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The New Normal: Confirmed Bahamas GA Guidelines and Safety Protocols for Entry

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The New Normal: Confirmed Bahamas GA Guidelines and Safety Protocols for Entry

After long months of isolation, the United States and other countries including the Bahamas are starting to re-open for travel. If you are feeling ready to dust off your plane and head out on an international flight, take note. There are a few new guidelines and safety protocols that general aviation pilots must be aware of while flying from the U.S. to the Bahamas under the new normal.

The policies are broken down into each phase and leg of your trip: before leaving the U.S., leaving the U.S., arriving in the Bahamas, staying in the Bahamas, leaving the Bahamas, and returning to the U.S. They cover what you need to know to be granted entry and exit from the Bahamas as well as remain in compliance with the Bahamas’ Tourism Readiness and Recovery Plan while there.

Here is what to expect:

Before Leaving the United States

The Bahamas has implemented a phased re-opening strategy with Phase 1 lasting until the end of June and Phase 2 starting at the beginning of July. Your pre-departure requirements will vary based on when you fly.

Phase 1 (June 15th – June 30th)

  • Fill out an online travel health card with the Bahama government prior to departure
  • Obtain a COVID-19 swab test which must be negative and no more than 10 days old upon your arrival in the Bahamas (note that as a private pilot, if you for some reason are not planning to deplane, you do not need to take the test)
  • No quarantine required

Phase 2 (starting July 1st)

  • Fill out an electronic health declaration form which will be available through the official Bahama government website
  • No COVID-19 test required
  • No quarantine required

Leaving the United States

  • When leaving the U.S., a flight plan (either VFR or IFR) is required to be filed by calling 1-800-WXBRIEF or via a computer-based system
  • File an e-APIS outbound manifest at least 1 hour prior to departure and confirm you receive a DHS reply clearing you prior to takeoff
  • Enter pilot, crew, and airplane information in APIS along with submitting a notice of departure at least 1 hour prior to takeoff
  • Have a Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person onboard
  • Activate your flight plan prior to leaving Florida using radio frequency 122.40 from Palm Beach, 122.20 from Miami/Fort Lauderdale, or 122.55 from Fort Pierce

Arriving in the Bahamas

  • Before landing in the Bahamas, contact Nassau radio on 124.2 or 128.00 to close your flight plan
  • Clear Bahamas customs
    • Must land at a designated airport of entry (AOE)
    • Only 1 person per aircraft is allowed in the customs office, and that person must be wearing a face mask.
    • You will be asked to present 3 copies of the C7A general declaration form along with a Bahamas immigration card for each person on board

Staying in the Bahamas

While in the Bahamas, pilots should follow local policies, procedures, and regulations surrounding COVID-19 safety practices. These include

  • Physical distancing measures of 3-6’
  • Regular handwashing
  • Wearing face masks as appropriate

Bahamas tourism related business are required to follow the government’s health and safety guidelines and earn a Clean & Pristine certification. When taking a taxi, going out to eat, staying in a hotel, riding a ferry boat, enjoying the attractions, or shopping, here is what to expect:

Taxis

  • Taxi passengers must always wear masks throughout the ride and cannot ride in the front seat
  • Taxis are required to reduce occupancy by 50% meaning that a sedan will only accommodate 2 persons (unless a party is traveling together) and an SUV is now rated for 4 persons

Restaurants

  • Buffets are closed until further notice
  • Restaurants are open with limited seating to accommodate for physical distancing of patrons
  • Restaurants are using disposable menus, digital menus, or chalkboard menus 

Hotels

  • Hotels are following enhanced cleaning procedures and employee health monitoring practices
  • Hotels are limiting the number of guests in elevators and offering readily available hand sanitizer and disinfectant

Ferries

  • Ferries are running at 50% occupancy with distanced seating
  • Ferries are sanitized prior to and after each trip as well as at the end of the day with high contact surfaces like railings being cleaned throughout the trip

Attractions & Shopping

  • Limit to the maximum number of guests and the duration of visits to attractions
  • Beach chairs should be positioned to allow at least 6’ distance between groups
  • When shopping, customers may only touch the items they will be purchasing
  • Cashless sales are encouraged

Leaving the Bahamas

  • File an e-APIS manifest at least 1 hour prior to departure, although you can choose to do it earlier
  • File an international VFR or IFR flight plan
    • Include “ADCUS” which stands for “advise customs” in the remarks box
    • Call the customs facility at your U.S. airport of entry at least 1 hour prior to arrival and provide them your tail number, departure point, and Zulu estimated arrival time. Record the call agent’s two-letter call sign as proof that you did indeed make the required call
  • Clear the Bahamas Customs Office
    • Again, only 1 person per aircraft is allowed in the office, and that person must wear a face mask
    • Submit a stamped C7A form, the pink copy of the Bahamas Immigration Card, and two C7 General Declaration forms per person
    • Pay $29 per person departure tax
  • Activate your flight plan
  • Get a discrete squawk code from FSS
  • Activate flight following if desired

Returning to the United States

  • Before landing in the United States, close your flight plan if VFR (International IFR plans will be closed for you)
  • Clear United States customs
    • Remove all luggage from plane and leave aircraft doors open
    • Provide blue customs form along with a passport or U.S. resident card for each person on board

Questions?

Any of the Bahamas Gateway FBO facilities along the east Florida coast can answer questions and provide guidance on the new COVID-19 related policies.

Additional Resources

COVID Safe Private Pilot Checklist PDF

Bahamas Tourism Readiness and Recovery Plan Phase 1 PDF

Bahamas Tourism Readiness and Recovery Plan Phase 2 PDF

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  • PilotMall.com Editor