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Notes for Visitors to Jamaica

Entry formalities, arrival and departure

Visas are not required by British passport holders for a stay of less than six months, but you must have an onward ticket. You may bring wine and spirits not exceeding one litre each, 230 grammes of tobacco in any form, 170 grammes of perfume and 340 grammes of toilet water. Restricted items include flowers, fruit, vegetables, meats, plants and firearms.

Do check in two hours before departure for international flights, and confirm onward tickets during the visit. Departure tax is now included in your air ticket.

Health and personal security

Advice on personal security can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Web site.

No vaccinations are required unless you are coming from an area with a recent outbreak of disease such as cholera. Consult the booklet Protect your health abroad published by DHSS if you have specific concerns. Tap water is generally safe to drink. Mosquitos and biting insects can be a nuisance but there is no malaria.

A wide range of drugs is available at pharmacies but may be American rather than British so bring a supply of any specific requirements. Medical insurance is recommended.

Climate and clothing

Temperatures in Kingston and other coastal areas average between 27 and 32 degrees Centigrade during the day with the nights being about five degrees cooler. Rainy seasons are May to June and September to October, but this is only a general guide.

Lightweight, easily washed clothing is ideal. Men should bring a suit or jacket for formal occasions. Women can wear the clothes they normally wear to work in a good (British) summer but should bring something a little dressy for evening functions as Jamaican women dress quite formally. A sweater or shawl is useful for cooler evenings and fierce air-conditioning.

Currency and rates of exchange

The Jamaican dollar currently stands at approximately 45 to US$1, or 63 to £1. Bring US currency or US dollar travellers cheques and change only as much as is needed as the rates can fluctuate even over a short period. Some shops price in US dollars and credit card transactions are automatically billed in US dollars.

Banking hours are generally from 0900 to 1400 Monday to Thursday and 0900 to 1600 on Friday. Credit cards (American Express, Mastercard/Access and Visa) are accepted by major hotels and many restaurants and shops.

Jamaican dollars can be reconverted on presentation of a receipt from the original transaction. There is a facility for this at the Norman Manley airport.

Internal travel

Travel between Norman Manley airport and the centre of Kingston takes thirty to forty-five minutes. A taxi will cost about US$25. JUTA (Jamaica Union of Travel Associations) taxis operate a regular service to and from the airport, and will issue a receipt if requested.

If you need to rent a car, expect to pay at least US$40 a day, or US$200 a week, plus fifteen per cent tax and a refundable deposit (if you donít have a credit card) of at least US$1,000. Either a British or an international driving licence is acceptable.

Scheduled flights operate between Tinson Pen aerodrome (Kingston) Negril, Port Antonio and Montego Bay. A return trip costs about US$100.

Hotels, restaurants and shopping

In Kingston, some of the larger hotels used by business travellers are Le Meridien Jamaica Pegasus, Hilton (formerly Wyndham) Hotel, Courtleigh Hotel and Suites, and Crowne Plaza. There are also many smaller hotels and guest houses. Further information can be obtained from the Jamaica Tourist Board. For more tourism links go to Caribbean Travel Links

The electricity supply is 110 volts with American style sockets. A tip of around ten per cent is expected if a service charge has not been added to the bill. An airport or hotel porter expects about JA$20 per bag.

The range of eating places encompasses lunch wagons, fast food outlets, and restaurants and cafes, many of which offer traditional Jamaican food (ackee and saltfish, johnny cakes, bammy, jerk pork, escoveitch fish, beef patties, rice and peas and curry goat). Other Jamaican culinary treats include the home-style ice cream from Devon House - a tourist attraction in the heart of New Kingston.

Kingston boasts many shopping centres, including the Sovereign Centre in Liguanea, the New Kingston Shopping Centre, and the malls along Constant Spring Road and in the Liguanea and Manor Park areas. There are craft shops behind Devon house, and the 'official' craft market in downtown Kingston. Government offices open from 0830 to 1630 Monday to Friday, and business houses from 0900 to 1700 Monday to Friday. Few banks and travel agencies open on Saturdays. Malls usually open later in the evenings and on Saturdays.

Post and telecommunications

Regular airmail between Jamaica and the UK normally takes between one and two weeks for delivery. DHL, Fedex and UPS are also available.

Overseas calls require a ten-digit authorization code, unless you are calling collect or using a calling card. The rates to the UK are JA$27 per minute, (plus 15% tax), for calls dialled directly. Slightly reduced charges apply for calls on a weekend, or between 1800 and 0600 hours on week-nights.

to Notes for Visitors to Trinidad and Tobago

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