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My experience traveling to the Bahamas: New rules and what you need to know

Feb. 26, 2022
12 min read
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I’ve traveled to more than 68 countries for my Travel Therapy Trips TV show. Traveling is more than just my job; it’s my passion and I usually love it. But to be honest, no matter how experienced a traveler you are, all the COVID-19 health concerns and travel restrictions over the last two years have created a new level of stress we’ve never had to deal with before.

When I started planning my trip to Harbour Island in the Bahamas I was happy to learn that you’re not required to quarantine once you arrive, but there is still a list of things you need to do before you’re allowed to visit including getting a special visa. This was a first for me. Here’s a quick rundown of what is needed.

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(Screenshot courtesy of the Bahamas Travel Health Visa website)

Travel rules for the Bahamas

  • Create an online profile at this Bahamas government website
  • Take a COVID-19 test no later than 72 hours before traveling
  • Upload negative test to your Bahamas online profile
  • Apply for a Travel Health Visa that includes Bahamas Insurance
  • Get approved for travel and get a Travel Health visa barcode
  • Show your Travel Health visa in order to enter The Bahamas
  • After arriving in The Bahamas take a COVID-19 rapid antigen test on the 5th day
  • Pass another COVID-19 rapid antigen test the day before you leave so you can board your flight home.

I’ll admit when I first saw the Bahamas website with all the things non-residents need to do I was a little overwhelmed. Thankfully, I quickly learned that the process of traveling to there is much easier than it looks and shouldn’t prevent you from making a trip to this very special slice of paradise. #Worthit!

Harbour Island, Pink Sand Beach, Bahamas. (Photo courtesy of ©Karen Schaler/traveltherapytrips.com)

The Bahamas government has also just announced it is easing some COVID-19 restrictions to make it even easier to travel and still be safe when you’re on the islands. And once you receive your Travel Health visa you can travel to any of the islands in The Bahamas.

If this is your first time traveling to the Bahamas since COVID-19, I’m going to quickly walk you through the process that I just went through to hopefully help take away any unneeded stress. This will also give you the resources you need to answer any questions you might have to get the most updated information.

(Photo courtesy of Bahamas.com)

Traveling to the Bahamas step #1 - Create a profile

After purchasing your transportation to the Bahamas you need to go to the Bahamas Travel Health website. Plan to spend about fifteen minutes here setting up your required online profile. Be prepared to supply the following information:

  • Name, number, address and date of birth
  • Check any boxes of health problems you have
  • Supply your passport information
  • Share an emergency contact
  • Provide the number of children traveling with you if applicable
  • Vaccine information

If you’re vaccinated, you’ll need to provide the type of vaccine, dates and address of where you received the vaccine, the batch number of the vaccine that’s written on your health card or file, and also upload a copy of your vaccine information to the website.

(Photo courtesy of Bahamas Travel Health Visa website)

Traveling to the Bahamas step #2 - Get a COVID-19 test

If you are vaccinated, the Bahamas requires that you have a negative COVID-19 test no sooner than 72-hours before traveling and you need to upload your negative result to your Bahamas online profile so you can apply for the health visa.

Please note the COVID-19 testing restrictions that state: "Any person presenting test results older than three days (72 hours) will not be allowed entry into The Bahamas.” You can either have a PCR COVID-19 test or a rapid antigen COVID-19 test at an approved provider. At this time, do-it-yourself home tests are not accepted.

Because PCR test results can take a while and I’m vaccinated, I got a rapid antigen COVID-19 test 72 hours before my trip at a local pharmacy. I got the results in just a few hours. This gave me time to upload my negative test results into the Bahamas website and get approved for my Travel Health visa as soon as possible.

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The website says it can take several days to get approved and I was worried that would be cutting it very close, but I was relieved to be approved in just a few hours and this was the same for all the other travelers I talked to. But beware, you need be sure to fill out your online information very carefully. Inputting any wrong information can get you denied and you don’t want any delays for your trip.

This is what it says on the Travel Health website: "Vaccinated travelers are required to upload a negative RT PCR or antigen COVID-19 test taken in the country they are departing from. Failing to upload a negative COVID-19 RT PCR or antigen test will result in an automatic denial of entry. Currently, The Bahamas does not accept antibody (IgG/IgM) or Sa test types.”

What kind of COVID-19 tests are accepted in the Bahamas?

The Bahamas Government website says, “At this time, the Bahamas Government will only be accepting vaccinations by AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria/Covishield), Janseen (Johnson & Johnson), Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty), Moderna (Spikevax), Sinopharm, Covaxin or Sinovac.”

Traveling to the Bahamas for unvaccinated travelers:

If you’re an unvaccinated adult and want to travel to The Bahamas, the COVID-19 test you need to get is the COVID-19-RT-PRC test. Here is what the website says about traveling with children:

  • All unvaccinated visitors, ages 12 and older, are required to upload their negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test results. Tests must be taken up to three days (72 hours) prior to the date of arrival.
  • Children between the ages of 2 and 11 are required to obtain a negative COVID-19 test (either a rapid antigen test or RT-PCR Test), taken no more than three days (72 hours) prior to the date of arrival.
  • The Bahamas has suspended the mandatory COVID-19 RT-PCR testing requirement for children ages 2-11, which was expected to take effect on Jan.7. Rapid antigen tests will continue to be accepted for this age group.
  • Children under the age of 2 are exempt from any testing requirements

Non-vaccinated persons traveling inter-island within The Bahamas from New Providence (Nassau), Paradise Island, Grand Bahama Island (Freeport), Eleuthera or Inagua are also required to obtain a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test, taken no more than three days (72 hours) prior to the date of travel, and presented to the operator of the airline or vessel on which they are traveling.

