Road Conditions and Safety: Jamaicans drive on the left side of the road. Here are some notes for your safety:
- Night time driving is extremely hazardous due to poor lighting and unpredictable pavement.
- Heavy rains can make roads impassable and dangerous.
- Many roads suffer from ill repair, inadequate signage, large potholes and poor traffic markings. There is a lack of pedestrian crosswalks.
- Pedestrians and animals share the roadways with vehicles.
- There have been reports of carjackings, including of rental cars.
- Only two highways are roughly comparable to U.S. standards. Both are toll roads and part of Highway 2000. The East-West leg (?T1?) runs from Portmore to May Pen. The North-South leg (?T3? or the Edward Seaga Highway) connects Caymanas (west of Kingston) to Ocho Rios (Mammee Bay).
- Driving habits range from aggressive speeding and sudden stops by taxis in the middle of the road to over-polite drivers who suddenly stop to allow a car to pull in front of them. All can lead to accidents.
- Official emergency response can be slow. In practice, assistance given in emergency situations is generally by fellow motorists.
- Traffic circles (?roundabouts?) are often poorly marked and require traffic to move in a clockwise direction. Motorists entering a roundabout must yield to those already in it.
- Drivers and front-seat passengers are required to wear seat belts.
- Motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets.
- Official public transportation vehicles have red license plates.
- Private vehicles, NOT licensed for public transportation, have white license plates with blue letters/numbers.
- Avoid public buses, which are often overcrowded and frequently a venue for crime. There are reports of private buses, acting as public transport, driving erratically leading to injury and death for both riders and pedestrians. You should only use licensed taxicabs having red-and-white PP license plates or transportation services recommended by your hotel.
- Do not accept rides from strangers.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Jamaica?s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of air carrier operations in Jamaica. Further information may be found on the FAA?s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Jamaica 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 National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) broadcast warnings.
Quality medical care is limited in Jamaica and public health facilities do not meet U.S. standards. Private facilities require large up-front payments even in emergencies. Emergency medical services are located only in Kingston and Montego Bay. Smaller public hospitals are located in each parish.
Prescription Drugs: Availability is very limited in outlying parishes. EpiPens are not sold anywhere on the island.
Ambulances and Emergency Care: Ambulance availability and care provision is limited, especially in rural areas. Traffic congestion and road conditions may slow response times.
See our website for information on medical services and air-ambulance companies. Please inform the embassy of medical emergencies.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. 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 Jamaica to ensure the medication is legal in Jamaica. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor?s prescription.
The following diseases are prevalent:
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.
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: Jamaica strictly forbids importing or possessing firearms in Jamaica without prior authorization of the Firearms Licensing Authority of Jamaica. A U.S. concealed carry permit does not allow you to bring a firearm or ammunition into Jamaica.
If you bring a firearm, firearm components, firearm parts, or ammunition (even a single bullet) to Jamaica, you will be arrested and prosecuted. This will result in a large fine and/or incarceration for an unspecified amount of time. Bringing mace, pepper spray, or knives into Jamaica without authorization will also lead to arrest.
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: Jamaican law contains specific prohibitions on ?acts of gross indecency? ? generally interpreted as any kind of physical intimacy ? between persons of the same sex, in public or in private, and provides punishment of up to 10 years in prison. There is also a law that specifically prohibits even consensual same-sex sexual conduct between men.
Negative attitudes towards LGBTI issues are widespread in Jamaica. There are continued reports of serious discrimination and abuse against LGBTI individuals, including:
- ?Corrective rape? of women accused of being lesbians
- Arbitrary detention
- Mob attacks
- Harassment of LGBTI patients by hospital and prison staff
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: While some of the country?s all-inclusive resorts meet U.S. standards, most transportation, entertainment, and medical facilities are not designed to accommodate travelers with disabilities.
Women Travelers: See the above Safety and Security section for information on sexual assault in Jamaica. See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Hurricanes: Hurricane season generally runs from June through November, although hurricanes can occur outside that period. Monitor weather reports closely.
Safety and Security
Crime: Violent crime, including sexual assault, is a serious problem throughout Jamaica, particularly in Kingston and Montego Bay. Jamaica?s police force is understaffed and has limited resources. Gated resorts are not immune to violent crime.
Do not travel to the following areas:
- In Kingston:
- Cassava Piece
- Downtown Kingston, defined as between Mountain View Avenue and Hagley Park Road, and south of Half Way Tree and Old Hope Roads. Downtown Kingston includes Trench Town, Tivoli Gardens, and Arnett Gardens.
