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Preface Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:11 AM

Taking advantage of its proximity to the U.S., the Bahamas has successfully promoted itself as a popular destination for jetsetters and snowbirds fleeing the North American winter. There are also many places among the country’s 700 islands and 2,500 cays to disappear into a mangrove forest; explore a coral reef; and escape the high‑rise hotels.

The original inhabitants of the Bahamas were the Lucayans, a tribe of the Arawak Indian group, who arrived near the turn of the 9th century. The peaceful Lucayans lived primarily off the sea, fishing and harvesting shellfish, conch, and mollusks. What little remains of their culture is limited to pottery shards, petroglyphs, and words such as “canoe,” “cannibal,” “hammock,” “hurricane,” and “tobacco.”

Christopher Columbus planted the Spanish flag on San Salvador upon his first landfall in the Americas in 1492. Three years later, Spanish colonialists established the first settlement in the archipelago, serving as a terminus for Lucayan Indians enslaved by the Spaniards for shipment to Hispaniola. Within 25 years, the entire Lucayan population of 50,000 was gone, and the Spanish eventually abandoned the settlement.

Spanish galleons began passing by the reef-encrusted Bahamas laden with treasure, bound for Spain. Many foundered, and the waters of the archipelago were littered with wrecks. Tales of treasure lured pirates, and they used the Bahamian islands as hideaways and bases.

For most of the 19th century, the economy was based on subsistence agriculture, fishing, wrecking, and smuggling. But the islands’ ticket out of poverty began to materialize in the U.S. in the form of a new class of people with money to spend on health — inducing vacations in balmy climes. By the turn of the century, Florida was booming as a tourist destination and the Bahamas caught the spin-off. The trickle became a flood in 1920 when Prohibition took effect in the U.S., resurrecting Nassau’s proclivity for smuggling overnight. The islands’ first casino attracted gamblers and gangsters and a potpourri of the rich and famous.

After WW II, wealthy Americans and Canadians seeking a sunny winter retreat began traveling to the Bahamas, encouraged by the presence of the islands’ new high-profile governor and governess, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Tourism was a way of pulling the islands out of the postwar slump, an effort that coincided with the arrival of the jet age, which sent Western travelers in search of a new vacation mecca.

Concentrating their efforts on Nassau, local leaders expanded the U.S. air base to accommodate international jets and dredged the harbor to lure cruise ships. They also made the country a corporate tax haven, and tourism and finance bloomed together.

The 18th-century Privateers’ Republic has become the 20th‑century banker’s paradise, at least on New Providence and Grand Bahama. On the other islands—once known as the Out Islands but now euphemistically called the Family Islands—the atmosphere is less oriented toward the North American tourist and more toward the rhythms of West Indian life. You will certainly be more in tune with the local environment listening to a rake’n scrape band on a backwater cay than sunning by the pool at a Paradise Island resort.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:15 AM

The Islands of the Bahamas lie between 20 and 27°N latitude and 72 and 79°W longitude. Separated from the North American Continent by the Florida Channel and cooled in the summer by the northeast trade winds, the Bahamas enjoys a moderate climate. During the summer, temperatures rarely rise above 90°F, while the lowest winter temperatures vary between 40 and 50°F. Rainfall ranges between 40–60 inches a year.

The Bahamas extends over 100,000 square miles of sea, with slightly less than half lying in the Tropics. The Tropic of Cancer crosses the lower part of Long Island. Contrary to popular belief, the Bahamas is not in the Caribbean, but is in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Bahamas stretch over a distance of some 760 miles from northwest to southeast and includes 30 inhabited islands, 661 cays, and about 2,387 exposed reefs. The total land area is approximately 5,380 square miles, about the size of Wales or two‑thirds the size of Massachusetts. The largest island is Andros, with an area of 2,300 square miles and the smallest inhabited island is Spanish Wells, with an area of one-half mile. The highest point is 206‑foot high Como Hill on Cat Island. Some of the most beautiful beaches and lagoons in the world are located in the Bahamas.

Over 50 varieties of trees can be found here, including such exotic species as the African tulip, the casuarina, the cork tree, several varieties of palm trees, and about 40 varieties of fruit trees. In addition, large varieties of shrubs, climbers, vines, vegetables, and herbs are found here.

There are no significant seasonal changes requiring winter clothing or central heating in the Bahamas. The rainy season is from May to October with an average in Nassau of six inches per month. From November through April, average rainfall is two inches per month. The hurricane season extends from June through November, the greatest risk being in August, September, and October.

In the winter, temperatures rarely fall below 60°F, and usually reach 77°F by mid-afternoon. During the summer, temperatures fluctuate between 85–90°F in the daytime and 75°F or less in the evening. Although humidity can reach about 80% (relative humidity for September is 82%), prevailing easterly winds lessen personal discomfort. Temperatures vary from a low of 76.7°F in January to a high of 89.1°F in August. Humidity causes mildew on leather and textile products, but homes equipped with central air‑conditioning or dehumidifiers neutralize the harmful effects.

Rainfall often occurs in the form of fairly intense showers, frequently accompanied by strong, gusty winds. These storms are usually short and are followed by clear skies. Weather conditions can change rapidly. Statistically, a hurricane can be expected to occur in some part of the Bahamas every nine years. The last hurricane (Mitchell) struck in November 2001. New Providence and Grand Bahama Islands experienced minimal damage considering the magnitude of the storm, which reached speeds in excess of 100 mph in Nassau. Coastal areas were flooded and power was cut off, but was restored to all areas within a week. The Embassy hurricane plan calls for early evacuation of government employees to emergency shelters located in the Chancery, airport, and local hotels. Official communications, as well as ready access to Miami TV and radio stations, provide more than ample early warning of severe weather threats.

Population Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:16 AM

The preliminary statistics from the 2000 Census of Population and Housing placed the total resident population of the Bahamas at 304,913. The statistics show that New Providence (where Nassau is located) has a population of 212,432, accounting for 69.66% of the population and representing a 23.83% increase in population compared to the 1990 census. Grand Bahama, with the second largest population, has 46,954 persons representing 15.40% of the population, an increase of 14.42% in population compared to the 1990 census. Abaco follows with a population of 13,174 or 4.32% of the population, Andros with 7,815, and Eleuthera with 8,114 accounting for 2.56% and 2.66%, while Long Island with 2,945 persons had less than 1% of the population.

The Lucayan Indians, a branch of the Arawaks, discovered the islands in the ninth century AD. Some 600 years later, on October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus made his first landfall in the New World on San Salvador Island. Some studies by historians have disputed the San Salvador theory however, and suggest that the landfall may have occurred at Samana Cay instead. Spanish adventurers followed Columbus to the Bahamas and soon shipped the remaining Lucayan population as slaves to the mines in Cuba and Santo Domingo, where the race eventually became extinct.

The islands were the setting for several attempts at establishing colonies of religious refugees, including the Eleutheran Adventurers. Although they all ultimately failed, many family names in the Bahamas derive from these 17th century English settlers.

Most Bahamians are of mixed African and European descent. Of the European portion of the population, 90% are descendants of early British and American settlers, most notably loyalists from New York, Virginia, and the Carolinas. The Bahamas also has a considerable Greek community. Most are second and third generation Bahamians, whose descendants came to the islands as sponge fishermen. English is universally spoken in the Bahamas.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:17 AM

The Bahamas is a constitutional, parliamentary democracy. As a fully independent member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, the nominal Head of State is Queen Elizabeth II, represented in the Bahamas by an appointed Governor General. The Head of Government is the Prime Minister. The 1973 Bahamian Constitution was enacted by a Parliament composed of the Senate and the House of Assembly.

The House of Assembly (Lower House) consists of 40 members, elected by the constituency every 5 years on the basis of universal adult suffrage. The Senate (Upper House) consists of 16 members, nine of whom are appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister, four on the advice of the Leader of the Opposition and three on the advice of the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. The Parliament performs all major legislative functions. The leader of the majority party serves as Prime Minister. The Cabinet, which answers to the House of Assembly, consists of the Prime Minister, a Deputy Prime Minister, an Attorney General, and other Ministers of executive departments.

The judiciary consists of a Supreme Court, a Court of Appeals, and various Magistrates’ Courts, with the right to appeal to Her Majesty’s Privy Council in the United Kingdom. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

In January 1993, the government instituted a form of local government for the Family Islands (Bahamian islands beyond New Providence) by appointing individuals to local licensing boards. Commissioners, who formerly served as administrators for the Family Islands, now serve as secretaries to these boards in addition to their duties as local magistrates.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:20 AM

The historic Bahamian cultural experience is essentially British (English), but American cultural values have had an increasingly important impact on Bahamian society due to modern media, the large number of Bahamians who visit Florida, and the increased number of American tourists who visit the Bahamas.

Education is free and compulsory between the ages of 5 and 14. The Ministry of Education has the responsibility for all Bahamian educational institutions. There are currently 210 schools in the Bahamas. Of these, 161 (76.7%) are fully maintained by the government and 49 (23.3%) are independent. In New Providence, 37 are government owned and 31 are independent.

Courses lead to the Bahamas Junior Certificate (B.J.C.) taken in grade 9. All students are required to take the Bahamian National Examination administered in grade 12 as an exit examination. A wide range of subjects covering academic, technical and vocational areas is offered. Grades are on a seven-point scale, A‑G. It is based on the UK General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE).

