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Jamaica - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Jamaica due to the high level of violent crime.
Safety and security
Violent crime, including armed robbery and murder, is a problem in large cities despite the presence of police to counter criminal activity. The availability of firearms is widespread, and most violent drug- and gang-related crimes, especially murder, involve firearms. There is a risk of becoming the victim of crossfire in these areas.
Due to high violent crime rates in Jamaica, several states of emergency are in effect in various parishes throughout the country.
During a state of emergency, joint police-military forces are deployed to address organized crime and restore public peace. Security forces are also given increased rights to conduct searches, seizures, and detain persons of interest. Curfews may be imposed without notice.
If you’re travelling in the affected areas:
- always cooperate with military and police officers
- carry valid ID at all times and be prepared for various checkpoints
- avoid outings outside resorts or the town core after dark
- allow extra time to reach your destination
- monitor local news to stay informed on the states of emergency in effect
- follow the instructions of local authorities
The following areas have a significant gang population and high incidences of violent crime:
- Arnett Gardens
- August Town
- Cassava Piece
- Central Village in Spanish Town
- Denham Town
- Grant’s Pen
- Hannah Town
- Harbour View
- Mountain View
- Olympic Gardens
- Tivoli Gardens
- Trench Town
- West Kingston
- Whitfield Town
- Hart Street
- Mount Salem
- Norwood Gardens
- Rose Heights
- St. Clavers Avenue
Reports of violence perpetrated against tourists are actually very low, however, but you should:
- maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times, particularly at night
- follow the advice of local authorities
- monitor local media
- not walk alone even during the day
- go out in groups with people that you know
- avoid visiting beaches and isolated areas at night
- not use buses at night
- not resist if you are a victim of crime, as resistance may provoke the use of violence
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.
- Don’t carry large amounts of cash or show signs of affluence.
- Protect your cell phone, which is a popular item for theft.
- Use the hotel safe to secure your valuables.
- Don’t 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.
Credit card and ATM fraud occurs. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
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, ensure that your hotel room doors and windows are secure.
Be particularly vigilant if you are staying at a smaller or isolated establishment with less security. Compounds that are gated and guarded are considered the safest accommodation option in Jamaica.
Safe-travel guide for women
Spiked food and drinks
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.
Water activities and beaches
Rescue services may not be consistent with international 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.
Use only reputable and professional guides or tour operators when booking for recreational activities and ensure that sporting and aquatic equipment is safe and in good condition.
Water safety abroad
Demonstrations may occur. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
Coastal roads are in fair condition but driving in inland is dangerous due to narrow, winding and badly maintained roads that 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 marijuana or 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 hummingbird route) rather than Mountain View Avenue, where several robbery incidents have been reported.
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 Jamaica 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 and do not share a taxi with strangers.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
In an attempt to limit the spread of a novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which originated in China, some governments have implemented special entry restrictions for their territory. Before travelling, verify if your destination’s local authorities have implemented any specific entry and exit restrictions related to this situation.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update – Public Health Agency of Canada
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Jamaican authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for the expected duration of your stay in Jamaica.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Work visa: required
Tourist visa: not required (for stays up to six months)
Business visa: required
Student visa: required
You are generally granted visitor landed status for 90 days when visiting Jamaica, at the end of which you must seek an extension if you are planning to stay longer on island. You may obtain an extension for a visa at any immigration office.
Overstaying a visa or entry stamp also a criminal offence and can lead to jail time, heavy fines and deportation.
Persons found working illegally may be held in a local prison until arrangements for their return to Canada are made at their own cost.
Passport, Immigration & Citizenship Agency – Jamaican Government
Other entry requirements
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay.
You must complete and sign a Jamaican immigration landing card, usually given to travellers upon arrival at the airport or during the flight, and present it to an immigration official at the airport. On the card, you must indicate the full address of where you will stay, including the parish, and if you are staying in Kingston, the district. You must retain the card and present it to immigration officials upon departure from Jamaica.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional 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. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
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.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* 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.
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 children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in the Caribbean, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever, malaria, West Nile virus and Zika virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- In this country, dengue fever is a risk to travellers year-round. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue fever can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue fever changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. After a decline in reported dengue cases worldwide in 2017 and 2018, global numbers have been steeply rising again.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Zika virus is a risk in this country.
Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects.
Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should visit a health care professional before travelling to discuss the potential risks of travelling to this country. Pregnant women may choose to avoid or postpone travel to this country.
- Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
- If you are pregnant, always use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact with anyone who has travelled to this country for the duration of your pregnancy.
- Women: Wait 2 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy. If your male partner travelled with you, wait 3 months after travel or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer).
- Men: Wait 3 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy.
For more travel recommendations, see the travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
- 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.
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.
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. Outpatient and private doctors are very good, but serious medical emergencies will require medical evacuation due to lack of equipment.
Medical care and hospital facilities in remote areas are limited.
Medical expenses can be very high. 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.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Travel health and safety
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 and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
There is no prisoner-transfer agreement between Canada and Jamaica.
Jamaican law prohibits sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Other related offences include being in a same-sex marriage and promoting homosexuality. Those convicted can face jail sentences.
LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Jamaica.
General safety information and advice for LGBTQ2 travellers abroad
Possession of illegal drugs 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. When leaving Ocho Rios and Montego Bay by cruise ship, you may be searched for drugs by local authorities. You should be accompanied by a witness when undergoing such procedures. Pack all luggage yourself and do not carry anything through customs for anyone else.
Jamaica decriminalized the possession of up to two ounces of cannabis, which will be punishable by a fine and will not result in a criminal record. Smoking cannabis in public places, however, remains prohibited. Jamaican authorities continue to enforce strict laws against the possession and trafficking of narcotics, in accordance with international agreements to combat drug trafficking. Don’t attempt to depart Jamaica and cross international borders with any amount of cannabis.
Inappropriate conduct (specifically 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.
The import of animals, animal products and fresh produce is highly restricted and regulated in Jamaica.
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 (in Edmonton, Toronto, Winnipeg and Victoria) for information regarding customs requirements.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Jamaica.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Jamaica, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
General information for travellers with dual citizenship
Traffic drives on the left.
You can drive in Jamaica with a valid Canadian driver’s licence for up to six months. Residents must obtain a Jamaican driver’s licence.
It is mandatory to wear a helmet on mopeds, motor scooters and motorcycles, and to wear a seatbelt in cars and taxis. You are subject to heavy fines for non-compliance.
The currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican dollar.
Natural disasters and climate
Hurricanes usually occur from mid-May to the end of November. During this period, even small tropical storms can quickly develop into major hurricanes.
These severe storms can put you at risk and hamper the provision of essential services.
If you decide to travel to a coastal area during the hurricane season:
- know that you expose yourself to serious safety risks
- be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
- stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
- carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
- follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
- Hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones and monsoons
- Large-scale emergencies abroad
- Active storm tracking and hurricane watches and warnings - United States’ National Hurricane Center
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.
- police: 119
- medical assistance: 911
- firefighters: 911
Jamaica Tourist Board offices are located throughout the island. They have direct radio links with local police and information on safe public beaches.
Kingston - High Commission of Canada
Montego Bay - Consulate of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the High Commission of Canada to Jamaica, in Kingston, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
You may call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa toll-free at 1 800 387-3124.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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