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Do U.S. Citizens Need A Passport To Go to The Bahamas?

The Islands
July 12th 2019
Do U.S. Citizens Need A Passport To Go to The Bahamas?
Photo credit header image: LifetimeStock/

Sugary white beaches, crystal like waters and seemingly endless sunny days make The Bahamas a picture-perfect paradise. Additionally, being only 50 km from the shores of the U.S., this chain of beautiful islands is ideal for American citizens, and is one of the best islands to visit the Caribbean.

While The Bahamas is a visa-free destination, U.S. citizens are generally required to present a valid U.S. passport when traveling to The Bahamas, as well as proof of anticipated departure from The Bahamas. However, there are some alternative options when you take a cruise.

Sandals Emerald Bay resort
Picture: Sandals Emerald Bay resort in Exuma, The Bahamas.

In this article on the Sandals Blog:

Need a passport when flying to The Bahamas?
Need a passport when cruising to The Bahamas?
Visa requirements

Stuck in The Bahamas without a passport?
Bonus: Currency restrictions
Bonus: Special vaccinations required?

Passport requirements when traveling to The Bahamas as a U.S. Citizen

If you are a U.S. citizen traveling to The Bahamas, you will most likely need a passport to enter the country. When flying by plane, a passport is always required for international travel.

However, there are a few different ways for U.S. citizens to travel to the Caribbean islands. Because of that, a passport is not always an entry requirement for travel (though it is always recommended). Many people travel to The Bahamas via cruise line, which has different requirements for proof of citizenship and identity.

Do I need a passport to fly to The Bahamas?

When crossing international borders by plane, a valid passport is always required - The Bahamas is no exception. Another thing to bear in mind is your passport validity, specifically the expiration date. Additionally, you'll want to make sure that you have at least two blank pages in your passport book. Some airlines will not allow you to board the plane without this.

Different countries have different laws around passport validity. Some will allow for three months validity while you travel, but most countries, including the U.S., require that your passport is valid for at least another six months while on your trip.

sunset view wing airplane

Photo credit: Patty Chan/

Do I need a passport to take a cruise to The Bahamas?

If you are traveling by sea, you can use a passport book or one of the following documents:

- A passport card

- A Trusted Traveler Card

- An Enhanced Driver's License

Nassau Bahamas Cruise Ships port

Photo credit: Nazar Skladanyi/

Picture: The Nassau Cruise port view from a cruise ship.

Even though the above are valid travel documents, the U.S. Department of State advises that all U.S. citizens travel with a valid passport in the case of unforeseen circumstances. In the event of a family, medical, personal or business emergency, where the traveler must fly back to the U.S., a passport card is not a valid travel document.

Similarly, if a cruiser does not make it back to the port and must fly to the next port to re-board the ship, they will need a passport to be eligible to fly. For this reason, we always recommend every traveler carry a valid passport anytime they leave the country.

Passport exceptions for U.S. citizens traveling to The Bahamas

If you are traveling to The Bahamas on a cruise ship that embarks and ends at the same U.S. port, you can use your government issued driver's license or birth certificate instead of a passport. This is known as a closed-loop cruise.

white cruise ship

Photo credit: Mikhail Starodubov/

Additionally, for minors traveling to The Bahamas with their parents or guardians, there are a few other passport exceptions that you may want to consider.

  1. Children under age 16 can use a birth certificate, naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship IF they are traveling to and from The Bahamas by sea.
  2. Children under age 19 can also use birth certificates IF they are traveling by sea and IF they are traveling with a school group, a church group or a social or cultural organization supervised by an adult.

As with adults, children in any age group must have a passport to travel to The Bahamas by plane.

Visa requirements in The Bahamas

U.S. visitors traveling for tourism will not need a Bahamas visa for travel up to eight months. The maximum period of stay will be documented in your passport and may vary depending on the discretion of the immigration officer at port of entry. Business travelers or visitors with longer itineraries should contact the Department of Immigration to apply for an extension:

Department of Immigration
Hawkins Hill
P. O. Box N-831
Nassau, The Bahamas
[email protected]
Phone: +1 242-322-8504

What to do if you lose your passport in The Bahamas

Realizing you don't have your passport mid vacation is possibly the worst thing that could happen to anyone on their travels. Whether your luggage was stolen, or you misplaced your passport, the experience is equally as painful.

Tip: If you are staying at all-inclusive resorts in Nassau or adults-only resorts in Exuma, head straight to the concierge. The friendly staff will assist you in solving this crisis.

nassau bahamas police officer

Photo credit: pablopicasso/

Picture: Bahamian police officer in downtown Nassau.

Below are the necessary steps to get an emergency passport as quickly as possible:

  1. Head straight to the police station. Report the incident and get a copy of your report.
  2. Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate general. Give a detailed description of the circumstances documented by the police report and provide an airline ticket as proof of your need to travel. The address of the U.S. embassy in Nassau is provided below.
  3. Complete a passport application known as Form DS-11.
  4. Complete a statement regarding the lost passport known as Form DS-64.
  5. Pay the required fee of $110 USD (the same fee as a new passport).

