Electricity

Electrical current is 230 volts, 60 Hz, but a 117-volt supply is available in most hotels. Round three-pin plugs and three-pin rectangular blade plugs (as in the UK) are in use.

Language

English is the official language.

Money

The official currency is the East Caribbean Dollar (XCD), which is divided into 100 cents. It is tied to the US dollar at a rate of US$1=EC$2.70. Most businesses accept US Dollar notes as payment, but change is given in EC$. Major credit cards are widely accepted, and major currencies can be exchanged at banks, with US Dollars the cheapest to exchange. Most banks are closed on weekends, but provide 24-hour ATM services.

Tipping

A 10 percent service charge is usually included in hotel and restaurant bills. Otherwise, it's customary to leave 10 to 15 percent of the bill, depending on the service. Taxi drivers can also receive a tip of around 10 to 15 percent.

Health

Medical facilities are adequate but limited, and travel insurance is essential. This should include emergency air evacuation, with most travelling to Miami or Puerto Rico for more complex procedures.

Safety

Although most visits to the islands are trouble-free, visitors should still guard against robbery and other crimes of opportunity. Valuables should be left in hotel safes where possible and remote places, particularly beaches, should be avoided, especially after dark. Hurricane season normally runs from June to November.

Local customs

Wearing camouflage clothing in Saint Kitts is illegal, as is nudity on beaches. Sadly, homosexuality is illegal, while the penalties for drug-related offenses are severe.

Doing business

Business in Saint Kitts and Nevis is conducted in a relatively informal manner, but fairly formal dress is expected despite the heat. Handshakes for both men and women are the common form of greeting, and business cards should be exchanged immediately after being introduced. Business hours are generally 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday, with an hour taken at lunch.

Duty free

Travellers over the age of 18 may import 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco, and 1.5 litres of wine or spirits without paying customs duty.

Communications

The international dialling code for St Kitts and Nevis is +1 869.

Passport & Visa

Although a maximum stay of either three or six months is indicated in official requirements, essentially immigration officials will decide how long visitors are legally allowed to stay in St Kitts and Nevis upon arrival. Visitors are recommended to hold confirmed return or onward tickets, all documents needed for next destination and sufficient funds to cover their stay. 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 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

United States citizens must have a passport valid for at least six months beyond period of stay. A visa is not required for stays of up to six months.

UK nationals require a passport valid for at least six months beyond period of stay, but no visa is necessary for a stay of up to three months.

Canadians require a passport valid for at least six months beyond period of stay. A visa is not required for a stay of up to six months.

Australians require a passport valid for at least six months beyond period of stay, but no visa is necessary for staus up to 90 days.

South Africans require a passport valid for the intended period of stay, but no visa is required for visits of up to 90 days.

Irish nationals require a passport valid for the intended period of stay, but no visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days.

New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for the intended period of stay, but no visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days.

Useful contacts

Department of Tourism, Basseterre, St. Kitts: +1 869 465 4040 or www.stkittstourism.kn

Emergencies: 911

Embassies / consulates in other countries

St Kitts and Nevis Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 686 2636.

St Kitts and Nevis High Commission, London, UK: +1 020 7937 9718.

High Commission for the Eastern Caribbean States, Ottawa, Ontario: +1 613 236 8952.

Embassies / consulates in St Kitts and Nevis

United States Embassy, Bridgetown, Barbados (also responsible for St Kitts-Nevis): +1 246 227 4000.

British High Commission, Bridgetown, Barbados (also responsible for St Kitts and Nevis): +1 246 430 7800.

Canadian High Commission, Bridgetown, Barbados (also responsible for St Kitts-Nevis): +1 246 429 3550.

Australian High Commission, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (also responsible for St Kitts-Nevis): +1 868 822 5450.

South African High Commission, Kingston, Jamaica (also responsible for St Kitts-Nevis): +1 876 620 4840.