General Info, Travel Info, & FAQs are provided to assist with your vacation.
ATMs 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.
The main banks are Banco Popular de Puerto Rico (tel 494-2117), FirstBank (tel 494-2662), FirstCaribbean International Bank (tel 494-2171) and Scotiabank (tel 494-2526). Generally they accept MasterCard and Visa on the Cirrus and Plus networks and dispense US dollars. Banco Popular de Puerto Rico ATMs also operate on the ATH and Honor systems and accept American Express. FirstCaribbean ATMs do not accept MasterCard, but you can go insider their branches and get a cash advance at the teller.
BANKING AND BUSINESS HOURS Banks Banco Popular: Mon-Fri 8:30am-4pm (Drive-thru 7:45am-6pm) Sat 9am-12 noon (Drive-thru only)
First Bank: Mon-Thurs 8:30am-3/4pm Fri 8:30am-4:30/5pm
Post Office Mon-Fri 8:30am-4pm (Carrot Bay 10am-2pm; West End office closes 12 noon-1pm) Sat 9am-12 noon (Cane Garden Bay and Carrot Bay are closed)
CHURCHES/RELIGIONS Mostly Protestant, including Anglican, Baptist, Church of God, Jehovah's Witness, Methodist, Moravian and Seventh-day Adventist. Roman Catholic, Hinduism and Islam are also represented.
CURRENCY AND CREDIT CARDS The local currency is the US dollar. Most shops, hotels and restaurants accept major credit cards. A 10¢ stamp duty is charged on all cheques and traveller's cheques.
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.
EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS American Express: lost or stolen card, 336/393-1111 (call collect); lost or stolen cheques or cheque cards, 800/452-0546 Discover Card: 801/902-3100 MasterCard: 800-1561 Visa: 410/902-8022 (call collect) Western Union: TLC Holdings, 494-5381 (Tortola) or 495-6417 (Virgin Gorda); DHL Worldwide Express, 494-5381 (Tortola)
DEPARTURE TAX Air: Each person must pay a departure tax of US$20 at the airport.
Sea: Each person leaving by sea must pay a departure tax of US$5; cruise ship passengers pay US$7.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS A valid passport is preferred, however, American and Canadian citizens can also use an original birth certificate (with raised seal) and official photo identification. European citizens require a valid passport. All visitors must also have an onward or return ticket, provide proof of adequate funds for the duration of their stay, and have pre-arranged accommodations.
Nationals of other countries may require a visa. Consult your nearest BVI Tourist Board Office, the nearest British Embassy or call the Immigration Department of the BVI Government at 284/494-3471 or 468-3701 ext 2538.
Note: 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.
NEAREST FOREIGN REPRESENTATION British Governor's Office: 494-2345 or 494-2370 (Tortola) High Commission of Canada: 246/429-3550 (Barbados), 800/387-3124 (toll free to Ottawa) US Embassy, Consular Section: 246/431-0225 (Barbados), 268/463-6531 (Antigua)
As of November 1, 2006
British pound sterling
European Union euro
HEALTH STANDARDS Medical facilities are adequate but limited. Peebles Hospital (tel 494-3497), located in Road Town on Tortola, is the only hospital. There are a number of public clinics throughout the islands, as well as private clinics on Tortola and Virgin Gorda. The B&F Medical Complex (tel 494-2196) in Road Town is open seven days a week from 7am. They offer walk-in emergency services and also have a pharmacy on site.
Serious or complex cases may require air transfer to the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico or the mainland US. The nearest hyperbaric chamber is located in the US Virgin Islands. Doctors and medical facilities may require cash payments. 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.
Pharmacies on Tortola include JR O'Neil (tel 494-2292), Medicure (tel 494-6189) and Vanterpool Enterprises (tel 494-2702), all located in Road Town. On Virgin Gorda there is another Medicure (tel 495-5479).
For all emergencies dial 999 or 911.
ILLEGAL ITEMS There are harsh penalties for possession, use, distributing or trafficking in illegal drugs, as well as strict regulations for exporting or temporarily importing firearms, agricultural products and currency.
For more information call the Customs Department at 284/494-3475 ext 2532.
LANGUAGE English is the official language. Spanish is also spoken.
