Swimming pigs in the Bahamas
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Swimming pigs in the Bahamas

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Bahamas Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

13,939 sq km (5,382 sq miles).

Population

392,718 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density

23.3 per sq km.

Capital

Nassau.

Government

Constitutional monarchy.

Head of state

HM Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor-General Cornelius A. Smith since 2019.

Head of government

Prime Minister Philip Davis since 2021.

Electricity

120 volts AC, 60Hz. North American-style plugs with two flat pins (with or without a round grounding pin) are standard.

The quiet coves and crowd-free beaches of the Bahamas offer visitors the intimacy of a secluded retreat within a paradisiacal expanse of some 700 palm-fringed isles.

Christened baja mar (meaning 'shallow sea') by Christopher Columbus, these islands, with their astonishing hues of sand and sea spanning the colour spectrum from twinkling turquoise to rose pink, are the personification of paradise.

Crystalline waters secrete ancient shipwrecks and a rainbow of coral reefs, while pastel-coloured seashells and vibrant clapboard houses perch atop a tropical landscape that resonates with exotic birdsong.

There’s the over-riding feeling that the Bahamas has got tourism just right: a range of resorts cater for holidaymakers, including a growing range of eco-hotels, yet their impact on the islands’ natural beauty remains, by in large, minimal.

The full gauntlet of watersports beckon for the active holidaymaker: from scuba diving and snorkelling to parasailing and sailing, there’s more than enough to get the pulse racing here. Then there are the glitzy golf courses, designed by the game’s best, whose vistas are enough to compensate for a bad day on the fairways.

Pack your hiking shoes and explore the clutch of nature reserves that are scattered across the archipelago. Pack your binoculars too and look out for the myriad of bird species that call the Bahamas home: from bright pink flamingos to multicolored parrots, you can’t miss some of the more flamboyant species.

Come sundown, Bahamian bars and clubs pulsate with island rhythms; discover riotous dance festivals that mix African slave-trade rituals with Bahamian tempo and American hip-hop twists, or head to one of the archipelago’s bustling straw markets to haggle over spices, and ceramics.

If it all gets too much, recharge your batteries at one of the wonderful seafood restaurants or with an infamous rum cocktail. Whatever you do, the vividness of the Bahamas never ceases to assault your senses.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Bahamas on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Bahamas.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. Testing is widely available from private clinics in New Providence and in main tourist locations on outer islands. A list of testing sites is available.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19 in The Bahamas before returning to the UK, you will be expected to self-isolate in a hotel, private residence or medical facility. You should also be expected to be contacted by local health authorities to confirm that you are complying with self-isolation rules. Should you need to leave your place of self-isolation for essential purposes then arrangements can be made with the local authorities. It is important to note that people under 17 years of age cannot apply for a Travel Health visa. They must therefore arrive in The Bahamas with a parent or guardian.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in The Bahamas

A public state of emergency in place under the Emergency Powers (COVID-19 Pandemic) Orders, 2021. The measures are available at the Office of the Prime Minister website and are subject to change by the Bahamian government.

Inter-island travel

Inter-island travel rules are subject to change at short notice. Before you travel, review the latest schedule of islands that has restricted travel measures in force. Testing is required for travel between some islands. Details of which islands and the travel health card application for domestic travel are available from the Bahamian government website.

Public places and services

Certain rules are in place on the islands of New Providence, Abaco, Exuma, North and South Eleuthera (including Habour Island), Bimini and Grand Bahama. Details of these rules, which include a curfew and limitations on social gatherings, are available at the Office of the Prime Minister website, subject to change.

The following measures are in place throughout the Bahamas:

  • Face masks must be worn in any public space and must be worn for entry into supermarkets, pharmacies and businesses
  • Face masks or coverings must cover your nose and mouth; face mask must also be visible and easily identifiable
  • A government issued identification must be carried on person to present at police checkpoints, which have been established on several islands
  • Social gatherings are subject to restrictions which vary across the islands
  • Socially distancing is set at 6ft apart. You may be required to stand or sit in a designated area according to the social distancing measures in place in a particular location
  • Hand washing and/or hand sanitizing is required upon entry into public buildings and private establishments. A security guard may ask you to wash your hands or they may spray your hands with a disinfectant
  • Health officers can order persons to be detained for screening and assessment and may order isolation or quarantine on reasonable grounds in order to prevent further spread of the disease. Visitors may incur the cost of quarantine and testing in government designated quarantine facilities

Failure to comply with the Emergency (COVID-19) Orders, will result in fines and/or imprisonment. All Emergency Orders are available on the Office of the Prime Minister’s COVID19 section.

