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
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
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
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.