Bahamas Pet Info

warderick wells cay, Bahamas


You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says,

‘My God, you’re right! I never would’ve 
thought of that!' – Dave Barry

Click here for Bahamas Pet Import Application

ALWAYS CHECK for new and updated pet import info. So many people have asked for it that I am giving a synopsis of the procedure here, along with my interpretation of a couple of things. But for the sake of deniability you should always check out an official source to be sure.

There are commercial on-line providers of import permit applications, but save time and money and get it directly from the Bahamian government. None of them are going to give you anything any different from what I provide below, and they cannot speed up the process for you. Learn how to do this, since you’ll have to do it every year if you are going to do the snowbird thing. The on-line outfits just charge you for the same application that you’ll find in the next paragraph. Save your money for a couple extra sundowners.

Here is a link (same as above) for the application for an import permit.  (If you need more than just the app here is some contact info: for the Bahamas Department of Agriculture at 242-325-7502 or fax them at 242-325-3960 or you can write by snail mail to: Director, Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box N – 3704, Nassau, Bahamas.)  This form will NOT get you your permit. It will simply make your request for an application for an import permit. Once you submit this request form they will then send you the necessary application forms. You then submit your application with the required fee of $10 per pet and they will mail you your import permit. For an extra $5.00, they will fax it to you. (I do not know how much time you save by faxing – pay your money and take your chances.) You must pay with CASH or MONEY ORDER (no checks or credit cards). Read on.

Once you’ve sent your payment, you will then be issued forms IMP1(A) which, is good for one entry within a year of issuance; and form IMP1(B), which must be taken to and filled out by a veterinarian before you make your crossing. The form (B) states that the veterinarian has examined the pet and certifies that the pet is free of disease and is properly vaccinated in accordance with the rules on form IMP1(A) (the actual import permit). The import requirements also mention that there is customs duty of $10 plus 1/2% of the value of the animal. That means a flat $10 each for Fluffy and Max (20 bucks total).

Here are the requirements you must meet:

When you go you must have a health certificate from your veterinarian.  The Bahamas will generally accept a computer generated health certificate – the official U.S. International Health Certificate will work, but is not specified. PET MUST BE 6 MONTHS OR OLDER. Rabies vaccination is specific – must be done NO LESS than one month before importation, but can be a 1-year or 3-year vaccine — either vaccine must have AT LEAST 2 months remaining before it expires, and make sure you have the certificate. Dogs need to have had (TIME NOT SPECIFIED – i.e. it’s up to your veterinarian) a Distemper, Hepatitis (Adenovirus), Parvo, Lepto, and even Corona virus vaccination at whatever schedule your vet uses — no limitations are given. Cats must have had (again, TIME NOT SPECIFIED) Feline Distemper (Panleuk), Rhino, Calici, Pneumonitis, and Leukemia vaccinations at whatever schedule your vet uses. The pet must have had a negative fecal exam for parasites and must be free from external parasites (fleas, ticks, lice). This must all be stated on the health certificate.

Your permit is good for one year. Cost as of Summer 2015 was still $10.00 per pet.

Now The Bahamas permit to import states that “The animal must be accompanied by a Veterinary Health Certificate issued within 48 hours of importation by a licensed veterinarian in the country of origin certifying that….”  The directive does NOT state that any of the required PROCEDURES must be performed within 48 hours of your arrival. In addition the permit also states “The animal(s) must be presented to LICENSED VETERINARIAN for examination within forty-eight (48) hours of arrival in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.”  

These ambiguous statements cause a lot of concern on the part of pet owners. The online website import requirements state that “The animal must be accompanied by a Veterinary Health Certificate presented within 48 hours of arrival in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to a licensed veterinarian for an examination.” All of this timing of the exam stuff is confusing to everybody. The main thing is to have it done reasonably close to your departure. If there are any issues when you get there, you should be able to get them remedied by visiting a local veterinarian upon arrival. Don’t get spooked. If you have made the effort to comply, you’ll get in. I have not heard any horror stories about not getting in. But I have heard a lot of consternation over the timing of the veterinary visit. Don’t sweat it.

What do the snowbirds do who make this trip regularly? They do the “don’t ask, don’t tell” thing. Have everything done at your convenience before you cross. When you get there, if they don’t ask about your pet, don’t worry about it. You have your documentation. If they ask, all they really want to see is your import permit, i.e. they want to make certain you’ve paid your money. Hand them what they ask for and deal with it. Be ready to plead for forgiveness if you should need to, but that’s really unlikely. Your paperwork will show that you tried to comply and you should do just fine. When I used to practice in Baltimore I used to examine pets in September or October for cruisers who were not going to cross until December. I always warned them that there could be an issue with the timing, but I never had anybody have any problems. If you should have a problem with your paperwork when you get there, ask them what you can do next time to make it right.

For the past several years, there has been a space on the application form that allows you to place your pet’s microchip number. A microchip is not required but this space is there for you to record your pet’s ID. Your pet should have a microchip to allow for undisputed identification should any questions arise – in other words, for your own protection and that of your pet. They do specify that the chip must be a HomeAgain, Avid, Destron or Trovan microchip.