Updated: 5 days ago
Planning on traveling to The Bahamas in 2021? The good news is that all islands in The Bahamas are open to international and domestic arrivals. That includes commercial and private aircraft as well as private yachts and pleasure crafts.
Is it safe? With vaccinations soon to be rolled out on the islands for Bahamas citizens and eligible residents, and with more resorts scheduled to reopen in March, The Bahamas is a top destination choice for the upcoming Spring Break and Easter.
What’s more, a tourist visa is not required for Americans. Currently, travelers are not prohibited from entering the US if coming from The Bahamas.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Entry to The Bahamas
First, you’ll have to get a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test (swab test) taken no more than 5 days prior to arrival.
You will need to provide the documentation of your negative PCR test results in order to complete the required Health Visa application (more info below). The name and address of the lab where the test was performed must be clearly displayed on the test result document.
Make sure to have a printed copy handy as you will also be asked to present proof of your negative test upon arrival in The Bahamas.
*Who are exempt:
Children 0-10 years old
Commercial airline pilots and crew staying only overnight
**All travellers 18+ of age are required to complete an individual Bahamas Travel Health Visa. Those 17 years old and younger will just need to add a profile within the account of their parent or guardian.
Health Visa Application Fee
There is a Health Visa application fee (starting from $40) which varies depending on your length of stay. The good news is that the fee includes the required Covid-19 Health Insurance that covers you for the duration of your stay.
Health Visa Application
To apply for the Bahamas Travel Health Visa, visit travel.gov.bs and select International option. After completing your Health Visa application, you will receive an email notifying you that your submission has been received and that it is under review. Next, you will get an email prompting you to complete your payment. Once paid, you will receive an email with receipt.
If approved, you will be sent a Travel Health Visa Approval email with the word “Approved” in green. Although Travel Visa Health applications take up to 48 hours to process, I received mine after only 3 hours from the time of submission. It is still advisable to complete it with enough lead time.
Other important things to note:
Visitors must declare currency and other negotiable instruments of $10,000 or more upon entry/exit.
Keep in mind that US Medicare or Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas also do not accept US health insurance.
I highly recommend getting travel insurance whenever you go on international travel. Most airlines include this option when you book your airfare. I have used Allianz. I also highly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Always check weather advisories. Hurricane Season in The Bahamas begins on June 1 and ends on November 30.
If you're traveling from the West Coast (specifically, Las Vegas), read my earlier post here. It's been updated as of Feb. 23, 2021.
Once On The Island
Face masks and distancing
Wear a face mask, observe physical distancing when in public, and always practice proper hand washing procedures. Travelers who do not comply with wearing face masks in areas where required will be subject to a fine of $200 or one month imprisonment. Some establishments perform temperature screenings and require hand sanitizing before allowing entry.
On the beach
While it is not mandatory while on the beach, you are required to wear a face mask when entering/exiting the beaches. However, social distancing is mandatory on the beach. You’ll realize that is not a problem as the beaches in The Bahamas are never crowded.
You must wear your mask before and after exercising like running or jogging. During exercise, it must be visible on your person.
Daily Health Survey
Remember that as a visitor, you will be required to complete a short Health Survey upon arrival and every day up to 14 days or for the duration of your stay, whichever is shorter. This includes the day of departure, if staying less than 14 days.
For every day of your stay, you will receive an email reminder from “Travel Visa Bahamas” with a link to the Health Survey. Not to worry. The survey contains only a few questions and can be completed quickly.
Staying longer than 5 days
Travelers staying in The Bahamas for longer than four nights/five days will be required to take a rapid Covid-19 antigen test on the 5th day and every 5 days thereafter. Take note: the day of arrival is considered Day 1 of a person’s stay.
Where to go for testing
There are several testing centers available with some even easily accessible within your resort such as Atlantis or Baha Mar. Some of these testing centers can give you results within an hour via text message or e-mail.
Here is a list of the Testing Centers on the different Bahamas Islands
I highly recommend that you make an appointment for the mandatory Rapid Antigen Test on the 5th day of your trip. That means the 5th day counting your day of arrival. Remember: Failure to take this test on the 5th day of your stay will result in a $1,000 per person fine or one month imprisonment.
