The Bahamas are an idyllic tourist destination with warm blue waters and white sandy beaches. It is no wonder that thousands of cruises make The Bahamas a routine port of call, allowing its travelers to experience the paradise island. Entering this independent country can be complicated, though, and requires accurate documentation and proof of identification.
A valid passport from the country of citizenship is required when entering The Bahamas by plane. Entering The Bahamas by boat, such as a cruise, does not require a passport. Citizens entering via the sea to The Bahamas will need to own a Real ID, Passport Card, or Trusted Traveler card to enter the country legally.
Children’s documentation requirements are similar and often have more leniency when entering the country by sea. Of course, before traveling to The Bahamas, check the current Covid-19 requirements for entry. A negative Covid-19 test may be necessary, regardless of vaccination status. Once in The Bahamas, travelers will be delighted to know that they can stay up to 90 days without a visa, and driving in this country is legal with a valid driver’s license.
Do You Need a Passport to Travel to The Bahamas?
The documentation needed to travel to The Bahamas legally will largely depend on how you enter this independent island country. Restrictions are drastically different based on an air arrival or arrival by sea.
- Travel by Air – Any person traveling to The Bahamas by plane will need to present a valid passport regardless of citizenship. U.S. citizens must show their passport and proof of the estimated departure date from The Bahamas. Having a U.S. passport will make travel by air easier, and it will be necessary in case of an emergency. Please be sure that you have at least two blank pages in the passport before traveling. Some airlines will not allow you to board the plane with a full passport.
- Travel by Sea – Traveling to The Bahamas by sea is a little easier, especially if you enter the country via a large cruise ship. While a passport is always recommended for international travel, other documentation may be used in place of the passport. Travelers arriving by sea can also use an enhanced driver’s license (called a Real ID), a Trusted Traveler card, or a passport card.
What Documentation Is Required for U.S. Citizens?
The documentation requirements for U.S. citizens are very similar to travelers from other nations. When traveling by air, a U.S. passport is always required. However, there are several acceptable forms of identification if traveling by sea.
Effective June 2009, U.S. citizens will need a passport card, passport, or Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative-compliant document to enter The Bahamas and re-enter the United States. Some standard Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative documents include:
- U.S. Military ID with travel orders
- Native American Tribal Photo ID
- American Indian Card
- U.S. Merchant Mariner document
- Enhanced Tribal Card
- Enhanced state-issued driver’s license (Real ID)
- Traveler card, examples include SENTRY, NEXUS, FAST
What Are the Covid-19 Restrictions for Entry and Re-Entry?
Traveling in the wake of Covid-19 has presented an extra element of planning and logistics to keep the world safe and prevent the spread of Covid-19. Entering both The Bahamas and re-entering the United States have precise testing and proof of vaccination required.
Entering The Bahamas
All visitors must complete a Bahamas Travel Health Visa if traveling by air to The Bahamas. This electronic application must be received and approved before an entrance to The Bahamas is permitted. Unvaccinated travelers must take an RT-PCR COVID-19 test no more than three days before their travel date.
U.S. Citizens who are fully vaccinated will need to present their Covid-19 vaccination card and a negative Rapid Antigen Test that has been administered no more than three days before the travel date. Remember that even vaccinated travelers must test negative for Covid-19 and be past the 2-week immunity period following the date of the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccination.
Children between the ages of 2 and 11 years will need to take either an RAT or RTPCR test and produce a negative result no more than three days before traveling to The Bahamas. Children younger than 2 years of age are exempt from vaccination and Covid-19 testing requirements.
Entering The United States
Regardless of vaccination status, all U.S. citizens returning to the United States from the Bahamas will need to produce a negative Covid-19 viral test within one day of travel. Obtaining a Covid-19 test in The Bahamas is generally an easy process, and most hotels and resorts have onsite testing to facilitate the process.
