Road Conditions and Safety:
The majority of the area?s road network and its public transportation system, including ferry lines, have been restored since the hurricanes in 2017,
Road signs are limited and drivers often fail to yield to pedestrians, even at painted crosswalks. Speeding and reckless driving are fairly common. Drivers can encounter nighttime drag racing on main thoroughfares and livestock on roads both day and night. Roads in Tortola’s interior can be steep and extremely slippery when wet. Travelers planning to drive across the island should consider requesting four-wheel drive vehicles and should ensure that tires and brakes are in good operating condition on any rental vehicle.
Traffic Laws: Driving is on the left-hand side of the road. Seatbelts are required by law and cell phone use while driving is prohibited.
Public Transportation: Public transportation consists of mini-buses and taxis.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) assesses whether local civil aviation authorities are in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA?s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to the British Virgin Islands should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not apply overseas. Doctors and hospitals will expect immediate cash payment for health services.
Medical facilities in the British Virgin Islands do not meet U.S. standards. There is no hyperbaric chamber in the BVI.
A volunteer organization, Virgin Islands Search and Rescue (VISAR), responds 24-hrs/day to medical emergencies at sea or on the outer islands. VISAR transports casualties to the nearest point for transfer to ambulance. Reach VISAR at SOS (767) or call on Marine Channel 16.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of the British Virgin Islands to ensure the medication is legal in the British Virgin Islands. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor?s prescription.
The British Virgin Islands have reported past or current transmission of the following diseases:
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs or firearms are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Firearms: Firearms entry restrictions may exist for visitors to and foreign residents of the British Virgin Islands. Please contact the BVI Immigration Department before you travel.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report ? see country reports
- Human Rights Report ? see country reports
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in the British Virgin Islands.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Access to buildings, pedestrian paths and transportation is extremely difficult for persons with mobility issues. Sidewalks (if they exist) are very uneven and will only occasionally have ramps at intersections. Pedestrian crossings are also very infrequent and can be poorly marked. Buses and taxis do not have special accommodations.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Safety and Security
The British Virgin Islands continues to rebuild following Hurricane Maria in September 2017. Electricity has been restored throughout the islands, damaged roads have been rebuilt, and ferry services to the major islands have resumed. Most hotels have been restored and are back in business.
Crime: American citizens are not specifically targeted for crime in the British Virgin Islands. However, crimes of opportunity such as petty larceny, burglary, automobile break-ins; as well as incidents of violent crime, such as murder, sexual assault, robbery, shootings, and drug related crimes do occasionally occur. As you would in any major metropolitan area of the U.S., use the below personal security measures while traveling:
- Do not leave valuables unattended in public areas, on beaches, unsecured in hotel rooms, or in rental homes.
- Avoid walking alone, especially at night, on beaches, and in isolated or poorly lit locations.
- Go out in groups or with a companion, and restrict nighttime activities to established safe and reputable venues.
- Use only clearly marked taxis and avoid rides with strangers.
- Stick to well-lit and well-traveled routes.
- Avoid displaying flashy jewelry, expensive electronics, and large amounts of cash.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you see something suspicious or unusual contact local police to report immediately.
- Use added caution when shopping in crowded areas, especially during the holiday season.
- Use added caution when attending crowded events, celebrations, music festivals, etc.
- Do not leave drinks unattended in public venues as this could create a potential vulnerability for the use of ?date rape? drugs in furtherance of criminal activity.
- Do not be predictable; vary your daily routes and schedules.
- Do not engage in illegal activity.
*Abide by the above security measures at all times, be aware of your surroundings in all areas, and use added vigilance while in isolated areas where tourists do not normally frequent.
Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police at 999 and contact the U.S. Embassy at (246) 227-4000.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide our information on victim?s compensation programs in the United States
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical
- support in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance at (246) 227-4000.
Watersports Advisory: Carefully assess the potential risks of recreational water activities and consider your physical capabilities and skills. Never venture out alone, particularly at isolated beaches or far out to sea. Avoid entering the water above your waist if you have been drinking and always be mindful of jetski and boat traffic in the area.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, hospitals are able provide urgent medical treatment, though very serious injuries often require medical evacuation. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
Passports and Visa: U.S. citizens must have a valid U.S. passport at time of entry. For further information, travelers may contact the BVI Tourist Board at (800) 835-8530 or (212) 563-3117, Fax: (212) 563-2263 or visit the BVI Tourist Board online for current entry requirements.
Generally, all U.S. citizens are required to present a valid U.S. passport when traveling to the British Virgin Islands, as well as proof of anticipated departure from the British Virgin Islands. This includes travelers arriving by airplane and by private sea-going vessel. Those traveling to the British Virgin Islands on a cruise may use another Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant document. However, we strongly recommend visitors obtain a passport before travel in case of an unforeseen emergency that requires a cruise passenger to disembark and return by air.
HIV/AIDS: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of the British Virgin Islands.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on the United Kingdom for information on U.S.-UK relations.