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Jamaica - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Jamaica. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the high level of violent crime.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Crimes of opportunity, including petty theft, pickpocketing and bag -snatching are common in major tourist areas. Ensure that your personal belongings and travel documents are secure at all times. Do not carry large amounts of cash or show signs of affluence. Protect your cell phone, a popular item for theft. Be aware of your surroundings when withdrawing money from automated banking machines (ABMs). Remain vigilant at supermarkets and retail outlets, as credit card and ABM fraud is a risk in Jamaica.
Violent crime, including armed robbery and murder, is a problem in large cities, particularly in Kingston, Spanish Town and Montego Bay. The availability of firearms is widespread, and most violent crimes, especially murder, involve firearms. Despite the presence of police in major urban areas, drug- and gang-related violence, including shootings, continues to be a significant problem. There is a risk of becoming the victim of crossfire in these areas. Police may impose curfews with short notice in areas where gang activity is a concern. While reports of violence perpetrated against tourists are actually very low, maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Some inner-city and disadvantaged neighbourhoods of Kingston have a significant gang population and high incidences of violent crime and should be avoided. These include Tivoli Gardens, Whitfield Town, Payne Land, West Kingston, Grant’s Pen, August Town, Denham Town, Hannah Town, Arnett Gardens, Olympic Gardens, Harbour View, Central Village, Spanish Town, Mountain View, Trench Town, Cassava Piece, Canterbury, Norwood and Rose Heights. You should also avoid some parts of Montego Bay, namely St. Clavers Avenue and Hart Street, Flankers, Canterbury, Norwood, Rose Heights and Mount Salem.
Do not walk alone while visiting the island, even during the day. Go out in groups with people that you know. Exercise extreme caution in all regions of the country after dark and avoid visiting beaches and isolated areas at night. Do not use buses at night. If you are a victim of crime, do not resist, as this may provoke the use of violence.
Be wary of “friendly” strangers. There have been reports of alleged sexual assaults at tourist resorts carried out by resort staff and, in some cases, by other tourists. Women travelling alone are often harassed. Refrain from excessive drinking, especially at all-inclusive resorts. Although most hotels and resorts are well guarded, always ensure that your hotel room doors and windows are secure. Use the hotel safe to secure your valuables; however, be aware that there have been a number of incidents in large resorts involving theft from hotel room safes by hotel staff. Do not leave valuables in plain view, even while you are in your hotel room. Enquire with reception upon check-in on security precautions related to theft from hotel rooms. Vigilance is recommended when staying in smaller or isolated establishments with less security. Compounds that are gated and guarded are considered the safest accommodations in the Kingston area.
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum, or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Credit card/ABM card-skimming is a concern, and travelers should keep their credit cards within sight while making transactions at stores and restaurants.
Water safety standards may not be comparable to Canadian safety standards. Hotels and resorts may not have lifeguards on beaches or may lack warning systems for local water conditions. While private beaches with security guards are generally safer than public beaches, never leave your personal belongings unattended when swimming.
Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Jamaica has experienced election-related violence in the past that has resulted in the destruction of property in some neighbourhoods. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Unlike in Canada, traffic drives on the left in Jamaica. Coastal roads are in fair condition, but driving in the interior is dangerous due to narrow, winding and badly maintained roads, which are also poorly lit at night. Weather conditions can damage or render some roads temporarily impassable. Stay on main roads as much as possible. Speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol are common. Motorists should keep vehicle windows closed, doors locked and valuables hidden. Roadside assistance is available island wide.
When driving between Norman Manley International Airport and Kingston, take the South Camp Road (also known as the Humming Bird Route) rather than Mountain View Avenue, which can close on short notice.
Public transportation is not safe due to high levels of crime and overcrowding.
Knutsford Express offers reliable and comfortable bus transportation between major towns.
Avoid taking unmarked taxis due to the risk of robbery and sexual assault. Use only taxis ordered from hotels and authorized by the Jamaican Union of Travellers Association (JUTA). These are identified by red-and-white “PP” licence plates and a lime-green JUTA sticker on the window. Since taxis are not metered, agree on the fare in advance.
The Government of Canada does not provide information on the safety of foreign domestic airlines. Research foreign domestic airlines, aircraft and government safety supervision if you have concerns about aviation safety standards abroad.
Ensure that the recreational activities you choose are covered by your travel insurance or by a local insurance policy, and that sporting and aquatic equipment is safe and in good condition. Many tour operators do not conduct regular safety checks. Avoid excursions that are not recommended by tour operators.
Dial 119 to reach the police emergency centre and 110 to reach the fire department and ambulance services.
Police officers regularly patrol tourist areas and can offer assistance. Security personnel and front-desk hotel staff can also offer assistance in most emergencies.