Traveling to the Bahamas Step #3 - Upload your info

Once you have your negative COVID-19 test results upload the information immediately to the online account for travel to the Bahamas. You’ll need to include the address where you got the test, along with the following:

  • Your arrival information
  • Your departure information
  • Where you’re staying including the address and phone number

Traveling to the Bahamas step #4 - Get insurance

The Bahamas requires all foreign visitors have special health insurance. The great news is this insurance is already included in the cost of the Travel Health Visa that cost me $40. Be sure to print out a copy of the PDF that’s online proving you have health insurance and carry it with you on your trip.

All visitors are required to have Bahamas health insurance. As part of the travel application, visitors are required to opt in to the COVID-19 health insurance that covers them for the duration of their stay up to one month. The cost of insurance is included in the Bahamas Travel Health visa application fee. Here are the guidelines:

  • Bahamas Travel Health visa applications can take up to 24 hours to process.
  • The cost of the visa is dependent on the length of stay and vaccination status.
  • All visitors 18 years and older are required to complete an individual visa application.
  • Persons 17 and younger should be added to the profile within the account of their parent or guardian and complete an individual visa application.

Traveling to the Bahamas step #5 - Get approved

From the time I uploaded my negative COVID-19 test it took about six hours for me to get approved for my visa. There will be a full-page PDF that has a barcode on it that you’ll want to print out and have with you on your trip. You’ll need this to check in at the airport and to get your COVID-19 test once in The Bahamas. To help keep things all in one place I used the VeriFLY app on my iPhone and that worked great. I still aways print hard copies just to be safe in case something happens to my phone. You’ll also want to print out the PDF with your proof of insurance and carry that with you as well.

(Screenshot courtesy of Bahamas Travel Health Visa website)

Traveling to the Bahamas step #6 - Get another COVID-19 test

If you’re going to be in the Bahamas five days or more you’ll need another COVID-19 rapid antigen test taken at an approved facility on your fifth day there. The government recently changed this rule. Previously you needed the test on day three making it challenging for some who just wanted to do a quick weekend vacation. Here is the latest from the Bahamas website:

  • Effective Feb. 20, all travelers, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, are required to take a COVID-19 rapid antigen test on the 5th day after their arrival.The day of arrival is considered Day 1 of a person’s stay.
  • An approved list of testing sites is available at bahamas.com/travelupdates. Some testing sites require an appointment. Travelers should contact the nearest testing site to schedule 48 hours prior to required test day.
  • All travelers will have to bring their approved Travel Health visa with QR code to enter The Bahamas along with a government-issued form of identification (passport, driver's license, etc.) to the approved testing sites.

Don’t panic if you’re researching your trip and don’t see a Bahamas approved testing site near where you’re staying as that happened with me. Just call the hotel and ask what they recommend. They often have people they know nearby who are authorized to give the tests. Where I was staying they even had someone come to the property to test me. Very fast and easy. They then upload the tests to the government website so all you have to do is wait for your results. I had mine in a few hours.

Pink Sand Beach, Harbour Island, Bahamas. (Photo courtesy of ©Karen Schaler, traveltherapytrips.com)

Traveling to The Bahamas FAQs:

Here are a few more quick tips to help with planning your Bahamas trip. Also, be sure to check the Bahamas website before you travel to make sure none of the rules have changed.

When do I have to wear a face mask?

All travelers must wear a face mask in any situation where it is necessary to, such as:

  • When entering and transiting air and sea terminals
  • During security and customs screenings
  • At baggage claim
  • When checking in and boarding aircraft, a vessel or another form of transportation
  • When traveling in a taxi
  • When standing in lines
  • When entering any establishment
  • While checking into a hotel

Do I have to wear a face mask at the beach?

  • Face masks are not mandatory on the beach but must be worn in all other public spaces that surround the beach and while entering and exiting the beach. Social distancing is mandatory on the beach.

What if I don’t wear a face mask?

  • All persons, including Bahamian residents and visitors, are subject to a fine of $250 or a penalty of one-month imprisonment, or both, if they are found not wearing face masks in areas where it is required.
Romora Bay Resort and Marina, Harbour Island, Bahamas. (Photo courtesy of ©Karen Schaler, traveltherapytrips.com)

Bottom line

To wrap up, because of all these COVID-19 health rules and regulations, I felt very safe when traveling in the Bahamas. At the property where I stayed, Romora Bay Resort and Marina, all of the staff, resort guests, people coming in on their yachts, boats and water taxis, and everyone on Harbour Island, wore masks when required. Everyone was very respectful to the rules, something I very much appreciated that made my trip much more enjoyable and stress free.

Featured image by Karen Schaler/traveltherapytrips.com
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
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  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
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  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases