Customs: The Bahamian customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation or exportation of firearms. Officials have arrested and sentenced to stiff penalties U.S. citizens entering the country with firearms or ammunition. The Embassy advises contacting the Embassy of The Bahamas in Washington, D.C. or one of the Bahamian consulates in the U.S. for specific information regarding customs requirements. Tourists arriving by private boat may seek permission to declare firearms to Bahamian Customs but must leave them secured on the boat for the duration of their stay.
Private Vessels: To Enter the Islands of The Bahamas Private Vessels need the following:
a) One (1) copy of The Bahamas Customs Clearance Form
b) One (1) Bahamas Immigration Card per person
c) Proof of Citizenship—Passport
Arriving By Boat:
Visiting boaters must clear Customs and Immigration at the nearest designated Port of Entry. As you enter each port, fly the yellow quarantine flag and notify Customs of your arrival. Only the captain is permitted to leave the boat until your vessel has been cleared.
Bahamas Customs and Immigration officials will come to your vessel. Everyone on board must have proof of citizenship and fill out an immigration card. U.S. citizens must present a passport. Before leaving the islands of The Bahamas, be sure to surrender your copy of the immigration card at the last Bahamian port you visit.
If you have a firearm on board (shotguns and handguns only) you must declare it with Bahamian Customs. You must provide the serial number, name of the manufacturer, plus an exact count of ammunition. While you are allowed to have a firearm on your boat, you cannot remove it. Weapons must be under lock and key at all times. 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 and The Bahamas has recently increased both the penalties and sentencing for violators of local firearm laws.
Entering and Exiting with Cash or Negotiable Instruments
While it is legal to transport any amount of currency or other monetary instruments into or out of the United States, a traveler entering or exiting the U.S. with an amount exceeding USD $10,000 – or its foreign equivalent – must file with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) prior to departure FinCen Form 105, Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments.
According to the Currency and Foreign Transaction Reporting Act, if a traveler asks someone to carry currency or monetary instruments on his/her behalf and the full amount exceeds $10,000, then the traveler is required to report the total amount to CBP. This means that you may not give unreported money to any other individual to transport for you if the total amount exceeds $10,000 unless you declare you are the owner of the currency when going through customs.
Failure to declare the total amount of cash carried in or out of The Bahamas may lead to seizure of all cash or negotiable instruments and may subject you to legal proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.
For additional information regarding customs and currency, click here, visit CBP’s website page on Monetary Instruments, or review CBP’s publication “Know Before You Go.”
Boating/Fishing: You should be aware that long-line fishing in Bahamian waters is illegal. All long-line fishing gear must be stowed below deck while transiting through Bahamian waters. Fishermen should note that the Bahamian Government imposes significant penalties for catching crawfish (lobster) or other marine life out of season, taking undersized catch, or fishing in protected areas.
Wildlife and Sealife: The Bahamian Government requires a special license for hunting certain types of fowl. All other hunting is prohibited in The Bahamas. A number of endangered and/or protected species reside in The Bahamas. You should not disturb, harass, or otherwise threaten wildlife, including species that may be hunted in the United States. U.S. citizens have been arrested and prosecuted in The Bahamas for hunting, capturing, or even disturbing protected animals, including reptiles and birds. It is also illegal to damage or remove any sea life from the ocean and coral reefs. Additional information is available from the Bahamian Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources.
Hurricanes: The Bahamas, like all countries in the Atlantic/Caribbean basin, are vulnerable to hurricanes. Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, although hurricanes have been known to occur outside that period. During hurricane season, visitors are advised to monitor local weather reports closely in order to be prepared for any potential threats. Visitors should also be aware that airports and seaports cease operations well before a predicted storm actually arrives, and that seats on most commercial transportation are sold out far in advance.
The U.S. Embassy has received several reports from U.S citizens who purchased real estate, private vehicles, or private vessels and watercraft that became victims of a scam and could not get their money back. Some of the incidents reported include real estate development projects where the development project was not completed and individuals could not get their money returned; there have been reports that after the final sale and purchase of property, a second individual appeared with a deed of trust claiming rights to the property, causing long legal disputes that sometimes are not resolved in favor of the purchaser.
Business transaction reports have also included reports of irregular rental car contracts or the rental of substandard vehicles, mechanics using one’s personal vehicle brought for repair for their own use, further damage and repair costs after depositing a vehicle at a repair shop, and individuals who reported they could not get their car back after bringing it to the mechanic. Although such incidents can occur in any country, U.S. citizens have complained of a lack of ability to get speedy assistance when such incidents occur to a visitor who is on the island for a temporary period of time. Compensation in such cases has been reported to be difficult if not impossible without incurring the additional expense of seeking legal action.
Time-Shares: When considering time-share investments, be cautious and aware of any aggressive tactics used by time-share sales representatives. Bahamian law allows time-share purchasers five days to cancel the contract for full reimbursement. Disputes that arise after that period can be very time-consuming and expensive to resolve through the local legal system.