Visitor information booths and Jamaica Tourist Board offices are located throughout the island and have direct radio links with local police and information on safe public beaches. These offices are located at:
- Montego Bay, Cornwall Beach, Gloucester Avenue - tel.: 876-952-4425, -4426, -4427, or -4428
- Sangster International Airport - tel.: 876-952-2462
- Ocho Rios, Tourism Product Development Co. office - tel.: 876-974-7705/2582
- Kingston, ICWI Group Limited Head Office, ICWI Building, 2 St. Lucia Avenue; tel.: 876-929-9200
- Kingston, Airports Authority of Jamaica, Norman Manley International Airport (flight information only) - tel.: (876) 924-8452 or 8456
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Jamaican authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the High Commission for Jamaica or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
A valid Canadian passport is required for Canadians intending to visit Jamaica, which must be valid for the duration of their intended stay in the country. Alternatively, you may present a government-issued identification with photograph, along with an official birth certificate. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Tourist visa: Not required (for stays up to six months)
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
An onward or return ticket and proof of sufficient funds are required upon entry to Jamaica. The Jamaican Immigration entry card, usually given to travellers upon check-in at the airport or during the flight, is also required upon departure from Jamaica.
Make sure that the entry stamp in your passport covers your expected stay in Jamaica. Overstaying a visa or entry stamp is a criminal offence and can lead to jail time, heavy fines and deportation. You may obtain an extension for a visa at any immigration office.
You need a permit to work in Jamaica. Persons found working illegally may be held in a local prison until arrangements for their return to Canada are made at their own cost.
An airport tax of JMD$1,800 (about C$20) is charged upon departure. This tax is normally included in airline ticket prices, except for charter flights.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in the Caribbean, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in the Caribbean. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently an outbreak of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a viral disease spread through the bite of an infected mosquito that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. Protect yourself from mosquito bites, particularly around sunrise and sunset. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
- There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in the Caribbean, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or body fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.
Medical services and facilities
Good to excellent medical facilities exist in all tourist areas and in Kingston. Medical care and hospital facilities in remote areas are limited. Medical expenses can be very high. Ensure you have adequate medical coverage for the duration of your visit to Jamaica. It is normal for clinics to request payment up front or to take credit card information as a guarantee of payment prior to providing medical care. While outpatient and private doctors are very good, serious medical emergencies will require medical evacuation due to lack of equipment.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
There is no prisoner-transfer agreement in place between Canada and Jamaica.
Possession of illegal drugs (including marijuana in excess of two ounces, or 56 grams) is a severe offence and may lead to lengthy jail terms. Departing visitors are thoroughly screened for drug possession. Many Canadians are serving prison sentences for drug crimes, in some cases unwittingly. Pack all luggage yourself and do not carry anything through customs for anyone else. When leaving Ocho Rios and Montego Bay by cruise ship, you may be searched by local authorities for drug smuggling. You should be accompanied by a witness when undergoing such procedures.
Effective April 15, 2015, Jamaica’s Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2015 decriminalized the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana, which will be punishable by a fine and will not result in a criminal record. Smoking marijuana in public places remains prohibited. Despite the new legislation, Jamaican security forces will continue to enforce the country’s strict laws against the possession and trafficking of narcotics, in accordance with international agreements to combat drug trafficking. Do not attempt to depart Jamaica and cross international borders with any amount of marijuana.
Inappropriate conduct (public nudity in non-designated areas and indecent language) can lead to arrest.
It is illegal to wear, buy or sell army or police camouflage clothing.
There are import and export regulations on items such as firearms, produce and pets. Entering the country with a firearm or even a single round of ammunition is considered a serious crime. Contact the High Commission of Jamaica or one of its consulates (Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Victoria) for information regarding customs requirements.
It is mandatory to wear a helmet on mopeds, motor scooters and motorcycles, and to wear a seatbelt in cars and taxis. Visitors are subject to heavy fines for non-compliance.
Visitors can drive in Jamaica with a valid Canadian driver’s licence for up to six months. Residents must obtain a Jamaican driver’s licence.
The laws of Jamaica prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. LGBT travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Jamaica. Consult Homosexual, bisexual and transgender travel for more information.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Jamaica. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Jamaican citizen. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
The currency is the Jamaican dollar (JMD). Most of ABMs accept international debit cards displaying Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus or Plus logos. Credit cards are widely accepted. There have been reports of an increase in fraud and identity theft. Remain vigilant when using your credit or bank cards in public places such as restaurants and retail venues.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
The hurricane season extends from June to the end of November. The National Hurricane Center provides additional information on weather conditions. Stay informed of regional weather forecasts, and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.
Flooding and landslides can occur at any time in the mountainous regions and cause extensive damage.
Stay informed of regional weather forecasts, and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.
Jamaica is located in an active seismic zone and is subject to earthquakes. In the event of a natural disaster, follow the advice of the local authorities.
Kingston - High Commission of Canada
Montego Bay - Consulate of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the High Commission of Canada in Kingston and follow the instructions. You may also call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa toll-free at 1 800 276-2989.
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