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What You Need to Know

Entering The Bahamas By Boat

To enter The Islands Of The Bahamas, private vessels need the following:

a)     One (1) copy of The Bahamas Customs Clearance Form (PDF)

b)     One (1) Bahamas Immigration Card per person

c)     Proof of Citizenship—Passport

Arriving By Boat

Arriving seafarers must clear Customs and Immigration at the nearest Port of Entry in The Bahamas. When entering the port, fly the yellow quarantine flag and notify the Customs agent of your arrival. Your boat’s captain is the only person permitted to leave the boat until your vessel has been cleared.

Customs and Immigration officers will approach your boat once they have been notified. All visitors on board must have proof of citizenship and are required to complete an immigration card, which should be returned to the last Bahamian port during your departure. U.S. citizens must present a valid passport.

All firearms on board (shotguns and handguns only) must be declared with the Bahamian Customs Department. Firearms are allowed to remain on your boat be under lock and key at all times. Owners are required to provide the gun’s serial number, name of the manufacturer along with an exact count of ammunition. In cases of emergencies, which require your departure by air, you must notify Bahamian Police or Customs. They will accompany you to retrieve the firearm and present you with a receipt. Upon your return to the island, Bahamian Police or Customs will escort you to your vessel and return your firearm. Any infraction of this law will be dealt with severely.

Entry Fees

All boaters entering The Bahamas are required to pay an entry fee.

  1. For boats up to 30′, the fee is $150.00
  2. For boats over 30′, the fee is $300.00

The fees will cover:

1)     Cruising Permit

2)     Fishing Permit

3)     Departure Tax for up to three (3) persons. Each additional person above three will be charged a $20 departure tax. This fee is good for a second re-entry within a 90-day period.

Special arrangements must be made with Bahamas Customs and Immigration if travelers are planning to stay longer than 12 months. Bahamas Customs and Immigration office hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Officers are on call during holidays and weekends. There is no overtime charge.


Entry Formalities

Arriving by Air/Returning by Boat

Travelers planning to enter The Bahamas by air, but depart by sea, are advised to purchase roundtrip airline tickets (and seek reimbursement upon returning home for the unused return ticket) even when they are confirmed to return via private boat. If the traveler arrives at Bahamas Immigration on a one-way ticket, the owner/operator of the boat used for departure must present the vessel’s cruising permit. A copy of the cruising permit will be permitted for crew members who may be arriving by plane and returning by boat as their names will appear on the manifest. A letter will not suffice.

Visitors will be asked to fill out an Immigration Arrival/Departure Card upon arrival by air. Please complete and keep until your departure. All visitors are advised to have a return ticket.


US Citizens

A valid passport is required for proof of citizenship. A visa is required for stays exceeding eight months.

US Residents (non-citizens)

An Alien Registration Card (Green Card) AND a valid passport from your country of citizenship are required. For visits exceeding 30 days, a valid passport AND a Bahamas visa are required.


Canadian Citizens

A valid passport is required for proof of citizenship. Voter registration cards, birth certificates and photo identifications are no longer accepted as proof of citizenship. A Bahamas visa is required for stays exceeding three months.


United Kingdom Citizens

Citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies require a valid passport. A Bahamas visa is required for stays exceeding eight months.

All Other Countries

For entry formalities, please contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the nearest Bahamas Embassy, Consulate or High Commission. Below are addresses and contact information:


The Bahamas

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Consular Section

Norfolk House, Frederick Street

P.O. Box N-3746
Nassau, Bahamas
Phone: (242) 323.5578/5565
Fax: (242) 326.6186


Washington, D.C. | USA
Embassy of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas
2220 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: (202) 319.2660/7
Fax: (202) 319.2668
E-mail: bahemb@aol.com


Miami | USA
Bahamas Consulate General
25 S.E. Second Avenue
Ingraham Bldg., Suite 600
Miami, FL 33131
Phone: (305) 373.6295
Fax: (305) 373.6312
E-mail: bcgmia@bellsouth.net


New York | USA
Bahamas Consulate General
Bahama House
231 East 46th Street
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 688.5926
Fax: (212) 688.5926
E-mail: bahamasconsulate@bahamasny.com


Bahamas High Commission
Metropolitan Life Centre
50 O’Connor, Suite 1313
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1 6L2
Phone: (613) 232.1724
Fax: (613) 232.0097
E-mail: ottawa-mission@bahighco.com


United Kingdom
Bahamas High Commission
10 Chesterfield Street
London, W1J 5JL
Phone: (011) 44 207.408.4488
Fax: (011) 44 207.499.9937
E-mail: information@bahamashclondon.net


Exiting Policies

When a private vessel arrives at a port of call in the United States, the Master or Captain of the vessel must report their arrival immediately upon first landfall to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) by calling the following toll-free number or visiting the following website:

The captain will be directed to the nearest Port of Entry and must physically present him/herself and their passengers for admission to the US.

Please visit www.dhs.gov for admission requirements.

