What do I need to do before I bring my drone/UAV to the Bahamas?

Effective February 2016, all drones/UAV in the Bahamas MUST file an application for admittance with the Ministry of Aviation. You can apply at www.bcaa.gov.bs. On this page, the button for drones is RED and you must create an account first. You will receive an email with an access code to do so. Apply for a drone entry form. This takes time and must be done well in advance of travel. Bring the approval letter from the Ministry of Aviation with you to the Bahamas along with the purchase receipt to show value.

Be aware of Bahamas Customs regulations. Visitors to the Bahamas are allowed an exemption of $100.00. Anything in excess will be made to leave a deposit equal to 45% duty plus 7.5% VAT. In the case of drones, this is to insure that you are not leaving it or selling it in the Bahamas. Bring the receipt of purchase to calculate value. If you do not have the receipt, you can print a price from a web seller like Amazon.

This deposit must be cash. U.S. dollars are acceptable. No credit cards accepted for this deposit. If you pay this by credit card, you will not get it back. It will be considered DUTY. Upon your departure from the Bahamas, you can reclaim your cash deposit from the customs desk in their office at the airport. You must show the customs receipt (Don’t lose it!) for your deposit and the physical drone to the agent to get your deposit back. Do not check your luggage before reclaiming your deposit. An officer will escort you to either the airline check in counter if it is being shipped as baggage or to U.S. Customs if it is something carried on the person and the deposit left would then be refunded with the owner of the goods signing the reverse of the receipt to acknowledge receipt the funds.

Note: If your drone uses a camera that is a separate entity, the camera is duty free/deposit free. The drone is subject to the deposit duty and VAT. If your drone has a built in camera purchased as one unit, it is not necessary to leave a deposit equal to duty but must pay VAT as a deposit.

For example:

A drone that uses a GoPro camera attached valued at $1,000.00.
$1,000.00 less $100.00 allowable is valued at $900.00.
Deposit equal to 45% duty is $405.00
VAT of $67.50 based on value is on top of that!

Note: UAV operators must not fly within 5 nautical miles of any airport; at a height above 200 feet; or within 150 meters of any congested or populated area; over or within 150 meters of an organized open-air assembly of more than 100 persons; within 50 meters of any vessel, vehicle or structure which is not under the control of the person in charge of the aerial vehicle, without special permission of the owner; or within 50 meters of any person.