The College of the Bahamas (COB) ( is a publicly supported tertiary level institution. Founded in 1974, it currently enrolls some 3,500 full and part-time students and has three campuses: Oakes Field and Grosvenor Close in New Providence, and Freeport, Grand Bahama. The college offers a range of programs leading to the Bachelor’s and Associate’s degree and diplomas and certificate in seven major disciplines — business and administrative studies, teacher education, humanities, nursing and health sciences, social sciences, natural sciences, and technology. In conjunction with the University of Miami and the Ministry of Education, a Master’s Degree in Special Education program was recently launched. The COB also administers a School of Nursing and, in conjunction with the University of the West Indies (UWI), offers a Bachelors Degree in Education and a degree in law (L.L.B.). UWI operates a Center for Hotel and Tourism Management, also a degree program, which draws students from throughout the Caribbean.

Success Training College ( offers certificates, diplomas, and Associate’s Degrees in business, computer science, allied health, social sciences and humanities (journalism, psychology, sociology, early childhood education) and electrical technology.

Several U.S. universities (St. Benedict’s/St. John's, Nova Southeastern University, and the University of Miami) offer in‑country programs to be followed by courses on the parent campus that lead to Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees. Nova Southeastern University offers the Bachelor of Science in Professional Management (B.S.) and the Masters in Business Administration (M.B.A.) in Freeport. In conjunction with St. Andrew’s School, Nova offers the Bachelor of Science in Professional Management (B.S.), Masters in Business Administration (M.B.A.) and the Masters of Science in Human Resource Management (M.S.) in Nassau.

For the M.B.A. and the M.S. in Human Resource Management programs, information can be obtained at the Huizenga Graduate School of Business and Entrepreneurship web page ( Click on the link for Academic Information and then the links to either the M.B.A. program (click on the one for clusters) or the M.S. program.

For the B.S. in Professional Management, information is on the Farquhar Center for Undergraduate Studies web site ( Click on the link for Academic Programs and then the link for Business and Professional Management.

A large number of Bahamians complete university studies in the U.S.; a few further their education at schools in Great Britain, Canada, and at UWI.

The Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts, located in Nassau, regularly has shows and plays by local performing artists in drama, dance, and song. The National Dance Company of the Bahamas and the Bahamas National Youth Choir were founded in 1992 as part of the country’s activities in commemoration of the Quincentennial Celebrations of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the islands and the New World. Other active cultural groups include The Bahamas Concert Orchestra, the Nassau Music Society, the Nassau Renaissance Singers, the Nassau Operatic Society, James Catalyn and Friends, the Diocesan Chorale, and the Freeport Player’s Guild, located in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Two of the most spectacular folk cultural events in the Bahamas each year are the Junkanoo Parades held on December 26 (Boxing Day) and on New Year’s Day. The parades begin at 2:00 a.m. and continue until 9:00 a.m. Participants prepare costumes, rehearse months in advance, and compete for various individual and group prizes. Junkanoo is an integral part of the traditional culture of the Bahamas, dating back to the days of slavery when slaves were given three days off during the Christmas holidays. Music is provided by goatskin drums, cowbells, whistles, conch shells, and bicycle horns. Junkanoo music can also be heard whenever Bahamians feel in a festive mood or wish to celebrate.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:28 AM

Since World War II, the Bahamas has become a tourist and financial center. These two industries remain the mainstays of the Bahamian economy.

More than 80% of the 3.6 million tourists who come each year are from the U.S. The luxury hotels and casinos are clustered in Nassau, Paradise Island, and Freeport. New directions in tourism include a growing interest in the smaller, sometimes very luxurious, resort hotels of the Family Islands. About half the tourists visiting the Bahamas arrive by cruise ship, and port facilities in Nassau and the Family Islands have been upgraded to accommodate this growing market.

Banking is the second most important economic activity. The more than 400 banks and trust companies engage primarily in the business of managing assets of wealthy individuals. Recent legislation now calls for more transparency in banking in order to meet international banking standards.

The government of the Bahamas has long identified e‑commerce as a future “third pillar” of the Bahamian economy, alongside the two existing stalwarts of tourism and financial services. It has established a joint public and private sector e‑commerce steering committee.

Freeport, the industrial center of the country, is a planned community built by foreign investors. In 1997, a commitment of $80 million on the part of the giant Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchinson‑Whampoa catapulted Freeport into prominence as one of North America's largest container ports, with a capacity of 400,000 containers per annum.

In a joint venture with the Grand Bahama Development Company, the company is also developing a Sea/Air Business Center that is uniquely situated on 786 acres in a tax-free trade zone. The Sea/Air Business Center will provide millions of square feet of warehouse and office space, linking the Freeport Container Port with Grand Bahama International Airport, allowing companies to take advantage of a container port that can handle the largest ships in the world and an airport that can handle the largest planes in the world, all in a tax‑free, duty‑free environment. The Sea/Air Business Center already has generated tremendous interest by worldwide corporations interested in doing business in Freeport.

The Bahamian Government recognizes the need for diversification, new industry development, exploration, and exploitation of agriculture and fisheries resources. Solar salt and aragonite, two of the Bahamas’ otherwise scanty natural resources, are exported from other points in the island chain. In 1975, it enacted legislation banning foreign fishermen, largely Cuban‑Americans and Cubans, from fishing in its waters. The government is seeking new foreign investments, particularly those that provide employment for Bahamians. Several international preferential trade agreements are in place to aid investors. These include the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) and the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).

The Bahamas has several labor unions, the largest and strongest of which is the Hotel Workers’ Union.

The U.S. is the Bahamas’ most important trading partner. Principal Bahamian exports in the U.S. are lobster and salt. Most food and other consumer goods are imported from the U.S. Brand name products are readily available, although transport and considerable import duties add some 50% or more to comparable U.S. consumer prices.


Automobiles Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:31 AM

An automobile is a necessity for most Embassy employees. Most popular American, British, German, and Japanese automobile manufacturers are represented here with full-service repair facilities. As with all major items imported into the Bahamas, such as electrical appliances, TV’s, etc., the warranties on vehicles imported by individuals (as opposed to Bahamian automobile dealers) are not honored in the Bahamas. Buying a car is expensive in the Bahamas, as the price includes a duty of 45–65% and Stamp Tax of 7% based on the value of the car.

In addition to the major dealerships, a number of private garages perform automotive maintenance and repairs with varying degrees of reliability and expense. In some cases, repairs may be delayed while replacement parts are ordered from the U.S., but most parts can be imported in a matter of a few days. To minimize repair costs, consider shipping a newer vehicle and standard spare parts in household effects. Avoid bringing high‑performance vehicles with sophisticated accessories.

Several factors should be considered in selecting the vehicle to bring to post. A few roads are narrow with sharp curves, potholes, and rough surfaces. Salt spray and high humidity cause body rust and corrosion of battery terminals and other electrical connections. Protect automobiles against rust with a coat of wax before shipment. It is not necessary to remove catalytic converters. Unleaded gasoline is available in Nassau; leaded gas is available in regular 95 octane and premium 97 octane. Gasoline costs approximately $2.90 per U.S. gallon. Diesel fuel is also available at some Shell, Texaco, and Esso service stations for $3.00 per gallon.

Employees who are announced to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as members of the Administrative and Technical Staff (employees assigned to the pre‑clearance unit, support staff, etc.) are permitted to bring in one vehicle duty‑free their first six months at post. The Embassy strongly advises these employees to bring in new vehicles or vehicles in very good shape if they plan on staying in the Bahamas for several years. Employees on the diplomatic list are permitted to clear two vehicles duty‑free with no limitation on when they can be brought into the country.

Ship automobiles to Nassau using the same routing as for surface shipments. If shipping via the U.S. Despatch Agency, be aware that this agency does not provide commercial insurance. If you drive your automobile to Miami for shipment, contact the U.S. Despatch Agent at 305–526–2905 for instructions. Be sure to have your travel orders and title when ready to ship your vehicle.

The Embassy assists all U.S. Government employees in the customs formalities of clearing and incoming POV, as well as with the required safety inspection, registration, and obtaining Bahamian drivers licenses, at no charge. Employees or eligible family members with valid U.S. driver’s licenses are not required to take any tests to obtain a Bahamian driver’s license.

Bahamian law requires that all vehicles be insured for third‑party liability, and only Bahamian companies are licensed to write these policies. Check your policies carefully to ensure that all drivers in the family are covered. When shipping POV, make sure that a copy of the vehicle’s title accompanies the vehicle. This document is essential for clearing, insuring, and licensing of POV. If for some reason the POV title is not available, please provide the shipper with an invoice or any other legal document that has the vehicle’s serial number.

Visiting relatives and friends should not be permitted to drive privately owned automobiles unless special arrangements are made with the insurance company. Comprehensive and collision insurance is quite expensive here. Purchase this type of insurance from American companies who write comprehensive policies for vehicles in the Bahamas. An employee who imports a vehicle duty free must ensure that assessed duty is paid if the vehicle is sold to an individual who does not enjoy duty‑free privileges.

Several automobile rental agencies are in Nassau and Freeport, including subsidiaries of some well‑known American agencies. Rental fees vary with the size and type of vehicle and the duration of the rental period, but are much higher than rental fees in the U.S. Several agencies also rent motorbikes, but they should be avoided because of the vehicles’ very high accident rates.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:32 AM

Small, private mini buses called jitneys service most areas of New Providence. The jitneys operate from 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., although service to some residential areas is infrequent and hours of operation more limited than in the downtown area. The fare is $.75. No inexpensive limousine or bus connections serve Nassau International Airport. Taxis are metered and the Bahamian Government sets the rates. From Nassau International Airport to Cable Beach and downtown, the rates are $12 and $18, respectively for up to two passengers. General rates for one or two passengers are $2 for the first 1/4 mile and $.30 for each additional ¼ mile. Cabs can also be hired for about $25 per hour with a two-hour minimum. Limousines cost $50 per hour.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:33 AM

Traffic moves on the left side of the road in the Bahamas. Road conditions vary from four‑lane highways to narrow streets with sharp curves but are generally in good condition. Some back road surfaces are very poor with potholes and badly eroded shoulders that could damage a vehicle. Surface drainage is poor and large areas of standing water can be found on the roads after a heavy rainstorm. Posted highway speeds vary from 25 to 45 miles per hour. Cars, taxis, and buses often stop unexpectedly in the middle of the road to pick up or discharge passengers. The recent influx of vehicles has aggravated an already critical traffic problem causing extensive delays during the morning and evening rush hours. The normal 10‑minute drive from the Embassy to Cable Beach can run three or four times that at peak periods.

