The Bahamas first reopened for tourism in July, and since that reopening, has managed to change their entry requirements more times than any other nation on the planet.
It’s been very difficult to keep up, let alone plan travel, due to the constantly changing rules and restrictions coming out of the Bahamas. However, their latest changes coming into effect between November 1st and November 14th do make some favourable changes, allowing more freedom and security for incoming tourists.
To quickly summarize the major changes coming into effect for the Bahamas:
November 1st – Quarantine Removal. The ‘VIP’ (Vacation In Place), which is a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a hotel or private residence in effect for ALL incoming tourists, is dropped effective November 1, 2020
November 7th – Testing Changes. The timeframe for the PCR test changes from 7 days to 5 days. A 2nd rapid test will also be taken for any tourist staying over 4 days.
November 14th – Mandatory health insurance. A travel health insurance will become mandatory and automatically applied to all incoming tourists.
Now let’s dive into these 3 changes in more detail and how they might affect your next trip to the Bahamas.
No More 14-Day Quarantine
This is obviously a huge move for allowing tourism to resume as ‘normally’ as possible and to attract more people to the islands this winter. Back in September the tourism board of the Bahamas was trying to promote the 14-day quarantine as a VIP type luxury vacation, but many tourists weren’t biting.
Now with the mandatory 14-day quarantine removed, the Bahamas is positioning itself to be a much more attractive destination within the Caribbean.
PCR Testing Changes
Beginning on November 7th, all incoming tourists will now be required to present proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test, taken no longer than 5 days prior to arrival in the Bahamas.
While the process has been shortened by two days, which isn’t ideal for people having trouble getting their tests in time, shortening the window was one of the factors that allowed them to remove the 14-day quarantine requirement.
To really help curb the potential spread of tourism, any traveller who is staying over 4 nights will have to take a rapid antigen test on the 5th day of their stay. The test will only take minutes, with results ready within an hour and send via email or SMS. Many hotels are expected to facilitate this process.
Children under 10 are exempt from testing. The cost is included in the price of the Travel Health Visa.
Starting on November 14th, travelers will have to opt in for the health insurance as a part of their application form for entering the Bahamas.
It seems like Bahamas is taking a page out of Jamaica’s book, as Jamaica announced a similar process just weeks ago.
- Medical expenses incurred on-island due to COVID-19, up to $50,000 (USD)
- Trip interruption/delay for necessary quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19, up to $500 (USD) per day/$7,000 (USD) max
- Medical evacuation and/or repatriation of remains due to COVID-19, and subject to medical necessity, up to $100,000 (USD)
The price for the mandatory insurance is covered in the price of the Travel Health Visa that all tourists require to apply for before entry.
The Travel Health Visa costs $40 for stays under 5 days, and $60 for stay over 5 days. Children under 10 are free.
Ready to travel to the Bahamas?
Here is the updated flow and process for entry into The Bahamas:
- No more than 5 days prior to arrival, get a PCR test done in your home country.
- Once results are available, apply for your Travel Health Visa and upload results there
- Pay the Travel Health Visa fee (between $40-$60) and opt into mandatory insurance (after Nov 14)
- Check the status of your Travel Health Visa before flying (Approved, Pending or Denied)
- After arriving into the Bahamas, present your approved Travel Health Visa to customs
- If staying more than 4 nights, take a rapid test on the 5th day (your hotel will help you)
We have created an entire article dedicated to updating tourists on the entry requirements for the Bahamas. Any changes made after this article is published will be updated here: Bahamas Covid-19 Entry Requirements
Timeline of the Bahamas many entry requirement changes
While the Bahamas are undeniably gorgeous, and they remain a top destination for North American travelers, it has been extremely difficult trying to keep up with their entry changes.
→ They first reopened for tourism on July 1st, requiring tourists bring a negative test within 10 days of arrival.
→ Then on July 22, due to a surge in cases, the Prime Minister banned all flights from the USA, closed beaches, and put a mandatory 14-day government facility quarantine into effect, effectively closing the country for tourism again.
→ In mid-August, the government facility quarantine was relaxed to allow quarantines at hotels and private residences, and started allowing American tourists once again, but shortening the 10-day testing requirement down to 7-days.
→ In September, the Bahamas launched their ‘VIP’ entry rules (Vacation in Place), which is a clever way for the Bahamas to pitch a 14-day quarantine as a luxury experience. The rules basically stated that you fly into the Bahamas, you are taken directly to your hotel, and you will stay there for a full 14 days, or the entire length of your trip if shorter. Once on the property, guests can enjoy the pool, beach, spa, gym, restaurants, etc.
→ Then in late October, they announced the VIP rules would be discontinued, and the 14-day quarantine would be dropped
Now the question remains: Are the new updated entry requirements enough to coax back visitors this winter, or will travelers choose alternative destinations like Mexico, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica that have easier barriers to entry?
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories