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Travel Security Advice for the Turks and Caicos Islands

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COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory comprising a small archipelago of eight major islands and numerous uninhabited keys, 500 miles southeast of Miami. Most tourist facilities are located on Providenciales ("Provo") Island. The U.S. dollar is the unit of currency and the larger hotels and shops accept credit cards. The U.S. Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas, has jurisdiction for consular matters in the Turks and Caicos.



Read the Department of State Background Notes on the United Kingdom for additional information.



ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

U.S. citizens do not need to obtain visas to enter the Turks and Caicos Islands as tourists for less than 90 days.

Air Travel: All Americans traveling by air outside the United States are required to present a valid U.S. passport to enter or re-enter the United States.

Sea Travel: As of June 1, 2009, Americans traveling by land or by sea are required to present either a valid U.S. passport or other valid Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) travel document to enter or re-enter the United States. Other valid WHTI travel documents include: passport card, enhanced driver’s license, NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST card. Sea travelers should also check with their cruise line and countries of destination for any foreign entry requirements.

Applications for the new U.S. Passport Card are now being accepted. The card may not be used to travel by air and is available only to U.S. citizens. Further information on the passport card and upcoming changes to U.S. passport policy can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs web site. We strongly encourage all American citizen travelers to apply for a U.S. passport well in advance of anticipated travel. American citizens can visit travel.state.gov or call 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778) for information on how to apply for their passports.

Visit the Embassy of the United Kingdom web site for the most current visa information.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information Sheet.



SAFETY AND SECURITY:

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ web site. Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, and the current Worldwide Caution, can also be found at that site.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States 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 information on A Safe Trip Abroad.



CRIME:

Although the crime rate in The Turks and Caicos Islands is relatively low, crimes do occur. Criminal activity typically involves petty thefts and burglary, and occurs more frequently on Providenciales than the other islands. However, the U.S. Embassy has received reports of more serious crimes, including vacation home invasions, armed robberies, and assaults.

Visitors should exercise caution when walking after dark or in isolated areas, such as deserted beaches, and avoid placing themselves in situations where they are vulnerable. Never leave valuables unattended, especially on beaches. Hotel guests should always lock their doors and never open their hotel room door without first verifying the identity of the person knocking. Hotel guests should consider storing passports/identity documents, airline tickets, credit cards, and extra cash in hotel safes. Automated teller machines (ATMs) are available; however, visitors should try not to frequent them, especially after dark.

Visitors are advised to report crime to the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force as quickly as possible. Early reports frequently improve the likelihood of identifying and apprehending suspected perpetrators.



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, help you 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.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in the Turks and Caicos Islands is 999 or 911.
Please see our information on
Victims of Crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.



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 Turks and Caicos laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Turks and Caicos 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 on Criminal Penalties.



SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

The importation of firearms to the Turks and Caicos is strictly forbidden without prior approval in writing from the Commissioner of Police. U.S. citizens may contact the Turks and Caicos Customs Department at (649) 946-2867 for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please see our Customs Information.

The Turks and Caicos Islands, like all countries in the Caribbean basin, are vulnerable to hurricanes. Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, although hurricanes have been known to occur outside that time period. Visitors to the Turks and Caicos Islands during hurricane season are advised to monitor weather reports daily and have contingency plans. Information on storm activity is available on the National Hurricane Center’s website. General information about disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).



MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

Medical facilities in the Turks and Caicos Islands are limited. There is a small public hospital on Grand Turk and a private clinic on Provo, which has a hyperbaric chamber. Most serious medical problems require medical evacuation by air from the Turks and Caicos to the United States or The Bahamas.

The Turks and Caicos Islands do not have a pathologist to perform services in case of death. Medical examiners from neighboring countries visit the island regularly to provide this service. It can take up to two weeks for the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands to release the remains of a deceased person under normal circumstances, and severe weather during the hurricane season could delay the process even more.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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 website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site. Further health information for travelers is available from the WHO.



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 Turks and Caicos Islands is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driving in the Turks and Caicos Islands is on the left. Traffic tends to be light. The terrain is flat and subject to flooding during or after storms. Primary roads are generally good in both urban and rural areas. Secondary roads are often unpaved and contain ruts and potholes. Road signs are not prevalent, but navigating with a tourist map is possible as there are few roads on the island. Hazards such as blind intersections, road work, or changes in road conditions are frequently unmarked. Roundabouts and other intersections often have no signs or traffic signals; drivers are required to give way to those on their immediate right. Wild donkeys are a common sight on Grand Turk Island and occasionally walk on the roads, presenting a hazard to drivers, especially at night.

Temporary visitors wishing to drive in the Turks and Caicos require a valid driver's license from their country of residence. Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal, and drivers convicted of the offense may face fines, detention, or both. Roadside assistance in the event of a breakdown is generally not available. For emergencies, drivers may call 999 or 911 for police, fire, or medical assistance.

Safety of public transportation in the Turks and Caicos is generally good. Visitors should take care to ride only in taxis with seatbelts. Most car and motor scooter rental agencies will not rent to anyone under the age of 21. A government tax is levied on all car and motor scooter rentals (insurance is extra).

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, visit the website of the country’s national tourist office.



AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

Civil aviation operations in the Turks and Caicos Islands fall under the jurisdiction of British authorities. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the UK’s air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s web site.



CHILDREN'S ISSUES:

For information see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.



REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:

Americans residing or traveling in the Turks and Caicos Islands are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Nassau through the State Department’s travel registration website in order to obtain updated information on travel and security within the Turks and Caicos Islands. By registering, American citizens enable the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The Embassy is located at 42 Queen Street, Nassau, The Bahamas (next to the McDonald’s Restaurant and across from the British Colonial Hilton Hotel.) It may be This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or fax (242) 356-7174. Non-emergency services are by appointment (see available appointment slots on website). Walk-ins are seen Mondays and Fridays, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. and Wednesdays, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. (except for U.S. and Bahamian holidays). American citizens in the Turks and Caicos may obtain emergency assistance: by calling (242) 322-1181 during regular business hours or (242) 328-2206 after-hours.


This replaces the Country Specific Information for the Turks and Caicos Islands dated November 17, 2008, to update sections on Entry/Exit Requirements, Crime and Registration/Embassy Location.


The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding travel to the Turks and Caicos Islands HERE......

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassies Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens)......

Regards

The SW Team......

 

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