Vacation Information about Barbados
This complete guide to Barbados provide you with all the information you need for your vacation to this luxurious Caribbean abode. Learn about the island and the people, and know important information about customs, emergency contacts, crime rates, and more.
About Barbados: Barbados is one of the Caribbean's most popular tourist destinations. It is a relatively small island with 275,000 inhabitants living mostly in or around the capital of Bridgetown which is also the largest city.
Much of Barbados is circled by coral reef. The climate is moderate tropical. There are two seasons; the wet season which falls from June to November, and the dry season which is from December to May. Barbados is known to be sunny all year round with current sunny outbreaks during the wet season. The average temperatures are between 75F (24C) and 85F (29C).
Anthem: In Plenty, and In Time of Need
Time Zone: Eastern Caribbean (UTC -4)
Languages: English, Bajan
Power Outlets: 115 V, 50 Hz
Currency: Barbadian Dollar (BBD)
Credit Cards: All major credit cards accepted.
Traveler Checks: Traveler checks accepted.
Side of road to drive on: Left
: : ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS
Every person entering Barbados, including all North American citizens (Americans and Canadians), should be in possession of a valid passport and a valid return ticket. Note that there is a strict prohibit on any and all camouflage material entering the country.
Although most countries do not require a visa to visit Barbados, you can check your countries status here
Applicants for visas must complete form in duplicate. The form is to be accompanied by two (2) passport size photographs. The fee for a single entry visa is BDS $50.00 and for a multiple entry visa is $60.00. Visas may be obtained from any of Barbados' Missions overseas.
: : CUSTOMS INFORMATION
The importation of certain articles are restricted or prohibited in order to protect the community, to maintain animal and plant life, among other reasons. Prohibited articles such as illegal drugs and pornography will be seized and persons may face penalties or prosecution. Restricted items may be released after inspection by the appropriate agency or detained until conditions of the restrictions are met. Receipts are issued for all articles detained by customs. Among the restricted items are:
Fruits and Vegetables
All fruits, vegetables, plants, cuttings, seeds or unprocessed plant
products must be declared to customs and presented for inspection by a
Plant Quarantine Officer. Fresh fruits from certain countries are
prohibited in order to prevent the spreading of pest and plant diseases.
Certain plant, seeds or cuttings may require an import permit and a
photosanitary certificate. Request for import permits and further
information should be addressed to:
Ministry of Agriculture,
Tel (246) 428-4150
Personal Effects: 1 liter of potable spirits or wine, 200 cigarettes (one carton) or 100 cigars or 50 cigars and cigarettes not exceeding 230 grams in aggregate. All articles in excess of this exemption are subject to the relevant duty and tax. Personal effects are passengers' baggage containing apparel and articles for personal use which a traveler may reasonably require during his vacation e.g. clothing, cosmetics and accessories.
Duty Free Allowances
BRITAIN - Duty Free Allowances for Returning British Citizens
Each returning resident over 17 years of age may take back:
-1 liter of alcohol
-200 Cigarettes or 250g of tobacco
-60cc of perfumes
-Up to $145 worth of other goods
CANADA - Duty Free Allowances for Returning Canadian Citizens
Persons whose stay is in excess of 48 hours can claim up to $400 CAN. per trip.
Persons whose stay is in excess of 7 days or more can claim up to $750 CAN. per trip.
Each returning Canadian resident may take back:
-1.4 liters of alcoholic beverages OR 1.5 liters of wine
-24 12-oz cans/bottles of beer
-200 cigarettes AND 200g of tobacco
Minimum age for alcoholic beverages vary with port of entry. No duty or GST is charged on purchases under $300. GST charge on entire total purchases. Duty varies on alcoholic beverages. Gifts: Persons while abroad may mail casual gifts (except tobacco and alcoholic beverages) free of duty and taxes, to friends and relatives in Canada, providing the value of the gift does not exceed CAN$40.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - Duty Free Allowances for Returning American
Each returning citizen whose stay is in excess of 48 hours may on his return, take back, free of duty, articles totaling up to US$400 (based on the retail value of the items in the country of purchase).
Duty on purchases in excess of the US$400 exemption is 10% on the next US$1000, and thereafter at the rate duty applicable.
Duty free liquor is allowed at one liter per person for persons over the age of 21.
Gifts: In addition to the US$400 exemption, each person can mail back gifts valued at $50 each to friends and relatives back home, provided the addressee does not receive more than one gift parcel a day. No declaration is required, and no tax is levied.
: : SALES TAX AND FEES
Sales Tax/ VAT Rate: 15%
Airport Tax: No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation. Departure Tax of BDS $55 (US $ 27.50) applies for all passengers over 12 years old leaving Barbados. Most airlines include this with the cost of the ticket, but check to be sure.
: : MEDICAL INFORMATION
All Barbados citizens are covered by national healthcare. Consult with your current medical insurance provider to be sure you are covered in case of an emergency while travelling abroad.
The emergency numbers for Barbados are as follows; Police 211, Ambulance 511, Fire 311
The facilities in Barbados are modern and easily accessible. The main Barbados hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital is located in the capital of Bridgetown and has 24 hour emergency care.
