SAFETY AND SECURITY
Sudden demonstrations are rare but can occur, during which demonstrators often construct roadblocks or otherwise block streets. Rallies and political demonstrations, even when intended to be peaceful, can escalate into violent riots with little or no warning and should be avoided by foreign citizens.
Jamaican media reports on fire safety indicate that nightclubs and other places of entertainment are often not in compliance with fire safety regulations. Overcrowding is common and you should remain aware of your surroundings at all times.
Jamaica currently lacks the infrastructure to provide shelter and protection for travelers who temporarily become destitute during their stay on the island. You should be aware that under such circumstances you may be stranded without recourse unless and until family or friends can provide appropriate assistance. In some cases, the Jamaica Tourist Board can also help.
CRIME: Crime, including violent crime, is a serious problem in Jamaica, particularly in Kingston and Montego Bay and other major tourist areas. Violence and shootings occur regularly in certain areas of Kingston and Montego Bay. Tourists are advised to avoid traveling into high-threat areas including, but not limited to, Mountain View, Trench Town, Tivoli Gardens, Cassava Piece, and Arnett Gardens in Kingston, and Flankers, Canterbury, Norwood, Rose Heights, Clavers Street, and Hart Street in Montego Bay. While the vast majority of crimes occur in impoverished areas, random acts of violence, such as gunfire, may occur anywhere. The primary criminal concern for tourists is becoming a victim of theft. Crime is exacerbated by the fact that police are understaffed and often ineffective. Additionally, there have been allegations of police corruption. Under no circumstances should you accept rides from unknown individuals, including unmarked taxis, as this is often a pretext for attempted robbery and/or sexual assault.
Travelers are advised to take precautions similar to those in any major urban area, remaining vigilant and aware of their surroundings. Carry valuables in inside pockets and use shoulder straps across the body on purses and camera or laptop bags. Remember to safeguard your passport within a zipper pocket or other safe enclosure so that it cannot be easily removed from your person or your luggage.
Do not leave valuables in plain view in your car at any time or locked in the trunk. Always keep vehicle doors locked even while driving. In some cases windows have been smashed and items in plain view have been taken while vehicles are stopped at intersections or stuck in rush hour traffic.
Sexual assault allegations generally do not receive the same type of law enforcement attention in Jamaica that they would in other countries. Local law also requires the presence of the victim at some stages of the judicial process in order for a case to move forward. As a result, most sexual assault cases languish in the Jamaican courts until they are eventually dismissed.
There also have been reports of drink spiking for either robbery or sexual assault. Visit only reputable establishments and do not accept food or drink from anyone but a server. Do not consume food or drinks you have left unattended.
In the last several years, a number of foreign visitors have reported being robbed inside their resort hotel rooms while they slept. Particular care is called for when staying at isolated villas and smaller establishments that may have fewer security arrangements. You may wish to ask your villa or small establishment if they have met Jamaica Tourist Board certification standards for safety and security.
To enhance security in the principal resort areas, the Government of Jamaica has taken a number of steps, including assignment of special police foot and bicycle patrols. Some street vendors, beggars, and taxi drivers in tourist areas aggressively confront and harass tourists to buy their wares or employ their services. If a firm “No, thank you,” does not solve the problem, you may wish to seek the assistance of a tourist police officer, identified by their white hats, white shirts, and black trousers. These officers are only located at or near tourist areas.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest embassy or consulate.
The local emergency line in Jamaica is 119
LOCAL LAWS AND SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Jamaica, you are subject to its laws even if you are a foreign citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than your own and may not afford the same protection. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in other countries for similar offenses. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable upon return to some countries.
Persons violating Jamaican laws, even unknowingly, may be fined, arrested, or imprisoned. Know what constitutes legal and illegal activity at your destination.
Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs in Jamaica are especially severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Airport and dock searches at cruise line ports are thorough, and people attempting to smuggle illegal drugs are often apprehended.
Prison conditions in Jamaica are poor. Prisoners are provided only the most basic meals and must rely upon personal funds, family, and friends to supplement their diets, provide clothing, and supply personal care items such as toothpaste and shampoo. Most prisons are very overcrowded. Prisons do not supply bedding to prisoners. Packages shipped from the United States to prisoners are subject to Jamaican import taxes and are undeliverable when the recipient lacks the funds to pay the duties.
Driving under the influence can result in immediate incarceration.
Travelers may be detained for questioning if they are not carrying their passport.
Taking pictures of military or government installations or personnel may result in being detained.