Regional travel throughout the Bahamas is principally by commercial, charter, or private aircraft. Round‑trip fares on car ferries serving Eleuthera, Andros, and Abaco from Nassau are $200 for a car and one driver and approximately $65 for foot passengers. Some travelers use the services of inter-island mail boats. Nineteen mail boats depart Nassau for the Family Islands each week; one‑way fares range from $30 to $70. Service on a commercial catamaran is now offered between New Providence and Eleuthera for $100 per person roundtrip.

Several direct flights connect Nassau with major American airports daily. American Eagle provides hourly service to Miami. Bahamasair, Continental, Delta, U.S. Airways, Chalks Ocean Airways and others provide direct service to Atlanta, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, New York, Orlando, Raleigh‑Durham, Philadelphia, Tampa, and West Palm Beach. British Airways offers direct service to London Gatwick; Air Canada has flights to Toronto on Saturday and Sunday only. Schedules change frequently.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:35 AM

Telephone New Providence (Nassau) has a 24‑hour telephone and telegraph service provided by the Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation (BaTelCo). BaTelCo has in the past few years completed systems upgrades, modernization, and increased features for its customers. For instance, direct‑dialing service is now available to 220 countries around the world, including the U.S. Direct dial calls are considerably less than for operator-assisted calls. For example a 3‑minute night call to Virginia costs $2.10, whereas the same operator assisted call costs $6. In some overseas areas the savings are more dramatic; a 3‑minute daytime call to Switzerland is $8.25 if dialed directly, whereas an operator assisted call costs $15. New digital exchanges have enabled BaTelCo to offer several new features in addition to the standard services. Caller ID, call forwarding, three‑way calling, call waiting, and speed calling are among the services available. You can also use pc‑phone internet calling if you have a cable modem.

Most U.S. 1–800 numbers are not toll free from the Bahamas. A message will advise you if the 1–800 number you call is unavailable as a toll free call from the Bahamas. You should then access the number as a paid 1–800 or 1–888 number. The charge for the call is 99 cents a minute.

Although BaTelCo has made dramatic strides in modernizing its equipment and in expanding its ranges of services, it is still plagued by chronic problems associated with growth and older equipment. In some areas of Nassau, customers have waited months and even years for a telephone line. In other areas, frequent malfunctions occur and telephones can be out of order for a week or longer. The quality of calls to the U.S. is excellent, however. The quality of calls to other overseas locations is comparable to calls placed from U.S. telephones.

BaTelCo maintains an over‑the‑horizon link with Florida City and a fiber‑optic submarine cable links Nassau, Grand Bahama Island, and West Palm Beach, Florida. To aid in fiber‑optic connectivity, which is key to the development of e‑commerce in the Bahamas, BaTelCo has become an active participant in the undersea cable system known as ARCOS-1 (Americas Region Caribbean Ring System). The system will connect the U.S., Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Venezuela, Curacao, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas.

The monthly charge for basic telephone service is $21, with additional costs for added special features and extensions.

The Embassy utilizes an IVG service (Internal Voice Gateway) within the Embassy for work‑related calls to the U.S. Post also maintains a UHF radio net for communications throughout the Mission population. This service is extremely useful throughout the hurricane season.

Wireless Service Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:37 AM BaTelCo recently activated digital cellular service in New Providence and Grand Bahama and continues to further upgrade and expand its cellular equipment. Not every cellular phone model is compatible with BaTelCo’s network. BaTelCo offers Nokia and Motorola cellular phones and accessories for sale at substantially higher prices than those in the U.S. If you plan on bringing or purchasing a cellular phone from a source other than BaTelCo, it is recommended that you purchase a dual‑mode phone that meets the following requirements: 800mhz, TDMA IS‑136, EFR (enhanced full rate). BaTelCo no longer activates single mode (analog only) phones. Phones that meet the new specifications include, but are not limited to: Nokia 5120, 6120, 6160, 6162, 6161, 5120, 5160, and 5160i, Motorola M77, M75 and Motorola Star Tac 7790, and the Ericsson KF788, KF688. Activation fees range from $50–$75 and the monthly access fee is $20 with an airtime charge of $.20/minute for peak hours and a $.10/minute charge for off‑peak hours.

BaTelCo, as well as several other commercial operators, provide paging services. BaTelPage offers unlimited numeric, voice and text messaging in the following combinations: numeric and voice mail messaging (subscriber owned pager: $13 per month for unlimited messages) or text, numeric and voice mail messaging (subscriber owned pager: $20 per month for unlimited messages).

Internet Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:38 AM

New Providence currently has three Internet Service Providers. BaTelNet, BaTelCo’s Internet service, offers packages for home users starting at $10 per month (three hours included, $40 setup fee). Currently modem speeds operate at up to 56K. Bahamas On‑Line and Tribune Radio Ltd./100 Jamz offer similar packages, including an unlimited use package for $49.95 per month with a $50 non‑refundable deposit. BaTelCo plans to introduce digital broadband technology by mid‑2001 that will permit high‑speed data transfer using ordinary telephone lines while simultaneously having a voice conversation.

In 2000, Cable Bahamas introduced high‑speed Internet access via cable lines. The cost of CoralWave for cable subscribers is $69.95 per month for unlimited usage. Also available is CoralWave Lite, a metered usage plan for $34.95 per month plus $.90 per MB above 75 MB. For either service, there is a $249 modem and installation charge.

Another option is America Online (AOL), which has a local number that accesses AOL’s server for $.20/minute (as of October 1999) in addition to regular access fees. If you already have an AOL account, you can set up a Nassau location using (242) 325–7004 to dial in. Be sure to set the modem speed to 9600 baud and set the network to AOL GLOBALnet.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:40 AM

Personal mail may be sent via international mail facilities or through the State Department pouch facilities.

Domestic U.S. rates apply to all personal mail sent and received through the pouch system although restrictions on weight, dimensions, and content are strictly enforced. Incoming packages must weigh no more than 40 pounds with the following maximum dimensions: 24 inches in length and 62 inches length and girth combined. Outgoing packages may not exceed two pounds in weight and must be smaller or equal in size to a videotape package. Air pouches are dispatched from the Department on Tuesdays and Fridays and are usually received in approximately 3 days.

U.S. postage stamps for outgoing mail and packages are required. U.S. stamps are not available within the Embassy, but may be purchased through the commissary or through the stamps-by‑mail program offered by the U.S. Postal Service.

Transit time varies from five days to a month. The proper address via the State Department diplomatic pouch for first class mail, magazines, and packages, is:

Employee Name/Agency or Section 3370 Nassau Place Washington, DC 20521–3370

Incoming mail deliveries that do not go through the U.S. Postal System, such as United Parcel Service, Federal Express, DHL, etc., have agreed to deliver packages into the pouch system at the pouch address above. Registered receipt mail and insured packages are not accepted.

International airmail is dependable but delivery time varies. Mail from California to Nassau takes about 10 days. It is not difficult to obtain customs clearance for packages addressed to Embassy personnel. Nassau has no home mail delivery. Embassy personnel use the Embassy’s post office box for local mail service. In addition to these services, commercial mail service will be available at a nominal fee.

International: Mr. John Doe Name of Agency American Embassy Nassau P.O. Box N–8197 Nassau, Bahamas

Airmail postage from the U.S. to Nassau is $.80 per ounce. Airmail postage from Nassau to the U.S. is $.65 per half ounce. Surface parcel post is expensive and slow. Airfreight from Miami for heavy items is reasonable (about $25 per 100 lbs.).

Radio and TV Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:41 AM

Cable Bahamas offers a full array of programming options similar to those available in the U.S. The cost ranges from $30 per month for basic service to $77 per month. There is a $90 installation charge. Satellite television is available at a cost of approximately $100 per month plus a $450 set‑up fee. Seven radio broadcast stations operate in the Bahamas; most offer an urban-island music format.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:42 AM

Four daily newspapers are circulated in Nassau and Freeport: the Nassau Guardian, The Tribune, the Bahamas Journal, and the Freeport News. Widely available from the U.S. are the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and the Miami Herald.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:47 AM

Although at times strained by the volume of cases, adequate medical facilities and sufficiently trained physicians in Nassau provide reliable medical care for most needs. The principal hospital is the government‑operated Princess Margaret Hospital, offering 24‑hour emergency medical service and 436 beds. A private wing also exists with all major specialties. Doctors Hospital is an acute care, privately owned and operated hospital with 72 patient beds that offers 24‑hour emergency medical services. Medical specialties include emergency medicine; ear, nose and throat; general surgery; orthopedic surgery; obstetrics and gynecology; urology; and ophthalmology. Rooms are considerably more expensive than those in Princess Margaret. Both are within 10 minutes of the Embassy and are located in downtown Nassau. Doctor‑s Hospital also operates a round‑the‑clock emergency department at the new Western Medical Plaza near Nassau International Airport.

On the western end of New Providence in Lyford Cay, there is a 12‑bed hospital that includes beds for coronary care and telemetry. The Lyford Cay Hospital/Bahamas Heart Institute specializes in internal medicine, family practice, and cardiology, providing such services as Doppler echocardiography, 24‑hour electrocardiograms, exercise electrocardiograms, and facilities for pacemaker implantations and evaluations. The fulltime cardiologist is also on the staff of the Cleveland Clinic, Ft. Lauderdale, FL: Duke Medical Center, Durham, NC, and the Miami Heart Institute, Miami Beach, FL. The hospital is affiliated with all three institutions.

