Jamaica - Consular Information Sheet
September 10, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Jamaica is a developing nation of
approximately 2.5 million people. Facilities for tourists are
widely available. International airports are located in Kingston
and Montego Bay.
ENTRY AND EXIT REQUIREMENTS: U.S. citizens traveling as
tourists can enter Jamaica with a U.S. passport or a certified
copy of a U.S. birth certificate and current state photo identification.
They must also have a return ticket and sufficient funds for their
visit. U.S. citizens traveling to Jamaica for work or for extended
stays are required to have a current passport and must obtain
a visa before arriving. A departure tax is collected when leaving
the country. For further information, travelers can contact the
Embassy of Jamaica at 1520 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington,
DC 20036, telephone (202)452-0660, the Jamaican Consulate in Miami
or New York, or one of Jamaica's honorary consuls in Atlanta,
Boston, Chicago, Houston, Seattle or Los Angeles. Travelers may
Jamaican representative in the United States through the
Internet at http://firstname.lastname@example.org or at http://email@example.com.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments
have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include
requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission
for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not
present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required,
may facilitate entry/departure.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Gang violence and shootings frequently
affect Kingston's inner city areas, and briefly flared up into
broader violence and fatalities within Kingston in July, 2001.
Some inner-city neighborhoods are occasionally subject to curfews
and police searches. Incidents of violence, including reprisal
attacks, have been reported in inner-city areas of Montego Bay
Organized as well as impromptu political demonstrations sometimes
occur, during which demonstrators may construct roadblocks. The
roads leading to Norman Manley International Airport can be vulnerable
to such stoppages. Americans should take common-sense precautions,
monitor news reports, and avoid large gatherings and demonstrations.
The majority of American tourists visiting the north coast of
Jamaica use Donald Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay.
Demonstrations and roadblocks usually do not affect tourist areas,
but travelers can check with local authorities or the U.S. Embassy
CRIME: Crime is a serious problem in Jamaica, particularly
in Kingston. In several cases, robberies of Americans have turned
violent after the victim resisted handing over valuables. The
U.S. Embassy advises its staff to exercise caution when traveling
to and from Kingston's Norman Manley International Airport via
Mountain View and Windward Roads, especially after dark, because
of the crime threat in the neighborhoods they traverse. The U.S.
Embassy also advises its staff not to use public buses, which
are often overcrowded and have proved to be a frequent venue for
crime. Visitors should not walk outside after dark and should
avoid neighborhoods known for high crime rates. Be aware of your
surroundings and take the same precautions as in any large city
in the United States.
Drug use is prevalent in some tourist areas. American citizens
should avoid buying, selling or taking illegal drugs under any
circumstances. There is anecdotal evidence that use of so-called
"date rape" drugs has become more common at clubs and
private parties. Marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other illegal
narcotics are especially potent in Jamaica, and their use can
lead to severe or even disastrous health consequences.
To enhance security in the major resort areas on the north coast,
the Government of Jamaica has taken a number of steps, including
assignment of special tourist security personnel. Particular care
is called for at isolated villas and smaller establishments that
may have fewer security arrangements. Travelers should be more
cautious in unfamiliar surroundings than they are at home. In
particular, valuables should not be left unattended anywhere,
including the beach.
Relatives of U.S. citizens visiting Jamaica and U.S. citizens
who are prisoners in Jamaica have received telephone calls from
people alleging that they are Jamaican police officers or other
public officials. The callers state that the visitor or prisoner
has had trouble and needs financial help. The caller states that
money should be sent to the caller who will assist the visitor
or prisoner. Money is sent but fails to reach the U.S. citizen
in need. U.S. citizens who receive calls such as these should
contact the American Citizen Services Unit of the Embassy's Consular
Section for assistance in confirming the validity of the call.
The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported to local
police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. U.S. citizens
can refer to the Department of State's pamphlets, A
Safe Trip Abroad and Tips
for Travelers to The Caribbean for ways to promote a trouble-free
journey. These pamphlets are available from the Superintendent
of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington
D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical care is limited compared to
the United States. While public hospitals are located in each
parish, comprehensive emergency medical services are available
only in Kingston and Montego Bay. Emergency medical and ambulance
services are not as widely available in outlying parishes, and
ambulance service is limited both in the quality of emergency
care and in the availability of vehicles in remote parts of the
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges
Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior
to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas
and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical
evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs
incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage
is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do
not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.
