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Puerto Rico - General Information
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Puerto Rico | General Information

General Info, Travel Info, & FAQs are provided to assist with your vacation.

Not all ATMs in the Caribbean operate like those in your home country. Some may only accept a four digit PIN number, so if yours is longer you may want to change it before your trip. Ensure you keep your travel money in your primary chequing account as some ATMs default to this account and will not allow you to choose another. Withdrawal fees are generally much higher outside your home country.

ATMs, called ATHs or cajeros automáticos, are plentiful. They dispense US$ and generally accept major credit cards on the Cirrus and Plus networks. The main banks are BBVA/Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (tel 800/981-2323), Banco Popular (tel 888/724-3659), Banco Santander (tel 800/726-8263), Doral Bank (tel 800/981-6911), First Bank Puerto Rico (tel 888/448-2511), Premier Bank of Puerto Rico (tel 787-622-7811), Scotiabank Puerto Rico (tel 877/766-4999) and Western Bank (tel 787-753-9378).

Bank branch hours vary widely. In general banks are open Mon-Fri anywhere between 7:30 and 10am until anywhere between 4 and 7pm (the occasional bank is open until 9pm on Fri). Some are open on Sat 8/9am until 11:30am/1pm. A few are open on Sun 11am/12 noon until 2/3pm. They are closed on national holidays.

Post Office
Post office branch hours vary widely. Mon-Fri they open anywhere between 7:30 and 10am and close anywhere between 3:30 and 9pm. Some are open on Sat anywhere between 7:30 and 10am and close anywhere between 11am and 6pm.

Mainly Roman Catholic. Protestant also represented.

The local currency is the US dollar. Most shops, hotels and restaurants accept major credit cards.

To ensure hassle-free purchases during your trip, you may want to contact your credit card company and let them know you will be travelling abroad.

American Express: lost or stolen card, 336/393-1111 (call collect); lost or stolen cheques or cheque cards, 800/221-7282
Discover Card: 801/902-3100
MasterCard: 800-1561
Visa: 410/902-8022 (call collect)
Western Union: 787-257-3950

Any departure tax is already included in the price of your ticket.

All visitors must have a passport and a return ticket. US citizens do not require a passport to enter Puerto Rico unless they are entering from a country other than the United States. Nationals of some countries may require a visa. For more information visit the Department of State's Destination USA website, www.unitedstatesvisas.gov/visiting.html, consult your nearest US consulate/embassy or call the US Visa Services Public Inquiries Division at 202/663-1225.

As of January 8, 2007, all persons travelling by air to the Caribbean, Mexico and Bermuda will require a valid passport, Air NEXUS card or US Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document to enter and/or re-enter the United States in accordance with the US Government's Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. For more information visit the US Government's Bureau of Consular Affairs website at www.travel.state.gov.

Some countries require single/lone parents or other adults travelling alone with children to provide documents showing evidence of parental/custodial and/or access rights, and/or documents authorizing consent from the parents, legal guardian, and/or the court for the children to travel. Parents of adopted children, particularly those of a different nationality, should carry the proper documents.

British Embassy: 202/588-6500 (Washington, DC)
Consulate of Canada: 787-759-6629 (San Juan), 866/600-0184 (toll free to Ottawa)

As of November 1, 2006US$
British pound sterling1.90173
Canadian dollar0.88881
European Union euro1.27217
Japanese yen0.008513
Swiss franc0.80097
US dollar--

There are numerous hospitals, clinics and pharmacies (called farmacias) on the island, and many doctors speak English. Hospitals include Ashford Presbyterian Memorial Community Hospital (tel 787-721-2160) at 1451 Av Ashford, Condado in San Juan; General Hospital Dr Ramón Emeterio Betances (tel 787-735-8001) on Rte 2, Km 157 in Mayagüez; Hospital Damas (tel 787-840-8686) at 2213 Ponce Bypass Rd in Ponce; and Hospital Dr Dominguez (tel 787-852-0505) at 300 Font Martello in Humacao.

Your home medical program may not provide payment for medical services outside your home country. Obtaining adequate medical/travel insurance, including air ambulance coverage, and consulting a physician or travel medicine specialist six to eight weeks prior to your trip to determine health risks and necessary vaccinations is recommended.