The Sandilands Rehabilitation Center, with 352 beds, is a psychiatric hospital and a 130‑bed geriatric hospital, including a maximum-security unit, a child and family guidance center, and a combined substance abuse facility for drug and alcoholic patients.

Nassau is supported by a Regional Medical Officer from the Florida Regional Center in Ft. Lauderdale. The RMO is the Embassy’s POC for medical evacuations and he also makes quarterly visits.

Nassau has over 115 physicians including specialists in pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, dermatology, cardiology, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurosurgery, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, anesthetics, pathology, radiology, and internal medicine. Among the 60 dentists in Nassau, two are oral surgeons and two specialize in orthodontics.

Most doctors and dentists attended medical or dental schools either in the U.S., Canada, or the U.K. The ophthalmologic service at Princess Margaret Hospital is partially staffed by Yale Medical School ophthalmology residents who rotate every three months.

When medical problems require treatment not available in Nassau, or in potentially life‑threatening situations, employees and/or their dependents are authorized medical travel to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. Medical travel ’schoice.

Community Health Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:49 AM

Nassau has no major health hazards. The water, however, tends to be brackish, and at times is not potable. All agencies at post provide bottled water to their employees. Some employees have experienced gastroenteritis, vomiting, and diarrhea after drinking tap water. These symptoms usually run 24–72 hours and subside without medication. Tuberculosis, hepatitis, and malaria have been reported among Haitian refugees living in close quarters, but no major outbreaks have occurred.

Newcomers should be aware that at certain times of the year, some large predatory fish which feed from reef environment food chains contain a neurotoxin (ciguatera) that can produce diarrhea, vomiting, muscle aches, paresthesia (numbness and tingling) of the mouth and extremities, itching, and severe headaches. Neurological symptoms can last a few days, several months, or years. No known specific treatment for ciguatera exists. Barracuda and certain species of jack and grouper have been known to cause ciguatera. Deep ocean fish such as shark, marlin, salmon, and tuna do not feed on the reef and therefore are usually safe. Lobster, shrimp, and other shellfish are not affected. Occasionally, food poisoning associated with raw or “scorched” conch occurs, usually from improper handling by street vendors.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:49 AM

No serious, prevalent, endemic diseases exist in Nassau. Sanitary standards for food handlers, barbers, and beauticians are high. Food is imported from the U.S., Europe, and New Zealand and subject to inspection by the country of origin. Locally produced dairy foods meet U.S. health and sanitary standards. No special preparation of fruit and vegetables is required. Sewage is adequate but, in some low areas where drainage is poor, septic tanks and drainage pits require frequent wastewater removal.

Although New Providence has no poisonous snakes, it does have poisonous insects, such as black widow spiders and scorpions. Certain types of coral formations can cause severe skin irritation and spiny sea urchins can cause severe foot infections if stepped on. No known cases of rabid animals have been reported on New Providence Island.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:53 AM

Employment opportunities for eligible family members (EFMs) include both salaried part-time, intermittent, temporary positions, and non-personal services contract employment within the Embassy and the Pre‑Clearance unit. Employment offered by the State Department is widely advertised among eligible family members of Embassy employees at post, and appointments are limited to 1 year with possible extensions for up to 5 years. Not all Federal agencies at post subscribe to these policies. Some part‑time positions are held by the incumbent for the duration of the sponsor’s tour of duty in Nassau.

The Embassy employs a Community Liaison Office Coordinator (CLO) 30 hours per week; also, Freeport employs a CLO 20 hours per week. In addition, the Embassy employs eligible family members under personal services contracts to assist in supply, housing, shipping, equipment accountability, and typing. Word processing skills are helpful to any eligible family members wanting to work. The Embassy uses an unclassified LAN system running the Windows NT OS and Microsoft Office 97 applications, some off‑the‑shelf applications, as well as proprietary software.

Employment opportunities with other Federal agencies include part‑time positions with the United States Immigration Service, Department of Agriculture, United States Customs Service at Nassau International Airport, and a secretarial position with the Naval Liaison Office located in the Chancery. Other Federal agencies offer part‑time short‑term employment as the need arises.

The Embassy Employee Association employs a manager, co‑manager and stocking person. At times young adults can find employment assisting in representational events as bartenders and waitresses. The Employee Association employment is not associated with Embassy PIT, or PSC employment. Advertising and solicitation of employment is done through the Association, and not the Embassy.

Employment outside the official community is extremely limited, because non‑Bahamians need work permits for employment on the local economy. Apart from nurses, teachers, and highly skilled professionals such as physicians, it is nearly impossible for a non‑Bahamian to obtain a work permit. Non‑Bahamian croupiers employed at the gaming tables of two large casinos operating in Nassau and Paradise Island are exceptions. A license and/or previous experience are prerequisites for employment.

American Embassy - Nassau

Post City Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:54 AM

Nassau, capital of the Bahamas and its major port and city, is approximately 300 years old. Time and the elements — hurricanes, decay, fires, and termites — have destroyed many of the old buildings. The downtown area has a distinctive architecture accented by columns, verandas, jalousies, and pastel colors. More Victorian than anything else, Nassau’s narrow walks, streets, and prolific flowering bougainvillea and hibiscuses have helped preserve its charm.

Nassau is located on the island of New Providence — 21 miles long and 7 miles wide — one of the smallest and most central of The Bahamas chain. Nassau and its suburbs, which lie east and west along and behind Bay Street, occupy mostly the northern half of the island. Miami is 210 miles to the northwest and New York is 1,080 miles almost due north.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:58 AM

Eight Federal agencies constitute the U.S. Mission in Nassau, employing 183 direct hire Americans and 56 Foreign Service National employees. In addition to the State Department, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Department of Navy, U.S. Customs Service (USC), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) operate in Nassau. Post One is manned 24/7 with a Marine detachment of 6.

The Chancery, located on Queen Street on the western edge of the shopping district in downtown Nassau, provides offices for the Ambassador, Deputy Chief of Mission, the Consular Section, Political Section, Economic/Commercial Section, Administrative Section, Budget & Fiscal Unit, Facilities Maintenance Unit, General Services Unit, Human Resources Unit, Regional Security Section, Narcotics Affairs Unit, Naval Liaison Office, Coast Guard Liaison Office, DEA, DOD, and U.S. Marine Corps Security Guard Detachment.

The Pre‑Clearance Unit has offices at Nassau International Airport and Freeport International Airports. Travelers booked on scheduled, major airlines to destinations in the U.S. complete their customs and immigration formalities at these airports. Thus, when flights arrive at U.S. destinations, no further formalities are required for these passengers. A comparable Pre‑Clearance Unit is located in Freeport, Grand Bahamas.

A major U.S. military installation, the U.S. Navy Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC), operates from Andros Island and provides high precision test facilities to gather accurate positional data. This data is then used to analyze and assess the performance of undersea warfare weapons, combat systems, and other sensor systems. AUTEC’s location on Andros Island is ideal because of its close proximity to the Tongue of the Ocean, a unique, deepwater basin, approximately 110 nautical miles long (204 km) and 20 nautical miles wide (37 km), varying in depth from 4,500–6,000 feet. Twenty U.S. Naval officers and enlisted personnel, as well as approximately 360 U.S. contract employees man the center.

Most employees arrive by commercial air at Nassau International Airport. Inform the Embassy in advance of your arrival date, time, flight number, and airport, and you will be met and assisted with the customs and immigration formalities. There is no bus service between the airport and town; taxis are plentiful. Reservations for temporary lodgings should be made well in advance of arrival, especially during the peak winter season which extends from the Thanksgiving holiday through Easter. Employees who arrive by private aircraft or privately owned vessels must report to Bahamian Customs and Immigration authorities.

The Embassy’s Administration Section provides administrative support to the seven agencies at post in addition to Department of State, which has 19 positions. The Naval Liaison Office has an American secretary. DEA includes a narcotics attaché‚ 2 group supervisors, 1 resident agent‑in‑charge, 20 special agents, 2 technical analysts, 1 administrative support specialist, 3 American secretaries, 4 contract servers, and 12 U.S. Coast Guard personnel. In addition to the permanent personnel, 3 temporary duty personnel (U.S. Army, DOD, and Coast Guard) assist DEA at any one time throughout The Bahamas.

The Pre‑Clearance Unit consists of Customs, U.S. Agriculture (USDA/ APHIS), and Immigration. Currently, U.S. Customs is staffed by an officer-in-charge and 23 inspectors. USDA/APHIS has 9 inspectors/officers and INS is staffed by an officer‑in‑charge and 24 inspectors.

Normal working hours, except for the Pre‑Clearance Unit, are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Lunch is from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Working hours of employees of the Pre‑Clearance Units vary with the departure schedules of the major airlines with flights to U.S. destinations.

Incoming long‑distance telephone calls for State Department, DEA, and the Naval and Coast Guard Liaison Offices can be made to the Embassy switchboard. The area code is 242 and the numbers are as follows: 322–1181–2 or 3, or 328–2206.

Other offices can be called as follows: U.S. Customs, 242–377–7126, facsimile 242–377–8461; U.S. Immigration, 242–377–7125, facsimile 242–377–6856; U.S. Department of Agriculture, 242–377–7127, facsimile 242–377–1791.

