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The Bahamas

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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in the Bahamas because of high levels of serious crime, mainly on the islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama.
  • Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources for information about possible new security risks. See Safety and security
  • Muggings, armed robberies, home invasions and sexual assault targeting tourists are common in the cities of Nassau (New Providence) and Freeport (in Grand Bahama). Cruise ship terminals and resort areas are often targeted, including in daylight hours. See Safety and security
  • The hurricane season is June to November when landslides, mudslides and flooding may occur. If severe weather warnings are in effect, keep your passport on you, monitor media reports and follow the instructions of local authorities, including any evacuation orders. See Safety and security
  • If there is a hurricane, essential services may be disrupted and you may need to be evacuated to the United States. See Natural disasters

Entry and exit

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government can't intervene on your behalf if you don't meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

Visas

If your visit is for 90 days or less and you have a valid return or onward ticket, you won't need a visa to enter the Bahamas.

In other circumstances, you may need to get a visa before you travel. Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact an Embassy or Consulate of the Bahamas for up-to-date information.

The Bahamas doesn't have an Embassy or Consulate in Australia. Its nearest mission is the Embassy of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas in Beijing, China (phone: +86 10 6532 2922).

If you're travelling to the Bahamas through the United States (US), or transiting the US, you'll need to meet US entry/transit requirements. Check your visa requirements with a US Embassy or Consulate well in advance of your travel. More information: United States of America

Other formalities 

You must complete and sign an immigration card upon entry to the Bahamas. It will be stamped by officials at the point of entry. Keep it until you leave.

If travelling by private vessel, you'll need entry documentation for entry to the Bahamas. More information: Department of Immigration (The Bahamas)

All visitors leaving The Bahamas are subject to a departure tax, which may or may not be included in the price of your ticket.

Passport

Check the expiry date of your passport before you travel. Some countries won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for six months from when you plan to leave that country.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you're forced to hand over your passport, contact an Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

The local currency is the Bahamian dollar (BSD). US dollars are also accepted and you can exchange US dollars for BSD at commercial banks or exchange bureaux.

It's illegal to depart the country with more than BSD200 in your possession.

ATMs are located on the larger islands, in airport terminals, banks, casinos and some hotels. Only use ATMs inside banks, hotels, plazas and other controlled areas – see Safety and security.

Credit cards are widely  accepted. Check your credit card statements regularly for potential fraud or unauthorised charges. Contact your bank to make sure your cards will work in the Bahamas.

Safety and security

Crime

There are high levels of crime, including violent crime, in the Bahamas. Crime occurs mainly on the islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama and increases during the holidays. Criminals are often armed.

Muggings, armed robberies, home invasions and sexual assault targeting tourists are common in the cities of Nassau and Freeport. Cruise ship terminals and resort areas are common sites for robbery, including in daylight hours.

The Bahamas has a high murder rate but most murders are in non-tourist neighbourhoods in downtown Nassau and at night.

Sexual assault occurs frequently, particularly around hotels, in hotel rooms, in casinos, on cruise ships, on the beach and when taking jet ski rides. The Bahamas has one of the highest rates of sexual assault in the Caribbean.

Drink and food 'spiking' is a threat, including in tourist resorts, and is often followed by sexual assault and/or robbery of the spiking victim.

Opportunistic crime, including petty theft and purse snatching, occurs frequently in tourist areas.

  • Stay alert to your surroundings at all times, even in areas normally considered safe.
  • Never leave your food or drink unattended.
  • Be wary of approaches from overly 'friendly' strangers.
  • Don't walk alone, particularly after dark.
  • Avoid deserted beaches.
  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables, including your passport, in a secure location.
  • Keep vehicle windows closed, doors locked and valuables out of sight at all times, including when moving.
  • Never get out of your car to remove items blocking the road. This could be a ploy by armed assailants to rob you.
  • Avoid non-tourist neighbourhoods in downtown Nassau.
  • If you're attacked or robbed, do not resist as you could be seriously injured or killed.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Civil unrest and political tension

Avoid all demonstrations, protests and large public gatherings – as they could turn violent.

Local travel

Road travel

You're three times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in the Bahamas than in Australia. Hazards include local driving practices and traffic congestion. Road conditions are bad in rural areas.

Flooding is frequent, making some roads impassable, including in Nassau and Freeport. Construction zones may be poorly marked.

  • Check you have adequate insurance cover before driving.
  • Familiarise yourself with local traffic laws and practices before driving.
  • Get up-to-date local advice on road conditions before you travel, especially following rain.

