Electricity

120 volts, 60Hz. Two-flat-pin plugs are standard.

Language

English is the official language. Spanish, Creole and some French are also spoken.

Money

The official currency is the US Dollar (USD) divided into 100 cents. Most credit cards are accepted, including American Express, Diners Club, Mastercard, and Visa, and are useful for withdrawing cash at ATMs. Foreign exchange bureaux are available to exchange other currencies, but it is best to arrive with US Dollars as many banks and hotels will not exchange foreign currency.

Tipping

Tipping of 15 to 20 percent is customary for good service. Some hotels and restaurants automatically add a service charge and room tax.

Health

Only bottled water should be drunk outside the major towns, but other than that there are no significant health risks. Medical facilities are of a high standard but travel insurance is vital as medical care is very expensive.

Safety

The US Virgin Islands are generally safe for travellers and the vast majority of visits are trouble-free. But normal precautions against petty crime should be taken, especially in the back streets of towns during the night. Don't leave valuables lying on the beach when snorkelling or swimming.

Local customs

In the US Virgin Islands, politeness is important. Greet people before asking questions or requesting assistance. You may hear locals thanking jumbi (spirits) for good luck, or blaming them for misfortune.

Doing business

The economy in the US Virgin Islands revolves primarily around tourism, though petroleum refining takes place off St Croix. Like many other Caribbean countries, things are pretty relaxed and formal business attire is generally not considered necessary. The people are friendly, polite and shaking hands is common upon introductions for men and women. Business hours are typically 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday, with lunch breaks around 12pm.

Duty free

Travellers may transport 100 cigars or 200 cigarettes or 2kg smoking tobacco; and a US quart of alcohol.

Communications

The international country code for the US Virgin Islands is +1 340. The main mobile service providers on the islands are AT&T Mobility, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA.

Passport & Visa

Entry requirements are the same as for the United States of America. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. There is no immigration control for visitors arriving from mainland USA. Visitors from countries that qualify for the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) must have a machine-readable passport (MRP) that has a bar code on the photo page. Eligible travellers under the VWP must include biometrics in their machine-readable passports if they wish to enter the country without a visa; this means that unique personal data, such as fingerprints or iris details, must be included in passports. All passports must contain a digital photo image in order to travel visa-free. Those travelling under the VWP must also register on the US government ESTA website three days before departure, which allows the US to screen visitors before travel. All visitors to the USA will have a photograph and two fingerprints taken by an inkless scanner on arrival, including those travelling visa-free under the Visa Waiver Programme. All travellers arriving or departing by air, land or sea between the USA and Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, Bermuda, and Central and South America are required to present a valid passport. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Entry requirements

A valid US passport is required. A visa is not required.

UK passport holders require a valid passport for travel to the US Virgin Islands. British Citizens require a passport valid for duration of stay. Passports with other endorsements must be valid for six months beyond period of intended stay. Under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP), most British citizens do not require a visa for holiday, transit, or business purposes provided that their passports are machine-readable, the stay does not exceed 90 days, a return or onward ticket is held, and they check into the US government ESTA website prior to departure to register.

Canadians require a passport valid for duration of stay but a visa is not required. Visitors should hold tickets and documents required for return or onward destination.

Australian nationals require a passport valid for duration of stay but do not require a visa for tourist stays of up to 90 days. Passports need to be machine-readable, a return or onward ticket is required, and Australians must check into the US government ESTA website prior to departure.

South Africans must hold a passport valid for duration of stay, and a visa is required. Visitors must have return or onward tickets and the necessary documents for further travel.

Irish nationals require a passport valid for duration of stay, but as Ireland qualifies for the US Visa Waiver Programme, visas are not required for tourists or business stays of up to 90 days. Visitors must have machine-readable passports, return or onward tickets, and they must register on the ESTA site before departure.

New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for duration of stay but do not need visas for stays of up to 90 days. New Zealanders require machine-readable passports and return or onward tickets, and must register on the US government ESTA website before departure.

Useful contacts

US Virgin Islands Tourist Office, St Thomas: +1 340 774 8784 or www.usvitourism.vi

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: +354 (0)1 668 8777.

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

Embassies / consulates in US Virgin Islands

British Embassy, Washington DC, USA: +1 202 588 6500.

Canadian Embassy, Washington DC, USA: +1 202 682 1740.

Australian Embassy, Washington DC, USA: +1 202 797 3000.

South African Embassy, Washington DC, USA: +1 202 232 4400.

Irish Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 462 3939

New Zealand Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 328 4800.

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