The Embassy’s switchboard is staffed with an operator during normal business hours. After hours, the U.S. Marine Security Guard on duty receives emergency telephone calls. Incoming telephone calls can be switched to private or commercial numbers. Callers who do not receive an answer after a minute or two should hang up and redial the number at the Embassy or one of the alternate numbers. The Pre-Clearance offices do not have switchboards. Each number listed rings in the respective office. The local telephone book lists Embassy telephone numbers under American Embassy. The Embassy facsimile number for the Administrative Section is (242) 328–7838.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:59 AM

The British Colonial Hilton Nassau, located a block from the Embassy and situated on the edge of Nassau Harbor, was completely renovated and refurbished in 2000. Several hotels, including the Marriott Crystal Palace and the Nassau Beach Hotel, are located in the Cable Beach area, five miles west of the Embassy. The temporary lodging allowance covers the cost of a room in most hotels during the high tourist season rates. Family‑suite accommodations are available at the Guanahani Village and Westwinds, beachside time‑share condominiums in the Cable Beach area. Take special care to assure that room accommodations can be secured from the inside with a dead bolt. Exercise the same caution as in any large metropolitan area with regard to valuables and personal safety.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 11/26/2003 9:59 AM

All employees assigned to the Mission except for the Navy Liaison Officer are provided government‑leased housing, which is assigned by the Post Inter‑Agency Housing Board. According to Post Housing Policy, employees of these agencies will generally move into their permanent housing immediately upon their arrival.

The U.S. Government owns the Ambassador’s residence, the DCM’s residence, the Marine Security Guard residence, and two other houses. These houses are provided government furniture and furnishings.

All government‑leased housing is fully furnished by the landlord; the taste and style of furnishings vary greatly. Housing in Nassau is similar in design to that in southern Florida. All units in the housing pool are fully air‑conditioned, with central and/or window units. Virtually all apartments, and some houses, include swimming pools.

Furnishings Last Updated: 11/26/2003 10:00 AM

All leased housing is landlord‑furnished with basic furniture and furnishings. Employees should only send those items they need to make their quarters “home.” Landlords will not remove any furniture so employees should place their furniture in storage in the U.S. Houses and apartments have virtually no storage space and the majority of houses do not have garages. Employees should work closely with the Housing Office to identify specific needs, and to help determine what items to ship.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 11/26/2003 10:01 AM

The utilities and equipment are comparable to what you would expect to find in an American home in southern Florida. Voltage and cycles are the same as in the U.S. (110/120, 60 cycle, single phase AC). All wall outlets have standard U.S. specifications. Power surges, however, can be quite substantial and voltage may fluctuate from day to day. Surge protectors and UPS units are a must for sensitive electronic equipment such as personal computers, compact disc players, VCRs, etc.

Power outages can be frequent, especially in the summer, but seldom last more than a few hours. The cost of electricity is high in the Bahamas. Electric bills of $800 per month (for a small dwelling) are not uncommon for centrally air‑conditioned homes during the summer months.

Some kitchens in privately leased housing include microwave ovens and automatic dishwashers. Stoves and ovens are usually gas, which is furnished in bottles and can be used for cooking during electrical power outages.

All leased apartments and houses have telephones. Monthly telephone bills contain information on long‑distance charges, including number dialed, date, and duration. U.S. tone and pulse instruments work here.

Government‑leased housing features standard U.S. bathrooms. Housing units use either city or well water. Employees are advised to drink bottled water, which is delivered at a cost of $4 per five‑gallon container. All agencies at post provide their employees with coupons for bottled water at no charge

Food Last Updated: 11/26/2003 10:10 AM

The selection and quality of food found in Bahamian food stores in Nassau is comparable to those of an average American supermarket with some exceptions. Certain popular brands may not be available, and specialty items such as delicatessen and ethnic food selections are usually meager. Produce is not comparable to an American supermarket, but a broad selection does exist and fresh vegetables can be found through careful shopping. Prepared food items often cost twice as much as the same products in southern Florida. Supermarkets and wholesale clubs must close by 10 a.m. on Sundays.

The Embassy Employee Association operates a modest commissary and sells cigarettes, sodas, wines, spirits, snacks, juice, paper goods, cleaning supplies, and some personal hygiene items. Members are required to make a deposit of $150 upon joining, which is refunded when the employee departs post.

Clothing Last Updated: 11/26/2003 11:05 AM

Local tastes and standards are similar to those of southern Florida. Summer clothing is worn year round, but with somewhat heavier material during the Bahamian “winter.” Fabrics comfortable for the season range from lightweight washables to heavier fabrics and knits. Winter can be cool and clothes tend to be more formal. Wardrobes should include sweaters and possibly lightweight woolens and jackets. Heavy clothing is not necessary unless winter trips abroad are contemplated. Most personnel purchase clothing from the U.S. since it is less expensive. Sportswear is available locally at reasonable prices.

Though tropical in spirit, Bahamian business and government employees dress fairly formal and coat and tie are almost always worn in business meetings. Men should have at least one dark suit. Women should be prepared for occasions such as Thanksgiving church services or Government House receptions. Senior diplomatic male officers should bring a tuxedo or have one custom-made by one of several tailors in Nassau. Ladies will need some formal dresses. A morning suit is needed by a male Ambassador once or twice a year and for presentation of credentials. Long dresses and long white gloves are worn on formal occasions, and long or short dresses are worn for less formal occasions. Bahamian women often dress elegantly, usually with hat and gloves, when attending church services and other special occasions.

Children’s clothing is dictated by the time of year. All schools require uniforms that are available locally, so children probably need little more than play clothes. Children’s clothing is available, but expensive. Parents may wish to purchase additional children’s clothing, preferably in the next size, before arrival.

All students wear uniforms for school and casual clothes at other times. Attractive casual clothes, including a sport jacket or suit for boys and appropriate dresses for girls are necessary, as young people are often included in social functions. Clothing for girls is readily available, but student sizes for boys are difficult to find.

Supplies and Services Last Updated: 11/26/2003 11:06 AM

Nassau drugstores, supermarkets, and specialty shops stock a variety of brand name toiletries, cosmetics, feminine personal supplies, home medicines, and common household needs. Prices are higher than those in the U.S., and stores do not always maintain adequate supplies.

Greeting cards, party items, and stationery are available locally, but are expensive. Hardware stores carry a fairly complete line of supplies, tools, and gadgets. Sports equipment, games, and children’s toys are available, but at much higher prices than those in the U.S. The CLO maintains a shelf of mail order catalogs. Supplies can also be ordered through an export company in Miami and shipped to Nassau. Internet shopping is also a preferred method for purchasing items (if they meet the criteria, items can be sent through the pouch).

Supplies Last Updated: 11/26/2003 11:07 AM

Nassau drugstores, supermarkets, and specialty shops stock a variety of brand name toiletries, cosmetics, feminine personal supplies, home medicines, and common household needs. Prices are higher than those in the U.S., and stores do not always maintain adequate supplies.

Greeting cards, party items, and stationery are available locally, but are expensive. Hardware stores carry a fairly complete line of supplies, tools, and gadgets. Sports equipment, games, and children’s toys are available, but at much higher prices than those in the U.S. The CLO maintains a shelf of mail order catalogs. Supplies can also be ordered through an export company in Miami and shipped to Nassau. Internet shopping is also a preferred method for purchasing items (if they meet the criteria, items can be sent through the pouch).

Basic Services Last Updated: 11/26/2003 11:08 AM

There are at least seven custom tailor shops and nine dressmakers in Nassau, and more than 20 custom drapery shops. The quality of the tailoring and dressmaking shops is spotty; only a few are recommended. Custom‑made drapes and reupholstery in Nassau are expensive but are believed to be on par with the more expensive shops in large U.S. cities.

Dry cleaning and laundry outlets are conveniently located. The quality of most dry cleaning outlets is adequate, but some employees have experienced difficulty with delicate fabrics and specialty cleaning, such as removing difficult stains from linens or silks.

Major appliance stores and automobile dealers employ skilled appliance and automotive service personnel. Preference is given to customers who have purchased the appliance or automobile from the dealer. Warranties on items imported from the U.S. are not always valid. Several independent automotive and appliance repair shops exist. Service varies greatly. Some independent repair shops take on projects for which they lack proper tools, equipment, or knowledge and can create more service/repair‑related problems than they solve. Before seeking these services, consult U.S. Government colleagues or Foreign Service National Employees for advice and assistance.

All the major hotels have qualified beauticians and barbers who meet U.S. standards of sanitation, styling, and beauty care services.

Shoe repair is limited but heels and soles can be repaired while you wait. Only three watch repair shops are located in Nassau but the quality of service is good. Some small, independent jewelers also do limited watch repairs and produce high quality custom‑made jewelry. U.S. companies such as IBM and Xerox provide reliable service on electric typewriters and personal computers.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 11/26/2003 11:08 AM

It is difficult to employ competent domestic help, since most Bahamian citizens interested in domestic work, such as cooking, cleaning, etc., can find well paying jobs with the many hotels and restaurants which cater to the important tourist industry.

Third‑country nationals who enter the Bahamas on tourist visas often seek domestic employment. They cannot be legally employed, however, without a work permit or without permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The procedure is complex and usually requires that the prospective employee depart the Bahamas and reenter on a time, date, and flight reported at least 2 weeks in advance to the Bahamian Government. There is a yearly fee assessed for the permit. It can take several months to get either a positive or negative response to a request. The U.S. Government employee who hires a third‑country national in this way is responsible for repatriating them when employment is terminated. You should be prepared to pay between $200–$250 per week for domestic help.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 11/26/2003 11:09 AM

Full freedom of religion exists in the Bahamas, which has no favored or official State religion. The Bahamas is a predominantly Christian country, and over 90 churches on New Providence represent Protestant, Roman Catholic, and interdenominational religions. Most of these churches are members of the Bahamas Christian Council, a national association that coordinates church activities. Church services are conducted in English, although a number of churches conduct services in Creole for Haitian residents. There is a small Jewish community in Nassau.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 11/26/2003 11:32 AM In the Bahamas, children begin school as early as age 4. This year is referred to as pre‑reception (Pre‑R). The U.S. Government does not pay for costs associated with pre-reception. The U.S. Government will only pay for the first year before first grade, kindergarten (or reception here), which normally begins by the child’s fifth birthday (a child must be age 5 before December 30 of the year he/she enters kindergarten).

