Country guides Caribbean
Electrical current is 110 volts, 60 Hz. The two plug types are the same as in the US. One has two-pin flat blades; the other is the same, though it has a third round grounding pin.
English is the main language spoken on the islands.
The official currency is the US Dollar (USD), which is divided into 100 cents. Most establishments on the larger islands accept credit cards, but on Anegada it is best to have cash. Banks and exchange facilities can be found in Road Town, Tortola. ATMs are available in Tortola and Virgin Gorda.
For good service, a 10 to 15 percent tip is usual in the British Virgin Islands. Hotels often add a service charge to the bill, usually between 10 and 12 percent, so it is best to check before tipping. Bellhops and porters usually expect $1 per item of luggage.
There is a small risk of dengue fever in the British Virgin Islands, so visitors should protect themselves with insect repellent. Recommended vaccinations are minimal but include hepatitis A, if not previously taken. Limited medical facilities can be found on all the main British Virgin Islands and there is a hospital located in Road Town, Tortola. Comprehensive medical and travel insurance is recommended.
The British Virgin Islands are generally considered very safe for travellers and they have a low crime rate. That said, sensible precautions should always be taken regarding valuables, especially on beaches. The islands are susceptible to hurricanes, particularly between June and November, but tropical storms can occur throughout the year. It is a good idea for visitors to check the forecast for storms during their stay, and to plan around the hurricane season.
In the British Virgin Islands, it is considered impolite to take photographs of the local people without asking their permission beforehand.
Business attire in the British Virgin Islands is fairly formal and conservative. A lightweight suit is appropriate for most meetings, unless in an informal outdoor setting where smart slacks and a shirt is more appropriate. Handshaking is customary for introductions between both men and women; women are considered equals in the business world and should be treated as such. Business cards are exchanged on introduction. Being late for meetings is considered offensive despite the laid-back impression of the island. Meetings are usually fairly unstructured, though. The language of business is English, and business hours generally run from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Travellers to the Virgin Islands over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco, and wine or spirits up to 1 litre.
The international dialling code for the British Virgin Islands is +1 284. Travellers with unlocked phones can purchase local SIM cards in Road Town and at large marinas; most lodgings offer free WiFi, as do many bars and restaurants in main towns.
Passport & Visa
Travellers need a return or onward ticket and all the documents required for their next destination, as well as sufficient funds. As part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), all travellers travelling between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean region are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States. If departing from the USA, a valid passport will be required by immigration authorities. It's recommended that passports be valid for six months after the intended period of travel.
United States passport holders must have a valid passport or a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, as well as proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. No visa is required for stays of up to six months.
UK passport holders need a passport, but no visa is necessary.
Canadian passport holders require a passport or a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, as well as proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. No visa is required for stays of up to six months.
Australian passport holders need a passport, but no visa is necessary for a stay of up to six months.
South Africans need a passport, but no visa is necessary for stays of up to six months.
Irish nationals need a passport, but no visa is necessary for stays of up to six months.
New Zealand nationals require a passport, but no visa is necessary for stays of up to six months.
BVI Tourist Board, Tortola: +1 284 494 3134 or www.bvitourism.com/Emergencies: 999.
Embassies / consulates in other countries
British Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 588 6500.
British High Commission, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 237 1530.
British High Commission, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6270 6666.
British High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 421 7500.
British Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 205 3700.
British High Commission, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 924 2888.
Embassies / consulates in British Virgin Islands
United States Embassy, Bridgetown, Barbados (also responsible for the BVI): +1 246-227-4000.
Canadian High Commission, Bridgetown, Barbados (also responsible for the BVI): +1 246-629-3550.
Australian High Commission, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (also responsible for BVI): +1 868 822 5450.