Bringing in prescriptions:
If you are bringing prescription medication into Barbados, place them in your carry-on luggage and be ready for customs inspection. The best way to avoid any confusion with the customs inspectors is to bring both your written prescription and a note signed by your doctor indicating your need for the medicine.
Although yellow fever is not a disease risk in Barbados, the government requires travelers arriving from countries where yellow fever is present to present proof of yellow fever vaccination. If you will be traveling to one of these countries where yellow fever is present before arriving in Barbados, this requirement must be taken into consideration.
Routine vaccines are recommended if you are not up-to-date with routine shots such as, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine, and poliovirus vaccine.
: : CRIME
Barbados is one of the safest Caribbean islands. Crime in Barbados is characterized primarily by petty theft and street crime.
Accused of a crime in Barbados:
Persons violating Barbados laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Barbados are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Victims of Crime:
If you are the victim of a crime in Barbados you should contact the local police and your embassy and or consulate for help. This includes the loss or theft of a passport. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends, and explain how funds may be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime are solely the responsibility of local Bajan authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
Travelling to Barbados with a criminal record:
Applicants of a non-immigrant visa with arrest/criminal records must provide a copy of their court and/or arrest record and copy of relevant Laws/Statutes (including cases that ended with an acquittal or pardon) and an English translation of those documents. In the event that there was no trial, bring a letter in English that explains the circumstances of the arrest.
: : TRANSPORTATION
Night driving should be done with caution because of narrow roads with no shoulders and pedestrian/bicycle traffic. Visitors are warned to be extremely careful when driving, riding in a vehicle, or crossing roads on foot.
All car rental companies have their own set of rules and regulations that you will be informed of upon collecting the car in Barbados. If the car you have ordered is unavailable for whatever reason, you'll usually be given another car from the same class, or, if that class is out, you'll be upgraded.
Registered taxis are generally safe. Many taxi services operate around the island of Barbados. It is best to agree a price with the driver prior to commencing your journey.
Barbados is a highly accessible island by public transport. The buses around the island that are blue with a yellow stripe are government owned. Travelers are cautioned against riding in private mini-buses, known as "buses", as the owners frequently drive erratically. Private vans and small buses are often crowded and tend to travel at excessive speeds.
Drivers License Info:
It is necessary to have a Bajan drivers license in addition to an international drivers license to drive in Barbados.
: : CULTURAL INFORMATION
Motto: Pride and Industry
Wardrobe: During the day, it is acceptable to wear casual clothing. Do not wear any clothes that bare resemblance to military fatigues or feature any tactless or unwarranted slogans or images. During the evening, it is better to dress a little more conventionally, especially if eating out. Some restaurants will require you to adhere to a strict dress code, so it is always worth checking this before you arrive. However dress pants and shirt, is fine evening attire for a man. A dress, or skirt with a casual top would be more than appropriate for a woman.
Smoking: Barbados is currently in the process of placing a smoking ban in all public places.
Etiquette: Barbados is one of the former plantation colonies who retained a strong British influence. This is seen all over the island. Bajans are more formal and you are expected to introduce yourself first and greet any passers by. When speaking to anyone other than family and friends it is best to use their title and last name and will be considered impolite if not.
Tipping: In restaurants it is customary to tip 10-15% and more for excellent service. At hotels maids should be tipped about 2$ per day and bellhops 1$ per bag.
: : POPULAR LANDMARKS
Kensington Oval is the national cricket stadium. This impressive architectural structure was renovated in 2007 for the World Cricket Cup. It is a must see when visiting Barbados, it is lying on the outskirts of the capital of Bridgetown.
Barbados Wildlife Reserve
Located in the northern parish of St-Peter, the wildlife reserve is home to the famous green monkeys, and a variety of other animals, birds, flora and fauna.
Harrisons Cave is a limestone cave located in St-Thomas, the central uplands of the island. This 2.3 km cave has caverns, calcite formations, waterfalls and lakes.
Andromeda Botanical Gardens
This garden is home to vast collections of tropical plants, such as bougainvillea and orchids. Thousands of plants have been introduced from various parts of the world, including many rare species. It is located in St-Joseph, Bathsheba.
: : TRAVEL AND SAFETY TIPS
-Always walk like you know where you are going, even if you don't. This
means keep your back upright and eyes straight ahead. When asking for
directions keep your voice low so others don't know you are lost.
-Take precautions. Do not wear a lot of jewelry or conspicuous clothing while travelling to avoid being a target of crime.
-Be cautious when taking a taxi and always look for the appropriate documentation which should be posted in eyes view. Never take a cab from the airport that is off by itself.
-If your hotel or resort recommends staying on their property you should follow these precautions.
-Never leave valuables in a soft material. The seam can easily be cut. Often the crime takes place long before it is noticed. This applies to purses, bags and luggage.
-Do not invite strangers to your hotel room.
-Do not agree to meet strangers by yourself. Even those you consider new friends and fellow tourist's.
-Plan for the unexpected, this includes extra money and medication that is required should your stay be extended.