French West Indies - Consular Information Sheet
February 22, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The French West Indies consists of
two French overseas departments, Martinique and Guadeloupe, and
their dependencies. These islands are well developed. In the sub-prefects
of St. Martin (French side) and St. Barthelemy, English is widely
spoken, and U.S. currency is accepted.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Passports are required of U.S. citizens
entering the French West Indies. Visitors who arrive on a commercial
air carrier with a round-trip ticket may enter for up to 90 days
without a visa. For further information, travelers can contact
Embassy of France at 4101 Reservoir Road, N.W., Washington,
DC 20007; telephone 1 202 944-6000; or the nearest French consulate
in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New
York, New Orleans or San Francisco; Internet: http://www.info-france-usa.org.
DUAL NATIONALITY: In addition to being subject to all
French laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be
subject to other laws that impose special obligations on French
citizens. Although France recognizes dual nationality, dual nationals
are considered French citizens and are subject to French laws
without regard to the other nationality. For additional information,
visit the Consular
Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/
for our Dual Nationality flyer
CRIME: Petty street crime occurs throughout the French
West Indies, but has increased in St. Martin. Valuables left on
beaches or locked in rental cars are subject to theft.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or
consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's
pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad,
for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet
is available by mail from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, DC 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
or via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical care is available throughout
the French West Indies. Martinique has the best medical care in
the Eastern Caribbean, with 13 hospitals. Guadeloupe also has
good medical care. Not all doctors speak or understand English.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always
valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs
do not provide payment for medical services outside the United
States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment
for health services. Uninsured travelers who require medical care
overseas may face extreme difficulties.
Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether
your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical
evacuation, and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems
requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the U.S.
can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Please ascertain whether
payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or if
you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some
insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment
and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via
the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: 1-202-647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations
and other health precautions may be obtained from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international
travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ
significantly from those in the U.S. The information below concerning
the French West Indies is provided for general reference only,
and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or
Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor to Fair
The roads in the French West Indies are the best in the Eastern
Caribbean. Both Martinique and Guadeloupe have some six-lane highways.
Roads are well paved and well maintained. Traffic safety is enforced
by the police. Night driving can be dangerous, especially in the
mountains and on winding rural roads. Public transportation in
the form of taxis and vans is relatively safe.
For additional general information
about road safety, including links to foreign government sites,
please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs
home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific
information concerning French West Indies driver's permits, vehicle
inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the
French National Tourist Organization offices at http://www.franceguide.com/.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the government of France's Civil Aviation Authority
as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety
standards for oversight of French air carrier operations. For
further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation
within the U.S. at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the
FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some
foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of
air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific
carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone 1-618-229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: French customs authorities may enforce
strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export
from French West Indies of items such as firearms, medications,
animals, etc. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of France
or a French consulate for specific information regarding customs
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S.
citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which
sometimes differ significantly from those in the U.S. and may
not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S.
law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in
the U.S. for similar offenses. Persons violating French laws,
even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties
for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the French
West Indies are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail
sentences and heavy fines usually equaling the street value of
CONSULAR ACCESS: As there is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate
in the French West Indies, U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry
a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that,
if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship
are readily available.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: The French West Indies can be affected
by hurricanes. The hurricane season normally runs from June to
the end of November, but there have been hurricanes in December
in recent years. General
information about natural disaster preparedness is available via
the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For
information on international adoption of children and international
parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site
at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: There is
no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the French West Indies. For assistance
in the French West Indies, U.S. citizens may contact the U.S.
Consular Agency at 9 Rue Des Alpinias, Dedier, Fort de France,
Martinique, Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., except
local and U.S. holidays; telephone (011) (596) 71-96-90 or fax
(596) 71-96-89. The mailing address is P.O. Box 975, CEDEX 97246,
Fort de France, Martinique. For after-hours service, American
citizens may contact the
U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados, telephone 1-246-436-4950.
U.S. citizens living in or visiting the French West Indies are
encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy
in Bridgetown, and obtain updated information on travel and security
within the French West Indies. The Consular Section is located
in the American Life Insurance Company (ALICO) Building, Cheapside;
telephone 1-246-431-0225; fax 1-246-431-0179; Internet: http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/bb1/wwwhemb1.html.
The Consular Section is open for American Citizens Services from
7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, except local and U.S. holidays.