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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Gaudeloupe

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 the 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 circumstance.

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 requirements.

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 the contraband.

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 1-202-736-7000.

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.

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