Customs & Immigration

United States
Customs & Immigration
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection; 305-536-5786.

Entry / Exit Requirements for U.S. Citizens:  All Americans traveling by air outside of the United States are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States.  This requirement will be extended to sea travel (except closed-loop cruises), including ferry service, on June 1, 2009.  Until then, U.S. citizens traveling by sea may present government-issued photo identification and a document showing their U.S. citizenship (for example, a birth certificate or certificate of nationalization).  Starting June 1, 2009, all travelers must present Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant document such as a passport or a passport card for entry or re-entry to the U.S.  Sea travelers should also check with their cruise line and countries of destination for any foreign entry requirements. 
We strongly encourage all American citizen travelers to apply for a U.S. passport or passport card well in advance of anticipated travel.  American citizens can visit or call 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778) for information on how to apply for their passports. 
U.S. citizens do not need to obtain visas to visit The Bahamas and may enter using either a passport or, if traveling by sea, a passport card. The Bahamas does not accept Enhanced Driver's Licenses (EDLs) for entry.  U.S. citizens planning on an extended stay of several months may be asked by Bahamian immigration authorities to provide proof or evidence of financial solvency upon entry to The Bahamas.  Travelers arriving via private watercraft are charged docking fees.

DHS CPB Regulations for Boaters

Pleasure Boat Reporting Requirements
(04/28/2007) Pursuant to 19 CFR 4.2, operators of small pleasure vessels, arriving in the United States from a foreign port or place to include any vessel which has visited a hovering vessel or received merchandise outside the territorial sea, are required to report their arrival to CBP immediately (see 19 U.S.C. 1433).

The master of the vessel reports their arrival at the nearest Customs facility or such other place as the Secretary may prescribe by regulations. These reports are tracked in the Pleasure Boat Reporting System. Pursuant to 8 CFR 235.1, an application to lawfully enter the United States must be made in person to a CBP officer at a U.S. port-of-entry when the port is open for inspection.

Reporting Requirements
CBP has designated specific reporting locations within the Field Offices that are staffed during boating season for pleasure boats to report their arrival and be inspected by CBP. The master of the boat must report to CBP telephonically and be directed to the nearest Port of Entry to satisfy the face-to-face requirement, or report to the nearest designated reporting location along with the boat’s passengers for inspection.

Exceptions to Face-to-Face reporting to CBP
Alternative Inspection Systems (AIS) satisfy the boat operator’s legal requirement to report for face-to-face inspection in accordance with 8 CFR 235.1, but boaters must still phone in their arrival to satisfy 19 USC 1433.

There are four exceptions to the face-to-face inspection at a designated reporting location, NEXUS, Canadian Border Boat Landing Permit (I-68), Outlying Area Reporting Stations (OARS), and the
Local Boater Option (FL and San Juan, PR). Participation in any of the programs does not preclude the requirement for physical report upon request by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Any small pleasure vessel leaving a United States port into international or foreign waters, without a call at a foreign port, does not satisfy the foreign departure requirement. Therefore, certain fishing vessels, cruises to nowhere, or any vessel that leaves from a United States port and returns without calling a foreign port or place, has not departed the United States.

Local Boater Option (LBO).
Local Boater Option (FL and San Juan, PR) is a voluntary effort that allows eligible, frequent pleasure boat operators and passengers, who are U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) of the United States, to register themselves and their vessel with CBP. The Local Boater Option offers facilitated customs and immigration clearance for recreational low-risk boaters at time of arrival. Enrollment to the LBO Program is voluntary and will allow CBP to expedite the arrival reporting process to boaters who have enrolled into the program. This program will satisfy the boat operator’s legal requirement to report to a port-of-entry for face-to-face inspection in accordance with 8 CFR 235.1, but boaters must still phone in their arrival to satisfy 19 USC 1433.
  • Boaters will be given the opportunity to register their biographical data and vessel information with CBP.
  • Registrants will also present themselves in person and present proof of citizenship or legal permanent residence at the time of the application. This option is available to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents only.
  • Registration in the CBP system will result in the issuance of a pleasure boat registration number. Boaters will utilize the registration number when they notify CBP of future arrivals.
  • There is no fee for the Local Boater Option.
  • Boaters are encouraged to call their local CBP Port of Entry to schedule an appointment for enrollment in the Local Boater Option.
  • Time permitting, arriving boaters will be given the opportunity to register upon arrival during their face-to-face interview at CBP Private Aircraft Facilities and Ports of Entry.

Pleasure Boats Returning to Locations in Florida:
For pleasure boats returning to locations in Florida, pleasure boat arrival reporting is a two-step process:
  1. All pleasure boats arriving in South Florida must call 800-432-1216 or 800-451-0393 to report their arrival.
  2. Upon completion of telephonic arrival notification, boaters will be directed to the nearest Port of Entry to present themselves and any passengers for a face-to-face interview.