Do not buy counterfeit or pirated goods, even if they are widely available. The unauthorized reproduction and sale of copyrighted works may be in violation of local laws as well as a violation of the law and prosecutable upon return to your home country.
Arrest notifications in host country: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest embassy or consulate if a citizen is detained or arrested in that country, others may not. To ensure that your embassy is aware of your circumstances, request that the police or prison officials notify the embassy as soon as you are arrested or detained. You should know the emergency contact information for your nearest embassy or consulate before you travel and keep that information with you.
CUSTOMS: Import and export of items such as firearms, ammunition, weapons, antiquities, medications, fresh fruits, vegetables, uncooked meats, and other items is strictly regulated. Check with Jamaican authorities before traveling for specific information regarding customs requirements. Pets may not be brought into Jamaica, except for dogs from the United Kingdom that have been vaccinated for rabies and then only after six months quarantine. Jamaica has no tolerance for violations of its firearms laws, and persons can end up serving years in prison for possession of a firearm. Mace, pepper spray, and knives also are prohibited and may not be brought into Jamaica without specific authorization from the Jamaican Ministry of National Security.
NATURAL DISASTERS: All Caribbean countries can be affected by hurricanes. The hurricane season normally runs from early June to the end of November, but there have been hurricanes in December in recent years.
DRUGS: Illegal drug use is prevalent in some tourist areas, leading to foreign citizen arrests and incarcerations in Jamaica every year. Possession or use of marijuana or other illicit drugs is illegal in Jamaica. You should avoid buying, selling, holding, or taking illegal drugs under any circumstances. Marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and other illegal narcotics are especially potent in Jamaica, and their use may lead to severe or even disastrous health consequences.
FRAUD: Internet-based crime in Jamaica is escalating, and everyone, including businesses and other institutions, should be extremely skeptical of any financial transactions that involve sending money for goods, services, or adoptions. Relationships developed via correspondence, particularly those begun on the Internet, are especially susceptible to manipulation. The most prevalent scam in Jamaica is the lottery scam, also known as Advanced Fee Fraud. If you receive calls from Jamaica with claims of winning a prize or lottery, please be wary and never send money up front. It is illegal to play a foreign lottery, and if you did not enter a foreign lottery or drawing, then it is not possible to win one. In another common scam, family members in other countries, particularly older people, are approached for funds to help callers claiming to be grandchildren or relatives who have been arrested or are without money to return home. Foreign citizens are advised not to send money to anyone they have not met in person.
WATER SAFETY: Serious and even fatal accidents have occurred involving jet skis near beach resorts. Swimmers, snorkelers, divers, and kayakers should be mindful of jet ski traffic in the area, especially, but not exclusively, outside of roped swimming areas. Additional water hazards include jellyfish (often causing sea bather’s eruption), coral, and sea urchins. Dangerous (potentially deadly) jellyfish are present throughout the year, but particularly during the rainy season. Children are especially at risk, and adults wading, launching boats, or fishing.
LGBT RIGHTS: The law prohibits “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 an “antibuggery” law that prohibits consensual same-sex sexual conduct between men. These prohibitions have been used to target LGBT individuals. Although there is increasing public discourse about LGBT rights, there are continuous reports of serious human rights abuses against LGBT individuals, including assassinations, assault with deadly weapons, “corrective rape” of women accused of being lesbians, arbitrary detention, mob attacks, stabbings, immolations, and harassment of LGBT patients by hospital and prison staff.
ACCESSIBILITY: Persons with physical disabilities living in or traveling to the country may find that Jamaica lacks the necessary infrastructure to accommodate their disability. Jamaican law does not mandate access to transportation, communication, and public buildings for persons with disabilities. While some of the country’s all-inclusive resorts are accessible, most transportation, entertainment, and even medical facility options are not.
Medical care is limited. Comprehensive but basic emergency medical services are located only in Kingston and Montego Bay, and smaller public hospitals are located in each parish. Doctors and hospitals in Jamaica often require cash payment prior to providing services. Some foreign citizens have complained that certain health-care facilities in beach resorts may have taken advantage of them by overcharging and/or providing unnecessary medical care.
Serious medical problems may require medical evacuation to the United States. Travelers should inquire with their health insurance provider before traveling to see if services are covered in the area. It is advisable if participating in high risk activities such as scuba diving or if travelling to more remote locations to have emergency medical evacuation insurance. Confirm with the provider in advance the areas that are covered and locations of suitable evacuation points.
Travelers should bring a sufficient supply of medication to cover their anticipated stay in Jamaica, along with a copy of their physician’s prescription and the generic names of the medications. The availability of prescription drugs, emergency medical care, and ambulance services are limited in outlying parishes.
