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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago - Consular Information Sheet
April 27, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Trinidad and Tobago is a developing nation composed of two islands. Tourist facilities are widely available.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required of U.S. citizens for entry to Trinidad and Tobago. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for stays of 90 days or less. Work permits are required for certain types of compensated and non-compensated employment, including missionary work. For further information concerning entry, employment and customs requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago, 1708 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone (202) 467-6490 or the consulates of Trinidad and Tobago in Miami at (305) 374-2199 or New York City at (212) 682-7272, or by email at embassyttgo@erols.com.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: In general, Trinidad and Tobago is considered safe. While some non-violent demonstrations occasionally occur, civil disorder is not a major threat. American citizens traveling to or residing in Trinidad and Tobago are advised to take common-sense precautions should they come upon a demonstration or protest.

CRIME: Visitors should exercise normal caution and good judgment when visiting Trinidad and Tobago. Petty crime continues to be a problem, and reported incidents of violent crime have been on the rise. In response, local authorities and the hospitality industry have implemented an action plan aimed at protecting visitors to Tobago. Hotel guests should always lock their doors and should never leave valuables unattended, especially in cars or on beaches. Visitors should not travel alone at night on deserted beaches or in poorly-lit areas, such as scenic overlooks. When in doubt, visitors should consult the establishment where they are staying. Particular care is called for at isolated villas that may have fewer security arrangements. The U.S. Embassy advises its staff to exercise caution when traveling from Port-of-Spain's Piarco Airport to town, especially after dark, and to avoid using maxi-taxis (mini-buses) or buses.

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 pamphlets, A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to The Caribbean for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlets are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.D. 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 more limited than in the United States. Care at public health facilities is significantly below U.S. standards for treatment of serious injuries and illness. Care at some private facilities is better than at most public health facilities. Ambulance service is extremely limited both in the quality of emergency care and in the availability of vehicles in many parts of the country.

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, whereas travelers who have purchased overseas medical insurance have, when a medical emergency occurs, found it life-saving. 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, 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 its 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 Trinidad and Tobago 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 Conditins/Maintenance: fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: poor

Traffic moves on the left; oncoming traffic is on the right. While most vehicles are right-hand drive, left-hand drive vehicles are permitted. Rental cars are available. Both a U.S. driver's license and/or an International Driving Permit are valid for up to 90 days after arrival. The driver and front-seat passenger are required to wear seatbelts. Cars may be stopped and drivers fined solely for this offense. There are no special child restraint requirements.

Many Trinidadian drivers use a series of hand signals to indicate they are turning or slowing/stopping; none of these signals correspond to hand signals used in the United States. Trinidadian drivers are generally courteous and will often stop to let traffic from side streets enter or cross, but there are speeders on the highways. Attentive defensive driving is strongly encouraged.

Trinidad has several good four-lane highways and one controlled-access highway; however, road quality decreases quickly as you move away from the main roads. Rural roads are generally narrow; many are in poor repair and often congested. Night travel in the cities of Port-of-Spain and San Fernando is generally safe, but should be avoided in other areas except on major highways. While there are local emergency numbers (990 for ambulance/fire, 999 for police), roadside assistance is likely to be sporadic and subject to lengthy delays. A recently established Highway Patrol unit may improve this situation on major roads. The Ministry of Works and Transport is responsible for road conditions and safety in the country.

The country has an extensive system of taxis, maxi-taxis (vans) and some larger buses. While not necessarily dangerous, their utilization by tourists is generally restricted to the most adventurous visitors. Fares should be agreed upon in advance. Taxis will often stop at any point along the road to pick up or discharge passengers, often with little or no warning. The railroad system was dismantled some years ago.

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 Trinidad and Tobago driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Trinidad and Tobago Tourist Information office at 1-888-595-4TNT. See also road safety information from the Consular Services section of the U.S. Embassy home page at http://www.usembassy.state.gov/posts/td1/wwwhemb.html.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Trinidad and Tobago's Civil Aviation Authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Trinidad and Tobago'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 the FAA's 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 the DOD at (618) 229-4801.

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 Trinidad and Tobago's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Trinidad and Tobago are strict, and convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and fines. Many of the U.S. citizens convicted for drug offenses in Trinidad and Tobago were caught taking suitcases or packages containing drugs out of the country. Even if the package or suitcase is being carried for someone else, the traveler is liable for its contents.

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 (202) 736-7000.

EMBASSY LOCATION/REGISTRATION: Americans living in or visiting Trinidad and Tobago are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and obtain updated information on travel and security. The U.S. Embassy is located at 15 Queen's Park West in Port-of-Spain, telephone 1-868-622-6371, Consular Section fax 1-868-628-5462. Hours of operation are 7:30 a.m.-12:00 noon, Monday-Friday, except U.S. and Trinidad and Tobago holidays.

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