The Bahamian school system, including most private schools, offers curriculum based on the British system. Most Catholic schools are based on the Canadian/American system. However, parents should be prepared to supplement their children’s education with studies of American history and literature, especially for students in grade 7 and above. Overall, the resource centers, libraries, and curricula are inadequate by comparison. On the other hand, most private schools in Nassau have smaller class sizes and less disciplinary problems than many public schools in the U.S. No American International School exists in Nassau. The school systems follow the British in terms of grade levels.

A major concern is that teachers in many schools are not required to fit their study programs into a planned, step‑by‑step overall program, resulting in some gaps in subject coverage. Elementary schools in Nassau range from inadequate to very good. Many college‑bound high school students go to boarding schools in the U.S., Canada, or Britain. However, there are some excellent high schools in the Bahamas. St. Andrew’s offers AP and IBC courses and has recently upgraded its computer and science laboratories.

People with school‑age children should request school information and registration forms from the CLO upon learning of their assignment to the Bahamas. Completed forms can be sent directly to the school with copies to the CLO office or directly to the CLO. Many schools have waiting lists, and the Embassy does not have priority placement.

A short description of the highest rated schools follows:

Lyford Cay School ( Lyford Cay (pronounced KEY) School, located on the extreme western end of New Providence, occupies a six‑acre wooded site within the boundaries of Lyford Cay. The school is able to take advantage of a 24‑hour private security system. The students have access to two superb beaches and a 20‑meter swimming pool at the Lyford Cay Club. Also on site are a new science lab, a computer lab, a music room, and an art studio.

The school receives children from all over the island and accommodates up to 175 students ages 3–16. The pupils come from many different backgrounds and nationalities. Recently implemented was the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program. The International Baccalaureate Organization is renown for aiding schools around the world in developing excellence in education. The five‑year program provides a framework of academic challenge and life skills for students aged 11–16 years.

The school curriculum is based on the British system and is geared to the resources of the Bahamian environment. The Bahamian Government and the Educational Research Bureau test the children annually. Tuition for the 2000–2001 school year (3 terms) ranged from $2,100 per term for the Early Learning Center to $2,400 a term for grades 7–10. Tuition does not include a one-time assessment and registration fee of $700 combined or a non-Bahamian levy fee of $1,100 per student.

St. Andrew’s School ( St. Andrew’s, contrary to its name, is a non-religious, coeducational school. The children come from families in the middle and upper income brackets. Approximately 75% are Bahamian and the teaching staff is Canadian, U.S. and British, with 3-year teaching certificates. The campus is large, the buildings are in good condition, and the student-teacher ratio is approximately 20 to 1. The school offers many extracurricular activities and has excellent sports facilities, including a new outdoor swimming pool.

Accredited by the New England School System, the school loosely follows a U.S. curriculum and offers programs for approximately 750 students as young as age 3 in a preschool program, and ranging to the late teens for children in the 12th grade. St. Andrew’s is the only private school on the island that offers continuing education through the 12th year. Tuition for the 2000–2001 school year (3 terms) ranged from $1,985 per term for Early Learning, $2,345 for grades 1–6, $2,540 for grades 7–9, and $2,725 for years 10–12. St Andrews also imposes a one-time registration and assessment fee of $780 combined and a $1,100 non-Bahamian levy. St. Andrew’s recently added a 12th year to help align both the curriculum and students more with the U.S. system. School tuitions increase rapidly; for the most up‑to‑date information, please contact the CLO.

Tambearly School. Tambearly is an independent, recently established school with a curriculum for children aged 4 (Reception) through eighth grade. It has a well‑planned study program using a combination of textbooks and workbooks (rare for Bahamian schools), combined with frequent field trips. Its goal is to prepare students for integration into schools abroad. All students utilize the computer and take French or Spanish and Latin.

Tambearly has a student enrollment of approximately 130 and is located in Cable Beach. The school accommodates up to 16 students per class and has a staff of 10 full‑time teachers and 4 part‑time. In the 2000–2001 school year (3 terms), tuition per term was $940 for 1/2 day reception; $1,550 for full day; $1,950 for grades 2–6; and $2,050 for 7th, 8th, and 9th grades. Assessment, registration and placement fee is $470 combined. At this time there is no non-Bahamian levy fee. The school can be reached via e-mail at

Preschool. There are numerous daycare/ nursery/preschools located in Nassau. Most accept preschoolers as young as one or two. Some will take them as young as six weeks. On the west side of the island, Unicorn Village charges $800 per term (3 terms per school year). Strawberry Patch Pre‑School by Saunders Beach charges $500 per term (3 terms per school year, summer additional). On the east side, the fee for Little School House is $1,300 per term for a full day (until 3:00 p.m.) and $650 per term for 1/2 day (until noon). Glenwood Early Education Center also offers half-day preschool for $800 per term. Registration fees vary based on school. One of the few choices for infant care (newborn to 2½ years) is the Infant Education Center on the east side. The owners of the Strawberry Patch Pre‑School also own this facility.

Away From Post Last Updated: 11/26/2003 11:32 AM Since Nassau is close to Miami and has excellent flight connections from Nassau and Miami to major U.S. cities, the choice of schools away from post is extensive.

Special Needs Education Last Updated: 11/26/2003 11:32 AM

Post recommends that parents with children with special needs first meet with the State Department educational representative before considering an assignment in the Bahamas. There are no State Department certified educational facilities for special needs children or children with learning disabilities. On the entire island, there are only three facilities with teachers specializing in special needs. Classes are usually grouped together and taught despite what the child’s age or ability necessitates. There is extremely limited space in these facilities and virtually no special needs facilities for children above the 6th grade level.

Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 11/26/2003 11:33 AM

The College of The Bahamas ( offers programs leading to a Bachelor’s degree, Associate’s degree, and certificates in business administration, education, humanities, natural sciences, nursing and health sciences, social sciences, and technology. The College operates on a semester system — two semesters and one summer session. For the 2000–2001 academic year, tuition fees were $200 per credit hour per semester for lower level courses and $300 per credit hour for upper level courses for non-Bahamians.

The Bahamas Hotel Training College and the University of the West Indies (degree program) offer courses in tourism and hotel management.

The University of Miami and Nova Southeastern University conduct a 2‑year program in Nassau leading to an M.B.A. and a Master’s degree in education. Courses are held on weekends. American family members who have enrolled have found it challenging and worthwhile. Additional information on the University of Miami program is available by calling the University at telephone 305–284–2211 or going to its website at

Several business schools offer courses in secretarial skills, business, word processing, and computer programming. The Industrial Training Center offers one‑year courses in the technical/vocational curricula.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 11/26/2003 1:03 PM

The emerald and turquoise waters of the Bahamas set the backdrop for sports at post. Swimming, fishing, boating, sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and water skiing are excellent year round. Instruction is available for all sports, but may entail club memberships.

Golf and tennis are also popular. Nassau has four 18‑hole golf courses, and green fees range from $70–$120 which includes a cart. Electric cars are required at all courses. The course at Lyford Cay has a limited membership and is very expensive. The courses at Cable Beach and South Ocean offer memberships to Embassy personnel for between $1,600–$2,400 annually or a daily rate of $70 which includes a cart fee. The Embassy has a well‑maintained, well‑lit tennis court in the Ship Ahoy compound for use by Embassy personnel at no cost and many hotels have tennis courts. Several private tennis clubs are available, as well as athletic clubs, gyms, and spas. Two squash centers are also on the island.

New Providence Island has in‑season pigeon and duck shooting. The Family Islands also have season pigeon, duck, and wild boar shooting. Stables in the Coral Harbour area offer horseback riding.

Spectator sports include boxing, baseball, cricket, softball, soccer, rugby, basketball, American football, and volleyball. Some events are free; others charge a small admission fee.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 11/26/2003 1:03 PM

Literally all of New Providence can be explored in less than a week’s time. The Family Islands, including Eleuthera, the Exumas, Bimini, and Abaco, are most popular with Americans. Most of the terrain is flat as in New Providence. The islands can be reached by air, charter boat, or mail boat. In 1999, Bahamas Fast Ferries began offering round‑trip service aboard a high‑speed catamaran to Eleuthera. Tours can be taken by taxi, bicycle, and surrey, or by glass‑bottomed boat trips, sailing cruises or even in an air‑conditioned submarine that dives 80 feet below the surface.

Entertainment Last Updated: 11/26/2003 1:04 PM

The major importance of the tourist industry to the Bahamian economy has determined to a large extent the type of entertainment facilities here, which mirror those of a popular American resort city.

Luxury hotels on Paradise Island and on the north shore of New Providence offer a wide variety of specialty restaurants, cocktail lounges, cabarets, comedy clubs, and discos. Two large casinos exist in Nassau, one on Paradise Island at the Atlantis Hotel and the other at the Marriott Crystal Palace Casino.

Apart from the luxury-class restaurants, non-tourists patronize many good restaurants featuring Bahamian, American, Italian, and Greek food.

Many choirs exist in Nassau and the Dundas Center for the Performing Arts produces numerous well-known musicals and plays throughout the year. In addition, it also produces folk ballets and dramas written by Bahamians. Several of the larger hotels offer aerobic and other dance classes.

Three multiplex movie theatres operate in Nassau. They feature popular American films at about $6.00.

The Marine Security Detachment often hosts cookouts and group events for the Embassy community.

Social Activities Last Updated: 11/26/2003 1:05 PM

An American Men’s Club and an American Women’s Club, the latter affiliated with the Federation of Women’s Clubs of America, coordinate philanthropic and community activities among resident Americans.

