The Commonwealth of the Bahamas consists of a collection of islands both large and small. Independent since 1973, the country blends efficiency and stability with laid-back island life. Documentation requirements to enter the Bahamas are minimal compared with many countries, but the precise paperwork you need depends on your citizenship and length of stay.

Passport Requirements

The Bahamas requires tourists from the U.S. demonstrate proof of citizenship and photo identification. While a birth certificate and driver’s license are sufficient to enter the Bahamas via cruise, they will not suffice for traveling to and from the Bahamas by air. Under the terms of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, anyone entering the U.S. by air, including infants, must carry a valid passport. If you return to the U.S. by sea, you may use a passport card instead. Passport cards are smaller and less expensive than passport books but are not valid for air travel.

Tourist Visa

U.S. citizens do not need visas for tourist travel to the Bahamas, provided that their stay is less than 90 days. Canadian citizens may stay for 30 days without a visa. Citizens of other nations must check with the Bahamian Embassy well in advance of travel. Visa requirements and maximum length of stay vary widely between countries.

Work Permit

If you plan to work in the Bahamas, you must apply for a work permit through the Bahamas Department of Immigration. The department carefully monitors job listings to ensure jobs are first offered to qualified Bahamas residents. Work permits may be granted on a short-term basis for up to 90 days or on a varying-length long-term basis. The paperwork requirements for a long-term work permit are extensive, so begin the process as soon as you are offered the position.

Permit to Reside

If you want to stay in the Bahamas long-term for purposes other than employment, you might be eligible for a permit to reside. You must submit a letter of request, an application form, two character references, a five-year police record, a medical certificate, a bank statement showing sufficient funds and proof of current marital status to the Department of Immigration. The approved length of residency can vary, but permits are generally renewable.