U.S. embassy in Nassau:
42 Queen Street
Nassau, The Bahamas
Phone: +1 242-322-1181

US Embassy Board

Photo credit: Syda Productions/

When at the consulate, try to present as many of the following documents as possible. Even if you struggle to provide the consulate with all the documents, they will do their best to assist you with providing an emergency expedited passport:

  • Passport photo.
  • Picture identification, like a driver's license, Real ID, or government-issued photo ID.
  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship, such as a birth certificate, permanent resident card (sometimes known as a green card), or a photocopy of your missing passport.
  • Travel itinerary (airline or cruise tickets).
  • Police report, if available.

It is important to note that the emergency passport provided under these circumstances has a limited validity. Unlike an emergency passport which is processed by a paid for expedited service due to unforeseen circumstances, this limited-validity emergency passport will need to be replaced with a permanent passport on your return.

Frequently asked questions about passport requirements to travel to The Bahamas

Is it better to travel to The Bahamas with a passport?

Though it is possible for some travelers to arrive in The Bahamas without a passport, we always recommend traveling with a passport in case of an emergency. Even if you are not arriving via air travel, having a passport is a sure fire way to ensure you can travel home in the case of emergency.

Is there a 6 month passport rule when traveling to The Bahamas?

Some countries, including the USA, require your passport to be valid for 6+ months after your visit. However, The Bahamas is not one of those countries. As long as your passport is valid throughout the duration of your stay, you will have no problem traveling in and out of The Bahamas as a U.S. Citizen with a valid passport.

What is the difference between a passport book and a passport card?

A passport book is the traditional passport used for all international travel. These are generally required for all travelers flying to another country internationally and can be used when traveling by sea.

However, a passport card can be used to enter countries like Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean via land borders or sea ports-of-entry. They are generally less expensive and more convenient than a traditional passport book.

recepcionist passport card

Photo credit: Corepics VOF/

For frequent travelers (traveling by sea only) into The Bahamas, a passport card could be considered a less expensive option. A passport book for one adult will set you back $135 USD, while a passport card costs you only $55 USD.

Passport cards are also seen as more convenient when traveling due to their size. A passport is 5x3-1/2 inches, while the passport card is wallet-sized. Of couse, a passport card has no space for stamps or visas.

Can I use a Trusted Traveler Card to enter The Bahamas instead of a passport?

The Trusted Traveler program allows certain travelers to use expedited lanes at U.S. airports to travel to nearby countries in North America. These programs include the following:

  • NEXUS: Generally used to enter the U.S. from Canada through land, air and sea;
  • SENTRI: Generally used to enter the U.S. from Canada and Mexico by air or land;
  • FAST: Generally used to enter and exit the U.S. from Canada and Mexico with a commercial truck.

While these memberships can be used as identification when traveling to The Bahamas on a cruise, they are not valid when traveling via air. If you plan to fly to The Bahamas, you will not be able to use your Trusted Traveler Card in place of a passport.

Can I use an Enhanced Driver's License to enter The Bahamas instead of a passport?

A state-issued Enhanced Driver's License (EDL) provides travelers not only a license to drive, but also a proof of identity and citizenship when exiting and re-entering U.S. borders. This is a card under the WHTI that has security features and technology that make travel a lot easier and safer. They provide travelers with a low-cost, convenient alternative to a passport.

Note: The Enhanced Driver's License (EDL) allows you to re-enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico and some countries of the Caribbean. To find out which Caribbean countries, contact the application center nearest to your state. The EDL is only accepted at land and sea border crossings, not for air travel.

The states of Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington State are currently the only states issuing these enhanced drivers licenses. This license cannot be used for air travel.

When should I apply for my passport to travel to The Bahamas?

If you are departing on a trip to The Bahamas, you'll want to prepare early and ensure that your passport is up to date (or apply for a new one).

Generally, the wait time for a passport can be between 6 to 12 weeks. We recommend applying for a new passport or to renew your existing passport at least 3 months before your trip.

Bonus questions about traveling to The Bahamas

What are my currency restrictions when traveling to The Bahamas?

Visitors must declare currency and other documents or receipts of $10,000 or more upon entry and exit of The Bahamas. This can be done at the Customs and Border Protection office at the port of entry.

What are the required vaccinations to enter The Bahamas?

Most visitors are not required to get special vaccinations before entering The Bahamas. The Bahamas only requires proof of Yellow Fever vaccination if you are arriving from a country where Yellow Fever is endemic or there is an outbreak. Travelers over the age of one must provide a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate, if arriving from countries with risk of Yellow Fever transmission such as...

Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Rep., Chad, Congo, Congo (Dem, Rep.) Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda.

This list is complete at time of writing, but please do check whether it's still up to date before planning your vacation to The Bahamas.

doctor vaccinating male patient

Photo credit: New Africa/

This requirement also applies to travelers having transited more than 12 hours through an airport of a country with risk of Yellow Fever transmission. In this case, you must be vaccinated 10 days before entering The Bahamas.

Start planning your stay in the beautiful Bahamian islands today!

The Bahamas is a great vacation destination for couples looking for the ultimate level of relaxation. With beautiful beaches, tons of activities, and rich culture, you simply cannot go wrong. By visiting one of Sandals all-inclusive resorts in The Bahamas, you have full access to the island's unbeatable beauty.

Disclaimer: All information on this article was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Sandals is not affiliated with immigration authorities or their application centres and will not be liable for loss or inconvenience arising from the use of this volatile information.

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