You will be required to present your Bahamas Travel Health Visa Document (showing the QR code) and your passport. The fee for this is already covered by your Health Visa so there is no additional cost to you.
Curfews in effect
Hotel guests must stay within their hotel grounds for the duration of the curfew period. They may, however, move about within the property and access all available amenities.
Current curfews are as follows:
Nassau & Paradise Island and Abaco
Daily: 10 p.m. – 5 a.m.
Grand Bahama Island
Daily: 10 p.m. – 5 a.m.
Eleuthera (excluding Harbour Island and Spanish Wells) and Exuma (excluding Exuma Cays)
Daily: 10 p.m. – 5 a.m.
Restaurants and F&B Establishments
Restaurants on most islands are allowed to operate both indoor and outdoor dining, as well as curbside pickup, delivery, drive thru and takeaway (to go). Some restaurants do have restrictions and may require you to present a negative test result (no older than 5 days) prior to dining in.
Certain restaurants offer rapid tests on site whereby you can get tested and obtain your results in 20 minutes. If you test negative, then you can proceed with your indoor dining. I highly recommend always calling ahead to inquire and to make a reservation.
On Nassau/Paradise Island and Abaco, restaurants are allowed to operate:
Between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. Mon-Sat for outdoor dining, curbside pickup, delivery, drive thru and takeaway
Between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. Sun for drive thru and take away services only
Restaurants in Exuma are allowed to operate with outdoor dining only at this time.
Tours and Local Attractions
The number of guests and duration of visit are limited. For some excursions, vessels have been required to reduce onboard passengers to 50% of capacity. Make sure to bring your own gear (snorkeling gear for example).
Golf courses on New Providence Island are open. Some still require guests to present negative test results (no older than 5 days) prior to entry. Make sure to inquire when making reservations for your tee time.
“Clean & Pristine” Certification
Your mind will be at ease knowing that The Bahamas government has established a Certification Agency (a collaboration between the Ministry of Tourism & Aviation, Ministry of Health, and other regulatory agencies) to enforce a “Clean & Pristine” certification program.
All tourism-related, customer-facing entities in The Bahamas must have the government-approved health and safety guidelines in place in order to be certified “Clean & Pristine.” Such entities must continue to adhere to the program requirements and clearly display at all locations adequate signage outlining policies to help guide staff and visitors.
Note: These protocols are subject to change. These government websites are helpful resources:
For Americans, visit these helpful sites:
Keep in mind that the Government of The Bahamas may restrict travel into or out of certain islands depending on situations that may arise. Conditions and restrictions also vary depending on the island. Always check the status of your island destination before you go.
Traveling back to the US
Effective Jan 26, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires proof of negative Covid-19 test or recovery from Covid-19 for all air passengers arriving in the United States. This applies to US citizens and legal permanent residents.
CDC guidelines require all air travelers (2+ years old) to the US to present one of the following prior to boarding their flight:
Proof of recovery from Covid-19: Documentation of a recent positive viral test and a letter from healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel.
Negative PCR or antigen viral test : Must be taken no more than 3 days before departure. According to CDC: “The 3-day period is the 3 days before the flight’s departure. The Order uses a 3-day timeframe instead of 72 hours to provide more flexibility to the traveler. By using a 3-day window, test validity does not depend on the time of the flight or time of day that the test was administered. For example, if a passenger’s flight is at 1 pm on a Friday, the passenger could board with a negative test that was taken any time on the prior Tuesday or after.”
Both printed or electronic form of your laboratory results are acceptable. (At this time, getting the vaccine doesn’t provide an exemption.) Before boarding, the airline will confirm the Covid-19 negative test result or documentation of recovery for all passengers.
Once you’re back in the US, it is highly recommended that you get tested 3-5 days from date of arrival PLUS self-quarantine and stay at home for 7 days. If you test positive, you obviously will need to isolate and protect others from getting infected.
Should you decide not to get tested, it is safest to self-quarantine and stay home for a total of 10 days. Whether you are tested or not, be considerate and avoid being around people especially those who are at increased risk.
Your local state may have additional requirements related to travel. Make sure to also check your city and state recommendations.
To learn more, visit https://www.cdc.gov/.