June 04, 2007
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The British Virgin Islands (BVI)
are a British overseas territory, part of the British West Indies, lying about
60 miles east of Puerto Rico. There are about 50 islands in the BVI, many
of them uninhabited. Tortola is the main island; other islands include
Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada. Tourist facilities are widely
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: U.S. Citizens traveling by
air to and from the British Virgin Islands must present a valid passport when
entering or re-entering the United States. Sea travelers must have a valid U.S.
passport (or other original proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a certified U.S.
birth certificate with a government-issued photo ID). While a U.S.
passport is not mandatory for sea travel, it is recommended since it is a more
readily recognized form of positive proof of citizenship. The U.S.
Department of State recommends traveling with a valid U.S. passport to avoid
delays or misunderstandings. A lost or stolen passport is also easier to
replace when outside of the United States than other evidence of
In addition to other documentary requirements, U.S. Citizens should also
present onward or return tickets, and sufficient funds for their stay.
Upon initial entry, no more than 60 days will be granted. At the end of 60
days, visitors must report to the Immigration Department's main office in Road
Town for an extension. Extensions of up to 90 days are issued at the
discretion of the Immigration Officer subsequent to an interview. For
further information on travel to the British Virgin Islands, travelers should
contact the BVI Department of Immigration at 1-284-494-3471. Visit the
Embassy of the British Government web site at http://www.britainusa.com for the most
current visa information.
IMPORTANT NEW INFORMATION: As early as
January 1, 2008, U.S. citizens traveling between the United States and the
British Virgin Islands by sea (including ferries), may be required to present a
valid U.S. passport or other documents as determined by the Department of
Homeland Security. American citizens can visit travel.state.gov or call
1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778) for information on applying for a passport.
See Entry and Exit
Requirements for more information pertaining to dual
nationality and the prevention of international
child abduction. Please refer to our Customs
Information to learn more about customs regulations.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: For the latest security information,
Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Departmentâ€™s Internet web site, where the
Caution Public Announcement, Travel
Warnings and Public Announcements, can be found.
Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling
1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and
Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available
from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S.
The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for
their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general
information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves
in an overseas environment, see the Department of Stateâ€™s pamphlet A Safe Trip
CRIME: Thefts and armed robberies do occur in the
BVI. Law enforcement authorities in the BVI have informed the Embassy that
the number of armed robberies increased in the first half of 2007.
Visitors should take common-sense precautions against petty crime.
Travelers should avoid carrying large amounts of cash and use hotel safety
deposit facilities to safeguard valuables and travel documents. Do not
leave valuables unattended on the beach or in cars. Always lock up boats
when going ashore.
INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: 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. If you are the victim of a crime
while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the
nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate
staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact
family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.
Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the
responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to
understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
See our information on Victims
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical
care in the British Virgin Islands consists of a small general hospital with an
emergency room staffed 24-hrs/day by physicians, several clinics on Tortola, and
one clinic in Virgin Gorda. Both islands are served by ambulances staffed
with paramedics. There are no medical facilities on the other
islands. A volunteer organization, Virgin Islands Search and Rescue
(VISAR), responds 24-hrs/day to medical emergencies at sea or on outer
islands. VISAR transports casualties to the nearest point for transfer to
ambulance. To reach VISAR, dial SOS (767) or call on Marine Channel
There is no hyperbaric chamber in the BVI. Patients requiring treatment
for decompression illness are transferred to St. John, U.S. Virgin
Islands. Most sensitive medical cases are transferred to San Juan, Puerto
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food
and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the
Centers for Disease Control and Preventionâ€™s hotline for international travelers
at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDCâ€™s internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For
information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World
Health Organizationâ€™s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health
information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.
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. Please see our
information on medical
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 the
British Virgin Islands is provided for general reference only, and may not be
totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Vehicles drive on the left (the British side) with most steering wheels on
the left (the â€œAmericanâ€ side). Road signs are limited and seatbelts are
required by law. Drivers often fail to yield the right-of-way to
pedestrians, even at painted crosswalks. Speeding and reckless driving are
fairly common in the BVI. Drivers can encounter nighttime drag racing on
main thoroughfares and livestock on roads. 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. Please refer to our Road
Safety page for more information, as well as the website of the BVIâ€™s
national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.bvitourism.com/.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the British Virgin Islandsâ€™
Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil
Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of BVIâ€™s
air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the
FAAâ€™s internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: BVI customs authorities may
enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from
the British Virgin Islands of items such as drugs and firearms. Visitors
to BVI carrying firearms must declare them upon entry into any port in the
territory. Firearms must be bonded and are held by the proper authorities
until time of departure. Contact BVI Customs & Immigration at
1-284-494-3475, the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Washington, D.C. or one of
the UK's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding
customs requirements. Please see our Customs
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 United States 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 United States for similar
offenses. Persons violating British Virgin Island laws, even unknowingly,
may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or
trafficking in illegal drugs in the BVI are severe, and convicted offenders can
expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct
with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country
is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. Please see our information
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: All Caribbean countries
can be affected by hurricanes. The hurricane season normally runs from
June to the end of November, but there have been hurricanes in December in
recent years. General information about natural disaster preparedness is
available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international
adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Childrenâ€™s
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS:
Americans living or traveling in the British Virgin Islands are encouraged to
register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Departmentâ€™s travel
registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and
security within the BVI. Americans without Internet access may register
directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering,
American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in
case of emergency. The nearest U.S. Embassy to the BVI is located in the
Wildey Business Park in St. Michael, Barbados. The Consular Section can be
reached by telephone at 1-246-431-0225, by fax at 1-246-431-0179, or by e-mail
The Embassy website is http://bridgetown.usembassy.gov.
The U.S. Consular Agent in Antigua, located at Jasmine Court, Friarâ€™s Hill Road,
St. Johnâ€™s, tel. 1-268-463-6531, is closer to the BVI and can
also assist in some limited non-emergency cases, by previous appointment only.
This replaces the British Virgin Islands Consular Information Sheet dated
November 17, 2006 to update the sections on Crime and Registration Embassy and
http://travel.state.gov/travel_warnings.html for State Department Travel
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British Virgin Islands