When you call for clearance, have the following information available:

  1. Vessel name and registration/document number
  2. Vessel owner name and citizenship
  3. Vessel commander/master name, date of birth and citizenship
  4. Passengers’ names and dates of birth
  5. Foreign ports or places visited and duration of stay
  6. Total value of all acquisitions and purchases made


 Bahamian Ports of Entry

  • THE ABACOS:  Green Turtle Cay, Marsh Harbour, Spanish Cay, Treasure Cay, or Walker’s Cay
  • ACKLINS:  Spring Point (Commissioner only)
  • ANDROS:  Congo Town, Fresh Creek, Mangrove Cay, or Morgan’s Bluff
  • THE BERRYS:  Chub or Great Harbour Cays
  • BIMINI:  Alice Town or South Bimini
  • CAT CAY:  Club Marina
  • CAT ISLAND:  Arthurs Town, Smith Bay, New Bight, or Hawks Nest
  • CROOKED ISLAND:  Colonel Hill
  • ELEUTHERA:  North Eleuthera Airport, Governor’s Harbour, Harbour Island, Rock Sound, or Spanish Wells
  • THE EXUMAS:  George Town, Exuma
  • GRAND BAHAMA:  Freeport Harbour, Grand Bahama Yacht Club, and Port Lucaya; Old Bahama Bay at West End
  • INAGUA:  Matthew Town
  • LONG ISLAND:  Stella Maris, Deadmans Cay Airport, or Clarence Town
  • MAYAGUANA:  Abraham’s Bay (Commissioner only)
  • SAN SALVADOR:  Cockburn Town

What To Do When Arriving to Your Port

  • Hoist the yellow quarantine flag near a port of entry.
  • Report to a Customs and Immigration facility as soon as possible upon entering Bahamian waters.
  • Only the captain may go ashore to clear Customs.  No others are allowed off the boat until the vessel is cleared.
  • The captain should have the following information ready for Customs officials:  ship’s documentation/registration, passports for all persons aboard, pet import permit and firearms information (make, model, serial number, and number of rounds or ammunition—don’t carry weapon in).
  • Treat officials with respect; follow their instructions. Be courteous and neatly dressed.  Officers may limit the stay of anyone deemed a security threat or who may be seeking to take the jobs of Bahamians.
  • After receiving your cruising permit, take down your “Q” flag and hoist your Bahamian courtesy flag (cruising pennant).



There is no evenly applied policy for Bahamas Immigration in terms of length of stay granted to persons on cruising boats.  A wide diversity exists at various Ports of Entry.  The statutory regulations allow all persons a stay of 3 months with a maximum of 8 months, as deemed appropriate by the clearing officer; however, that is a courtesy, not a guarantee, and it does not apply to all nationalities.  Sometimes, less time is granted.  You may be asked to present a visa in order to stay longer than 3 months, but not necessarily.  The visa would have to be secured from your embassy at home or in Nassau or from the Bahamas Embassy in Miami.  Please see Bahamas Chatter for updates at:     http://chatter.explorercharts.com.

Travelers who are given less time than they desire can apply for an extension if they make the request at an immigration office several days before their permit expires, or on the expiration date.  Arrangements can be made for extenuating circumstances, such as weather preventing arrival at a Port of Entry on the due date.  If you have any problems, 1) Ask to speak to the Immigration Officer’s supervisor (if there is one available), 2) Call Immigration Nassau at 242-322-8504 or 322-7530-39, or 3) Renew and extend your immigration card at an immigration office where you are near at the time of expiration.

The best places to clear entry for a longer stay are locations with both a Customs Officer and an Immigration Officer on duty such as Nassau, Bimini, West End, Port Lucaya and Marsh Harbour.  Judgments are made on an individual basis and are solely up to the officer on duty.



When clearing Customs, you will have an opportunity to obtain a fishing license as part of the fee.  If you intend to troll or spearfish (fishing with SCUBA equipment or a spear gun is illegal), ask for a fishing endorsement.  Details of fishing regulations are on the permit given by the officer.


Bahamian law permits firearms on your vessel as part of your ship’s equipment.  All guns must be registered with the Bahamas Customs Department and should remain aboard in a locked compartment.  In the event your vessel is boarded by Customs or the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the information on your cruising permit will be checked carefully against your actual supply.  Ammunition quantities must match the number on the cruising permit.



If you wish to bring a pet aboard when boating in The Bahamas, secure a permit via mail before you leave home. An application will be sent to you if you write to:  Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box N-3704, Nassau, N.P., Bahamas.  This process can also be expedited by calling 242-325-7413 or faxing 242-325-3960. The cost of the pet application is $10 (US) and can be paid via International Money Order or Postal Order made payable to the Public Treasury. Do not send a US dollars check with your application. To receive your certificate by fax, include an extra $5 and your fax number on your application. Lastly, a health certificate is required from your veterinarian to present to the Customs officials when you arrive in The Bahamas.



When leaving home, make sure you have three flags for cruising in the Bahamas—your country’s flag, a yellow quarantine flag and the Bahamian courtesy flag.

Your vessel’s temporary cruising permit is for one year from date of entry.  It may be renewed for up to two additional years by written application to Bahamas Customs, Nassau, prior to expiration and with payment of $500 per year. To leave your boat in the Bahamas permanently, you must pay an import duty of 10% for vessels of any size. (new policy 2010)

At your first opportunity, make copies of your cruising permit.  If you need to fly home, you will need a copy of your permit, as well as your passport, to present to your airline and Bahamas Immigration when you reenter the Bahamas. Please leave the original permit on your boat.

As of July 5, 2010, cruising visitors with a valid Bahamas Temporary Cruising Permit are allowed to import boat repair/replacements parts DUTY FREE. There is a 10% duty on printed matter and original artwork. This policy is subject to change. Call Bahamas Entry Checking in Nassau at 242-302-3509 to get the up-to-date policy.

Source: www.bahamas.go.bs

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