Netherlands Antilles - Consular Information Sheet
November 3, 2000
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Netherlands Antilles is an autonomous
part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands comprised of five islands:
Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius (aka Statia), and Sint Maarten
(aka St. Maarten) (Dutch side). Tourist facilities are widely
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Either a U.S. passport or U.S. birth
certificate accompanied by valid photo identification must be
presented. While a U.S. passport is not mandatory it is recommended
since it is more readily recognized as a form of positive proof
of citizenship. Tourists may be asked to show onward/return tickets
or proof of sufficient funds for their stay. Length of stay is
granted for two weeks and may be extended for 90 days by the Head
Offfice of Immigration. For further information, travelers can
contact the Royal
Netherlands Embassy, 4200 Linnean Avenue, N.W., Washington,
D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 244-5300, or the Dutch consulates
in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Houston. Internet: http://www.netherlands/embassy.org.
DUAL NATIONALITY: Dutch law in principle does not permit
dual nationality. However, there are exceptions in some cases.
The Embassy of The Netherlands in Washington or one of the Dutch
Consulates in the U.S. will be able to provide more detailed and
specific information on this subject. In addition to being subject
to all Dutch laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may
also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations
on Dutch citizens. For additional information, see the
Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov
for our Dual Nationality flyer.
CRIME INFORMATION: In recent years, street crime has increased.
Valuables, including passports, left unattended on beaches, in
cars and hotel lobbies are easy targets for theft. Burglary and
break-ins are increasingly common at resorts and beach houses.
Armed robbery occasionally occurs. As the American boating community
in Curacao has recently reported a handful of incidents, visitors
are urged to exercise reasonable caution in securing boats and
Car theft, including that of rental vehicles for joy riding and
stripping, can occur. Vehicle leases or rentals may not be fully
covered by local insurance when a vehicle is stolen. Be sure you
are sufficiently insured when renting vehicles and jet skis.
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, D.C. 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 generally good in
Curacao and St. Maarten, but may be limited on the other three
islands. Hospitals have three classes of services (i.e. first
class: one patient to a room, TV, better food; second class: two
to three patients to a room, shared bathroom, etc.; third class:
15 to 29 people in one hall), and patients are accommodated according
to the level of their insurance.
Bonaire: San Francisco Hospital, a small hospital (35 beds) has
an air ambulance connection/service to Curacao and Aruba.
Curacao: St. Elizabeth Hospital, a public hospital, and several
private clinics can be compared to mid-range facilities in the
St. Maarten: St. Maarten Medical Center, a relatively small hospital
(79 beds) where general surgery is performed. Complex cases are
sent to Curacao.
Statia: Queen Beatrix Medical Center, a small medical center
(20 beds) is a facility well equipped for first aid. Surgery cases
are sent to St. Maarten.
Saba: Saba Clinic, a small clinic (14 beds) is a well-equipped
first aid facility. Surgery cases are sent to St. Maarten.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always
valid outside the U.S. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do
not provide payment for medical services outside the U.S. Doctors
and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.
Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face
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. Ascertain whether payment will be
made to the overseas hospital or doctor 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 on 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: (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 U.S. The information below concerning
the Netherlands Antilles is provided for general reference only
and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
In St. Maarten, recent hurricanes have degraded road quality,
and cruise passengers in particular are uncomfortable with the
aggressive behavior of taxi drivers.
Safety of Public Transportation: good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: good
Driving in the Netherlands Antilles is the same as in the U.S.,
on the right-hand side. Right turns on red are prohibited in the
Netherlands Antilles. The traffic conditions in the Netherlands
Antilles require defensive driving, as other vehicles tend to
follow rather closely, have a tendency to drift over the center
line, and do not reliably stop for yellow and red lights. Local
laws require drivers and passengers to wear seat belts and motorcyclists
to wear helmets. Children under 4 years of age should be in child
safety seats; if older they should ride in the back seat.
Major road hazards specific to the Netherlands Antilles are hidden
and poorly maintained street signs. Night driving is reasonably
safe in the Netherlands Antilles as long as drivers are familiar
with their routes. Most main streets are properly lit, but smaller
side streets may not be. Taxis are the easiest yet most expensive
form of transportation on the islands. As there are no meters,
passengers should verify the price before entering the taxi. Vans
are inexpensive and run nonstop during the daytime with no fixed
schedule. Each van has a specific route displayed in the front
windshield. Buses, which run on the hour, have limited routes.
The road conditions on the main thoroughfares are in good to fair
For 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 Netherlands Antilles driver's
permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance,
contact the Netherlands National
Tourist Organization offices in New York at 1-888-464-6552,
Internet: http://www.goholland.com. See also road safety information
from other sources for Curacao
at http://www.curacao-tourism.com/; for Saba
at http://www.turq.com/saba/; and for St.
Maarten at http://www.st-maarten.com/.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the government of the Netherlands Antilles'
Civil Aviation Authority as Category 1- in compliance with international
aviation safety standards for oversight of the Netherlands Antilles'
air carrier operations.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at 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 (618) 229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Netherlands Antilles customs authorities
may enforce strict regulations concerning importation into and
exportation out of the Netherlands Antilles. Travelers are allowed
to purchase a maximum of $600 worth of duty free merchandise based
on the retail value. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of
the Netherlands in Washington or one of the Dutch Consulates in
the U.S. for specific information.
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 Netherlands Antilles
laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.
Netherlands Antilles has strict gun control laws; even a stray
bullet in a suitcase can trigger a fine or time in jail.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: The time-share industry and other
real estate investments are two of the fastest growing tourist
industries in the Antilles. Time-share buyers are cautioned about
contracts that do not have a "non-disturbance or perpetuity
protective clause" incorporated in the purchase agreement.
Such a clause gives the time-share owner perpetuity of ownership
should the facility be sold. Americans sometimes complain that
the time-share units are not adequately maintained, despite generally
high annual maintenance fees. Because of the large number of complaints
about misuse of maintenance fees in Sint Maarten in particular,
prospective timeshare owners are advised to review the profit
and loss statement for maintenance fees. Note: a reputable accounting
firm should audit the profit and loss statement.
Potential investors should be aware that failed land development
schemes involving time-share investments can result in financial
losses. Interested investors may wish to seek professional advice
regarding investments involving land development projects. Real
estate investment problems that reach local courts are rarely
settled in favor of foreign investors. Travel information publications
are available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius
lie in the path of hurricanes. 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/.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY/CONSULATE LOCATION: Americans living
in or visiting the Netherlands Antilles are encouraged to register
at the Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate General in Curacao,
located at J.B. Gorsiraweg #1, Willemstad, Curacao, telephone
011 (599-9) 461-3066; fax 011 (599-9) 461-6489; e-mail address:
firstname.lastname@example.org. The Consular Section hours of operation
are 9:00 a.m to 11:00 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday except
U.S. and Dutch holidays. After-hours, emergency telephone 011