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Sint Maarten - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
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 Sint Maarten. See Health for more information.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Sint Maarten is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and encompasses approximately half of the island of Saint Martin. It is referred to as the “Dutch side”. The other side is a "Collectivité territoriale" of France named Saint Martin.
Most visits are trouble-free, but there are incidents of crime. Petty crime or crimes of opportunity are most common. There have been reports of theft from vehicles, especially rental cars. Armed robberies and tourists being followed by people on motorcycles have also been reported. Make sure purses and handbags are closed and not easy to snatch. Burglaries and break-ins are common at resorts, beach houses, and hotels.
Be aware of your surroundings and exercise caution, especially at night. Avoid isolated or poorly-lit areas, including beaches. Do not leave valuables unattended on the beach or carry large amounts of cash or jewellery. Leave your valuables and travel documents in your hotel room safe. If the safe is not securely fixed to the wall, use the safety deposit box at the front desk, if available. Check with local authorities to determine which beaches are safe.
Taxis are plentiful and service the entire island. Use registered taxis only. Negotiate the price before entering, as none of the taxis have meters. Mini-buses are used mainly by the local workforce and can be over-crowded. They service most major locations on both sides of the island.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Learn more about foreign domestic airlines.
Caribbean airlines provide inter-island service.
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 Dutch authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
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 Sint Maarten, which must be valid for the duration of stay. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Permanent residents of Canada must travel with their Permanent Resident Card and a valid passport from their country of origin.
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 of up to three months)
Business visa: Not required
Work permit: Required
Student visa: Required
All tourists who wish to stay longer than their allotted time can request an extension; however, the possibilities to obtain an extension may differ for those travellers requiring visas.
Tourists who have received an extension of stay are required to have health insurance valid for the duration of the extended stay.
Other entry requirements
Canadians must be in possession of a valid return or onward ticket.
You may be asked to provide the precise address of your accommodation in Sint Maarten before you enter the country.
You are required to show proof of sufficient financial means to pay hotel/living expenses during your stay. Upon arrival at Princess Juliana International Airport in Philipsburg, all passengers must present a fully completed immigration form (“Landing Permit”) to immigration authorities. These forms are generally handed out in the plane before landing.
There are no border formalities when crossing St. Maarten from the Dutch side to the French side.
For more information on entry requirements, visit the Government of Sint Maarten Visitor’s Guide.
A departure tax and an airport tax are payable upon departure and are usually included in the airline ticket price.
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 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 required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
- 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.
* 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 care is generally good. There is one hospital in Sint Maarten (St. Maarten Medical Center in Cay Hill) which requires payment in advance of treatment). If you use prescription or over-the-counter medication, bring a supply to last your entire trip. Ensure you have adequate health insurance coverage for the duration of your visit to the island, as well as accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment. Medical evacuation, which may be necessary in the case of an extreme medical emergency, is very costly (upwards of $40,000).
Over-the-counter medicine purchased in Canada or elsewhere may require a doctor’s prescription in St. Maarten. Be prepared to present a doctor’s prescription to the Immigration/Custom Officer for any medicine you have in your possession.
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 must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
The law requires that everyone over the age of 12 be able to show valid identification to law enforcement authorities at all times. Report the loss or theft of identification documents immediately to the nearest police station and to the Canadian Consular Office. Obtain a copy of the police report, keep it on your person, and apply for a replacement document as soon as possible.
There is no physical border between the French and Dutch sides of the island and people and goods may travel freely between the two.
Turning right on red lights is prohibited. The use of a cellular telephone while driving is also prohibited, unless fitted with a hands-free device, and is punishable by a fine.
A valid Canadian driver's licence is sufficient for driving in Sint Maarten and Saint Martin.
Same-sex marriages are not recognized in Sint Maarten.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Sint Maarten.
If local authorities consider you a citizen of Sint Maarten, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.
Learn more about travel as a dual citizen.
Be cautious when renting vehicles, especially when arranging for insurance and liability. Ask questions and obtain detailed written information regarding your personal responsibilities before finalizing any rental arrangements.
If you are interested in purchasing property or making other investments in Sint Maarten, seek legal advice from appropriate professionals in Canada and in the Caribbean before making commitments. Disputes arising from such activities could be prolonged and costly to resolve.
The currency is the Netherlands Antilles Florin (NAF). U.S. dollars, traveller’s cheques, as well as credit cards are widely accepted, and most shops charge in U.S. dollars. You may convert foreign currency at all major banks and numerous exchange facilities. For more favorable rates, Canadian currency should be exchanged prior to your travel to St. Maarten.
Automated banking machines (ABMs) are available throughout Sint Maarten and usually dispense U.S. dollars.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
The hurricane season extends from mid-May to the end of November. During this period, even small tropical storms can quickly develop into major hurricanes.
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 Maria and Irma
Hurricane Maria make landfall as a major hurricane on September 19, 2017. Hurricane Irma swept Sint Maarten as a major hurricane on September 6, 2017, causing significant damage to buildings and infrastructures on the island. Emergency and medical care, and water and food delivery have also been severely affected. Transportation routes, power and telecommunications systems have been restored in most regions. None of the resort facilities on the island are operational. Expect limited tourist services. Contact your travel agent to determine whether the situation will disrupt travel plans. Avoid travel to the affected regions.
The rainy season extends from October to February.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 721-542-2222
- medical assistance: 912
- firefighters: 919
Sint Maarten - Consulate of Canada
Bridgetown - High Commission of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, you may make a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.
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, express 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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