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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet

Tips for Travellers to Caribbean

Since colonial times, the Caribbean has been a favorite place for American visitors. In the past 50 years, tourism to the area has increased greatly, and today millions of U.S. citizens visit the islands every year. The majority of these visitors have a safe trip. To help you have a similar experience, the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs has prepared these tips for you.

Consular Affairs provides services to Americans who travel or reside abroad. If, in spite of your best precautions, you find yourself in difficulties abroad, please contact the U.S. consul at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. There is a list of U.S. embassies and consulates in the Caribbean at the end of this publication.

We hope you have a safe and enjoyable experience during your visit to the Caribbean!

Originally named the West Indies by explorers seeking a sea route to India, the Caribbean is the region of tropical islands in the Caribbean Sea situated between North and South America and east of Central America. The islands extend for nearly 1,700 miles from Cuba in the west to Barbados in the east.

Note: There are special conditions relating to travel to Cuba, including U.S. Treasury restrictions

Travel to Mexico and to Central and South America is covered in separate publications. To order them, see the inside back cover.

If you plan to visit the most popular islands during high tourist season (from mid-December to mid-April), confirm your hotel reservations two to three months in advance. There are, however, lesser-known islands where you may be able to book first class accommodations on short notice. In addition, you can usually book reservations with ease during the off-season, but be aware of hurricane season, which runs from June to November. During this period, travelers are wise to check weather reports before departure from the U.S., as well as periodically, during their stay.

Most of the islands in the Caribbean belong to one of 13 independent countries. In addition, several islands and groups of islands in the Caribbean are part of or dependent upon France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, or the United States. A directory of the major islands is located at the end of this document.

Preparation for Your Trip

Start Early. If a passport is required for you to enter the country where you are planning to travel, apply for it as soon as possible. (See the section, Entry and Exit Requirements.)

Learn about the countries you plan to visit. Before departing, read up on the culture and people for the places you will travel.

As you travel, keep abreast of local news coverage. If you are in an area experiencing civil unrest or a natural disaster, if you will be staying more than two weeks in an area, or if you are going to a place where communications are poor, you are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. (See addresses at the end of this document.) Registration takes only a few moments, and it may be invaluable in case of an emergency. Remember to leave a detailed itinerary and the numbers of your passport or other citizenship documents with a friend or relative in the United States.

For up-to-date travel information on any country in the world that you plan to visit, obtain the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet. This covers topics such as entry regulations, the crime and security situation, drug penalties, and location of the nearest U.S. embassy, consulate or consular agency.

The Department also issues Travel Warnings and Public Announcements. A Travel Warning advises travelers not to go to a country because of dangerous conditions and/or U.S. government's ability to assist a U.S. citizen in distress there is severely limited. A Public Announcement is issued as a means to disseminate information quickly about relatively short-term and/or trans-national conditions which would pose significant risks to the security of American travelers.

How to Access Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements

Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements are available at the regional U.S. passport agencies; from U.S. embassies and consulates abroad; or by sending a self-addressed, stamped business-size envelope to: Overseas Citizens Services, Room 4811, Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-4818. On the outside envelope, write the name of the country or countries needed in the lower left corner.

There are three electronic methods to access Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements 24-hours a day:

By Telephone : Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements may be heard any time by dialing the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 202-647-5225 from a touchtone phone. The recording is updated as soon as new information becomes available.

By Internet : Information about travel and consular services is also available on the Internet. The address is http://travel.state.gov.

By Fax : From your fax machine, dial 202-647-3000 and follow the voice prompts.


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Disclaimer: Although we've tried to make the information on this web site as accurate as possible, we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by any person resulting from information published on this site. We encourage you to verify any critical information with the relevant authorities before you travel.

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