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ENTRY AND EXIT REQUIREMENTS
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
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Originally named the West Indies by explorers seeking a sea route to India, the Caribbean is the region of tropical islands in the Caribbean Sea situated between North and South America and east of Central America. The islands extend for nearly 1,700 miles from Cuba in the west to Barbados in the east.
If you plan to visit the most popular islands during high tourist season (from mid-December to mid-April) confirm your hotel reservations two to three months in advance. There are, however, lesser-known islands where you may be able to book first class accomodations on short notice. In addition, you can usually book reservations with ease during the off-season, but be aware of hurricane season which runs from June to November.
Every island in the Caribbean has entry requirements. Most countries allow you to visit for up to two or three months if you show proof of citizenship and a return or onward ticket. Some countries, such as Trinidad and Tobago, require that you have a valid passport. Haiti requires children under 18 to have a valid passport. If you are arriving from an area infected with yellow fever, many Caribbean countries require you to have a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever. Some countries have an airport departure tax of up to $25. For authoritative information on a country's entry and exit requirements and on its customs and currency regulations, contact its embassy, consulate, or tourist office in the United States.
Information on health precautions for travelers can be obtained from local health departments, private doctors, or travel clinics. You may also call the Centers for Disease Control's 24-hour hotline on (404) 332-4559 for information on immunizations and health risks worldwide. Immunizations are recommended against diphtheria, hepatitis A, polio, and tetanus. Typhoid immunization is also recommended if you go to remote areas of Haiti or Jamaica. Polio is endemic in Haiti and in the Dominican Republic.
Malaria is prevalent in Haiti and in the rural, non-tourist areas of the Dominican Republic that border Haiti. If you are going to a malaria area, take a weekly dose of chloroquine, beginning two weeks before your trip. In addition, take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes because malaria can break through any preventative drug.
Review your health insurance policy. U.S. medical insurance is often not valid outside the United States. Social Security Medicare does not provide payment for medical services obtained outside the U.S. In addition to medical insurance, consider obtaining insurance to cover evacuation in the event of an accident or serious illness. Air evacuation to the United States can easily cost $15,000 if you are not insured.
The most prevalent health hazard in the Caribbean is one you can avoid -- overexposure to the sun. Use sunscreen and bring a shirt to wear over your bathing suit, especially if you plan to snorkel.
Criminal penalties for possession of or trafficking in drugs in the Bahamas are severe. The Bahamian court system has a heavy volume of pending cases, and the U.S. citizens arrested for drugs or other offenses are often held in prison for months while awaiting trial.
In the Bahamas, be sure to budget for a hotel room tax, an energy surtax, a 15% obligatory gratuity in restaurants, and a departure tax of up to $15.
Persons wearing their hair in dreadlocks have occasionally been refused entry to the Cayman Islands. Cayman authorities say they may "refuse entry to any person whose mode of dress or behavior, or unkempt appearance, may cause offense to the Caymanian community." The authorities emphasize that "this policy does not automatically exclude from entry persons wearing their hair in any particular manner. However, if such persons are also unkempt and slovenly in their attire and behavior, it is possible they could then be refused entry."
The Cuban Assets Control Regulations of the U.S. Department of the Treasury require that transactions incident to the travel to and within Cuba of U.S. citizens or residents be licensed. A general license needs no application.
Street crime, including purse snatching, is a growing problem in Havana. Authorized visitors should exercise caution and keep a close eye on personal belongings while in tourist areas. Credit cards issued by U.S. financial institutions are not valid in Cuba. Hotels will not accept American express and other U.S. travelers checks regardless of where they are issued.
U.S. travelers in Cuba should register in person, in writing, or by telephone during business hours at the U.S. Interests Section which is part of the Embassy of Switzerland.
Drug laws are severe and strictly enforced in the Dominican Republic. Penalties for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana or 20 milligrams of cocaine range from six months to two years imprisonment, plus fines. For quantities of narcotic substances that meet the definition of trafficker, the penalty is a five to 20-year prison term, plus fines.
No more than $5,000 may be taken from the Dominican Republic upon departure. The peso is the only legal currency in the Dominican Republic, and it should be purchased only at authorized hotels and banks. In crackdowns on black market activity, U.S. tourists have sometimes been arrested for even minor illegal currency transactions.
The Dominican Republic is among the places where U.S. passports and other identity documents are frequently stolen.
There may be restrictions on minor children being allowed to leave the Dominican Republic without their parent(s). A child without a U.S. passport may be particularly vulnerable to being denied permission to travel alone or with only one parent. If this applies to you, check with the Embassy of the Dominican Republic about their requirements for the travel of unaccompanied children.
Visitors to Haiti should exercise caution. While there does not appear to be a specific threat to American citizens, the potential exists for civil disturbances and isolated serious criminal acts. Avoid crowds and areas of unrest.
Although U.S. dollars can be used as currency in Haiti, it is usually to the traveler's advantage to use Haitian dollars. Haiti's $25 airport departure tax must be paid in cash in U.S. currency. It cannot be paid as part of the airline ticket.
Crime is a serious problem in and around Kingston, Jamaica's capital. Visitors should exercise prudence, not walk around at night, and should use licensed taxis or hotel-recommended transportation. In the north coast tourist areas, care should be taken at isolated villas and small establishments.
Drug laws are severe and strictly enforced in Trinidad and Tobago. Possession of even small amounts of narcotics can result in lengthy jail sentences and expensive fines. The penalty for carrying narcotics into or out of the country is five (5) to 15 years with no possibility of parole.
Excerpted from:U. S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. Department of State Publication 10111. September, 1993.
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