The Bahamas are a gorgeous set of islands off the coast of Florida that offer stunning beaches, world-class fishing, and relaxing resorts.
The independent island nation is a popular Caribbean travel destination that sees plenty of tourists every year.
Since it’s so close to the US, do you need a passport to visit the Bahamas?
While the Bahamas don’t require visas for US citizens that visit, you will need to provide a passport if you travel there by air. In most cases, you’ll also need to show your departure flight tickets to prove you intend to leave the islands as well. All other international travelers must apply for a visitor visa.
Traveling to the Bahamas
The Bahamas is an archipelago containing nearly 700 coral islands in the Western Atlantic Ocean.
It sits to the north of Cuba and is only 50 miles from the coast of Florida. The country’s consistent sportfishing brings boaters from Florida quite often.
As an independent country, travelers to the Bahamas will need to provide a passport when they arrive at the airport or docks.
You’ll also need to fill out a customs form, though visitor visas are not required for US citizens that plan to travel to the islands.
Traveling by air is relatively simple. Travelers disembark their plane at an airport and are then funneled through customs processing where they provide their passports and customs forms.
In addition to these documents, you’ll need to show proof of your anticipated departure from the Bahamas. This is as easy as showing your plane tickets to return to your country.
Boaters traveling to the Bahamas are not immune to passport requirements.
Bahamas Customs and Immigration officials will come to your vessel upon docking. Every passenger must provide proof of citizenship, a passport, and fill out customs forms.
It’s also possible to visit the Bahamas via cruise lines instead of air or personal watercraft.
Visitors to the Bahamas that enter the country via a cruise line may use any approved Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant document.
This allows travel via cruise lines between countries that are part of the initiative, at the discretion of the cruise line.
Closed-loop cruises that stopover in the Bahamas may not require a passport prior to boarding. These are cruises that depart from and return to the same port, typically in the United States.
If you do enter the country without a passport via a cruise, you must stay in the immediate area of the city you stop in.
It’s strongly recommended for any traveler intending to visit the Bahamas to have a passport, regardless of the other options available.
Do you need a passport to go to Bermuda?
Just like in the Bahamas, a passport is required to both travel to Bermuda and re-enter the United States.
As a British territory, non-British citizens must comply with all international travel guidelines set by the United Kingdom.
For a full understanding of required travel documentation, you can contact a British embassy. US citizens can check this page for guidelines.
Does Royal Caribbean require a passport?
For non-US citizens, a passport is required to board any Royal Caribbean cruise that leaves from the United States.
For these same cruises, US citizens may provide a birth certificate and an official ID instead.
ID requirements vary for Royal Caribbean cruises, depending on where the cruise leaves from, your citizenship, and where the cruise may stop over.
For more questions, check Royal Caribbean’s FAQ for travel documents.
Where Can U.S. Citizens Go Without a Passport?
A US passport gives travelers access to most European, Caribbean, and Central and South American countries without needing an additional visa.
It’s strongly recommended that you have a passport for any international travel.
Despite this, US citizens have quite a few places they can travel to without needing to apply for a passport.
Anywhere in the 50 states and the district of Columbia is considered fair game for US citizens.
Travel by land doesn’t require anything more than a driver’s license unless you cross another country en route.
Flights between states are considered domestic flights, including to Hawaii and Alaska.
You’ll need an updated driver’s license with a REAL ID star on it to fly, but you won’t be needing a passport.
US territories don’t require US citizens to hold a passport to travel to them or return to the United States.
Not all of these territories are inhabited and you can’t travel to all 14 current US territories, but the ones you can go to are amazing destinations.
Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands are all great places to visit, with Puerto Rico being the most popular.
US citizens can also travel to Canada and Mexico through other programs, without needing a passport.
In most cases, these are convenience IDs that allow people who frequently cross or live on the border freedom of movement.
NEXUS cards, SENTRI cards, and EDLs (enhanced driver’s licenses) can all allow you to move between these countries by land.
However, any flight to or from Mexico or Canada is considered an international flight and you will be required to provide a passport.
US citizens can also visit other countries without a passport on closed-loop cruises. As discussed earlier, these cruises leave and return to the same US-based port.
Tulum, Cancun, and many places in the Caribbean allow you to get off the boat and explore the immediate area.
Going beyond this tourism zone does require a passport and regulations change over time.
Check with your cruise line regarding what identification you will be required to provide on the cruise and at any stops along the way.
Whether you plan to visit the Bahamas by boat or plane, you’re going to need to provide a passport upon arrival.
The one exception to this is if you visit the islands via a closed-loop cruise, though having a passport is still strongly recommended.