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Jamaica travel advice

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Risk level

Jamaica - Exercise a high degree of caution

Exercise a high degree of caution in Jamaica due to the high level of violent crime.

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Safety and security

Crime

Violent crime

Violent crime, including armed robbery and murder, is a problem in large cities and tourist areas, including parts of Kingston and Montego Bay, 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. Tourists are also at risk of crimes of opportunity, especially theft and robberies.

Crimes tend to be concentrated within what the police refer to as “traditional hot spots” or “high-risk communities”, but can take place anywhere and at any time.

The following areas have a significant gang population and high incidences of violent crime:

Greater Kingston
  • Arnett Gardens
  • August Town
  • Balmagie
  • Cassava Piece
  • Delacree Park
  • Denham Town
  • Drewsland
  • Felstead Pen
  • Four Miles
  • Glendale
  • Grant’s Pen
  • Greenwich Town
  • Hannah Town
  • Harbour View
  • Hunts Bay
  • Jones Town
  • Lower Cockburn Gardens
  • Maverly
  • Mountain View
  • Nanse Pen
  • Olympic Gardens
  • Payneland
  • Portmore
  • Rennock Lodge
  • Riverton City
  • Salmagie
  • Seaview Gardens
  • Tavares Gardens
  • Tivoli Gardens
  • Tower Hill
  • Trench Town
  • Waltham Gardens
  • West Kingston
  • Whitfield Town
St. Catherine
  • Central Village
  • Ellerslie
  • Homestead
  • Ravensworth
  • Spanish Town
  • Tawes Pen
Montego Bay
  • Bottom Pen
  • Canterbury
  • Flankers
  • Hart Street
  • Mount Salem
  • Norwood Gardens
  • Rose Heights
  • St. Clavers Avenue
South Coast
  • May Pen

If you decide to travel to these areas:

  • maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times
  • avoid visiting or travelling at night
  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • avoid walking alone, even during the day
  • go out in groups with people that you know
  • avoid visiting isolated areas and beaches

If you’re threatened by robbers, don’t resist, and hand over your cash and valuables. Resistance may provoke the use of violence.

Petty crime

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, are common in major tourist areas.

  • Ensure that your belongings and travel documents are secure at all times
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash
  • Don’t show signs of affluence
  • Use ATMs located in public areas or inside a bank or business
  • 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 

Women's safety and sexual assault

There have been reports of sexual assaults at tourist resorts carried out by resort staff and, in some cases, by other tourists. Women travelling alone are often harassed.

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.

  • Be wary of strangers who seem friendly
  • Refrain from excessive drinking, especially at all-inclusive resorts
  • Ensure that your hotel room doors and windows are locked

Her own way – a woman’s safe-travel guide

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.

Fraud

Credit card and ATM fraud occurs. When using debit or credit cards:

  • pay careful attention when others are handling your cards
  • use ATMs located in 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

Tourists have been targets of lottery scams. Scammers convince targets that they have won a prize or lottery, but must pay a fee to claim their winnings.

  • Never send money to someone in Jamaica who says you’ve won a lottery or prize
  • Never travel to Jamaica to claim a “prize” or money

More about overseas fraud

Demonstrations

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

Mass gatherings (large-scale events)

Water activities

Swimming

Coastal waters can be dangerous. Riptides are common.

Not all beaches have lifeguards or warning flags.

  • Exercise caution when swimming
  • Don’t swim alone, after hours or outside marked areas
  • Consult residents and tour operators for information on possible hazards and safe swimming areas
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities

Water sports

Tour operators may not adhere to international standards.

If you participate in water sports:

  • choose a well-established and reputable company that has insurance
  • ensure that safety equipment, such as helmets and life jackets, are available and in good condition
  • ensure that your travel insurance covers the recreational activities you choose

If in doubt concerning the safety of the facilities or equipment, don’t use them.

Water safety abroad

Road safety

Road conditions and road safety can vary greatly throughout the country. Coastal roads are in fair condition but driving in inland can be dangerous due to:

  • narrow, winding roads
  • insufficient road maintenance
  • poor lighting
  • inadequate signage
  • poor lane markings
  • damage to roads during the hurricane season

Speeding, as well as driving under the influence of marijuana or alcohol, are common.

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.

Roadside assistance is available island-wide.

  • Stay on main roads as much as possible
  • Drive defensively
  • Keep vehicle windows closed and doors locked
  • Keep valuables out of sight

Public transportation

Public transportation is generally not safe due to high levels of crime and overcrowding.

Buses

Knutsford Express offers safe, reliable and comfortable bus transportation between major towns.

Avoid travelling on local city buses.

Taxis and ridesharing services

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.

  • Agree on the fare with the driver before departure, since taxis aren’t metered
  • Don’t share a taxi with strangers

Ridesharing services are also available and generally safe. If you use a trusted ridesharing app, confirm the driver’s identity and the licence plate before getting in the car.

Air travel

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

General information about foreign domestic airlines

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Entry and exit requirements

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 the Foreign Representatives in Canada.

Passport

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.

Official travel

Passport with “X” gender identifier

While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

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 foreign representative for your destination.

Useful links

Visas

Tourist visa: not required
Work visa: not required
Business visa: not required 
Student visa: not required

Immigration officers will generally grant visitors to Jamaica visitor landed status for 90 days. You must seek an extension if you are planning to stay up to an additional 90 days. You may request an extension at any immigration office. For stays beyond 90 days, you will require a visa.

