The American Citizen Services Unit stands ready to help American citizens in The Bahamas or the Turks and Caicos Islands -- and their loved ones – in emergency situations. American citizens overseas, of course, remain subject to the laws of the country they are in. The links below give an overview of consular assistance available and other useful information:
- Illness or Injury
- Lost U.S. Passport
- Victims of Crime
- Missing Persons/Welfare & Whereabouts
- Child Abduction
- Lack of Funds (Destitution)
- Getting Emergency Help Abroad
In case of emergencies involving the death, injury, welfare, or arrest of an American citizen in The Bahamas or the Turks and Caicos Islands, please call (242) 328-3496 or 242-311-1181x9 during business hours, and 242-357-7004 at all other times. (Please note that the Duty Officer who answers this number will not be able to assist with visa or routine passport matters.)
Death of a U.S. Citizen in The Bahamas or the Turks and Caicos Islands
When an American citizen dies in The Bahamas or the Turks and Caicos Islands, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau should be notified as soon as possible. Upon notification, the Consular Officer's subsequent actions will depend on the circumstances of the death and on decisions made by the next-of-kin.
A primary concern for most families is arranging a proper funeral and internment. There are formalities to be considered when seeking to have a loved one's remains shipped internationally. A Consular Officer can work closely with the mortuary home(s) and local authorities to ensure a smooth process.
A document called A Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad (Form OF-180) is issued by the Consular Section (based upon the information on the local Death Certificate) and forwarded to the next-to-kin. It is a legal document which may be used in U.S. courts to settle estate matters.
Lost or Stolen Passports
Reporting a Lost or Stolen Passport
You must report the loss or theft of your valid U.S. passport immediately to the nearest U.S. Passport Office or U.S. Embassy or Consulate using form DS-64 "Statement Regarding A Lost Or Stolen Passport." The Embassy also encourages you to report the loss or theft of your passport to local authorities, and to obtain a police report. More information is available at http://travel.state.gov/passport/lost/lost_848.html.
Replacing a Lost or Stolen Passport
If your passport is lost or stolen while traveling in The Bahamas or the Turks and Caicos Islands, please contact the ACS Unit as soon as possible regarding replacing the passport. If you need to travel soon, you may request an expedited appointment to replace a lost/stolen passport. Depending on your personal circumstances, the ACS Unit will process your application for a new regular (full-validity) or emergency (limited-validity) passport. Application requirements, including fees, for emergency passports are the same as those for full-validity passports. You will need proof of citizenship (an original or certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Naturalization certificate) and a photo ID, such as a driver's license or school ID. Children under age 16 must also meet the requirements regarding parental consent.
The ACS Unit will only issue emergency passports that are needed for urgent travel. Applicants requesting an emergency passport must provide proof of immediate travel plans such as a valid itinerary or airline tickets, as well as an explanation as to why the travel plans cannot be changed to allow sufficient time for the processing of a full-validity passport (usually about two weeks). In most cases, same-day issuance is possible for emergency passports. However, some cases require approval from the Department of State prior to issuance.
Arrest and Detention
One of the most important tasks of the Consular Section is to provide assistance to U.S. citizens incarcerated in The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. We stand ready to assist incarcerated citizens and their families within the limits of our authority in accordance with international law.
If American citizens are arrested or detained while in the Turks and Caicos Islands, the local authorities are required to notify the U.S. Embassy in Nassau without delay, and officials from the embassy or consulate must be allowed access to the American citizen prisoner upon request.
U.S. consular officers can and do monitor conditions in local prisons and can protest allegations of abuse against U.S. citizen prisoners when requested to do so. We work with prison officials to ensure treatment consistent with internationally recognized standards of human rights and to ensure that Americans are afforded due process under local laws. We can help the prisoner communicate with family or friends back in the United States, and can assist the prisoner with contacting a local attorney.
While in The Bahamas or the Turks and Caicos, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law -- especially relating to drugs and firearms -- can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, fined, arrested, or imprisoned.
Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and/or fines. If arrested abroad, a citizen must go through the foreign legal process for being charged or indicted, prosecuted, possibly convicted and sentenced, and for any appeals process. Within this framework, U.S. consular officers provide a wide variety of services to U.S. citizens arrested abroad and their families.
- List of Attorneys in The Bahamas
- List of Attorneys in the Turks and Caicos
- Overview of the Bahamian Legal System
Privacy Act - The provisions of the Privacy Act are designed to protect the privacy and rights of Americans, but occasionally they complicate our efforts to assist citizens abroad. As a rule, consular officers may not reveal information regarding an individual American’s location, welfare, intentions, or problems to anyone, including family members and Congressional representatives, without the expressed consent of that individual. Although sympathetic to the distress this can cause concerned families, consular officers must comply with the provisions of the Privacy Act.
- Additional Information about Consular Notification and Access
- Further Information for Americans Arrested Abroad.
