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities may not uniformly occur across all tourism operators. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. U.S. citizens are encouraged to discuss safety and security measures with tourism operators. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities or major tourism zones. First responders may be unable to access areas outside of major cities or major tourism zones.The ability to provide urgent medical treatment may be limited. Critical injuries often require medical evacuation. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

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. 

Drugs: Marijuana is not legal in The Bahamas.

The possession or use of illegal drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy, is a criminal offense in The Bahamas and can result in time in prison. While visiting The Bahamas, you are subject to Bahamian law. Drug violators are arrested regularly, even for possession of small quantities. All persons 16 years of age or older in The Bahamas are tried as adults in court. If you are arrested for drug possession, you should expect to spend at least one night, and possibly longer, in jail. Stay away from drug traffickers, who are often armed and violent. Do not accept packages from people you meet during your stay. Entrapment is a frequently used law enforcement technique in The Bahamas. Individuals offering drugs for sale may be undercover police officers.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask 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.

Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:

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: Accessibility and accommodations in The Bahamas are very different from in the United States. Newer buildings, especially in tourism-centric areas are accessible, but many older buildings are not. 

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

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
For more information about customs concernsboating, and wildlife, please visit our website.

Health

Medical care is available on New Providence and Grand Bahama islands. However, serious illnesses or injuries might not be treatable locally. Serious health problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars in up-front costs. Outer islands have only small clinics, and medical care is limited.

Ambulance service is available on the major islands, but traffic congestion on New Providence Island can cause delays.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare or 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.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of The Bahamas to ensure the medication is legal in The Bahamas. Always carry your prescription medication in its original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

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

Further health information:

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Driving in The Bahamas is on the left-hand side of the road. Traffic congestion in Nassau is severe, and drivers frequently display aggressive or careless tendencies. Accidents involving pedestrians on New Providence Island are common. Drive defensively and be alert to cars pulling out 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. Be alert for unmarked or poorly marked construction zones.

Traffic Laws: Seatbelts are required for drivers and passengers in The Bahamas. Wearing helmets on a scooters and motorbikes is also compulsory.

Public Transportation: Public transportation is available by minibus (known as jitneys) and taxi. Jitneys stop frequently and often without warning at undesignated stops. 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’ Ministry of Tourism 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.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to The Bahamas should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings.

For additional travel information

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: April 15, 2019

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) 322-1181
Fax
+(242) 356-7174

Bahamas Map