Travelers may also have documentation from a licensed healthcare provider indicating a full recovery from Covid-19 within a 90-day period. Keep in mind that all non-U.S. citizens must be vaccinated for Covid-19 before entering the country.
Related Read: Best Time to Visit the Caribbean
Do I Need a Passport If I am Not a U.S. Citizen?
To enter The Bahamas by plane, a passport from your country of citizenship is required. For visits shorter than 30 days, non-U.S. citizens will need to produce a valid national passport from their country of birth. Also, an Alien Registration Card, or Green Card, upon arriving in The Bahamas.
Do I Need a Visa to Travel to the Bahamas?
Traveling to The Bahamas usually does not require a visa. A visa is not required for entry for U.S. citizens as long as they plan to stay in the country for 90 days or less. If your stay is longer than 90 days, you must produce a visa or work permit to stay inside the country legally.
Is a Driver’s License Enough to Travel to The Bahamas?
Unfortunately, a driver’s license is no longer enough to travel to The Bahamas. After 2009, all citizens entering The Bahamas require additional proof of identification and documentation for entering the country. If you are traveling by air, a U.S. passport is required for entry.
Traveling to The Bahamas via sea, such as on a cruise, will require, at a minimum, a Real ID for entry. Such ID is similar to a driver’s license and can often be obtained in place of a traditional driver’s license.
Will a Real ID Be Enough to Enter The Bahamas?
A Real ID may be enough to enter The Bahamas, but it will purely depend on the method of arrival. If you are traveling to The Bahamas by plane, a valid passport from your country of origin is necessary. However, if you arrive in The Bahamas via sea, a Real ID will be enough to enter The Bahamas legally.
Of course, it is always recommended to travel to The Bahamas with a valid U.S. passport for U.S. citizens. Not only will a passport suffice for entry requirements, but a passport is an invaluable piece of identification and documentation in the event of an emergency or medical crisis.
Do Children Require a Passport to Travel to The Bahamas?
Like adults, children traveling to The Bahamas have specific documentation requirements dependent on the mode of entry to the country.
- Travel by Air – If traveling to The Bahamas by air, it is required that all children have a valid passport issued from their country of birth. A valid passport is required for children regardless of age.
- Travel by Sea – Like adults, there are specific exceptions for official documentation if arriving in The Bahamas via sea. Children under the age of 16 may use a naturalization certificate, birth certificate, or citizenship certificate if they are arriving by sea. Children who are under the age of 19 can use the same documents if they are coming to The Bahamas with a cultural group, school group, or church group. Otherwise, the child is considered an adult, and the same documentation will be required for entry via sea.
Like adults, the US always recommends bringing a valid U.S. passport for your child for any travel to and from The Bahamas. This is regardless of the method of entry to the country.
Can I Drive in The Bahamas?
Driving in The Bahamas is easy as long as you already own your driver’s license. To legally drive in The Bahamas, the driver must be at least 18 years old. You’ll need to present your valid driver’s license from your country of residence and obtain an international driver’s license.
Always be sure to check that you have the appropriate documentation required by your rental car company before securing your vehicle.
What Vaccinations are Required for The Bahamas?
A Covid-19 vaccination is not required to enter this country. However, testing regimens may be more strict for unvaccinated visitors. Getting vaccinated against Covid-19 may also significantly reduce your risk of severe illness if you contract Covid-19, which is present on the island.
In addition to the optional Covid-19 vaccinations, the CDC recommends all travelers should be up-to-date with routine vaccines. Some of the most common routine vaccines include Tetanus and Polio and Measles, Diphtheria, and Mumps and Rubella.
In addition, travelers should consider adding a booster vaccine for Typhoid and Hepatitis A when traveling to this country. Although the risk is limited, these diseases can be prevalent in this part of the world. Depending on the nature of your visit, some travelers may also need a Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis, or Hepatitis B vaccine based on personal risk assessment.
Luckily, Malaria and Yellow Fever are not common in The Bahamas, and there is no need for additional vaccination.