The Ambassador and other senior Embassy personnel participate in many events involving the Chamber of Commerce, sports leagues, charity balls, and bazaars. A Hispanic Women’s Club, including many U.S. members, is also active in the community as is the Corona Women’s Society, a social group for women of all nationalities.

The small diplomatic corps includes American, British, Haitian, Chinese, and Cuban diplomats, as well as Honorary Consuls. Members of the Diplomatic and Honorary Consular Corps meet monthly. The business community is both Bahamian and international. Many opportunities exist to meet Bahamian nationals and other key figures. Most entertaining occurs at private homes or in restaurants. Although Embassy principals receive most invitations, Mission personnel of all ranks occasionally attend official functions.

Some organized activities exist for children, ages 7 to 15 years, including Boy and Girl Scouts, usually referred to as Boy/Girl Guides, and extracurricular school events. Two swimming clubs for children offer competitive swimming. A riding school exists for those interested in horses. Some children also participate in operetta society productions, gymnastics, tennis, and Little League baseball.

You may contribute your time and skills through churches, the American Women’s Club, the Corona Women’s Society, the Hispanic Women’s Club, the Bahamas National Trust, the Yellow Birds (Princess Margaret Hospital volunteers), the Bahamas Humane Society, Animals Require Kindness, the Red Cross Society, Ranfurly Home, the Women’s Crisis Center, and assorted clinics. The Historical Society and the National Trust offer lectures on the Bahamas.

Among Americans Last Updated: 11/26/2003 1:06 PM Social life in Nassau is relaxed and centered around the home, principally at dinners and cocktail parties. Business lunches are a good way to meet with colleagues, and coffees are popular. Staff members will be invited to receptions, cocktails, and dinners throughout the year, but most Bahamian entertaining centers around the holidays during the cooler winter months. The social schedule can be especially heavy just before Christmas and Easter and during National Day events in July. Formal affairs include the annual Marine Ball held in November as well as community fundraisers such as the Heart Ball, the Humane Society Ball, and the Imagine Ball. The Ambassador and DCM are often invited to attend and speak at religious functions.

Aside from Government House functions, where promptness is essential and more formal dress is required, other occasions are relaxed. Formal wear is normally expected only for charity and ceremonial balls. Everyone expects Americans to be on time, but a more casual attitude about time prevails for other guests. Protocol is standard. With the exception of the use of Excellency for the Governor General (and Lady for his spouse), and customary titles for members of the clergy, the use of Mr. and Mrs. plus title is accepted.

Official Functions Last Updated: 11/26/2003 1:07 PM

Social life in Nassau is relaxed and centered around the home, principally at dinners and cocktail parties. Business lunches are a good way to meet with colleagues, and coffees are popular. Staff members will be invited to receptions, cocktails, and dinners throughout the year, but most Bahamian entertaining centers around the holidays during the cooler winter months. The social schedule can be especially heavy just before Christmas and Easter and during National Day events in July. Formal affairs include the annual Marine Ball held in November as well as community fundraisers such as the Heart Ball, the Humane Society Ball, and the Imagine Ball. The Ambassador and DCM are often invited to attend and speak at religious functions.

Aside from Government House functions, where promptness is essential and more formal dress is required, other occasions are relaxed. Formal wear is normally expected only for charity and ceremonial balls. Everyone expects Americans to be on time, but a more casual attitude about time prevails for other guests. Protocol is standard. With the exception of the use of Excellency for the Governor General (and Lady for his spouse), and customary titles for members of the clergy, the use of Mr. and Mrs. plus title is accepted.

Special Information Last Updated: 11/26/2003 1:09 PM


Proprietary governors of Carolina and other North American colonies administered the Bahamas as trading markets with little pretense of civil administration. By 1700, the islands were well established as pirate camps for such immortals as Blackbeard and Calico Jack. In 1718, the First Governor, Captain Woodes Rodgers (an ex‑privateer), gave Bahamian pirates the choice of either confronting the small army he brought with him, or accepting a Royal Amnesty. Most took the latter, but eventually drifted off to other islands to resume their profession.

During the American Revolution, the Bahamas served as a supply point. Afterwards, the islands saw their biggest changes, as some 8,000 British loyalists and their slaves fled the U.S. These settlers brought the plantation system to some of the smaller islands, but poor soil, over‑cultivation, and the boll weevil exhausted the chances of large‑scale cotton crops in less than 10 years.

With the agricultural exhaustion of lands, poverty became more serious. However, the American Civil War brought prosperity as Nassau became the center for Confederate blockade running and the Royal Victoria Hotel (a once grand, now largely demolished) old building in the center of downtown Nassau became the haunt for both spies and gunrunners. In 1866, depression returned and for the next 50 years a succession of attempts to create wealth from conch (pronounced “conk”) shells, tobacco, fruits, vegetables, sponges, and shipbuilding failed. The Florida land boom from the early 1900s and again in 1920 drew many Bahamian immigrants to the U.S.

With the Prohibition Act of 1920, the Bahamas reemerged as a major base for blockade running, this time for bootleggers. World War II and the establishment of U.S. bases and facilities in the Bahamas brought back the prosperity of the 1920s.


The primary hazard facing anyone living in or visiting Nassau comes from residential and street crime, primarily burglary, robbery, and larceny. Residents and visitors should exercise caution and common sense. Doors and windows should be kept locked at all times, and deserted beaches, back streets, and poorly lit areas should be avoided. Upon arrival, each employee and his/her family members will be briefed by the RSO on the current security situation and on defensive measures to counter the likelihood of being victimized.

Each residence is surveyed by the RSO prior to the signing of a lease. The majority of residences are equipped with grills, additional locking devices, and alarms. A local guard company contracted by the Embassy conducts roving mobile patrols on a 24‑hour basis. Adhering to a common sense approach with effective physical security features can greatly diminish the possibility of becoming a victim while assigned to Nassau.

As the Bahamas remains a transit area for drugs designated for the U.S., narcotics are easily obtainable. Parents should take extra precaution to educate their children on the dangers of illegal drug use. Parents should also become involved in their children’s outside activities and closely monitor the company their children keep. Drug offenses are dealt with very seriously in the Bahamas.

Temporary duty visitors to the Bahamas and newcomers should exercise extreme care while driving. The accident rate in Nassau is high due to the driving habits of Bahamians, poor enforcement of speed limits, and adverse road conditions. Accident rates among visitors who rent motorbikes and motor scooters are particularly high.

Post Orientation Program

The CLO plays a key role in welcoming and orienting newcomers to post. All newly assigned employees are met by a sponsor and are assisted through Bahamian Customs and Immigration formalities. The CLO orients new families with the locations of shops, schools, and hospitals.

Newcomers are briefed by the Personnel Assistant on such matters as Bahamian and Embassy identification cards, driver’s licenses, vehicle registration, automobile insurance, and other administrative matters such as completing forms required for the initiation of allowances.

The administrative officer briefs each newcomer on the organization of the Mission and the support available from the Administrative Section. The regional security officer conducts security briefings for all new arrivals. New employees and their eligible family members are required to attend within one week of arrival.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 11/26/2003 1:43 PM

Most employees either fly directly to Nassau from Washington, D.C. or their home leave address, or drive to Miami, leave their vehicles with the U.S. Despatch Agent, and fly from Miami or Fort Lauderdale to Nassau. Ample flights are available on American air carriers and should be used. Bahamasair, which flies the Miami‑Nassau route, is a Bahamian carrier and is not authorized for official travel.

For the traveler who may have forgotten that airplanes were once powered only by propellers, Chalks Ocean Airways, an American carrier, offers flights from Miami and Fort Lauderdale in an amphibious, propeller‑driven aircraft. The flights land in Nassau Harbor.

Unaccompanied airfreight shipped from major U.S. cities arrives in Nassau in 15–30 days. Newcomers should ask the shipper for an airway bill of lading number and inform the Embassy’s General Services Office of that number and the date shipped. Tracing an airfreight shipment without an airway bill of lading number is almost impossible.

Be sure that your airfreight and surface shipments are properly marked to ensure that they are shipped to the right place and to minimize customs clearance formalities.

Surface shipments and unaccompanied airfreight should be addressed as follows:

American Ambassador American Embassy, Queen Street Nassau, Bahamas For Employee (Name)

Some employees have experienced considerable delays in receiving their allowances. Response time varies with the employee’s parent agency. A fiscal cushion is necessary before coming to Nassau to take care of expenses until allowances are received.

American currency, exchanged on a one‑to‑one basis with Bahamian dollars, can be used throughout the Bahamas. Most major stores, hotels, and restaurants will accept major credit cards and travelers’ checks, but will not accept a personal check without a check-cashing card (Chekard).

The Embassy does not have an accommodations exchange or a Cass A cashier. U.S. Government employees can write checks on U.S. banks at the Scotiabank about a block from the Embassy, with prior approval by the Administrative Office in the form of a stamp on the check. Most banks are open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Fridays) and are closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and Bahamian holidays. ATMs are located throughout the island; Scotiabank ATMs downtown on Bay Street and in the Casino at the Atlantis Hotel dispense U.S. dollars for MasterCard, VISA, and any bankcard on the Plus or Cirrus networks. Royal Bank ATMs that dispense U.S. currency are located at the Royal Bank on Paradise Island, the Craft Market at Prince George Wharf, Lyford Cay Club, and Nassau International Airport at U.S. departures check‑in. All other ATMs dispense Bahamian dollars.

