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United States – Bermuda: A Special Relationship

Bermuda enjoys a 400-year-old historic, cultural, and economic relationship with the United States.  Located 650 miles east of North Carolina, Bermuda’s proximity to the United States has made the island a valued partner throughout history, contributing to strong trading alliances. 

Bermuda was first settled in 1609 by shipwrecked English passengers aboard the Sea Venture originally heading to Jamestown, Virginia.  The island was administered as an extension of Virginia until 1614 when a British company acquired rights before it officially became a British Overseas Territory in 1707.  Bermuda’s growing maritime trade operations and commercial business led the two countries to establish a trading partnership in the early 1700’s.  William Higginbotham was appointed as the first U.S. Consul General to Bermuda in 1786 as the Agent for Commerce and Seamen by President James Monroe and Secretary of State Quincy Adams.  The U.S. Consulate continues to lead U.S. diplomacy and advocacy by advancing the interests of the American people, their safety and economic prosperity ever since.  U.S.-Bermuda engagement reaches across all sectors, including international business, maritime security, crisis response, space exploration, environmental research, athletics, arts, and education.

During the War of 1812 and World War II, Bermuda’s location became a strategic site for military and naval forces not only for the United States but for the United Kingdom and Canada as well.  In 1941, the United States established two military bases – the U.S. Naval Air Station located to the east on St. David’s Island and the Naval Air Station Annex located to the west in the Great Sound.  Both bases closed in 1995, and property ownership was returned to the Bermuda Government.

Maintaining their bilateral relationship, the United States and Bermuda continue to rely on each other for international business and trade of goods. The United States provides over 80 percent of imported goods to Bermuda and has deep connections through the international business and commercial sectors.  The Consulate prioritizes providing services for U.S. citizens. With approximately 8,000 American citizens residing in Bermuda and an average of 625,000 American visitors each year, the Consulate issues travel advisories and passports, and handles birth registrations and other family matters.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) provides U.S. preclearance services at the L.F. Wade International Airport.  Other U.S. government agencies work in cooperation with the Bermuda Government, including National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).