UPDATE: Effective June 1st, 2009, the requirements to travel to the Bahamas have changed. Please see this entry for the most up-to-date information.
Changing travel regulations have left many people scratching their heads, wondering whether or not you need a passport to go the Bahamas.
Actually, it depends. Right now, if you’re traveling to or from the Bahamas by sea, all you need is government-issued photo identification and proof of citizenship, such as your birth certificate. However, if you’re flying, you have to have a US passport to re-enter the US from the Bahamas.
On June 1st, 2009, the rules are changing again. After that date, almost everybody who is traveling to the Bahamas will need a passport to re-enter the US, whether they are traveling by land or by sea. There are only a few exceptions:
- Children under the age of 16 can use their birth certificates if they are traveling by sea.
- Children aged 18 and under traveling by sea can also use their birth certificates if they are on a chaperoned trip with a school group, church group or sports team.
- Passengers on “closed-loop” cruises, cruises that begin and end in the same port in the United States, can use government-issued photo ID and a copy of their birth certificate.
Even if you fall into one of the groups listed above and are not required to carry a passport, it’s still a good idea to bring one with you. That way, you’re protected if you need to fly home unexpectedly.
If you need to get a passport to go the Bahamas, you should apply for it as soon as possible. It can take 6 weeks or longer for you to receive your passport if you apply for regular processing, so make sure you allow enough time.
If you need your passport more quickly, a private passport expediting service like RushMyPassport.com can help. Expediting companies will deliver your passport application by hand to the US Passport Agency, resulting in faster processing times and an easier passport application experience. Check out the different passport packages we have available, and see how easy it can be to get a passport to the Bahamas!