Electricity

Electrical current is 120 volts, 60Hz. Two-pin flat attachment plugs are in use.

Language

Spanish and English are the official languages of Puerto Rico.

Money

The United States Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency, which is divided into 100 cents. It is often referred to as the 'peso' in Puerto Rico. ATMs and bureaux de change are freely available and all major credit cards and travellers cheques are generally accepted. Banking hours are 9am to 3.30pm.

Tipping

Some restaurants and hotels automatically add a 10-17 percent service charge to the bill. If not, a 15 percent tip is expected. Taxi drivers and bar staff also expect tips.

Health

There are no vaccination certificates required for travel to Puerto Rico. Cases of dengue fever occur annually and mosquito protection measures are essential, while it's best to drink bottled water to avoid stomach upsets. Medical services are good but can be expensive so travel insurance is advised.

Safety

Puerto Rico is still recovering from Hurricane Maria with regular power and communication outages and unstable buildings.

Visits to Puerto Rico are usually trouble-free but travellers should take sensible precautions to avoid petty theft.

Many travel and health authorities classify Puerto Rico as having a high risk of Zika virus transmission. Visitors are advised to seek advice from health professionals before travel.

Local customs

Social etiquette in Puerto Rico is typically Latin American, with some North American influences such as a stronger sense of female independence, and a toning-down of the machismo ideal. Western visitors to the country should feel comfortable in most social situations.

Hygiene, cleanliness, and personal appearance are viewed as matters of self-respect, so travellers who've been on the road for a little while might consider neatening up their beards or trimming their hair, especially if they want to make a good first impression.

A final, important aspect of Puerto Rican social life, is the concept of relajo. Generally shy of direct confrontation and open criticism, relajo refers to the gentle, joking manner in which Puerto Ricans will bring up uncomfortable issues around each another. Visitors should be aware of this technique, as they may, on occasion, be required to read between the lines to discover what locals are really trying to express.

Doing business

Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory although the resemblance is closer to Latin America. English is understood by many on the island, but Spanish may also be the language in which business is conducted. Dress codes will vary according to different sectors, but suits are favoured on very formal occasions. Shaking hands is common for both men and women. Business hours are generally 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, with an hour taken at lunch.

Duty free

Puerto Rico's customs regulations are the same as those for the United States. Visitors over 21 may bring in the following items without paying duty: 200 cigarettes or 100 cigars or 2kg of tobacco; 1 litre of alcohol; and gifts valued up to US$100.

There is a long list of restricted and prohibited items which may not be imported or imported only under license, ranging from fireworks and matches to pre-Columbian sculpture and Cuban cigars. If in doubt, consult your nearest US Embassy for advice. Any merchandise from embargoed countries (Afghanistan, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Serbia and Montenegro and the Sudan) may not be brought onto US soil.

Communications

The international access code for Puerto Rico is +1 787 and +1 939. The outgoing code is 011 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 01144 for the United Kingdom). The outgoing code is not needed for calling the US, Canada, and most of the Caribbean. Mobile phones work throughout the island and local operators use CDMA networks that are not compatible with GSM phones, as used outside North America. Internet cafes are available in most towns and resorts.

Passport & Visa

All passport holders must have an onward or return ticket and documents necessary for further travel. Entry requirements for Puerto Rico are the same as for the United States of America. When arriving from mainland USA there is no immigration control. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Entry requirements

Valid passport or passport replacing documents are required. Visa not required.

Those with UK passports endorsed 'British Citizen' require a passport valid for 6 months beyond the period of intended stay, but no visa is required for touristic stays of 90 days. Those with any other endorsement should check official requirements.

Canadian citizens require a passport valid for period of intended stay. No visa is required.

Australian citizens require a passport valid for period of intended stay. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days.

South Africans must hold a passport valid for period of intended stay and a visa is also required, unless holding a valid US visa.

Irish citizens require a passport valid for the period of intended stay. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days.

New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for the period of intended stay. A visa is not required for touristic stays up to 90 days.

Useful contacts

The Puerto Rican Tourist Company, Old San Juan: +1 787 721 2400 or www.gotopuertorico.com

Emergencies: 911

Embassies / consulates in other countries

United States Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7499 9000.

United States Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 238 5335.

United States Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6214 5600.

United States Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 431 4000.

United States Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 668 8777.

United States Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 462 6000.

Embassies / consulates in Puerto Rico

British Consulate, San Juan: +1 787 850 2400.

Canadian Embassy, Washington DC, United States (also responsible for Puerto Rico): +1 (202) 682 1740.

Australian Embassy, Washington DC, United States (also responsible for Puerto Rico): +1 202 797 3000.

South African Embassy, Washington DC, United States (also responsible for Puerto Rico): +1 202 232 4400.

Irish Embassy, Washington DC, United States (also responsible for Puerto Rico): +1 202 462 3939.

New Zealand Embassy, Washington DC, United States (also responsible for Puerto Rico): +1 202 328 4800.

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