Recent changes in passport rules have many U.S. Citizens confused about whether they need a passport to go to the Bahamas. On June 1st, 2009, the final phase of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) went into effect which means:
If you are traveling by plane, you must have a U.S. Passport.
If you are traveling by sea, you can use a passport book or one of the following documents:
- passport card
- trusted traveler card such as NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST card
- enhanced driver’s license (only some states have these).
Please note that the passport card can only be used if you are traveling to the Bahamas by sea-it’s no valid for air travel. There are some exceptions to passport requirements for some international travel options. We will outline them in the next section. But please note, the US Dept of State and most cruise lines strongly recommend that all travelers should carry a valid passport during their cruise or international trips. Emergency situations may arise that would require you to fly back to the US or the next port on the cruise trip. Additionally, many travelers have found out the hard way that a passport is needed- even in the case of medical, family, personal or business emergencies. For this reason, we always recommend every traveler carry a valid passport anytime they leave the country.
There are, however, a few exceptions to the above rules. For example, if you are traveling to the Bahamas on a closed-loop cruise, a cruise that begins and ends at the same US port, you can use your driver’s license and birth certificate instead of a passport.
There are also a couple of exceptions for children. 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. 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.
Just like adults, children in any age group must have a passport book to travel to the Bahamas by plane.
If the new passport regulations have caught you off guard, RushMyPassport can help. We hand-deliver your application to the US Department of State and then rush your new passport back to you, resulting in processing times as low as 24 hours.