Bahamas Testing Pre-Clearance Flights in Florida

Flying from Florida to the Bahamas might soon be easier. The Bahamas is testing a pre-clearance system from Florida so that visitors can go through customs and immigration before arriving.


It’s no secret that tourism is hugely important to the Bahamas. The country took a hit after the destruction of Hurricane Dorian, but the Bahamas is now looking to bounce back.


The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism recently announced that they are testing preclearance of flight from Florida in hopes that it will majorly boost tourism to the nation. The move is expected to improve access to the Family Islands, such as Exuma, and diversify tourism centers across the Bahamas.


This could mean that travelers would be able to go through customs and immigration in Florida before boarding their flights bound to the Bahamas. Tourists would then be able to skip this when landing, allowing airports in the Bahamas to run more smoothly.


The Ministry of Finance first put preclearance flights into place after Hurricane Dorian. The move was made to help facilitate the delivery of relief to supplies to Grand Bahamas and Abaco. So far the system has been a success. So successful in fact that the Ministry of Tourism has persuaded two Florida airports to keep the preclearance system in place on a trial basis.


“Florida has the largest number of private pilots in the United States and the third-largest number of registered aircraft,” Bahamas Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said. “The Florida airport operators are telling us that many private pilots hesitate when contemplating to fly to a foreign country. But if their approvals can be given before they take off from Florida, the operators are convinced that the traffic may substantially increase.”


A major reason for preclearance testing was that it opens up more Family islands for nonstop flights. Currently, many flights have to divert to an official port of entry, clear Customs, and Immigration, then travelers have to get on a connecting flight to continue to their desired destination.


The Bahamas already does something similar with the U.S. The Bahamas has long had a U.S. Customs and Immigration in Nassau and Grand Bahama, meaning tourists can go through U.S. Customs and immigration in the Bahamas before even arriving in the U.S. If the test is successful, the Bahamas will also look into doing something similar with seagoing vessels.


“If this test is successful, this is likely to be an important plank in our plans to diversify the tourism centres across The Bahamas.”


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