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The Bahamas Government

The Bahamas is a constitutional multi-party parliamentary democracy and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The government is headed by an elected Prime Minister and Parliament, and Queen Elizabeth II is the nominal head of state and is represented in The Bahamas by an appointed Governor General.

Political Parties

There are currently 3 major political parties; The Free National Movement (FNM), the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), and the newest to enter the race, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA).

All the major political parties have enjoyed good relations with the business community, and no serious political movement in Bahamian history has ever advocated the nationalization of foreign property. There is no Bahamian history of political violence or instability, and politics tends to follow the British model of combining often intense rhetoric with courtly manners. The political issues of most interest to the business community are bank secrecy and openness to foreign investment. The political parties favor maintaining the Bahamian tradition of strict bank secrecy, believing this policy to be essential to the maintenance of a thriving financial services sector.

Bilateral U.S.

Bahamian relations are excellent. Although The Bahamas lie along the most direct air route for transport of illegal substances between South America and the southeastern United States, Bahamian government cooperation with U.S. law enforcement agencies under “Operation Bahamas-Turks & Caicos” (OPBAT) has significantly reduced the level of drug trafficking through The Bahamas. Bilateral cooperation in narcotics interdiction operations is extremely close. In 1994, the Bahamas strongly supported American efforts to end military rule in Haiti. A common language, cultural similarities, family and personal ties dating back to the days of the American Revolution (when the ancestors of many modern Bahamians first came to the islands from the southeastern United States), and the enormous number of visitors every year between the two countries have engendered a level of familiarity and ease of communication unusual even between neighboring countries.

Commonwealth of Nations

The Bahamas is enrolled as an independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The political and legal traditions of Bahamas closely follow the British ones, owing to their commonwealth membership. The country has a parliamentary form of democracy and regular elections are held. The Bahamian senate consists of 16 members, who are appointed by the Governor-General, who also appoints the Chief Justice on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The local government districts in Bahamas elect local councils for town planning, business licenses, traffic issues and maintenance of government buildings. Lower level town councils are also accorded minor responsibilities in some large districts.

Bahamas Customs & Immigration

“So, if you’re determined to bring cigarettes, alcohol, prescription drugs, etc. into The Bahamas, you need to be aware of our Customs Rules.”
• You may bring up to two liters of alcohol and two cartons of cigarettes per person
(must be of legal drinking age to qualify).
• You may bring a "reasonable" amount of duty-free goods for personal use.
• All prescription drugs must be accompanied by an official prescription.

We have a thing about gun possession here – for obvious reasons! It is illegal to import a firearm or ammunition into the Bahamas or to possess a firearm in the country without appropriate permission. Tourists who arrive by private boat must declare firearms to Bahamian Customs and leave firearms on the boat while on land. Penalties are strict, and can involve heavy fines, lengthy prison terms, or both. And trust us – Foxhill Prison is not a place you ever want to see the inside of!

For further information, contact the Bahamian consulate or embassy in your country. US Citizens can contact the Embassy of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas in Washington, D.C. or the Bahamian consulates in Miami or New York.

Duty

To avoid paying duty on the foreign-made high-ticket items you already own and bring with you on your trip, register them with customs before you leave your own country. You can file a Certificate of Registration for items such as laptop computers, cameras, watches, and other digital devices identified with serial numbers or other permanent markings; this certificate is good for as long as you travel. Otherwise, bring a sales receipt or insurance form to show that you owned the item before you left your country.