This situation has been boiling up the airways for the past couple of days, and we finally have some first-hand info, well now it’s second-hand, to share with you.
So far, this appears to only apply to Canadians entering the Bahamas, but we are not positive about this either, because that just doesn’t make sense.
The vessel “Marie Antoine” owned by Canadians but with Bahamian registry stays in the Bahamas year ’round but the owners fly back and forth from Canada. They arrived in Georgetown this year, expecting Immigration to approve their 180 day stay, as usual. Instead they were given 30 days! Then they were told that they could renew two times, for a total not to exceed 90 days. At that point they would have to leave the Bahamas for 24 hours and then come back and repeat the process.
So, they immediately informed friends on the FL east coast of the problem…..again, Canadians, hoping to spend six months in the Bahamas, as usual. These two vessels, “Lady Ray” and “Union Jack” went to the Bahamian Consulate in Miami and were told, at first, there was no problem getting 180 days; but then a woman from an inner office said, “Wait! That’s not correct.” This gal is head of the “visa section” in the Bahamas Consulate, in Miami, and her name is Mrs. Vernell Thomas, and the office phone is: 305-455-1175, and another number which may ring directly to Mrs. Thomas’ desk, is: 305-316-4752.
Mrs. Thomas sold these two vessels a $65 visa, plus additional fees for expediting the process, and the passport photo that was required to attach to the visa, which then becomes part of the passport. So that’s $95 per boat, plus the regular fees for the boat.
The reason I suggest this is only happening to Canadians is that several US boats have cleared Customs and Immigration at other than Georgetown and had no problem getting the usual 180 day permit and fishing license. WHY Canadians only?
To further confuse everyone, Michael Hoff, on “Valkyrie”, had called the Bahamas Immigration Office a week ago (when these rumors first popped up), and spoke to a gentleman who purportedly is in charge of all Immigration Offices in the Bahamas. Michael is accompanied by a Canadian citizen, and wanted to dot the I’s and cross the T’s well ahead of arrival on the Banks. He was told there is NO NEW IMMIGRATION POLICY, and if there was a new policy this gentleman would have had to sign off on it before it went into effect!!!
So, now, less than a week later, we have names, and places, and phone numbers. But, I still wanna know, is this just more inconsistency or confusion of unclear or recently discovered OLD policy, or is it simply a regional attempt at ripping off visitors to the Bahamas? Since I started visiting the Bahamas regularly, back in 1991, I have been amazed to find the inconsistent stories of Customs and Immigration in the Bahamas. I have found the most consistent processing to be in Nassau, Green Turtle Cay, and Marsh Harbour (in my personal experience). Some of the others have originated some pretty wild stories about limited cruising permits, outrageous local fees, and some stories I won’t repeat here because I have a hard time believing them. But I have plenty of reason to suspect that this particular Immigration problem is NOT policy, because it just doesn’t make sense to me.
If any of you can find out more and get a clear Bahamas Immigration answer to this, I would appreciate an email to me, describing what is what. And, IF there is a new policy, we had better ALL try to expose it ASAP! (Monty, I was told you were “tearing your hair out” trying to get to the bottom of this! Don’t do that, you do not have hair to spare!!!)
Dick Giddings (“St. Jude”)
aka Capt. Joe King
This new rule also applies to Canadian home owners in Georgetown. After 30 years of visiting this island, this year I was given only 30 days at the Georgetown airport. Since then I received an extension of 60 days after which I will have to leave the island. I’m related to Bahamians who are trying to get to the bottom of this for me. Another example of the total disorganization of this government.