POSTAGE The General Post office (tel 494-3701 ext 4996/7) is located in Road Town on Tortola. (A new General Post Office is to be built in Port Purcell.) Branches are located at the Terrence B Lettsome International Airport (tel 495-2593 ext 6473) and in East End (tel 495-2315), West End (tel 495-4649), Cane Garden Bay (tel 495-4711) and Carrot Bay (tel 494-3701 ext 4018) on Tortola; and in Spanish Town/The Valley (tel 495-5224) and North Sound (tel 494-1898) on Virgin Gorda. They are open Mon-Fri 8:30am-4pm (Carrot Bay 10am-2pm; West End office closes 12 noon-1pm) and Sat 9am-12 noon (Carrot Bay and Cane Garden Bay are closed).
Airmail to North America can take one to two weeks and to the UK, two to three weeks. Courier service is also available.
Postcards: - 25¢ to the Caribbean, US Virgin Islands and from Puerto Rico to Trinidad - 35¢ to the US, Canada, South and Central America, Guyana, Chile, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Peru, Cayman Islands, Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao - 40¢ to Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Jersey, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Gibraltar - 50¢ to Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, Middle East, France, Spain, Hong Kong, Netherlands, New Zealand and all other countries not listed above
Letters: First-class airmail rates (per 1/2 oz): - 35¢ to the Caribbean, US Virgin Islands and from Puerto Rico to Trinidad - 50¢ to the US, Canada, South and Central America, Guyana, Chile, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Peru, Cayman Islands, Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao - 60¢ to Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Jersey, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Gibraltar - 75¢ to Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, Middle East, France, Spain, Hong Kong, Netherlands, New Zealand and all other countries not listed above
PUBLIC HOLIDAYS Jan 1 New Year's Day Mar (first Mon) H Lavity Stoutt's Birthday Mar (second Mon) Commonwealth Day Mar/Apr (varies) Good Friday Mar/Apr (varies) Easter Monday May/June (varies) Whit Monday June (varies) Sovereign's Birthday July 1 Territory Day Aug (first Mon to the first Wed) August Festival Days Oct 21 St Ursula's Day Dec 25 Christmas Day Dec 26 Boxing Day
Note: When a designated holiday falls on a Sun, the public holiday is observed on the Mon.
SHOPPING HOURS Shops in Road Town are generally open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm and department stores are open 8am-8pm. Grocery stores are generally open 7am-10pm. Some stores may open for a few hours on Sun.
TAXES Hotels, apartments, guest houses, cottages, villas and similar accommodations add a 7% Hotel Accommodations Tax on the total charges for each person accommodated. There is a 5% self-drive motor vehicle rental tax.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS The phone system in the British Virgin Islands is modern and cellular and Internet services are available.
The country code is 284. Local phone numbers have seven digits. For local directory enquiries dial 119; international directory enquiries, 110; and operator assistance, 0. For calls to the US and Canada dial 1 + area code + local number. For calls to other countries dial 011 + country code + area code + local number.
Cable & Wireless/C&W (tel 494-4444) provides telecommunications services. Public phones accept coins, major credit cards (dial 111 and follow the voice prompts) and Smart Cards, which you insert into the phone card reader. Prepaid calling cards are also available and can be used with any Touch-Tone phone, including public pay phones. Simply dial the number on the back of the card and follow the instructions. C&W sells both types of cards at C&W offices and many shops and taxi stands throughout the BVI.
To use American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa dial the following number based on your language preference and follow the voice prompts: English, 1-800-744-2000 French, 1-800-744-2001 German, 1-800-744-2002 Spanish, 1-800-744-2003 Italian, 1-800-744-2004
You can also dial 1-800 CALL USA to use US calling cards, major credit cards or to make collect calls.
For more information see the section in FAQs: Can I use my calling card from here?
To make a collect call dial 1-800-744-5555 and follow the voice prompts.
Caribbean Cellular Telephone/CCT Boatphone (tel 494-3825, Tortola; 495-5639, Virgin Gorda) provides cellular roaming services. Check with your service provider to see if they have a roaming agreement with them. In June 2006, C&W and Nokia signed a deal to launch cellular service.
TEMPERATURES The average temperature is 70°F Jan-June and 85°F July-Dec. The wettest months are Sep-Dec.
TIME ZONE The islands are on 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.
Disclaimer: Information is provided as a service to visitors and is updated regularly. All
information should be verified prior to travel.