Saint Martin travel advice

Latest updates: Laws and culture – re-added information on the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons

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Risk level

Saint Martin - Take normal security precautions

Take normal security precautions in Saint Martin.

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Safety and security

Crime

Petty crime

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs.

  • Avoid carrying large sums of cash
  • Avoid showing signs of affluence
  • Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
  • Make sure purses and handbags are closed and not easy to snatch
  • Avoid isolated or poorly-lit areas, including beaches
  • Don’t leave valuables unattended on the beach
  • Check with local authorities to determine which beaches are safe

Violent crime

Violent crime, including armed robbery, has increased. Criminals sometimes target tourists. Be aware of your surroundings and exercise caution, especially at night

Burglaries occur regularly in resorts, seaside homes and hotels. Keep valuables, travel documents, and cash in safe locations, such as in hotel safes.

Fraud

Fraud involving use of credit cards, debit cards and ATMs may occur. 

When using your bank card or credit card:  

  • cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN  
  • pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others  
  • avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature  
  • use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business  
  • check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements  

Overseas fraud 

Women's safety

Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment, verbal abuse and sexual assault. 

Advice for women travellers 

Demonstrations and strikes

Demonstrations and strikes may cause disruptions to services. 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

Coastal waters can be dangerous, and riptides are common. Beaches are unsupervised, and there is no flag warning system to provide notice of water conditions and safety risks. Water pollution is also a problem.

  • Don’t swim alone
  • Keep a safe distance from boats and restricted areas
  • Consult residents and tour operators for information on possible hazards and safe swimming areas
  • Don’t dive into unknown waters, as hidden rocks or shallow depths can cause serious injury or death

Water safety abroad

Adventure tourism

Outdoor activities, such as zip-lining, hiking, mountain biking and other adventure activities can be dangerous if unprepared. Trails are not always marked, equipment safety inspections are not carried out regularly, and weather conditions can change rapidly, even in the summer.

If you intend to practice adventure tourism:

  • never do so alone, and don’t part with your expedition companions
  • obtain detailed information on your activity and on the environment in which you will be before setting out
  • buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
  • stay informed of weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
  • refrain from using equipment if you have doubts about the safety
  • inform a family member or friend of your itinerary

Road safety

The road network is well-maintained and it's possible to drive safely around the island.

There is severe traffic congestion during the tourist season, December to April.

The highway network consists of a belt that goes around both sides of the island, the French part, in Saint Martin, and the Dutch part, in Sint Maarten.

Canadian cell phones work throughout the country, and the network is reliable for emergency calls.

Emergency services, including roadside assistance, varies in availability depending on your rental company.

Road conditions

Driving conditions may be hazardous, especially during the rainy season, October to February.  Secondary and rural roads can be in poor condition.

Driving habits

Some drivers don’t respect traffic laws. They may be reckless.

Moped and scooter drivers sometimes engage in urban rodeos, riding on one wheel in front of other cars on the road. Such reckless behavior can be very dangerous for other drivers.

Public transportation

Minibus

Minibuses are available.

Bus

Buses are available.

Taxis

Taxis are available. Taxis are plentiful and are a convenient way to get around during short stays.

Ridesharing services

Ridesharing services are not available in Saint Martin.

Ferries

Ferry services are available to Saint Barthelemy and Anguilla.

Air travel

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

Information about foreign domestic airlines

Princess Juliana International Airport serves both sides of the island and is located on the Dutch. The Grand Case-Espérance airport serves local destinations and is located on the French side.

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Entry and exit requirements

Saint Martin is a "collectivité d'outre-mer" of France, which encompasses approximately the northern half of the island of Saint Martin. It is referred to as the "French side". The other side is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, named Sint Maarten or the "Dutch side."

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 French 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 at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Saint Martin.

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 for stays up to 90 days
Residence visa: required
Work visa: required
Business visa: required
Student visa: required

Departure tax

A departure tax is charged for all international departures from Princess Juliana International Airport (Sint Maarten) and by sea. Some airlines include the departure tax in the price of the ticket. There are no departure taxes from the Grand Case-Espérance airport.

Other entry requirements

Customs officials may ask you to show them:

  • a return or onward ticket
  • proof that you have a place to stay
  • proof that you have sufficient funds for the duration of your stay

Border with Sint-Maarten

There are no border formalities when crossing Saint Martin from the French side to the Dutch side.

Children and travel

Learn more about travelling with children.

Yellow fever

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

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Health

Relevant Travel Health Notices

This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.