Accommodation

The Ministry of Tourism provides information about accommodation that has received a ‘Clean and Pristine’ certificate from The Bahamas’ Clean and Pristine Certification Agency. Hotels, lodges and bed and breakfasts provide tourists with information on how the Emergency (COVID-19) Orders apply to their establishments.

Healthcare in the Bahamas

If you’re in The Bahamas and concerned that you may have contracted coronavirus the Ministry of Health call centre is 511 or 911 – for emergency services.

Doctor’s offices, hospitals and medical facilities remain open. For contact details for doctors visit our list of healthcare providers. Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health

View Health for further details on healthcare in Bahamas.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in The Bahamas

Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the Government of Bahamas announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Bahamas national vaccination programme started in March 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines. British nationals resident in the Bahamas are eligible for vaccination and the programme includes all adults over the age of 12. The latest information is available on the Office of the Prime Minister’s website. Vaccination appointments are bookable on The Bahamas government website.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in the Bahamas, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Help and support

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Local travel

Travel to the Family Islands

Due to community spread of COVID-19, inter-island travel is restricted and subject to change at short notice. See Travel in The Bahamas for more information.

Hurricane Dorian: Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands

Hurricane Dorian caused significant and widespread damage to the eastern part of Grand Bahama and the central and northern Abaco Islands in September 2019.

Rebuilding and recovery work is ongoing, and there are still some challenges on the ground in the areas that were impacted by the hurricane.

You should arrange your accommodation before you travel, and seek local advice on any continued disruption that could affect your individual itinerary. All other islands in The Bahamas remain unaffected.

Crime

There have been incidents of violent crime including robbery, which is often armed and sometimes fatal, in residential and tourist areas of New Providence, Grand Bahama and Freeport. The number of break-ins and robbery incidents reported to the British High Commission has increased. There are police patrols in the main tourist areas.

Be vigilant at all times and don’t walk alone away from the main hotels, tourist areas, beaches and downtown Nassau, particularly after dark. Take care if travelling on local bus services after dusk on routes away from the main tourist areas. Don’t carry large amounts of cash or jewellery. Robbers may be armed. Don’t resist in the event of an attempted robbery. If you need the police in an emergency, call 911 or 919.

The outlying islands of the Bahamas (known as the Family or Out Islands) have lower crime rates.

Excursions and activities

Before booking any excursion or activity make sure that health and safety precautions are evident and that the operator has adequate insurance cover.

The water sports industry in The Bahamas is poorly regulated. Be careful when renting jet skis and other water sports equipment as many companies and individuals offering water sports activities are unregistered. People have been killed or seriously injured using jet skis and other watercraft carelessly, or by the reckless behaviour of others. There have been reports of sexual assaults on foreign nationals by jet ski operators in Nassau.

Water safety

On 26 June 2019 there was a fatal shark attack in The Bahamas. While this is a very rare occurrence, the Bahamian authorities issued advice urging the public to exercise extreme caution in and around the waters of New Providence, adjacent islands and cays.

Road travel

You can drive in the Bahamas with a valid UK driving licence for up to 6 months. If you’re staying longer or living in the Bahamas, you’ll need to get a Bahamian driving licence.

Although traffic drives on the left-hand side of the road, most vehicles are imported from the United States and are left hand drive.

Consular assistance

There is no permanent consular representation at the British High Commission in Nassau. However, the British High Commission in Kingston, Jamaica, can provide consular support to British nationals. In the event of a genuine consular emergency in the Bahamas, telephone +1 242 225 6033 (select ‘2’) or +1 876 936 0700. This number should not be used for passport or visa queries.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in the Bahamas, attacks can’t be ruled out.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

There’s a heightened threat of a terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in The Bahamas set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to The Bahamas

Different rules apply to residents and visitors, fully vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers and different age groups. All travellers must submit a Bahamas Travel Health Visa Trip application. The health visa application is available from The Bahamas travel page. To be granted a visa all travellers over two years old need to submit either a negative COVID-19 RT PCR test certificate (unvaccinated travellers over 12 years old) or a Rapid Antigen test (vaccinated travellers and children aged 2 to 11) prior to arrival. The test must have been taken within 5 days prior to the date of arrival. An email response will be provided once the application is completed, followed by an approval or denial of the health visa. This confirmation must be presented upon arrival in The Bahamas. You should allow 72 hours to process. A fee may be payable for certain categories of unvaccinated traveller.