Overstaying a visa or entry stamp is a criminal offence and can lead to prison 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 – Government of Jamaica

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 provide certain information to immigration officials. You can do this online before arriving in Jamaica, or complete and sign a Jamaican immigration landing card, usually given to travellers upon arrival at the airport or during the flight. If you complete the immigration landing card:

  • present it to an immigration official at the airport
  • retain the card and present it to immigration officials upon departure from Jamaica

Immigration/Customs C5 card – Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency

Children and travel

Learn about travel with children.

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).

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Health

Relevant Travel Health Notices

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

Routine Vaccines

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.

Pre-travel vaccines and medications

You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines are right for you.  

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.

Risk

  • 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.

Recommendation

  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
  • Contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of your trip to arrange for vaccination.

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.

Hepatitis A

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.

COVID-19

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.

For destination entry and exit requirements, including for COVID-19 vaccination requirements, please check the Entry/exit requirements section.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.

Influenza

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

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.

Hepatitis B

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.

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 cholerahepatitis Aschistosomiasis 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

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

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 of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.  

Salmonellosis

Salmonellosis is a common illness among travellers to this country. It can be spread through contaminated food or beverages, such as raw or undercooked poultry and eggs, as well as fruits or vegetables.

Practice safe food and water precautions. This includes only eating food that is properly cooked and still hot when served.

Pregnant women, children under 5 years of age, those over 60 years of age, and those with weakened immune systems are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill.

Most people recover on their own without medical treatment and from proper rehydration (drinking lots of fluids).

Travellers with severe symptoms should consult a health care professional as soon as possible.

Insects and Illness

In some areas in the Caribbean, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunyadengue fevermalariaWest Nile virus and Zika virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Chikungunya

There is a risk of chikungunya in this country.  The risk may vary between regions of a 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.

Zika virus

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.

Travel recommendations:

  • 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

Dengue
  • In this country, dengue is a risk to travellers. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
  • Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
  • The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
  • 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.

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.

Person-to-Person Infections

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

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. Ambulance services are limited in both urban and rural areas.

Medical expenses can be very high. Clinics may require payment upfront or credit card information as a guarantee of payment prior to providing medical care.

Medical evacuation can be very expensive and you may need it in case of serious illness or injury.

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.

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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.

2SLGBTQI+ travellers

Jamaican law prohibits sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Other related offences include being in a same-sex marriage and the "promotion of homosexuality." Those convicted can face sentences of up to 10 years in prison, though authorities rarely enforce the law.

2SLGBTQI+ travellers could be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics.

Though violence against members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community has declined significantly over the past decade, 2SLGBTQI+ travellers should:

  • carefully consider the risks of travelling to Jamaica
  • be cautious and avoid public displays of affection with someone of the same sex

Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics

Drugs

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy prison sentences.

Departing visitors are thoroughly screened for drug possession. Many Canadians are serving prison sentences for drug crimes, in some cases committed unwittingly. When leaving Ocho Rios and Montego Bay by cruise ship, you may be searched for drugs by local authorities. You should have a witness accompany you if you undergo such procedures.

  • Pack all luggage yourself
  • Don’t carry anything through customs for anyone else

Cannabis

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.

Useful links

Illegal activities

It’s illegal to:

  • wear, buy or sell army or police camouflage clothing
  • nudist bathing in non-designated areas 
  • use of indecent language

Imports and exports

There are strict import and export regulations on:

  • fruits and vegetables
  • animals, including pets
  • animal products
  • firearms

Entering the country with a firearm or even a single round of ammunition is considered a serious crime.

Dual citizenship

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

International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and Jamaica.

If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Jamaica by an abducting parent:

  • act as quickly as you can
  • consult a lawyer in Canada and in Jamaica to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
  • report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre.

If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.

Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.

Useful links

Driving

Traffic drives on the left.

You can drive in Jamaica with a valid Canadian driver’s licence for up to six months. After 6 months, you 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. There are heavy fines for non-compliance.

You should carry an international driving permit.

More about the International Driving Permit

Investments

If you plan on buying property or making other investments in Jamaica, seek legal advice in Canada and in Jamaica. Do so before making commitments. Related disputes could take time and be costly to resolve.

Money

The currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican dollar (JMD).

Hotels and businesses catering to tourists accept major credit cards.

There is limited ATM availability outside Kingston and Montego Bay. Make sure you have enough cash to cover your expenses if travelling outside these areas.

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Natural disasters and climate

Hurricane season

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

Useful links

Earthquakes and tsunamis

Jamaica is located in an active seismic zone. It is subject to earthquakes and is at risk of tsunamis.

A tsunami can occur within minutes of a nearby earthquake. However, the risk of tsunami can remain for several hours following the first tremor. If you’re staying on the coast, familiarize yourself with the region’s evacuation plans in the event of a tsunami warning.

In the event of an earthquake:

  • monitor local media to stay informed of the evolving situation
  • follow the instructions of local authorities, including evacuation orders

Useful links

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Need help?

Local services

Emergency services
In case of emergency, dial:
  • police: 119
  • medical assistance: 911
  • firefighters: 911

Tourist information

Jamaica Tourist Board offices are located throughout the island. They have direct radio links with local police and information on safe public beaches.

Jamaica Tourist Board

Consular assistance

Kingston - High Commission of Canada
Street Address3 West Kings House Road, Kingston 10, JamaicaPostal AddressP.O. Box 1500, Kingston, JamaicaTelephone(876) 926-1500Fax1-876-733-3493Emailkngtn-cs@international.gc.caInternethttps://www.Canada.ca/Canada-And-JamaicaServicesPassport Services AvailableFacebookHigh Commission of Canada to JamaicaTwitter@CanadaJamaicaConsular district

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands

Appointment Book your appointment online

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.

 

Disclaimer

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.

The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.

If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.

Learn more about consular services.

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