However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance
plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including
emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans
should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require
payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical
evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured
travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme
difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your
trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare
provider or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses
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, 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 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 United States. The information
below concerning Jamaica is provided for general reference only,
and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Driving in Jamaica is on the left-hand side of the road. Drivers
and passengers are required to wear seat belts, and motorcycle
riders are required to wear helmets. A number of U.S. citizens
who have rented motorbikes have been seriously injured, often
because the riders were not wearing helmets. Extreme caution should
be used when driving motorbikes on unfamiliar roads. Signage is
often poorly placed or missing. Driving at night is especially
dangerous in Jamaica. Several fatal accidents involving Americans
have occurred after dark. It is easy to become lost while driving
in Jamaica and help may not be readily available. Travelers taking
taxicabs should use only licensed taxicabs with red-and-white
"PP" license plates.
The A1, A2, and A3 highways are the primary links between most
important cities and tourist destinations on the island. These
roads are not comparable to American highways, and conditions
can be quite hazardous due to large potholes in the road and wandering
livestock. The "B" highways should be avoided altogether,
as several have been damaged by torrential rains and are now impassable.
Roadblocks used by residents to draw attention to particular issues
and street dances that draw large crowds can block traffic without
warning, and require extreme caution by drivers.
additional general information about road safety, including links
to foreign government sites, see the Department of State,
Bureau of Consular Affairs, home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.
For specific information concerning Jamaican driver's permits,
vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact
the Embassy of Jamaica's website or the Jamaica Tourist Board
at 1-800-JAMAICA (1-800-526-2422).
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the Government of Jamaica's civil aviation
authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation
safety standards for oversight of Jamaica's air carrier operations.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit
Internet website 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 DOD at (618) 229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Jamaican customs authorities may
enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into
or export from Jamaica of items such as firearms, produce, and
pets. Entering Jamaica with a firearm or ammunition is a serious
crime. Fresh fruits, vegetables and uncooked meats are not permitted
to be brought into or out of the country. Pets may not be brought
into Jamaica, except for dogs from the United Kingdom that have
not been vaccinated for rabies, and only after six months quarantine.
Travelers should contact the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington
or one of the Jamaican consulates in the U.S. 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 Jamaican laws,
even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, fined or imprisoned.
Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs
in Jamaica are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail
sentences and heavy fines.
BEHAVIORAL MODIFICATION FACILITIES: In recent years there
has been a growth of facilities around the world for the treatment
of minors with drug/alcohol and discipline problems. These overseas
treatment centers are known at "Behavior Modification Facilities."
Parents enroll their children in these facilities in the hope
of improving their behavior. The Department of State is aware
of facilities in Jamaica, Mexico, and Samoa. There may be facilities
in other countries that have not come to the attention of the
Parents considering enrolling their children in overseas Behavior
Modification Facilities may find it prudent to visit the site
and review the host countries rules governing the facility and
its employees. Parents should contact the U.S. Embassy/Consulate
in the host country to inquire about the facility, or speak to
the country officer in the Office of American Citizens Services,
Bureau of Consular Affairs at 1 202 647-5662. When aware of the
existence of such facilities, U.S. consular officials conduct
periodic site visits, sometimes accompanied by host country officials,
to monitor the general well being of the U.S. citizen enrollees
and to specifically check on individuals who have been the subject
of welfare and whereabouts inquires.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Jamaica, like all Caribbean countries,
can be affected by hurricanes. Hurricane season runs from approximately
June 1 - November 30 each year. The Office of Disaster Preparedness
and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has put measures in place in
the event of an emergency or disaster. General information about
natural disaster preparedness is available 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: U.S. citizens
are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S.
Embassy in Kingston. The Consular Section is located on the first
floor of the Life of Jamaica Building, 16 Oxford Road, Kingston
5, telephone 1-876-935-6044. Office hours are 7:15 a.m. to 4:00
p.m. with window services available Monday through Friday, 8:30
a.m. to 11:30 a.m. For after-hours emergencies involving American
citizens, a duty officer can be contacted at 1-876-926-6440. The
Chancery is located three blocks away at the Mutual Life Building,
3rd floor, 2 Oxford Road, Kingston 5, telephone 1-876-929-4850
There is a Consular Agency in Montego Bay at St. James Place,
2nd floor, Gloucester Avenue, telephone 1-876-952-0160, fax 1-876-952-5050.
Office hours are 9 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Monday through Friday.
The U.S. Embassy also has consular responsibility for the Cayman
Islands, a British dependent territory. Please refer to the British
West Indies Consular Information Sheet for information about the
Cayman Islands. There is a Consular Agency located in the office
of Adventure Travel, Seven-Mile Beach, George Town, Grand Cayman,
telephone 1-345-946-1611, fax 1-345-945-1811. Office hours are
8 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Monday through Friday.
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated September
14, 1999, to update sections on Entry and Exit Requirements, Safety
and Security, Crime, Medical Facilities, Medical Insurance, Traffic
Safety and Road Conditions, Customs Regulations, Special Circumstances
and Registration/Embassy and Consulate Location, and to delete