The Bahamas Risk Report
Security travel advice for The Bahamas
Threat level: Low-Medium
When visiting the country, travellers are advised to remain on high alert as there are high rates of crimes, often violent on some of the islands. The security threat of terrorism is low but you should be aware of the global risk of attack.
The Bahamas is a popular tourist destination, with over 700 islands offering a diverse array of activities and luxuries, making it desirable for many. Providing tourists are vigilant during their stay, visits to these beautiful islands should be trouble-free.
Recent Security Risk Events
In June 2016, 2 men were shot dead in New Providence which called for the leader of the political party ‘Free National Movement’ to criticise the National Security Minister’s approach to the country’s high crime levels. This was an isolated incident and does not represent a threat to foreign tourists, however, it is advised to keep up to date with any changes in political instability in the islands.
There was a report of an armed robbery and shootout with the police in the Bahamas in 2016, in which 4 men went on a high speed chase with the police, before being caught and detained. It is thought that the males were accountable for a number of armed robberies across Nassau.
In Nassau, there have been an increasing number of armed robberies aimed at tourists, it is strongly advised that you do not carry large amounts of cash on you. There have also been some reported cases of sexual assault incidents, particularly when the victim has drunk an excessive amount of alcohol, leaving them vulnerable to perpetrators. You should be wary of this when drinking and do not consume large amounts.
The Bahamas enjoys bilateral relations with countries including the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations since its independence in 1973. It holds particularly strong ties with the United States of America through mutual ethnic and cultural ties, alongside its joint effort to combat drug smuggling and its threats. It further associates itself with other Caribbean Community nations.
Traffic congestion in the capital city can often be severe, making drivers aggressive or careless. Cars will regularly pull out from side streets, with little regard for the other road users, so you should stay alert throughout your journey. The two cities of Nassau and Freeport have generally good road conditions, however, roads outside of this may be in poorer condition.
The minimum age to hire a car in the Bahamas is 25 and most driving licences can be used for up to three months including UK, U.S. and EU citizens.
There is a fast ferry service available that allows tourists to travel between islands quickly. There is also the option of day trips to other islands.
Currency: Bahamian Dollar (US Dollar widely accepted too)
Time now in Nassau:
Most foreign nationals are able to enter the Bahamas for a period of time without a visa, however the duration of this time varies. For British travellers, a 21 day visa is available, which can be extended to 8 months long by application via the Department of Immigration in Nassau. U.S. and Canadian nationals do not require a visa at all to visit the Bahamas, however, they do need a valid passport for the duration of the stay.
It is advised that visitors to the Bahamas are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. You should ensure that you have been further vaccinated against diseases such as Tetanus, which is usually administered when you are a young baby. You may also want to consider a Hepatitis A vaccination. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Medical facilities are very good in the Bahamas, more so in the cities. In rural areas it is advised to get to the nearest city and not attend local medical centres.
Other health risks
There are excellent medical facilities in the two main cities Nassau and Freetown, however there may be limited access in other destinations.
Ambulance facilities are available on most islands, although response can be slow and heavy congestion on the roads often means that travel to the hospital can take longer than expected. If the injury or illness is severe, medical evacuation to the United States may be necessary, so you should ensure that your insurance will cover you for this.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
Between June and November, the Bahamas enters its hurricane season. This can cause disruption on the roads and to accommodation. Travellers are advised to ensure they know what the procedures are if they are caught in a hurricane and to keep up-to-date with the local weather and news whilst travelling the islands.
U.S. Embassy Nassau
P.O. Box N-8197,
42 Queen Street,
Telephone: +242 322 1181
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +242 357 7004
British Honorary Consulate Nassau
P.O. Box N-918,
Telephone: +1 242 422 1939
British High Commission Kingston
P O Box 575,
28 Trafalgar Rd,
Telephone: +1 876 936 0700
Other useful info
Inner islands emergency services: 911
Inner islands emergency services: 919
Fire emergency: 411