One of the most traveled to Caribbean destinations from Florida is the Bahamas. With the warm tropical breezes and brightly painted buildings it is a sun lovers paradise and almost a hop, skip and a jump from Florida by air or by sea. Plus, if you want perfect weather nearly every day January and February are definitely the times to visit to this tropical Island. A pressing question is do I need a passport when traveling to the Bahamas?
One important thing to consider when planning a trip to the Bahamas, is what travel documents are required to enter the Bahamas and to return home to the US. It is also very important to consider good travel insurance to protect you and your trip before departing.
While it is entirely possible to travel to the Bahamas from the USA without a passport it is not advisable. Although as a US citizen you can enter the Bahamas without a passport, you cannot legally re-enter the US without proper documentation. Effective as of June 2009, a passport, a passport card, or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant documentation is required for all United States citizens to enter or re-enter the US. (WHTI-compliant documents include a traveler card such as NEXUS, FAST, or SENTRI; an enhanced Tribal Card; a US Military ID with travel orders; a state-issued enhanced driver’s license; a Native American Tribal photo ID; a US Merchant Mariner document; or an American Indian Card, Form I-872.)
If you are traveling with children under the age of 16, they be allowed to cross both land and sea borders with a valid US birth certificate, either the original or a copy, or other documentation of United States citizenship.
If you have a US passport card as your travel document it can be used by you as a US citizen to enter the USA from land border crossings or from seaports-of-entry from the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda. However, the passport card cannot be used for entry into the United States if you are entering by air.
If you are traveling by air from the Bahamas as a US citizen, you must provide a valid US passport to enter or re-enter the states. In an effort to prevent a US Citizen from not being able to board a flight home many airlines do not allow US citizens to fly to the Bahamas without a valid passport.
When traveling by sea from the Bahamas, US citizens must present a passport card, passport, or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative-compliant identification (listed above) in order to enter or re-enter the states. Are you required to have a travel visa when traveling to the Bahamas as a US Citizen? - Citizens traveling to the Bahamas on short trips for either tourist or business purposes do not require a Visa.
One thing to keep in mind when deciding if you want to have a passport to go on your Bahamas vacation. Let’s say you enter the Bahamas on a cruise and you elected not to have a passport for this trip and you were injured on the ship or even in the Bahamas or an emergency at home happened and you had to get back to the US now and you had to fly home. If you did not have a passport you would not be able to enter the US because in order to enter the US by air you need a passport. Therefore as travel advisors we always advise when traveling out of the US to have a passport just in case. It just makes good sense.
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