You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.

In addition to the health visa requirements, health screening and social distancing measures are in effect at all international and domestic airports. You should expect longer waiting times on arrival.

Unvaccinated travellers over 12 years old who are staying in The Bahamas more than four nights / five days will be required to take a rapid antigen test and complete daily health questionnaires. More details are available at the Ministry of Tourism’s website.

Demonstrating your COVID-19 status

The Bahamas will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

British nationals visiting are usually allowed entry into the Bahamas for up to 21 days. This can be extended up to a maximum of 8 months by applying to the Department of Immigration in Nassau. Penalties for overstaying include fines and detention pending deportation.

If you require a visitor visa, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has an electronic visa application process. The official website is: https://mofa.gov.bs/obtaining-official-documents/visitors-visa/. Please email mofaconsular@bahamas.gov.bs for more information on visa processing fees and turnaround times.

For all other types of travel, seek advice from the Bahamian High Commission in London.

If you are travelling via the USA, you may need to apply for an ESTA. The Bahamas counts as part of the ‘contiguous territory and islands’ for US visa waiver purposes and time spent in The Bahamas counts towards the 90 day maximum permitted stay in the US under this waiver. If you travel to The Bahamas via the USA under US visa waiver arrangements and are in any doubt about your US visa status, you should seek advice from either the US Immigration and Naturalisation Service or any US diplomatic mission before starting your return journey.

If you’re concerned about your immigration status (e.g. overstaying a visa) due to the emergency restrictions, contact the Department of Immigration on 225 5337 or immigration@bahamas.gov.bs. Guidance on how to apply for an electronic extension to stay and other COVID-19 related immigration concerns has also been published on the Department of Immigration website.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry to and exit from the Bahamas. However, UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are not valid for entry into the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). If you’re planning to enter or transit the US the Bahamas using a UK Emergency Travel Document you must apply for a US visa before you travel.

Passport validity

You must hold a valid passport to enter The Bahamas. Your passport should be valid for six months from the date of departure from The Bahamas.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Penalties for possessing or trafficking drugs are severe. Tourists may be offered drugs in pubs and bars. Police are vigilant and you could face a substantial fine, deportation or imprisonment.

Local attitudes towards the LGBT community are mostly conservative throughout the Caribbean. In the Bahamas, same-sex sexual relations have been legal since 1991, with an age of consent of 18. However, LGBT travellers should be mindful of local attitudes and be aware that public displays of affection may attract unwanted and negative attention. Public displays of affection (such as hand-holding or kissing) between opposite or same-sex couples are uncommon. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Pack all luggage yourself and do not carry anything through Customs for anyone else.

Carry photocopies of your passport and travel insurance documents and keep the originals in a safe place.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for the Bahamas on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in the Bahamas.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Medical treatment

In an emergency dial 911 or 919 and ask for an ambulance. Medical treatment is of a good standard but can be expensive. Emergency medical facilities are limited on all the Family Islands and serious cases are transferred to Nassau, Freeport or Miami by air ambulance. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

Other health risks

UK health authorities have classified the Bahamas as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Dengue fever is endemic to Latin America and the Caribbean and can occur throughout the year.

In the 2013 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 7,600 adults aged 15 or over in The Bahamas were living with HIV; the rate was of infection was estimated at around 3.2% of the adult population. This compares to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.3%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.

The hurricane season in The Bahamas normally runs from 1 June to 30 November.

You should monitor local and international weather updates and keep up to date with the progress of any approaching storms, including via the US National Hurricane Centre website and the Bahamian National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)

See our tropical cyclones guidance page for advice about how to prepare effectively and what to do if you’re likely to be affected by a hurricane or tropical cyclone.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.