British Virgin Islands Travel Guide
Ensure your getaway is properly planned with our travel guide to the British Virgin Islands. All of your questions are answered with this thorough vacation resource.
The British Virgin Islands are an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. The islands are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, Anegada and 50 other small islands.
All the British Virgin Islands have many hills and a more rugged terrain except for the island of Anegada which is flat. The climate is tropical with the average temperature in the winter being around 21C (70F) and 32C (90F) in the summer.
Due to the fact that the British Virgin Islands are a tax haven their economy is more prosperous than many Caribbean nations. Their main economic sectors are tourism and financial services.
Anthem: Virgin Islands March
Capital: Road Town
Time Zone: UTC -4
Power Outlets: 115V, 60 Hz
Currency: US Dollar (USD)
Credit Cards: All major credit cards accepted
Traveler Checks: Traveler checks accepted
Side of road to drive on: Left
: : ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS
- A passport is necessary for all visitors to the British Virgin Islands
(including citizens of the U.K.).
- U.S. citizens, E.U. citizens, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and South Africans do not require a visa to enter the British Virgin Islands.
- Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of the BVI. Anyone who does not appear to be in good health may be required to undergo a medical exam, including HIV test, prior to being granted or denied entry
: : CUSTOMS INFORMATION
What You Can Bring into the B.V.I. -- Visitors to the B.V.I. can bring in food, with the exception of meat products that are not USDA-approved. Visitors can bring up to $10,000 in currency and 1 liter of alcohol per person.
: : SALES TAX AND FEES
British Virgin Islands has no sales tax
Visitors leaving the British Virgin Islands have to pay a departure tax
which varies depending on the transportation method used;
- Travelers leaving by air will incur a $20(USD) tax,
- those leaving by cruise ship will need to pay $7(USD)
- those who depart by sea (in a yacht or other personal watercraft) are subject to a $5(USD) departure tax.
Children under 5 are exempt from these charges
: : MEDICAL INFORMATION
The emergency number for the British Virgin Islands is 999 or 911 for fire, police or ambulance.
The British Virgin Islands do have hospitals but they are small, any sensitive medical case throughout the Virgin Islands will be transported to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Travelers are urged to have proper medical coverage whether visiting the US or British Virgin Islands.
Bringing in prescriptions:
Declare all prescription drugs being brought in. Keep them in their labeled containers from the pharmacy with the physician clearly written on the label. Carry only the quantity needed for the duration of the trip with a few days extra in the case of emergency. Also carry your prescription or note from your physician that these substances are being used under a doctor’s supervision and are needed for your well being while you travel. Always carry prescription drugs in your carry-on luggage.
No vaccinations are required but travelers are still advised to have their routine vaccinations up to date.
: : CRIME
On the British Virgin Islands, crime is virtually non-existent. Tortola reports the most crime, and there are also some reports on Virgin Gorda, with most reports being for non-violent robbery. To stay safe anywhere, follow the safety precautions that you would in any major metropolitan area.
Accused of a crime in the Virgin Islands:
Persons violating BVI law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the BVI are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Arresting officials have a responsibility to assist you in contacting your government office (embassy, high commission, etc.).
Victims of Crime:
If you are the victim of a crime in the Virgin Islands 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 authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
Traveling to the Virgin Islands with a criminal record:
If you have a criminal record, no matter the severity or the date of the offense, you may be refused entry to the British and US Virgin Islands. You may also experience problems when traveling through U.S. airport facilities. A pardon for an offense issued by your country’s authorities is not recognized under U.S. or British law for the purpose of entry into the Virgin Islands. Contact the countries customs office before departure.
: : TRANSPORTATION
Rental agencies have different age minimums for foreign drivers, but 21 years old is common. Your foreign license will be fine, but check ahead to see if you'll need an International Driving Permit.
: : CULTURAL INFORMATION
"Vigilate" (Be Watchful)
In the Virgin Islands, the tipping standard is 15 to 20 percent of the bill. Bar service generally receives 10 to 15 percent. A 10% service fee is usually charged at hotels but check your bill to tip accordingly if this has not been charged.
: : 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 traveling 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.