The Bahamas – Consular Information Sheet
March 29, 2000
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Bahamas is a country of many islands and has a developing economy. Tourist facilities are widely available on the main islands.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Visas are not required for U.S. citizens for stays up to eight months; however, U.S. citizens must carry original documentation proving 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. Voter registration cards are not acceptable as proof of U.S. citizenship. There is an airport departure tax for travelers age six years and older. For further information, including entry/exit requirements, 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 Bahamas consulates in Miami at telephone (305) 373-6245 or New York at telephone (212) 421-6925. Additional information is available on The Bahamas Tourist Board web site at http://www.bahamas.com or telephone (800) 422-4262.
CRIME INFORMATION: Visitors should exercise normal caution and good judgment when visiting The Bahamas. Although violent crime is on the increase, most incidents take place in parts of Nassau or Freeport not usually frequented by tourists (the “over-the-hill” area in Nassau, the Lucaya area in Freeport). Hotel guests should always lock their doors and should never leave valuables unattended, especially on beaches. Visitors should store passport/identity documents, airline tickets, unused credit cards and extra cash in hotel safes, and avoid wearing expensive jewelry, particularly Rolex watches, which have been targeted increasingly by criminals. Visitors should not travel alone on deserted areas of beaches or poorly-lit areas at night.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport overseas should be reported to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. A lost or stolen U.S. birth certificate and/or drivers license generally cannot be replaced outside the United States. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of States pamphlets, A Safe Trip Abroad, and Tips for Travelers to the Caribbean for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlets are 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, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical care is generally good in Nassau and in Freeport, but may be limited in remote areas. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the U.S. can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals usually expect immediate cash payment for health services. 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: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties. Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses that 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 States Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747; fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDCs 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. All drivers, especially those on mopeds, must remember to drive on the left side of the road. Moped and bicycle riders are strongly advised to wear helmets. 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. Careless operation of personal watercraft such as jetskis has also led to tragedy in many cases.
For specific information concerning drivers permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance in The Bahamas, please contact The Bahamas National Tourist Organization offices in New York at telephone (212) 758-2777.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of The Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority as Category 1 in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of The Bahamas air carrier operations.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAAs Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Bahamian customs authorities may enforce strict penalties concerning temporary import or export of firearms without appropriate permission. Tourists who arrive by private boat are required to declare firearms to Bahamian customs and to leave firearms on the boat while in The Bahamas. Penalties 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 Bahamas consulates in New York or Miami.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that countrys 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 possession use or trafficking in illegal drugs in The Bahamas are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Boaters should be aware that long-line fishing in Bahamian waters is illegal. All long-line fishing gear is required to be stowed below deck while transiting through Bahamian waters. Fishermen should be aware that stiff penalties are imposed for catching crawfish (lobster) or other marine life out of season or in protected areas.
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 threats. General information about disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov.
CHILDRENS 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 (202) 736-7000.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: 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 McDonalds 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 fax number is (242) 356-7174. The U.S. Embassy is also responsible for consular services in the Turks and Caicos Islands, a U.K. overseas territory. U.S. citizens may obtain updated information on travel and security in the Turks and Caicos Islands from the U.S. Embassy in Nassau. The Consular Information Sheet for the British West Indies provides additional information on the Turks and Caicos Islands.
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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated September 14, 1999 to include sections on Medical Insurance, Other Health Information, Customs Regulations, Special Circumstances, and Disaster Preparedness; to update sections on Entry/Exit Requirements, Crime Information, and Traffic Safety and Road Conditions; and to delete Y2K Information.