KICKED TO THE CURB: No more travel health visa for Bahamian citizens and residents

KICKED TO THE CURB: No more travel health visa for Bahamian citizens and residents

Travel health visa requirement still in place for visitors

Cooper hints manual immigration landing card to be axed “in due course”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Tourism Minister Chester Cooper advised in Parliament yesterday that beginning December 13, Bahamians and residents will no longer require health visas to return home.

The travel visa, however, will remain in place for visitors “for the foreseeable future”.

During a contribution in Parliament, Cooper explained that while testing requirements will remain in place for all travelers, those protocols are currently under review by the Ministry of Health.

“We believe that this provides a level of protection for the health and safety of all in The Bahamas by vetting the authenticity of documents by the Bahamas Health Travel Visa Program, well in advance of travel,” he said.

“The visa has also allowed us to gather key data for analysis and marketing, and the means to better communicate events that may impact travel.

Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper.

“We foreshadow further that the manual immigration landing card will be eliminated in due course.

“We are satisfied that once this process is digitized, it will create a further convenience to our tourists and foreign business travelers.”

Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis promised earlier this year that a Progressive Liberal Party-led government would end travel health visa requirements for Bahamians and visitors upon taking office.

The party had continually asserted that the travel visa was an unnecessary tax imposed by the Free National Movement government.

Upon coming to office, the Davis administration removed the travel health visas requirement for domestic travel in The Bahamas, and as of October 1, Bahamians and residents of The Bahamas, whether vaccinated against COVID-19 or not, no longer had to pay travel health visa fees to travel internationally.

The fees were left in place for visitors.

The health visa has been adjusted several times since its rollout, based on local and global changes with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cooper advised yesterday that the online visa platform experienced interruptions and delays for a short period on December 5 and 6.

The interruptions were reportedly due to power outages and other technical glitches at Cable Bahamas, which serves as the data host.

“This was most unacceptable and regrettable,” Cooper said.

A sample Bahamas travel health visa.

“We, therefore, apologize to the traveling public for this inconvenience. I have asked that our service providers put in place the appropriate redundancy so that this does not recur.”

The tourism minister noted that the government has completed its promised review of all the contracts associated with the visa platform and renegotiations are underway with all partners.

The travel health visa was placed under the spotlight earlier this year amid assertions that the Minnis administration awarded the contract for the program based on political affiliation — an accusation the former administration and online payment retailer Kanoo have rejected.

Cooper further pointed to a recent change to the United States’ travel regime requiring international travelers to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than one day before boarding a flight to the US.

“The Bahamas is well-positioned to adapt to this new requirement as many hotel properties offer on-site testing, making the process for visitors as efficient as possible, with ample off-property testing sites also available throughout The Bahamas,” he added.

“We remain optimistic for a robust winter travel season with ample direct airlift available from key markets, ample testing facilities, as well as accommodations and endless options of things to see, do and experience, to suit every type of vacation seeker, making The Bahamas a seamless travel opportunity.”

Data from the health visa indicates an average of 62 percent of all visitors to The Bahamas are fully vaccinated, with six percent of those unvaccinated being children under the age of 12 who do not yet qualify for the vaccine, he said.

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.


I agree with the government of the Bahamas for their citizens not paid for the travel visa to entered their own country. For us as foreign nationals. I was thinking if that process can applied for us under one condition. For visitors who are fully vaccinated not to paid for the travel visa and show proof of our vaccine card. Maybe that could help other travelers to get vaccinated who has families living in the Bahamas. I dont know if my idea will make an impact and protect other from this deadly virus. So when visitor see that the people who’re vaccinated will no longer has to paid for travel visa they will go and do the right thing get vaccinated and protect themselves and other.

This is a good idea and it’s a welcome development as well. This system will make sure for those that will be entering Bahamas for the very first time to be well vaccinated and pay for the health insurance at a designated hospitals approved by the government of the state which goes along with the health policy of the state of Bahamas. Those that as been living in the country might be exempted as stated by the minister…..

I’m totally agree with this new policy, two months ago me and my wife applied for a travel Visa only to be denied after we had done all the necessary requirements .

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