Assistance to Victims of Crime
Being the victim of a crime in a foreign country can be a devastating and traumatic experience. While no one can undo the emotional trauma, physical injury, and/or financial loss you may have experienced, the ACS Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Nassau stands ready to help. We are very concerned about crimes committed against U.S. citizens in The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCIs).
An American Citizen who is the victim of a crime in The Bahamas or the TCIs should:
- Contact local police (in an emergency, dial “911 or 919”) to report the incident and obtain immediate help with safety concerns. The police will arrange for a medical examination and social help if needed.
- Contact the consular section of the U.S. embassy for assistance. The ACS Unit can be reached during working hours at 242-328-3496. (In emergency circumstances, an Embassy Duty Officer can be reached after hours and on weekends by calling 242-357-7004.)
Consular personnel are familiar with local government agencies and resources. They can help American crime victims with issues such as:
- Contacting family, friends, or employers;
- Obtaining appropriate medical care;
- Addressing emergency needs that arise as a result of the crime;
- Obtaining general information about the local criminal justice process and information about prosecution;
- Obtaining information about local resources to assist victims;
- Obtaining information about crime victim assistance and compensation programs in the U.S.;
- Obtaining a list of local attorneys;
- Reporting stolen credit cards and other documents;
- Changing travel tickets or reservations; and
- Replacing a stolen passport, usually within one working day;
We encourage all Americans who have been victims of crime while in The Bahamas or the TCIs to report the crime to the police in the location where the crime occurred as soon as possible. This is particularly important to ensure the best possibility of a successful investigation and prosecution.
- Help for Victims of Crime Overseas and Contact Information for Victim Compensation and Assistance Programs
- Resources in the United States
- Additional Information
The American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Nassau can assist in trying to locate American citizens believed to be in The Bahamas or the Turks and Caicos Islands. Sometimes concerned relatives and friends call us when they haven’t heard from a loved one. At other times they need to get in contact with a loved one -- traveling in the region -- due to an unforeseen emergency.
We can help to pass messages to these missing Americans. Consular officers use the information provided by the family or friends of a missing person to locate the individual, and pass the caller’s message. We check with local authorities in the foreign country to see if there is any report of a U.S. citizen hospitalized, arrested, or otherwise unable to communicate with those looking for them. Depending on the circumstances, consular officers may personally search hotels, airports, hospitals, or even prisons. The more information that the caller can provide, the better the chances are that we can find the missing American.
Privacy Act – The provisions of the Privacy Act are designed to protect the privacy and rights of Americans, but occasionally they complicate our efforts to assist citizens abroad. As a rule, consular officers may not reveal information regarding an individual American’s location, welfare, intentions, or problems to anyone, including family members and Congressional representatives, without the expressed consent of that individual. Although sympathetic to the distress this can cause concerned families, consular officers must comply with the provisions of the Privacy Act.
Welcome to the Emergency Preparedness section of the U. S. Embassy website! The United States Government has no higher responsibility than to protect American citizens and ensure their well-being while traveling or residing abroad. With this in mind, we have identified a wide range of information from U.S., Bahamian, and Turks and Caicos Islands (TCIs) government sources to help you and your family stay safe while visiting or residing in The Bahamas or the TCIs.
Millions of Americans visit The Bahamas and TCIs safely each year. Nonetheless, the archipelago which forms The Bahamas and the TCIs consists of hundreds of individual islands and cay, which are subject to risks and natural disasters. In recent years, for example, Hurricanes Jeanne and Ike devastated various parts of the archipelago. Most potential natural threats can be successfully managed, or their adverse impacts mitigated, through awareness and preparation. The Embassy recommends that you take three fundamental steps to protect yourself and your family while The Bahamas or TCIs:
- Get a Kit
- Make a plan
- Be Informed
For general information about these three steps, please visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) website www.Ready.gov.
Information specific to hurricane preparedness in The Bahamas and TCIs can be found on our Hurricane Preparedness page.
During or after a natual disaster, the Consular Section works hard to provide current information to American citizens in the disaster zone. This information is usually sent out as "Warden Messages" (primarily via email) to all American citizens who have enrolled in the SMART Traveler program and indicated their presence in The Bahamas or TCIs.
Avoiding a natural disaster is preferable. The Embassy recommends that American citizens traveling in the region monitor local events and have realistic contingency plans. If a natural disaster threatens, plan accordingly.
If you are caught up in a natural disaster or civil disturbance, you should let your relatives know as soon as possible that you are safe, or contact a U.S. consul who will pass that message to your family through the State Department. U.S. officials will do everything they can to contact you and advise you. However, priority will be given to helping Americans who have been hurt or are in immediate danger.
Emergency Contact Info
In case of emergencies involving the death, injury, welfare, or arrest of an American citizen in The Bahamas or the Turks and Caicos Islands, please call (242) 328-3496 during business hours, or 242-322-1181x9 or 242-357-7004 at all other times. (Please note that the Duty Officer who answers this number will not be able to assist with visa or routine passport matters.)