It’s not always practical to leave your pet at home when traveling. They might not cope well with a boarding stay, and you may not have family or friends who can come and pet sit in your home.
The Bahamas is a popular destination for U.S. tourists, but is it possible to travel to the Bahamas with a pet? Rather than compromise your travel plans, can you take them with you?
Can You Travel to the Bahamas with a Pet?
You can travel to the Bahamas with a pet, provided you meet specific criteria which prove the pet is healthy. Before you travel, you’ll need to apply for an import permit from the Ministry of Agriculture, Trade, and Industry in Nassau. If your pet meets the medical requirements and you have the permit, you can bring your pet with you.
It’s essential to be organized, though – getting the proper medical certificates and the permit for bringing your pet into the Bahamas takes time. You can’t book a last-minute break and hope to rush through everything. If you wish to take a pet to the Bahamas, it will need to be a more planned vacation, with ample time to arrange everything.
Some breeds of dogs aren’t permitted to travel to the Bahamas, including Pitbulls, Presa Canario, Staffordshire Terrier, Cane Corso, and American Bulldogs. It’s best to always check the Government of the Bahamas website for complete details.
Preparing for the Trip
Before you travel to the Bahamas with your pet, you need to make sure of the following:
- You’ve arranged the proper air travel for your pet.
- You have a suitable carrier to transport them comfortably.
- You have everything you need for your pet during the journey – you may be unable to source any medication or special food for them.
- You’ve chosen pet-friendly accommodation.
- You’ve considered local transport – some public transport won’t allow pets to travel.
- You’ve booked a vet visit to get a health checkup and to complete a certificate (that you get when applying for an import permit), ready to present when you enter the Bahamas.
Regulations for Flying with a Pet to the Bahamas
The current regulations for flying to the Bahamas with a pet are as follows:
- Your pet must have an import permit from the Ministry of Agriculture, Trade, and Industry (see below).
- Your pet must be six months of age or older.
- Pets have to be vaccinated against rabies.
- Owners must present a Veterinarian Health Certificate, completed by the vet 24 hours before travel.
The import permit must be applied for directly with the Bahamas government and can be done in writing, addressed to:
Director of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture, Trade and Industry, P.O. Box N-3704, Nassau, The Bahamas
Ensure you check at the post office so your mailed application has the correct stamps for international postage.
The permit has a $10 processing fee plus 12% VAT for a total of $11.20, and they claim a two-business-day turnaround time, though you should apply for it as soon as you’ve firmed up your travel plans. You can also pay an extra $5 to fax the permit to you. The permit is valid for one entry to the Bahamas for up to one year.
Your pet must have had a recent rabies vaccination to travel with you to the Bahamas. The pet must have received the one-year vaccination more than one month and less than ten months before the travel date.
For the three-year vaccination, the pet must receive it more than one month and less than 34 months before travel.
Veterinarian Health Certificate
As part of the permit application, you’ll receive a veterinary health certificate that a licensed veterinarian must complete 24 hours before you travel. This will demonstrate that your pet is fit and able to travel without carrying any infectious diseases.
Once your vet has completed the certificate, you’ll need to present it to the security and customs desk on arrival in the Bahamas to have it validated.
While visiting your veterinarian, they will also discuss anything else you should be aware of when traveling to the Bahamas with your pet, including any specific information about your pet’s health.
Do Pets Have to Quarantine in the Bahamas?
Provided you’ve followed the steps for importing a pet into the Bahamas – making sure they have the proper import permit, the health certificate from the veterinarian, and are vaccinated against rabies – your pet won’t need to quarantine on arrival.
How Much Do Airlines Charge to Fly Pets?
The cost to fly with a pet varies, but American Airlines charges $125 for a carry-on kennel as a guideline. You’ll need to check the costs for your chosen airline, but you generally pay the fees when you check in rather than buying a separate ticket in advance.
Pets will travel with you as carry-on and typically replace your allowance for a carry-on bag, although check with your airline. Only in limited circumstances can pets travel in the hold using a special cage.
As a note, service animals don’t usually incur a pet fee when flying.
Can You Cruise to the Bahamas with a Pet?
No major cruise lines permit you to sail to the Bahamas with a pet. Only one cruise line allows pets to travel, and that is Cunard, specifically on sailings from New York to Southampton, England (or vice versa).
Pet-Friendly Accommodations in the Bahamas
Not all accommodation in the Bahamas is pet-friendly – finding a suitable choice when you book is crucial. Otherwise, you may be refused entry when you arrive.
There are a lot of hotels and self-catered accommodation options in the Bahamas that do accept pets. You can also use services like Airbnb to find pet-friendly options that are not listed as official accommodation options.
Some accommodation choices will charge an additional pet fee, while others include pets in the room/lodge/apartment cost. It’s also important to check size restrictions, as some may limit you to small dogs only. Cat owners will generally be okay, even Ragdoll cats.
While websites such as Booking.com and TripAdvisor list pet-friendly accommodations, it’s worth contacting the accommodation owner directly to check their pet policy. These websites are sometimes outdated or incorrect, so don’t make assumptions.
Tips for Keeping Your Pet Happy During Your Bahamas Trip
Travel is often stressful for pets, so consider ways to make it more comfortable and ensure you’re prepared well before you travel.
You’ll need a big enough carrier to accommodate your pet, with space where they can relax. Ideally, you’ll bring their favorite bedding, treats, and toys to keep them calm during the journey.
Make sure you give your pet time to do their business. Don’t arrive at the airport too early. If you’re traveling with a cat and can fit a litter box in their carrier, that can help. You should ensure you give dogs a toilet break outdoors before checking in.
It’s not just about the flight either – you need to bear in mind your pet’s comfort once you’re in the Bahamas, so their favorite bedding and toys can help. Cats will want their usual litter, too, so make sure you have some packed in your luggage.
The Bahamas gets hot, so think about your pet’s hydration too. You don’t want to risk them becoming unwell if they aren’t drinking enough. And you’ll have to make sure you have your pet’s medication with you, too, whether it’s regular medication or something you may only need in an emergency.
Here are a few other tips:
- Don’t introduce your pet to the carrier on the day of travel. Give them time to adjust to it in advance, so it’s not a new and scary environment.
- You can try calming sprays in the carrier, which are remedies designed to reduce stress.
- Don’t leave your pet for long periods in the hotel room. They will already be worried about their new environment, so make sure you are around plenty as a calming influence.
While there is a lot to consider when you plan to travel to the Bahamas with a pet, it’s not so restrictive that it becomes an impossible challenge.
Provided you are organized in advance so that you can follow the pet import requirements and get the necessary documentation, it’s relatively straightforward.
You can then focus on ensuring your pet is as comfortable as possible during your travels, including during the flight and while staying at your chosen pet-friendly accommodation.
This article originally appeared on Savoteur.