French West Indies - Tips

French West Indies French West Indies Consular Information Sheet June 07, 2007 COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The French West Indies consists of the islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Martin (the French side) and St. Barthelemy. These islands are well developed. In St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, English is widely spoken and U.S. currency is accepted. Read the Department of State Background Notes on France for additional information. ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Passports are required of U.S. citizens entering the French West Indies. Visas are generally not required for visitors planning to remain for up to 90 days. For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy of France at 4101 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007; telephone 1-202-944-6000; or the nearest French consulate in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, New Orleans or San Francisco. Visit the web site for the Embassy of France athttp://www.info-france-usa.org for the most current visa information. See Entry and Exit Requirements for more information pertaining to dual nationality and the prevention of international parental 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 Department’s Internet web site, where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found. Up-to-date information of safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, 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. federal holidays). 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 State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad. CRIME: Petty street crime, including purse snatching, occurs throughout the French West Indies. Visitors should take care whenever traveling to safeguard valuables and always lock hotel rooms and car doors. 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, to 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 of Crime. MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Good medical care is available throughout the French West Indies. Not all doctors speak or understand English. Hyperbaric chambers are available in Guadeloupe at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Abymes and in Martinique at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Fort de France. Cases of dengue fever have been reported in Martinique and Guadeloupe. 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 Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) web site 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 insurance overseas. 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 French West Indies is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance. Driving in the French West Indies is on the right side of the road. Children under 12 are not legally allowed in the front seat. Seatbelt laws are strictly enforced. The roads in the French West Indies are the best in the Eastern Caribbean. Roads are well paved and well maintained. Main roads are well marked; secondary roads and tourist sites are adequately marked. Excellent maps are available and local residents are helpful, especially if greeted in a friendly manner. Both Martinique and Guadeloupe have expressways. Traffic safety is enforced by the police. Night driving can be dangerous, especially in the mountains and on winding rural roads. Public transportation in the form of taxis, vans, and buses is relatively safe. For specific information concerning French West Indies driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the French National Tourist Organization offices at http://www.franceguide.com/. Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: Civil aviation operations in the French West Indies fall under the jurisdiction of French authorities. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of France’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of France’s air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa. SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: In addition to being subject to all French laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on French citizens. Although France recognizes dual nationality, dual nationals are considered French citizens and are subject to French laws without regard to the other nationality. For additional information, please see our dual nationality flyer. French customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from the French West Indies of items such as firearms, medications, animals, etc. For questions, travelers may wish to contact the Embassy of France or a French Consulate for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please see our information on customs regulations. The French West Indies 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) at: http://www.fema.gov/. 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 offences. Persons violating French laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the French West Indies are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Under French law, no bail is offered for those arrested with illegal drugs in their possession and they can expect to wait several months before their case is heard. Detained persons are presumed guilty and must prove their innocence. 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 on Criminal Penalties. CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues. REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living or traveling in the French West Indies are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the French West Indies. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, which has jurisdiction over the French West Indies. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located in Wildey Business Part in St. Michael, Barbados. Internet: http://bridgetown.usembassy.gov. The Consular Section is open for American Citizens Services from 8:30am to 4:00pm, Monday-Friday, except Barbados and U.S. holidays. For after-hours service, American citizens may contact the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados, telephone 1-246-436-4950. The U.S. Consular Agency in Martinique is located at the Hotel Valmeniere #615, Avenue des Arawaks, 97200 Fort de France, telephone (011) (596) (596) 75-6754, fax (011) (596) (596) 70-8501, email: hritchie@outremer.com Hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 12:00pm, except French and U.S. holidays. * * * This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated October 13, 2006, 2006, to update Entry/Exit Requirement, Medical Facilities and Health Information, Aviation Safety Oversight and Registration/Embassy Location sections. *********************************************************** See http://travel.state.gov/travel_warnings.html for State Department Travel Warnings ******************************************************************************** To change your subscription, go to http://www.state.gov/misc/echannels/66822.htm French West Indies

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