Bahamas travel guide
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.
13,939 sq km (5,382 sq miles).
392,718 (UN estimate 2016).
23.3 per sq km.
HM King Charles III since 2022, represented locally by Governor-General Cornelius A. Smith since 2019.
Prime Minister Philip Davis since 2021.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for The 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 The Bahamas.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. 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.
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
COVID-19 testing is no longer required for persons travelling inter-island, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status (unvaccinated or fully vaccinated). See the Ministry of Tourism’s website for additional information.
Public places and services
The following measures are in place throughout The Bahamas:
- Face masks must be worn in many public spaces and 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
- Social gatherings are subject to restrictions
- Socially distancing is set at 3ft 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 often 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
All the rules are available on the Office of the Prime Minister’s website. The mask requirement will be removed on 1 October 2022.
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.
The Ministry of Tourism provides information on accommodation including updates on COVID19 related travel requirements.
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.
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.
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 work is ongoing.
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.
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.
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. Several incidences have been reported this year of non-fatal attacks occurring within wider Bahamian waters where tour operators have shark encounters, fish cleaning, and snorkelling activities in close proximity.
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.
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.
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 has information on travelling to The Bahamas.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in The Bahamas set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Bahama’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.
COVID-19 entry restrictions
Information on COVID-19 entry restrictions can change at short notice. Check the Ministry of Tourism’s website for the latest information.
As of 20 September 2022, the COVID-19 testing requirement for entering The Bahamas have been eliminated. All travellers, regardless of vaccination status, are no longer required to submit to pre-travel COVID-19 testing to enter the country.
If you’re transiting through The Bahamas
Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination.
If you are transiting through The Bahamas on your way to another country and not passing through immigration, you need to follow the latest guidance provided by your airline.
If you are transiting through The Bahamas on your way to another country and will be passing through immigration (sometimes known as a layover), for example to stay in a hotel for a flight the next day or to join a cruise ship, you need to follow the rules applicable to your vaccination status.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com. 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.
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
There is no yellow fever risk in The Bahamas however there may be a certificate requirement. 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.
If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.
See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.
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).
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. The Bahamas Department of Meteorological Climatology Section advises residents and visitors in North West and Central Bahamas (including Nassau) to complete seasonal hurricane preparations before Wednesday 9 November 2022.
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.
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.
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, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.’