Routine vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccinations, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date before travelling, regardless of your destination.

Some of these vaccinations 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 may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary. 

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

There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.

 

Practise safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.

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 risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus.  Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.

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.

Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. 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

 The best way to protect yourself from seasonal influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated every year. Get the flu shot at least 2 weeks before travelling.  

 The flu occurs worldwide. 

  •  In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs from November to   April.
  •  In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs between April and   October.
  •  In the tropics, there is flu activity year round. 

The flu vaccine available in one hemisphere may only offer partial protection against the flu in the other hemisphere.

The flu virus spreads from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Clean your hands often and wear a mask if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

Rabies

In this destination, rabies may be present in some wildlife species, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal. 

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional. 

Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who will be working directly with wildlife. 

Safe food and water precautions

Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.

  • Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
  • Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
  • Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs. 

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.  

Insect bite prevention

Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:

  • Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
  • Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
  • Minimize exposure to insects
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed

To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.

Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.

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.

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.
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.

During your trip:

  • Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
  • Use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact, particularly if you are pregnant.

If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, you should discuss the potential risks of travelling to this destination with your health care provider. You may choose to avoid or postpone travel. 

For more information, see Zika virus: Pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

Animal precautions

Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.

Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.

Person-to-person infections

Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette, which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:

  •  washing your hands often
  • avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
  • avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.  

Medical services and facilities

Good-quality medical services are available. There are two hospitals in Saint Martin, Hospital Center Louis Constant Fleming and Marigot Hospital. Payment in advance is often expected.

Emergency services don't always respond quickly. Ambulances are equipped to deal with basic emergencies. Ambulance services are provided by private companies, not by hospitals.

Travelers requiring specialized care or with serious injuries may be evacuated to Guadeloupe or Martinique. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.

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.

Transfer to a Canadian prison

Canada and France are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in France to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and French authorities.

This process can take a long time, and there is no guarantee that the transfer will be approved by either or both sides.

Drugs

Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

Drugs, alcohol and travel

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is legally recognized in France.

If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of France, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.

Travellers with dual citizenship

Driving

You may use a Canadian driver’s license to drive in Saint Martin.

If you're involved in a road accident, don't move your vehicle unless you must.

There is no physical border between the French and Dutch sides of the island and people and goods may travel freely between the two.

Car rentals

Take particular care when renting vehicles, especially when arranging for insurance and liability. Obtain detailed written information regarding your personal responsibilities before finalizing any rental arrangements.

Investments

Disputes related to property acquisition or other investments are costly and take time to resolve.  

If you plan on buying property, or making other investments in Saint Lucia: 

  • seek legal advice in Canada and in Saint Lucia before making commitments 
  • choose your own lawyer 
  • avoid hiring a lawyer recommended by a seller 

Marriage abroad

If you wish to marry in Saint Martin, you may only do so if you or your partner is a resident.

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. The convention applies between Canada and France.

If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Saint Martin, and if the applicable conditions are met, you may apply for the return of your child to the Saint Martin court.

If you are in this situation:

  • act as quickly as you can
  • contact the Central Authority for your province or territory of residence for information on starting an application under The Hague Convention
  • consult a lawyer in Canada and in Saint Martin 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

Drones

A permit is required to photograph with drones.

Flying rules - Government of France

Money

The currency in Saint Martin is the euro (EUR).

U.S. dollars are widely accepted.

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Natural disasters and climate

Hurricane season

Hurricanes usually occur from June 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

Rainy season

The rainy season extends from May to October. It can lead to severe flooding.

Seasonal flooding can hamper overland travel and the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.

  • Monitor local media for the latest information, including road conditions
  • Stay away from flooded areas
  • Monitor weather reports
  • Follow instructions from local authorities, including evacuation orders

 

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Need help?

Local services

Emergency services

Dial 112 for emergency assistance.

Consular assistance

There is no resident Canadian government office in Saint Martin. You can obtain consular assistance and further consular information from the Embassy of Canada to France, in Paris.

Paris - Embassy of Canada
Street Address130, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris, FrancePostal Address130, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris, FranceTelephone+33 (0)1 44 43 29 02Fax+33 (0)1 44 43 29 86Emailparis-consulaire@international.gc.caInternethttps://www.Canada.ca/Canada-And-FranceFacebookEmbassy of Canada to FranceTwitter@CanEmbFranceOther social mediaCanEmbFrance
Embassy of Canada in France
Consular district

French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, La Réunion, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Martin, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon

Appointment Book your appointment online

For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to France, in Paris, 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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