MEDICAL TOURISM: Before undergoing any procedure in Jamaica, patients should consult with their personal physician, confirm that the facilities and professionals they intend to use are accredited and have an acceptable level of care, and should confirm that the cost and payment for their treatment is clearly understood by both parties. Consider access emergency medical care if complications arise. It is important to confirm that your medical insurance provides coverage in Jamaica, including treatment of complications from elective procedures or medical evacuation if necessary.
HIV/AIDS: 9% of sex workers in the capital city are estimated to be HIV positive. Travelers should clearly understand STD concepts and risks for HIV transmission.
CIGUATERA POISONING: Ciguatera poisoning is prevalent and results from eating reef fish such as grouper, snapper, amberjack, and barracuda. The toxin remains even when fish is well cooked but is uncommon in smaller fish.
Mosquito borne illnesses including dengue are becoming more frequent in tropical and equatorial climates around the world. Symptoms can include fever, severe headache, joint pain, and muscle or bone pain.
It is important to reduce mosquito exposure by using repellents, covering exposed skin, treating clothing and tents with permethrin and sleeping in screened or air conditioned rooms. You can also reduce exposure through mosquito control measures, including emptying water from outdoor containers and spraying to reduce mosquito populations. The Aedes mosquitos that carry these illnesses are primarily day biting and often live in homes and hotel rooms, especially under beds, in bathrooms and closets.
Travelers should carry and use CDC recommended insect repellents containing either 20% DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535, which will help diminish bites from mosquitoes as well ticks, fleas, chiggers, etc., some of which may also carry infectious diseases.
TRAVELERS’ DIARRHEA (TD): Travelers’ diarrhea is a common travel-related ailment in Jamaica. Precautions include avoiding: untreated tap water, drinks with ice, and raw or undercooked meat or fish. Drink only beverages from factory-sealed containers.
Travelers can diminish diarrhea risk through scrupulous washing of hands and use of hand sanitizers, especially before food preparation and eating. Eat only food that is cooked and served hot; avoid food that has been sitting on a buffet. Eat raw fruits and vegetables only if you have washed them in clean water or peeled them.
Treatment for TD is rehydration, best performed with oral rehydration solution and formulations.See All Entry Requirements
Currency: JMD - Jamaican Dollar
1 USD in JMD: 127.514999 (as of 20:00 26th September, 2016)
IMPORTANT COUNTRY DATES
January 1 – New Year’s Day
February 10 – Ash Wednesday
March 25 – Good Friday
March 28 – Easter Monday
May 23 – Labor Day / May Day
August 1 – Emancipation Day
August 6 – Independence Day
October 17 – National Heroes’ Day
December 25 – Christmas Day
December 26 – 27 – Boxing Day
KINGSTON-Norman Manley Airport is 17.6 km from town.
MONTEGO BAY-Donald Sangster International Airport is 3 km from town.
An airport tax of J1,800 approx. 20 is charged upon departure. This tax is usually included in airline ticket prices except for charter flights.
For more airport information and to view a map, visit: http://www.aaj.com.jm/
It is recommended that you do not place valuables in your luggage, due to possible theft. Keep valuables in your hand luggage.
Travellers should arrive at the airport earlier than usual, exercise patience and contact their airline for further information on their flights.
For more information on security directives issued by the Transportation Security Administration to all United States and international air carriers with inbound flights to the U.S. and other travel security news, visit: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/index.shtm
Aiken Deniece M.
Myers, Fletcher & Gordon
Danielle S. Archer & Assc
Golaub & Golaub
Golding Campbell & Assc.
Kristopher S. Nathan & Co
Andrews Memorial Hospital
Address: 27 Hope Road, Kingston 10, Kingston,Jamaica
Phone: +(876) 926 7401
Cornwall Regional Hospital
Address: Mt Salem, Montego Bay,Jamaica
Phone: +(876) 952 5100
Hargreaves Memorial Hospital (2006) Ltd
Address: 32 Hargreaves Avenue, Mandeville,Jamaica
Phone: +(876) 962 2040
Medical Associates Hospital
Address: 18 Tangerine Place, Kingston,Jamaica
Phone: +(876) 926 1400
St. Ann’S Bay Regional Hospital
Address: Seville Road, St. Ann’S Bay,Jamaica
Phone: +(876) 972 2272
University Hospital Of The West Indies
Address: Mona, Kingston,Jamaica
Phone: +(876) 927 1620