British Virgin Islands
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Latest updates: The Risk level(s) and Natural disasters and climate tabs were updated - Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
British Virgin Islands - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to the British Virgin Islands, due to damage caused by Hurricanes Maria and Irma. See Natural disasters and climate and Hurricanes Irma and Maria for more information.
Travel Health Notice - Zika virus
The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued advice for travellers on the Zika virus, recommending that Canadians practice special health precautions while travelling in affected countries. Pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant should avoid travel to the British Virgin Islands. See Health for more information.
Safety and security
Safety and security
The crime rate is very low, but petty crime occurs. Avoid unpopulated areas and unpatrolled beaches. Local authorities can help you determine which beaches are safest. Avoid deserted beaches and poorly lit, isolated areas after dark. Exercise normal precautions and ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.
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.
Road conditions are generally good, but exercise extra caution on steep and narrow mountain roads. Excessive speed and reckless driving may pose risks. Roadside assistance is not widely available.
Public transportation is available, but service is unpredictable. Taxi service is reliable; confirm the fare before departure. Rental cars are also available.
Reliable ferry services are offered between Tortola and its sister islands of Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke, as well as to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Crewed yachts and sailboats are also available.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the British authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the British High Commission 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.
Canadians must present a passport to visit the British Virgin islands, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds for your stay.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Tourist visa: Not required for stays up to six months
Business visa: Not required for stays up to six months
Student visa: Not required for stays up to six months
A departure tax is charged (payable in cash only) when leaving by air or by sea, including to cruise-ship passengers.
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, 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 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 - 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 not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
* 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!
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher for children, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers 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.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. Recent or ongoing cases of Zika virus have been reported in this country.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites day and night.
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects such as abnormally small heads (microcephaly). Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted.
Travellers who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy:
- Should avoid travel to this country
- If travel cannot be avoided follow strict mosquito bite prevention measures.
- Talk to your health care professional about the risk of Zika infection in pregnancy.
- Use condoms or avoid having sex for the duration of the pregnancy, if you are pregnant and your partner has travelled to this country.
- Female travellers: wait at least 2 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive (get pregnant) to ensure that any possible Zika virus infection has cleared your body.
- Male travellers: wait 6 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive. Use condoms or avoid having sex during that time.
See 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.
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
Medical facilities are adequate. Apart from a small hospital and several clinics on Tortola, there are no other medical facilities in the British Virgin Islands. Clinics and hospitals may expect immediate cash payment for medical services. Severe cases may be referred to Puerto Rico.
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
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Canada and United Kingdom are signatories to the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in United Kingdom to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and British authorities.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs (including marijuana) are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences or heavy fines. Pack all luggage yourself and do not carry any items that do not belong to you.
Taking any marine organism is illegal for non-residents without a recreational fishing permit. Contact the British High Commission in Ottawa for further information.
Traffic drives on the left.
You need a local temporary driving permit to drive in the British Virgin Islands. You can obtain a permit at any car rental agency or from the Traffic Licensing Office upon presentation of a valid Canadian driver’s licence or an international driving permit.
Imports and exports
Customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export out of the British Virgin Islands of such items as firearms, agricultural products and currency.
If planning to marry in the British Virgin Islands, ensure that you meet all requirements and have all necessary documents before leaving Canada. Most countries require a certificate stating that there are no Canadian impediments to your marriage.
The currency is the United States dollar (USD).
Natural disasters and 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.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria
Hurricanes Irma and Maria swept the British Virgin Islands as major hurricanes on September 6 and 19, 2017, respectively. The storms have caused significant damage to buildings and infrastructures on the island. Transportation routes, power and telecommunications systems, have been heavily damaged, and, in some areas, destroyed. Emergency and medical care, and water and food delivery have also been severely affected. Do not travel to or through the affected regions.
Dial 911 / 999 (from a cellular telephone) for emergency assistance.
There is no resident Canadian government office in the British Virgin Islands. Canadians can obtain consular assistance from the High Commission of Canada in Bridgetown, Barbados.
Bridgetown - High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the High Commission of Canada in Bridgetown, Barbados, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
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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