BAHAMAS

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Country Description: The Bahamas has a developing economy. Tourist facilities are widely available.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: Visas are not required for U.S. citizens for stays up to eight months; however, U.S. citizens must carry proof of U.S. citizenship, photo identification, and an onward/return ticket. Voter registration cards are not accepted as proof of citizenship. For further information concerning entry requirements, U.S. citizens may contact the Embassy of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, 2220 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 319-2660, or the nearest consulate in Miami or New York.

Medical Facilities: Medical care is generally good, but may be limited in remote areas. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

There is a chronic shortage of blood at Princess Margaret Hospital, Nassau, where most emergency surgery is performed. Travelers with rare blood types should know the name and location of possible blood donors should the need arise.

U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the U.S. Supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including medical evacuation, has proved to be helpful. Information on health matters can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559. Internet: http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Visitors should exercise normal caution and good judgment in looking after valuables on the beach and in securing their hotel rooms properly. Crime is more prevalent in major population centers such as Nassau and Freeport. Most incidents of theft take place in a part of Nassau not usually frequented by tourists (the "over-the-hill" area). Women in particular may wish to avoid traveling alone or on deserted areas of beaches and poorly-lit areas at night.

Tourists who arrive by private boat are required to declare firearms to Bahamian Customs and to leave firearms on the boat while in The Bahamas. For further information on firearms in The Bahamas, please contact the Embassy of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Boaters should be aware that long-line fishing in Bahamian waters is illegal. All long-line fishing gear is required to be stowed below deck while transiting through Bahamian waters.

The loss or theft of a U.S. passport overseas should be reported to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. A lost or stolen U.S. birth certificate and/or driver's license generally cannot be replaced outside of the U.S. Useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad." Both this pamphlet and "Tips for Travelers to The Caribbean" are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Criminal penalties for possession, use, or dealing in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and fines.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: Road conditions throughout Nassau and Freeport are generally good. Road travel in other parts of The Bahamas is limited. Drivers, especially those on mopeds, must remember to drive on the left side of the road. Pedestrians should also be aware when stepping off curbs that vehicular traffic comes from the right. Death and serious injuries have occurred when visitors lapsed in adapting to unfamiliar rules of the road.

Aviation Oversight: In April 1992, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration assessed The Bahamas' civil aviation authority as in compliance with international aviation safety oversight standards for Bahamian carriers operating to and from the U.S. The same level of safety oversight would typically be applied to operations to other destinations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation at (800) 322-7873.

Embassy Location/Registration: U.S. citizens may register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in The Bahamas, located next to McDonald's Restaurant on Queen Street in downtown Nassau; telephones (242) 322-1181 and 328-2206. This Embassy is also responsible for consular services in the Turks and Caicos Islands, a dependency of the United Kingdom. U.S. citizens may obtain from the U.S. Embassy updated information on travel and security in The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos.

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