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Bahamas - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in The Bahamas due to high rates of crime, especially in Freeport and Nassau.
Safety and security
There has been a decrease in violent crime since the beginning of 2018. Crime, however, including violent crime, still occurs, mainly on the islands of Grand Bahama and New Providence.
Armed robberies, burglaries, purse snatchings, theft, fraud and sexual assaults are the most common crimes committed against travellers in Freeport and Nassau. Incidents of robbery also take place in cruise ship terminals and in and around popular resort areas, even in daylight hours. Crime increases during the holidays.
- Avoid Nassau’s “over the hill” (south of Shirley Street) and Fish Fry (Arawak Cay) areas, especially at night
- Stay alert to your surroundings at all times
- Don’t walk alone, particularly after dark
- Don’t carry large sums of cash or wear expensive jewellery
- Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
- Avoid deserted beaches
- If you are threatened by robbers, stay calm and don’t resist
Sexual assault occurs frequently in The Bahamas, particularly near hotels, in hotel rooms, in casinos, on cruise ships and on the beach. Reported incidents are on the rise in Nassau, including on Paradise Island. In some cases, the victim was drugged.
- Be wary when embarking on jet-ski rides with licensed or unlicensed operators, as several incidents of sexual assault have been reported
- Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and avoid using drugs
- Don't accept rides from strangers or from unlicensed taxi drivers
Safe-travel guide for women
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Credit card and ATM fraud occurs in The Bahamas, especially in Nassau. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
More about overseas fraud
The water sports rental industry is poorly regulated in The Bahamas. Tourists have been seriously injured using jet skis and other watercraft.
- Rent water sports equipment from reputable, locally registered operators only
- Insist on proper training before using the equipment
- Ensure that beach and aquatic equipment is safe and in good condition
- Ensure that helmets and life jackets are available
Water safety abroad
Boaters should be alert to the possibility of encountering water craft operated by illegal drug traders.
Remain vigilant and make use of officially recognized docking and berthing facilities only.
Live piracy report - International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre
Several ports in The Bahamas are cruise-ship stops.
Advice for Cruise Travellers
Roads are generally adequate in major cities, but in poor condition in rural areas. Road construction is not always well marked.
Bicycles, mopeds and pedestrians can be hazards, particularly on the busy streets of Freeport and Nassau. Drinking and driving is prevalent. Accidents causing fatalities are common.
- Keep your car doors locked and your windows rolled up
- Never get out of your car to remove items blocking the road, as this could be a ploy by armed assailants to rob you
- Keep valuables out of sight in your parked vehicle
After dusk, avoid travelling on local buses on routes outside of the main tourist areas.
Taxis don’t use meters.
- Negotiate the price before you get in
- Only use licensed taxis
- Never share a taxi with strangers
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from Bahamian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave The Bahamas.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: not required for stays up to 8 months
Business visa: not required
Student permit: required
Other entry requirements
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return or onward ticket.
You must complete and sign an immigration card upon entry to The Bahamas. This card will be stamped by officials at the point of entry and you are required to keep the card until your departure.
If travelling by private vessel, certain documentation is required for entry to The Bahamas.
Department of Immigration - Government of The Bahamas
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- There are no updates at this time.
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world.
Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in the Caribbean, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in the Caribbean. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in the Caribbean, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever, malaria, West Nile virus and Zika virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. The mosquito that spreads the virus is found here.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites and other diseases spread by insects.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in the Caribbean, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or body fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.
Medical services and facilities
Medical care is good in Freeport and Nassau, but limited elsewhere.
Medical expenses can be very high. It is normal for clinics to require patients to sign an undertaking-to-pay agreement and to take a credit card impression as guarantee of payment prior to providing medical care.
Serious cases may be transferred to Freeport or Nassau, or to Miami, Florida, by air ambulance, especially those requiring surgery.
Response times to emergency calls might be slow.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Travel health and safety
If you take prescription medication, you’re responsible for determining their legality in The Bahamas.
- Bring sufficient quantities of your medication with you
- Always keep your medication in the original container
- Pack them in your carry-on luggage
- Carry a copy of your prescription
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Pack all luggage yourself and don’t carry anything through customs for anyone else.
Bahamian law does not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. However, homosexuality is not widely socially accepted.
General safety information and advice for LGBTQ2 travellers abroad
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in The Bahamas.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of The Bahamas, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
General information for travellers with dual citizenship
Long-line fishing is illegal in Bahamian waters. All long-line fishing gear must be stowed below deck while transiting Bahamian waters. Stiff penalties are imposed for catching crawfish, lobster or other marine life in protected areas or out of season.
If you are interested in purchasing property or making other investments in The Bahamas, seek legal advice from appropriate professionals in Canada and The Bahamas before making commitments. Disputes arising from such activities could be prolonged and costly to resolve.
Traffic drives on the left.
You can drive in The Bahamas with your valid Canadian driver’s licence up to 90 days. If you intend to stay longer in the country, you must obtain a Bahamian driver’s licence.
You should carry an international driving permit.
In case of an accident, you must remain at the scene and not move your vehicle until the police arrive.
More about the International Driving Permit
The currency in The Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar (BSD).
It is illegal to depart the country with more than B$200 in your possession because the currency is restricted.
Natural disasters and climate
Hurricanes usually occur from mid-May to the end of November. During this period, even small tropical storms can quickly develop into major hurricanes.
These severe storms can put you at risk and hamper the provision of essential services.
If you decide to travel to a coastal area during the hurricane season:
- know that you expose yourself to serious safety risks
- be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
- stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
- carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
- follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
- Hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones and monsoons
- Large-scale emergencies abroad
- Active storm tracking and hurricane watches and warnings - United States’ National Hurricane Center
Dial 911 or 919 for emergency assistance.
Nassau - Consulate of Canada
Kingston - High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Consulate of Canada in The Bahamas, in Nassau, or the High Commission of Canada in Jamaica, in Kingston, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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