The Bahamas - Consular Information Sheet
May 18, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Bahamas is a country of many
islands and has a developing economy. Tourist facilities are widely
ENTRY AND EXIT REQUIREMENTS: U.S. citizens must present
original proof of U.S. citizenship (a valid or expired passport,
a certified U.S. birth certificate or a Certificate of Naturalization),
photo identification, and an onward/return ticket for entry into
The Bahamas. Voter registration cards, driver's licenses, affidavits
and other similar documents are not acceptable as proof of U.S.
citizenship. Visas are not required for U.S. citizens for stays
up to eight months. There is an airport departure tax for travelers
age six years and older. For further information, U.S. citizens
may contact the Embassy of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, 2220
Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone
(202) 319-2660, or the Bahamian consulates in Miami or New York.
information is available on The Bahamas Tourist Board web site
at http://www.bahamas.com or telephone 1-800-422-4262.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments
have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include
requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission
for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not
present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required,
may facilitate entry and departure.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: The water sports industry in The
Bahamas is not carefully regulated, and visitors should rent equipment
only from reputable operators. Ask about the operator's insurance
coverage and insist on sufficient training before using the equipment.
A number of Americans have been killed or injured by the improper
use of jet-skis and other personal watercraft.
CRIME: Visitors should exercise normal caution and good
judgment when visiting The Bahamas. Although violent crime is
on the increase, most incidents take place in a part of Nassau
not usually frequented by tourists (the "over-the-hill"
area south of downtown). Hotel guests should always lock their
doors and should never leave valuables unattended, especially
on beaches. Visitors should store passport/identity documents,
airline tickets, credit cards, and extra cash in hotel safes,
and should avoid wearing expensive jewelry, particularly Rolex
watches, which have been targeted increasingly by criminals. Visitors
should not travel alone on deserted areas of beaches and poorly
lit areas at night. Use only clearly-marked taxis and make a note
of the license plate number for your records.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or
Consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's
Safe Trip Abroad and Tips
for Travelers to the Caribbean, for ways to promote a
trouble-free journey. The
pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents,
U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via
the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical care is generally good in
Nassau and Freeport, but is limited in other areas. Persons with
serious or life-threatening conditions normally must be airlifted
to hospitals in the United States for treatment.
There is a chronic shortage of blood at Princess Margaret Hospital
in Nassau, where most emergency surgery is performed. Travelers
with rare blood types should know the names and location of possible
blood donors should the need arise.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges
Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior
to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas
and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical
evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs
incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage
is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do
not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.
However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance
plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including
emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans
should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require
payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical
evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured
travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme
difficulties, whereas travelers who have purchased overseas medical
insurance have, when a medical emergency occurs, found it life-saving.
When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain
whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider
or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur.
Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric
treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available
via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202)
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations
and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international
travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299); or via CDC's
Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ
significantly from those in the U.S. The information below concerning
The Bahamas is provided for general reference only, and may not
be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Fair
Road conditions throughout Nassau and Freeport are generally
adequate but drivers should be alert for construction zones, which
are not always properly marked. Road travel in other parts of
The Bahamas is limited. Some rural roads are narrow, winding,
and in poor repair. All drivers, especially those on mopeds, must
remember to drive on the left side of the road. Travel by moped
or bicycle is very hazardous, especially in the heavy traffic
conditions prevalent in Nassau and Freeport, and visitors should
carefully consider whether such travel is worth the risk of a
serious accident. Those who choose to ride a moped or bicycle
should wear a helmet and drive defensively. Pedestrians also should
be aware when stepping off curbs that vehicular traffic comes
from the right. Death and serious injuries have occurred when
visitors failed to adapt to unfamiliar rules of the road.
For additional general information about road safety, including
links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State,
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.
information concerning Bahamian driving permits, vehicle inspection,
road tax and mandatory insurance, contact The Bahamas National
Tourist Organization offices in New York at (212) 758-2777
or via the Internet at http://www.bahamas.com.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the Government of The Bahamas civil aviation
authority as Category 2 -- not in compliance with international
aviation safety standards for the oversight of Bahamian air carrier
operations. While consultations to correct the deficiencies are
ongoing, Bahamian air carriers currently flying to the U.S. will
be subject to heightened FAA surveillance. No additional flights
or new service to the U.S. by Bahamian air carriers will be permitted
unless they arrange to have the flights conducted by an air carrier
from a country meeting international safety standards. For further
information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation
within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the
FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some
foreign carriers for suitability as official providers of air
services. In addition, DOD does not permit its personnel to use
air carriers from Category 2 countries for official business except
for flights originating from or terminating in the United States.
Local exceptions may apply. For information regarding the DOD
policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618)
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: It is illegal to import firearms
or ammunition into The Bahamas or to possess a firearm in the
country without appropriate permission. Tourists who arrive by
private boat are required to declare firearms to Bahamian Customs
and leave firearms on the boat while in The Bahamas. Penalties
for illegal possession of a firearm or ammunition are strict,
and can involve heavy fines, lengthy prison terms, or both. For
further information on firearms in The Bahamas, please contact
the Embassy of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas in Washington,
D.C., or the Bahamian consulates in Miami or New York.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S.
citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which
sometimes differ significantly from those in the U.S. and may
not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S.
law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in
the U.S. for similar offenses. Persons violating Bahamian laws,
even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties
for penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs
in The Bahamas are strict, and convicted offenders can expect
jail sentences and heavy fines.
BOATING/FISHING: Boaters should be aware that long-line
fishing in Bahamian waters is illegal. All long-line fishing gear
must be stowed below deck while transiting through Bahamian waters.
Fishermen should note that stiff penalties are imposed for catching
crawfish (lobster) or other marine life out of season or in protected
REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT: U.S. citizens should exercise
caution when considering time-share investments and be aware of
the aggressive tactics used by some time-share sales representatives.
Bahamian law allows time-share purchasers five days to cancel
the contract for full reimbursement. Disputes that arise after
that period can be very time-consuming and expensive to resolve
through the local legal system.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: The Bahamas, like all countries
in the Caribbean basin, is subject to the threat of hurricanes.
Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, although
hurricanes have been known to occur outside that time period.
Visitors to The Bahamas during hurricane season are advised to
monitor weather reports in order to be prepared for any potential
information about disaster preparedness is available via the Internet
from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For
information on international adoption of children and international
parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site
at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living in or visiting
The Bahamas are encouraged to register at the Consular Section
of the U.S. Embassy in Nassau and obtain updated information on
travel and security within The Bahamas. The U.S. Embassy is located
next to McDonald's restaurant on Queen Street in downtown Nassau;
telephone (242) 322-1181, after hours: (242) 328-2206. The Consular
Section hours are 9:00 a.m. - 12 noon and 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.,
Monday - Friday, except local and U.S. holidays. The U.S. Embassy
is also responsible for consular services in the Turks and Caicos
Islands, an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. The Consular
Information Sheet for the British West Indies provides additional
information on the Turks and Caicos Islands.
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated March 29,
2000, to add sections on Safety and Security and on Special Circumstances,
and to update the sections on Crime, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions,
Aviation Safety Oversight, and Customs Regulations