Customs, Duties, and Passage Last Updated: 11/26/2003 1:44 PM

Customs and Duties (Accompanied Baggage)

All U.S. Government employees assigned to any of the agencies that comprise the Mission are authorized duty-free entry of personal and household effects and vehicles. All members of the Mission on the Diplomatic list enjoy duty‑free privileges throughout the term of their assignment. Newcomers should not conclude that they will be on the diplomatic list simply by virtue of holding a diplomatic passport. The Bahamian customs authorities allow members of the administrative and technical staff to enjoy duty-free privileges for the first 6 months of their assignment. This group includes most of the Pre-Clearance unit and many of the Embassy support staff.

Passage American citizens do not require a passport or a visa to enter the Bahamas, but proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, is required, as well as a return ticket to the U.S. Employees assigned to the Mission need a valid passport, but no visa.

When purchasing airline tickets for passage to Nassau, airlines or travel agents sometimes tell newcomers that they must purchase round trip tickets. Producing a copy of the travel authorization assigning the employee and his/her eligible family members to the Bahamas can solve this problem.

All newcomers, regardless of their official status, must complete a Bahamian Immigration card that the airlines normally provide en route. Occupation should be filled in as U.S. Embassy Employee, and intended address in the Bahamas should be filled in as U.S. Embassy, P.O. Box N-8197, Nassau, Bahamas.

The Bahamas Dangerous Drug Act makes it an offense for an unauthorized person to import, export, or be in possession of marijuana, morphine, opium, or lysergic acid (LSD) in the Bahamas. The provisions of this Act are strictly enforced.

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 11/26/2003 1:44 PM

(Accompanied Baggage)

All U.S. Government employees assigned to any of the agencies that comprise the Mission are authorized duty-free entry of personal and household effects and vehicles. All members of the Mission on the Diplomatic list enjoy duty‑free privileges throughout the term of their assignment. Newcomers should not conclude that they will be on the diplomatic list simply by virtue of holding a diplomatic passport. The Bahamian customs authorities allow members of the administrative and technical staff to enjoy duty-free privileges for the first 6 months of their assignment. This group includes most of the Pre‑Clearance unit and many of the Embassy support.

Passage Last Updated: 11/26/2003 1:45 PM

American citizens do not require a passport or a visa to enter the Bahamas, but proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, is required, as well as a return ticket to the U.S. Employees assigned to the Mission need a valid passport, but no visa.

When purchasing airline tickets for passage to Nassau, airlines or travel agents sometimes tell newcomers that they must purchase round trip tickets. Producing a copy of the travel authorization assigning the employee and his/her eligible family members to the Bahamas can solve this problem.

All newcomers, regardless of their official status, must complete a Bahamian Immigration card that the airlines normally provide en route. Occupation should be filled in as U.S. Embassy Employee, and intended address in the Bahamas should be filled in as U.S. Embassy, P.O. Box N-8197, Nassau, Bahamas.

The Bahamas Dangerous Drug Act makes it an offense for an unauthorized person to import, export, or be in possession of marijuana, morphine, opium, or lysergic acid (LSD) in the Bahamas. The provisions of this Act are strictly enforced.

Pets Last Updated: 11/26/2003 1:47 PM

There are no known cases of rabid animals in the Bahamas. No pit bulls and no dogs and cats under six months of age are permitted to enter the Bahamas.

An Import Permit is required from the Bahamian Ministry of Commerce, Agriculture & Industry for all animals brought to the Bahamas. Applications for such permits should be made several weeks in advance and the Embassy’s General Services Office can coordinate this for you. The fee is $10 and checks should be made payable to the American Embassy. Please note that birds require a different form than other domestic animals. Send the completed application to:

GSO Customs & Shipping Section Department of State 3370 Nassau Place Washington, DC 20521–3370

If you need to use FedEx, DHL, etc., send it to:

American Embassy GSO Customs & Shipping Section 42 Queen Street Nassau, Bahamas

Alternatively, you may fax the form to (242) 328–7838 and ask someone, such as your sponsor, to pay the fee for you, to be reimbursed upon your arrival. The application must reach the Embassy at least two weeks before your scheduled arrival. Please include the type of animal, breed, age, sex, and country of embarkation. The import certificate will be given to your sponsor who will have it at the airport for your arrival. For direct assistance, or for further information, you may contact the Ministry of Commerce, Agriculture & Industry at (242) 325–7502, facsimile: (242) 325–3960.

Dogs and cats over the age of 6 months, imported from the U.S. or Canada, must be accompanied by two copies of a Veterinary Health Certificate issued within 24 hours of embarkation and a certificate of Rabies Vaccination issued not less than 21 days or more than 9 months before entry.

Pets under 6 months do not require a Rabies Vaccination Certificate, but must have a Veterinary Health Certificate. Dogs under six months are not permitted to enter.

Your animal and one copy of the health certificate must be presented within 24 hours of arrival to a licensed Bahamian veterinarian for examination. The second copy is left with the customs officer at the airport on arrival. To avoid administrative delay, pets should travel as accompanied baggage. Note that many airlines flying to the Bahamas have embargoes on pets during the summer months.

Dogs and cats traveling to the U.S. from the Bahamas need a Health Certificate issued within 24 hours of departure. If you intend to ship pets to the U.S., check with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Inspector at Nassau International Airport well in advance of planned travel to confirm this policy.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 11/26/2003 1:47 PM

The prior approval of the Ambassador is required for the importation of any firearm or ammunition into the Bahamas. This applies to any U.S. Government employee assigned to the Bahamas or on temporary duty. Permission may be obtained by letter or telegram and should be addressed to the Regional Security Officer.

The Bahamian Government has strict laws pertaining to firearms and their importation. In addition to Ambassadorial approval, a certificate or license issued by the Commissioner of Police must first be granted to any person wishing to import or possess a firearm. Special certificates, which are extremely difficult to acquire, are required for the importation of revolvers and semi‑automatic handguns, although special certificates are normally granted to employees required to possess those firearms in an official capacity. Licenses requested for rifles, shotguns, and air rifles are more frequently approved. These weapons are primarily imported for marksmanship and hunting. A limited amount of bird and wild boar hunting is available, primarily on some Family Islands. All licenses expire on the 31st of December. License fees range from $50 for shotguns, $100 for rifles, and $250 for pistols and revolvers. The fee is waived if the weapon is for use in an official capacity.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 11/26/2003 1:48 PM

Virtually all stores, restaurants, hotels, and other commercial facilities accept American currency, which is on par with the Bahamian dollar. Major credit cards and travelers checks are also widely accepted. No restriction is placed on the amount of currency brought into or taken out of the Bahamas.

Standard U.S. weights and measures are used in the Bahamas.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 11/26/2003 1:51 PM


The Bahamas has no income, corporate, capital gains, sales, or vacant land tax for any resident or company. A small real property tax is levied, which is always paid by landlords of housing occupied by Embassy personnel. Import duties are included in the local price of all items purchased in Nassau. U.S. Government employees assigned to Nassau do not pay the usual fees for a driver’s license, car inspection, car registration, or a gun permit. Third‑party automobile insurance is required by law.

Employees may sell personal property, including privately owned vehicles, to any U.S. Government employee who enjoys duty‑free privileges at the time of the sale without paying any taxes or customs duties. Employees who wish to sell personal property or privately owned vehicles to anyone who does not enjoy duty‑free privileges must obtain the written permission of the DCM prior to the sale. The owner of the property in question is responsible to ensure payment of Bahamian customs duties on all required items imported into the Bahamas duty free. Unlike some countries that allow personal property and automobiles to be sold duty free after the property has been in the country for a prescribed period of time, no such relief exists from paying required duty in the Bahamas.


Major credit cards and travelers checks are accepted at most major hotels, restaurants, department stores, and shops (though not at all grocery stores or gas stations). Personal checks are not universally accepted. Obtaining a Bahamian bank account is a lengthy and difficult process. If you must have one, contact Royal Bank of Canada on West Bay Street in the Super Value Shopping Center or Scotiabank, downtown. Personal checks drawn on U.S. banks may be cashed at the downtown branch of Scotiabank for either U.S. or Bahamian dollars.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 11/26/2003 1:53 PM

Albury, Paul. History of the Bahamas.

Bacon, E.M. Notes on Nassau. New York, 1926.

Barnard, J. Lawrence. Gently Down the Stream.

Bloomfield, John. Flip Flop, Fish on Co. Ltd., 1999.

Craton, Michael. History of the Bahamas.

Dupuch, Jr. Etienne. Bahamas Handbook. Nassau.

Eneas, Dr. Cleveland. Bain Town.

Glinton-Meicholas, Patricia. An Evening in Guanima: A Treasury of Folktales from the Bahamas. Guanima Press.

Glinton-Meicholas, Patricia. How To Be A True-True Bahamian. Guanima Press.

Glinton-Meicholas, Patricia. Talkin’ Bahamian. Guanima Press, 1994.

Jenkins, Olga Culmer & Saunders, Gail. Bahamian Memories: Island Voices of the Twentieth Century. U. of Florida Press, 2000.

Johnson, Dr. Doris. The Quiet Revolution. Nassau.

Johnson, Howard. The Bahamas from Slavery to Servitude, 1783–1933, 1996.

McCartney, Dr. Timothy. Neuroses in the Sun.

Marshall, Dawn I. The Haitian Problem, Illegal Migration to the Bahamas. Kingston, Jamaica.

Saunders, Dr. Gail. Islanders In The Stream. University of Georgia, 1992.

Whabir, Dennis J. The Caribbean Federation. Philadelphia, 1957.

Wilder, Robert. Wind From the Carolinas.*

Wouk, Herman. Don’t Stop the Carnival.

*The Embassy particularly recommends this entertaining and historical novel, available in any public library.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 11/26/2003 1:53 PM

New Year’s Day January 1 Good Friday Friday before Easter Easter Monday Monday after Easter Whit Monday May 23 Labor Day First Friday in June Independence Day July 10 Emancipation Day August 1 Discovery Day October 12 Christmas Day December 25 Boxing Day December 26

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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