Vessels Registered for Local Boater Option:
  1. Returning vessels registered for LBO will call the CPB at 800-432-1216; 800-451-0393.
  2. The captain will be asked for a variety of other questions: port of arrival, last port of call, LBO number for each crew member. [This is usually sufficient but you should have vessel documentation number User Fee Decal number, crew passport numbers and dates of birth available.] You will be given an 18-digit arrival number and permission for entry.

The South Florida CBP Ports of Entry are:
Miami Seaport
Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
903 South America Way, Term. H
Miami, Florida
(305) 536-4758, ext. 5

Port Everglades
Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
1800 Eller Drive
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
(954) 761-2004

West Palm Beach
Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
1 East 11th Street
Riviera Beach, Florida
(561) 848-6922, ext. 0

Useful Links:
U.S. Department of State travel information for the Bahamas
U.S. Department of State Background Notes on the Bahamas
Important Note for Foreign-Flag Vessels
  • In March 2012, a foreign-flagged vessel entering the US after visiting Cuba reported that there is a new US policy not to issue cruising permits to such vessels. These vessels will be required to report all moves within the US.
  • Bahamas Customs; 242-326-4401; 242-325-6551.
  • Bahamas Immigration; 242-325-2668.
Government of the Bahamas website
For more information see the Bahamas Tourist Office Guide: The Islands of the Bahamas Boating & Fishing Guide
Phone: 800-327-7678

Note: Bahamas Customs Duties for Replacement Parts for Cruising Boats
The Tariff Act (Amendment) Bill of 27 May 2009 to the Bahamas Tariff Act now allows boaters with a valid Temporary Cruising Permit to import duty free boat replacement parts, printed matter, and original artwork. There is a processing fee for clearing these items. Contact Customs at Nassau 242-302-3509 / Mr. Ralph Monroe, Chief Customs Officer, if the local customs officer has any questions.

Customs Fees for Cruising Boats
The $150 (vessels up to 35 ft. in length) and $300 (vessels over 35 ft. in length) users fee applicable to pleasure crafts entering the Bahamas is now valid for two trips for a period of up to 90 days (3 months) from the initial date of arrival of the vessel.

Bahamas Customs Regulations [From the Bahamas Government website; Customs & Immigration; 4 Jan 09]
Arriving Passengers
In the case of a passenger who is not a returning resident arriving in The Bahamas.
a. All baggage (including wearing apparel, articles of personal effects; being apparel, articles and effects possessed and used abroad by such passenger) not intended for sale.
b. Alcoholic beverages not exceeding one quart of spirits and one quart of wine.
c. Tobacco not exceeding one pound in weight or two hundred cigarettes or fifty cigars.
d. Any other article up to a value of $100.00. In some cases a written declaration (C17) is required. In the case of a passenger who is a returning resident:

a. All household effects, wearing apparel, articles of personal adornment, toilet articles and similar personal effects, being household effects, apparel, articles and effects proven to have been taken out of The Bahamas by him/her.
b. Alcoholic beverages not exceeding one quart of spirits and one quart of wine.
c. Tobacco not exceeding one pound in weight or two hundred cigarettes or fifty cigars.
d. Who is twelve years or older, any other articles not intended for sale not for the purpose of any business, being articles brought into The Bahamas by the resident up to a limit in value of $300.00, upon the resident proving the satisfaction of the Comptroller that the resident has not already claimed exemptions from duty under this provision on two previous occasions during the same calendar year, except that where any resident (regardless of age) is returning after an absence of one year or more, the limit of value of such articles shall be $500.00. (Household and C17 Requirement).
Departing Passengers
a. Every passenger of or above the age of six years leaving The Bahamas by air, shall pay a Departure Tax of $15.00.
b. Every passenger of or above the age of six years leaving The Bahamas by sea for the purpose of returning to the foreign port from which he/she arrived on a one day excursion visit to The Bahamas shall pay a Departure Tax of $13.00
c. Every passenger of or above the age of six years leaving The Bahamas by sea or other than mentioned in Paragraph “b”, shall pay a Departure Tax of $15.00.

: Pets (Dogs, Cats and Birds) are required to: (a) Obtain permission from the Ministry of Agriculture to import pets prior to importation,and (b) Be in possession of a Vaccination Certificate from a Veterinarian in the Country of Export. This certificate must be less than 24 hours old and
(c) The pet must be at least six months old.
March 12: SV French Kiss reported that the papers were scrutinized; both vet certificate and Ministry of Agriculture

Plants, Flowers and Fruits are a restricted import and all imports will only be allowed with approval from the Ministry of Agriculture and require a Phytosanitary Certificate from the proper Government authority in the country of export.

Updated: 9 Mar 12