What You Need to Know
Entering The Bahamas By Boat
To enter The Islands Of The Bahamas, private vessels need the following:
One (1) copy of The Bahamas Customs Clearance Form for Pleasure Vessels (Bahamas Customs Clearance Form)
One (1) copy of The Bahamas Customs Clearance Form for Charter Vessels (Bahamas Customs Clearance Form)
One (1) Bahamas Immigration Card per person (Bahamas Immigration Form)
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.
A new fee structure went into effect on January 1, 2020:
The following fees will be applied to boats staying in The Bahamas for up to 3 months:
- Boats up to 34 feet: $150 (no change)
- Boats 35-99 feet: $300 (no change)
- Boats 100-149 feet: $500
- Boats 150-200 feet: $800
- Boats over 200 feet: $1,000
The fees cover both a cruising permit and fishing permit, as well as the departure tax for up to three people. Each additional person will be charged a $20 departure tax. The fee is good for a second re-entry within a 90-day period.
For stays longer than 3 months:
- Boats up to 34 feet: $300 annually
- Boats 35-99 feet: $600 annually
- Boats 100-149 feet: $1,000 annually
- Boats 150-200 feet: $1,600 annually
- Boats over 200 feet: $2,000 annually
- For a stay longer than 12 months, special arrangements must be made with Bahamas Customs and Immigration.
Please note that Attendance Fees, Fishing Permit, Transportation and Overtime fees are all included in the price of the cruising permit. The only additional fees would be for additional departure tax if there are more than 3 persons at a cost of $20 per additional person.
It is illegal to tip government employees. Boaters are asked to report if they are ever asked for these types of payments to the local marina manger or dockmaster.
We recommend all pleasure and charter vessels download the following letter from the Comptroller of Customs outlining the all required Customs fees and service charges to have with you when checking into customs. If you receive any differing information upon entry into The Bahamas please inform a Senior Customs Official or the local dockmaster.
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.
When you call for clearance, have the following information available:
- Vessel name and registration/document number
- Vessel owner name and citizenship
- Vessel commander/master name, date of birth and citizenship
- Passengers’ names and dates of birth
- Foreign ports or places visited and duration of stay
- Total value of all acquisitions and purchases made
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).
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, or download the PDF Form: bahamas-imports-and-pets). 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 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 1.800.432.1216 or visiting the following website: https://www.cbp.gov.
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 https://www.dhs.gov for admission requirements.
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.
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.
Requirements by Citizenship
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.
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.