The Bahamas have always been an attractive destination not only because of their beautiful beaches and temperate climate, but because of their close proximity to the United States. American citizens who are planning short visits to the Bahamas require nothing more than a passport, sufficient funds and proof of residency, such as hotel accommodations, to be able to enjoy the pleasures of this group of islands in the Caribbean. Those who are planning to take their children along should be aware of a few things that generally apply to any child traveling to an offshore location.
Facts about Children’s Travel to the Bahamas
Travel to the Bahamas for short stays is not very complicated. In general, a visa is not required by the Bahamian government for those who are staying less than three weeks, regardless of their country of origin. American, Canadian and British citizens specifically are required to have six months left on their passport to be able to travel to the Bahamas for short stays. For children under sixteen years of age traveling with their parents or guardians, the only requirements that apply are to situations where only one parent is accompanying the children, in which case a letter of consent by the absent parent or, in the case of separated or divorced parents, an official document such as a court order is needed. For mothers who have changed their name, an official document showing the name change or a raised-seal birth certificate with the mother’s maiden name and a government issued photo ID with that name will be required before entry is allowed.
Reasons for Identification Requirements for Parents
Most identification requirements for parents who travel anywhere in the world, including the Bahamas, are based on common sense and are generally benign in nature. Any government wants to know who is traveling in their country, what the purpose of the visit is, and who is responsible for any minors who are along on the trip. These are standard concerns especially as they relate to underage children due to the liability of the host country. Another unfortunate aspect of this issue is the increased occurrence of child abductions which have become a worldwide concern. Yet the extra precautionary steps to identify everyone in a visiting party, especially children, should be seen as reasonable requests to ensure their safety and the security of the host country.
Other Facts to Consider About Children Traveling to the Bahamas
In cases where children under the age of sixteen will be visiting the Bahamas without the parents or guardians, there are specific identification and travel documentation requirements to adhere to. At the very least, a certified and signed letter of consent to travel alone will be required. A raised-seal birth certificate and other forms of government issued photo ID should also be carried by the minor. It would be recommended that the laws that pertain to identification requirements for re-entry to the country of origin be thoroughly researched and understood before a child under sixteen years of age travels to another country. For those children over the age of sixteen who will be traveling without their parents or guardians, identification needs should be considered as if they were adults traveling abroad, which would mean a proof of citizenship and a verifiable government issued photo ID.
Warnings about Traveling with Children to the Bahamas
The Bahamas are uniquely beautiful and offer many wonderful things to experience, yet they are not unique in that because they are mainly dependent on tourism for their national income, the common pitfalls which can affect foreign visitors to any country can occur in the Bahamas. Any person who is not familiar with a location or a certain environment should research the available information about hotels, tourist attractions and local commerce to better understand where there might be areas of concern in regards to personal safety, crime statistics and rates of exchange. Finding out in advance which bus lines or taxi companies have better customer ratings is a good idea, as well as which hotels are in areas that are lower in crime ratings and offer the best access to attractions that are suitable for families. It would also be advisable to learn as much as possible about what areas of interest are accessible by walking so that families can enjoy the sights together without relying on transportation schedules or vehicle rentals.
The Positive Side of Traveling with Children to the Bahamas
The Bahamas have a lot to offer their visitors, such as the beaches, scuba diving excursions, the Atlantis Aquarium, sight-seeing tours and shopping venues which can make for a very enjoyable stay. The responsible parent or guardian of children who are traveling to the Bahamas, or any country for that matter, should be taking every step to ensure the safety and well-being of their children including necessary documentation, proper health and nutrition plans, and their overall protection and safe-keeping. Taking these steps will make for a very enjoyable and memorable visit to the Bahamas, including a safe and happy return.