For all emergencies dial 911.

There are harsh penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs, and strict regulations for exporting or temporarily importing firearms and certain plant and animal specimens.

Prohibited items include Cuban-origin cigars and tobacco products; many fruits, vegetables, plants, cuttings, seeds and unprocessed plant products; most meats, livestock, poultry and their by-products such as sausage, pâté, etc; lottery tickets; obscene articles and publications; fully automatic weapons and semi-automatic assault-type weapons; and switchblade knives.

If you are bringing prescription medication keep it in its original packaging for proper identification and ensure you have a prescription or written statement from your doctor stating the necessity of the drug for your well-being. Only bring sufficient medication for the duration of your stay.

For more information call US Customs in San Juan at 787/253-4533.

The official languages are Spanish and English, which is widely spoken in San Juan, but less so in more rural areas.

The US Postal Service handles mail, so rates are the same as on the US mainland. Postage to Canada costs 55¢ for a postcard and 63¢ for a letter (up to one ounce). Postage to the Caribbean and Europe costs 75¢ for a postcard and 84¢ for a letter, and to the US, 24¢ for a postcard and 39¢ for a letter.

There are more than 80 post office branches throughout the island. In San Juan you'll find one at 1008 Ave Americo Miranda Ste 22b (tel 787-758-9055; Mon-Fri 8am-4pm, Sat 8am-12 noon), in Aquadilla at 50 Carr 459 Ste 1 (tel 800/ASK-USPS; Mon-Fri 10am-7pm, Sat 10am-4pm), in Carolina at 150 Ave Los Gobernadores Ste 230 (tel 787-750-0235; Mon-Fri 10am-8pm, Sat 8am-6pm), in Mayaguez at 233 Calle San Rafael Ste 1 (tel 787-832-2464, Mon-Fri 8am-4pm, Sat 8am-12 noon) and in Ponce at 93 Calle Atocha (tel 800/ASK-USPS; Mon-Fri 7:30am-4:30pm, Sat 7:30am-12 noon).

In general, post office branch hours vary widely. Mon-Fri they open anywhere between 7:30 and 10am and close anywhere between 3:30 and 9pm. Some are open on Sat anywhere between 7:30 and 10am and close anywhere between 11am and 6pm. For more information regarding a specific branch call the US Postal Service toll free at 800/ASK-USPS.

Jan 1 New Year's Day
Jan 6 Three King's Day
Jan 11 Eugenio María de Hostos Day
Feb 15 George Washington's Birthday/President's Day
Mar 18 Martin Luther King Jr Day
Mar 22 Abolition of Slavery Day
Mar/Apr (varies) Good Friday
Apr 16 José de Diego
May (last Mon) Memorial Day
July 4 Independence Day
July 17 Luis Muñoz Rivera Day
July 25 Constitution Day
July 27 José Celso Barbosa Day
Sep 7 Labour Day
Sep 23 Grito de Lares
Oct 12 Columbus Day
Nov (third Thurs) Thanksgiving
Nov 11 Veteran's Day
Nov 19 Discovery Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day

Shops are generally open Mon-Sat 9am-6pm. Most shopping malls are open in the evening until 9pm, and on Sun 11am-5pm.

Hotels with casinos add an 11% room tax, hotels without casinos add 9% and smaller inns add 7%.

The phone system on Puerto Rico is modern and cellular and Internet services are available.

The island's area codes are 787 and 939. Local phone numbers have seven digits. To call anywhere within Puerto Rico you must dial the area code + local number. For directory assistance dial 411.

PRT/Puerto Rico Telephone (tel 800/981-9105) prepaid calling cards are available at Verizon Wireless stores and other participating retailers. They can be used from any private, public or hotel room phone.

For more information see the section in FAQs: Can I use my calling card from here?

Verizon Wireless (tel 787-763-3333) provides cellular roaming services. Check with your service provider to see if they have a roaming agreement with them.

The average temperature in winter is 83°F and in summer 85°F.

The island is on Atlantic Standard Time year round, which is four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). During the summer the time is the same as on the east coast of North America and during the winter, the time is one hour ahead. Puerto Rico does not observe daylight savings time.

Disclaimer: Information is provided as a service to visitors and is updated regularly. All information should be verified prior to travel.

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