More information: Road travel

Driver's licence

You can drive in the Bahamas with a valid Australian driver's licence and an International Driving Permit (IDP). You must obtain your IDP before departing Australia.

Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when using a motorcycle, quad bike or similar vehicle. Your policy may not cover you for accidents that occur while using these vehicles. Always wear a helmet.

Taxis

Use only registered taxis and limousines, preferably those arranged through your hotel. Taxis don't use meters. Negotiate the price before you leave for your destination.

Public transport

Public transport is available by minibus (jitneys). Pay attention to your belongings as pickpocketing can happen on public transport.

Sea travel

Nassau is one of the world's largest cruise-ship ports. Other ports in the Bahamas, particularly Grand Bahama archipelago, also host cruise ships. 

Medical facilities on cruise ships may not be as good as in Australia and on-board medical treatment may cost more. If you plan to travel on a cruise ship, check their medical facilities will suit your needs and understand the costs of medical treatment on-board.

Armed smugglers engaged in illegal activities often use small boats and other vessels in the waters of the Bahamas. You could encounter criminals if you use similar vessels - take appropriate precautions.

More information: Cruises

Airline safety

The Australian Government doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in the Bahamas. More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

The legal age for same-sex relations is 18. All couples should avoid public displays of affection as they may attract unwanted and negative attention.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences are severe and can lead to imprisonment and fines. Pack luggage yourself and don't carry anything through customs for anyone else. US authorities may conduct thorough drug searches in the Bahamas. More information: Drugs

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Information for dual nationals

Read Dual nationals.

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

Regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government won't pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may be illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel

Take legal prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Carry copies of your prescription and a dated letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, its generic name, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Health risks are broadly similar to those in Australia.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities are generally limited and not equipped to handle major surgery or major emergencies such as natural disasters. Private medical care is very expensive.

Doctors and hospitals require up-front cash payment before commencing treatment.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to Miami or another destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.

Natural disasters

The Bahamas experiences hurricanes and tropical storms and may experience tsunamis. 

Medical facilities are not equipped to handle major emergencies. Be prepared to evacuate at short notice. Keep travel documents up-to-date. 

If a natural disaster occurs:

If you're travelling during the hurricane season or following a natural disaster, contact your tour operator to check whether tourist services at your planned destination have been affected. Contact your airline for the latest flight information.  

Hurricanes

Hurricane season is from June to November, when landslides, mudslides and flooding may occur. Tropical storms and hurricanes can also happen in other months. The direction and strength of hurricanes can change with little warning.

If there is a hurricane or severe storm, you may not be able to leave the area.

  • Flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended.
  • Available flights may fill quickly.
  • Access to sea ports could also be affected.
  • Roads may be blocked.
  • Power, communication systems and other essential services could be affected.
  • In some areas, adequate shelter may not be available for all those who stay.

If a hurricane is approaching, follow the advice for all natural disasters above and:

  • make sure you know your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans
  • identify your local shelter
  • closely monitor alerts and advice from the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

More information:

Tsunamis

The Bahamas can experience tsunamis. Be alert to warnings as a tsunami can arrive within minutes of a nearby tremor or earthquake occurring.

To receive tsunami alerts, register with the Global Disaster Alert and Co-ordination System.

Move immediately to high ground if advised by local or regional authorities or if you experience any of the following:

  • feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand up, or a weak rolling earthquake that lasts a minute or more
  • see a sudden rise or fall in sea level
  • hear loud and unusual noises from the sea.

Don't wait for official warnings. Once on high ground, monitor local media and announcements from the National Emergency Management Agency.

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Fire: phone 911 or 919
  • Medical emergency: phone 911 or 919 or go to the nearest hospital
  • Crime: phone 911 or 919 or visit the nearest police station

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism products and services

To complain about tourism services, contact the service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

Australia has a Consulate in Nassau, headed by an Honorary Consul. The Consulate provides limited consular services, but cannot issue passports. The Australian High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago provides full consular services.

Australian Consulate, The Bahamas

Lyford Manor, Lyford Cay, Nassau
The Bahamas
Telephone: +1 242 327 8301
Email: caroline.moncur@3connectbahamas.com

Facebook: Australia in the Caribbean

Australian High Commission, Port of Spain

18 Herbert Street, St Clair
Port of Spain
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Telephone: +1 868 822 5450
Fax: +1 868 822 5490
Email: ahc.portofspain@dfat.gov.au
Website: trinidadandtobago.highcommission.gov.au
Facebook: Australia in the Caribbean

Check the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you can't contact the High Commission or Consulate in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 from within Australia.

Additional information