Updated: Aug 11, 2021
Planning on traveling to The Bahamas in 2021? Scroll down to find out the requirements for entry to Nassau, Bahamas as well as for travel back to the US.
The good news is that The Bahamas is 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 already being rolled out on the islands for Bahamas citizens and eligible residents, and with more resorts reopening, The Bahamas is a top destination choice.
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.
Continue reading below and find out what you need to know before you go.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Please note that travel requirements are constantly changing due to the nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Always be sure to check official updates from the following sites:
Entry to The Bahamas
For Vaccinated Visitors
Effective August 6, 2021, vaccinated travelers must apply for a Bahamas health visa to enter The Bahamas. They must upload the following documents to the travel health visa portal:
(1) vaccination card - must show documentary evidence of full vaccination such as CDC or government-issued vaccine record card. The proof of vaccination must show they have passed the two-week immunity period. At this time, The Bahamas Government is accepting vaccines by Pfizer Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.); and
(2) negative result of a rapid antigen or RT PCR test performed by an accredited lab within five (5) days of entering The Bahamas.
For Unvaccinated Travelers
If you are a non-vaccinated traveler (age 12 years and older), you’ll have to get a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR test-- a swab test; not a Rapid Antigen test-- taken no more than 5 days prior to arrival in The Bahamas.
You will need to provide the documentation of your negative PCR test results in order to complete the required Health Visa application (more info on that 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 or have the QR code saved on your phone as you will also be asked to present proof of your negative test upon arrival in The Bahamas.
Children and Infants
All children ages 2 to 11 are now required to provide a negative result from a COVID-19 test (either rapid antigen test or RT PCR test) performed within five (5) days of arrival in The Bahamas. The negative result must be submitted with their health visa application via the travel health visa portal. Children under the age of 2 are exempt from these testing requirements.
You can get PCR tests from pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens or labs. Make sure they are PCR tests. and that you can get your results back within 1 to 2 days. You can also choose to get a self-test kit from Pixel by Labcorp. The kit will be overnighted to you so you can administer the test yourself, and then you Fedex it back to the lab. Pixel labs will directly bill your insurance for the test.
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 Bahamas Travel Health Visa via email. It will reflect an Approved status, date of expiry, and a QR code. Travel Visa Health applications take up to 48 hours to process. It is advisable to complete it with enough lead time.
The email you will receive with the Bahamas Travel Health Visa will include information on mandatory protocols, including the daily health survey. (More on that below. See under "On-Island Protocols.")
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 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 (mandated by law), 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 an unvaccinated 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
Unvaccinated 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 as soon as you arrive, make an appointment for the mandatory Rapid Antigen Test to be taken on the 5th day of your trip. That means the 5th day counting the day of your 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.
Curfews are still changing so make sure to make sure you are aware of the curfews in effect on the island where you are staying. (See Curfew Guidelines here.)
For Nassau & Paradise Island, the curfew has changed to 9 p.m. – 5 a.m. daily. effective August 11, 2021. If you're going out to dinner, make sure you keep track of time and plan to be back in your hotel before the curfew strikes.
Restaurants and F&B Establishments
Restaurants on most islands are allowed to operate mostly 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 your proof of vaccination or 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.
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. Make sure to inquire when making reservations for your tee time. Ocean Club Golf Course and Baha Mar Royal Blue Golf Course no longer require guests to present a negative test result prior to playing.
“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: I want to remind readers that 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:
(1) 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.
(2) 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.
If you are flying via American Airlines, I recommend that you download the VeriFly app. It makes airport check-in much easier. Through the app, you are able to upload your negative test result and also complete the required attestation form. Just show your VeriFly pass to the American Airlines agent at check-in.
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/.
Got more questions? Send me a message and I'm happy to help.
*This article was last updated on August 11, 2021.