The important note below was passed along to us by Captain Steve Morrell, editor and publisher of “Southwinds” magazine. If ANYONE has more info about length of stay prohibitions in the Bahamas, please click the “Comment on This Posting/Marina/Anchorage/Bridge” link below, and share your information.
There has been a report of a Canadian cruising boater being asked to leave the Bahamas from George Town, Exuma, after his stay of 90 days ended. He was told that he should have gotten a visa for a longer stay from the Embassy before he came into the country in order to remain in the Bahamas for more than 90 days. Bahamian officials at the Department of Immigration as well as at the Bahamian Embassy in Miami confirm this and now cite statute law, which requires persons of certain nationalities to have a visa if they want to extend beyond a 90-day stay. Persons from the following countries can be extended up to a maximum of 8 months without a visa: Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Nepal, Norway, San Marino, Scotland, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and United States. All others MAY be required to have a visa to extend after the 90-day period. It is up to the discretion of the Immigration Officer and the policy is not applied in a uniform manner. For those citizens to a 90-day period, it would be wise to check in with their own embassy before departing for the Bahamas to obtain a visa, or they can visit the Bahamas Embassy in Miami at the Ingraham Building, 25 SE 2nd Avenue; phone 305-373-6295 and ask for Ms. Thomas. Another option is to leave the country, re-enter, and clear Customs again. There is no guarantee one way or another that a person will be asked to either re-enter or produce a visa. As one Bahamian source said, “There are Laws of Convenience in the Bahamas, laws that have been on the books for many years but may or may not be enforced until it suits some purpose.” The new Immigration Officer in George Town, Exuma, states that the 90-day-only limit, without a visa, is being applied there. This may not be the end of this story!
Depressing news on the Immigration subject. Having issued an “all clear” for cruisers to enter any Port of Entry into the Bahamas, based on comments of an Immigration officer in Nassau, who issued 180 permits to two boats clearing in on Tuesday, we heard today that everybody clearing in at Nassau will now receive 90 days MAXIMUM!
If it wasn’t such a serious inconvenience to cruisers, it would be laughable, to watch the misinformation, inconsistent policy, and perceived bumbling on the part of various Immigration officers…..sometimes from the same Port of Entry.
Suffice it to say, that, for now the only Port of Entry that has consistently given 180 days is Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island.
Sorry, to any vessels who have been further inconvenienced by our “all clear” announcement. We thought we were hearing it from someone in charge. Now we are thinking nobody is in charge!
Dick Giddings (W3RDT)