- Grants Pen
- In Montego Bay:
- Clavers Street
- Hart Street
- Rose Heights
- Spanish Town
- Avoid walking or driving at night.
- Avoid public buses.
- Avoid secluded places or situations.
- Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
- Be aware of your surroundings and keep a low profile.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
- Review the Crime and Safety Report for Jamaica.
- U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler?s Checklist.
Sexual Assault: Rape and sexual assault are serious problems throughout Jamaica, including at resorts and hotels. Date rape drugs may be used at private parties and resorts.
If you are victim of a sexual assault, contact the police and the U.S. Embassy in Kingston as soon as possible. In a hotel, management should assist you with these communications.
Victims of sexual assault in Jamaica should not expect the same assistance routinely offered in the United States. Rape kits are not always available and victims must often ask for medication to avoid STD transmission and reduce the chances of pregnancy. Counseling is unlikely to be offered. Law enforcement shortcomings exist in collection of evidence. Prosecution of rape cases moves very slowly and victims may need to return to Jamaica during the legal process.
- Avoid secluded places or situations, including at resorts. Try to always be accompanied by someone you know, including when going to the restroom.
- Security outside of resort areas is unpredictable, especially at night. Do not leave resort property with someone you have just met.
- Many guests drink heavily in all-inclusive resorts, which can lead to unpredictable behavior and increased vulnerability.
- Shout for help immediately if you feel threatened or encounter individuals who make you feel uncomfortable.
- Report any suspicious or inappropriate activity, including inappropriate comments or behavior by hotel employees or other guests, to hotel management, the U.S. Embassy, and local police as appropriate. Resort employees are generally prohibited from engaging in romantic or sexual relations with guests.
Drugs: Any attempt to take marijuana in or out of the country may lead to a serious charge of drug trafficking. Possession of two ounces or less of marijuana may result in a fine. Possession of larger amounts of marijuana, or possession of other illegal drugs, may lead to arrest and prosecution. Foreign visitors to Jamaica may use marijuana for medicinal purposes with a prescription from a physician in the United States or a local doctor.
The most notorious Jamaican scam is the Lotto Scam, a kind of advance-fee fraud. The victim is led to believe that a Jamaican lottery prize will be released after the payment of ?fees.?
- You did NOT win a lottery. The person on the telephone is lying. Just hang up.
- Never send money to someone who calls to say you have won the lottery in Jamaica.
- Do not travel to Jamaica to collect a ?prize.? Victims have been killed, kidnapped, extorted, or robbed.
- Be very cautious about sending money to help a traveler claiming to be in trouble. When in doubt, contact your local police department for advice and assistance.
- Be wary of promises to protect a loved one from harm or to help the loved one out of trouble, in exchange for money. That is extortion ? contact your local police department.
- Scam artists often fake romantic interest to get money from a would-be lover, especially on the internet. When in doubt, contact your local police department.
- If you are being targeted for financial scams, you will need to file a report with your local police department.
Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police at 119 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +1 (876) 702-6000.
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 Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and the regularity and quality of safety inspections vary widely by industry and attraction. 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, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. 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
U.S. citizens are generally required to present a valid U.S. passport when traveling to Jamaica, as well as proof of anticipated departure from Jamaica. If you are traveling to Jamaica on a cruise, you may use another Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant document. However, we strongly recommend you obtain a passport before travel in case an emergency requires you to disembark and return by air. You do not need a visa for tourist travel up to 90 days. All other travelers will need a visa and/or work permit.
Visit the Jamaican Passport, Immigration, & Citizenship Agency of Jamaica or the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington D.C. websites for the most current visa information.
Exit Information: Your departure tax is regularly included in the airfare. You won?t be charged an exit tax on your way out.
HIV/AIDS restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Jamaica.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet for Jamaica for information on U.S. – Jamaica relations.
Travel Embassy and Consulate
142 Old Hope Road
Jamaica, West Indies
Telephone: +(876) 702-6000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(876) 702-6000
Fax: +(876) 702-6018
U.S. Consular Agent – Montego Bay
Whitter Village, Ironshore
Unit EU-1 (across from Burger King)
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Telephone: +(876) 953-0620
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica: +(876) 702-6000
Fax: +(876) 953-3898
Appointments are made by phone or email