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XYZ Consular Info: Bermuda

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XYZ Consular Info: Bermuda

Bermuda Consular Information Sheet
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
May 7, 2002
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Bermuda is a highly developed British overseas territory with a stable democracy and modern economy. Tourist facilities are widely available.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: U.S. citizens entering Bermuda must present a U.S. passport or a certified U.S. birth certificate, and photo identification. The Consulate strongly recommends that visitors travel with a valid passport at all times. A U.S. driver's license or a voter registration card is not sufficient for entry into Bermuda. For additional information on entry requirements, travelers may contact the British Embassy at 3100 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 462-1340, or the British consulate in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco; Internet: http://www.britain-info.org or the Bermuda Department of Immigration; http://www.immigration.bdagov.bm.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
CRIME: Bermuda has a low to moderate crime rate. Incidents of serious violent crime are infrequent, but petty thefts and assaults do occur. Valuables left in hotel rooms (occupied and unoccupied) or left unattended on beaches are vulnerable to theft. Criminals often target transportation systems and popular tourist attractions. Examples of common crimes include pickpocketing, theft of unattended baggage and items from rental motorbikes, and purse snatchings (often perpetrated against pedestrians by thieves riding motorbikes).
Travelers should exercise caution when walking after dark or visiting out-of-the-way places on the island, as they can be vulnerable to crime, and because narrow and dark roadways can contribute to accidents. There have been incidents of sexual assault and acquaintance rape, and the use of "date rape" drugs such as Rohypnol has been reported in the media and confirmed by local authorities.
There has been an increase in criminal activity at St. George's, a popular cruise ship destination and World Heritage Site. Incidents of verbal, and sometimes physical, assault against both locals and tourists have been reported. Petty drug use is frequent and open. Gang activity, including assaults and arson, has been reported in the area as well. There have been several assaults and thefts in the area of Pitts Bay Road from the Hamilton Princess Hotel into the town of Hamilton, and the back roads of Hamilton are often the setting for assaults, particularly after the bars close.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. citizens can refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad," for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. This publication and others, such as "Tips for Travelers to the Caribbean," are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Good medical care is available. The hospital performs general surgery and has intensive care units. Serious or complex medical problems will likely require medical evacuation to the United States.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299); or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Bermuda is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Excellent
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Driving in Bermuda is on the left side of the road. The maximum speed limit in Hamilton is 25 kph (15 mph); 35 kph (21 mph) on the rest of the island. Under Bermudian law, non-residents are not allowed to own, rent, or drive four-wheeled vehicles. Non-residents must rely on taxis, the excellent local bus system, or motor scooters. Traffic is moderate, and Bermudians generally follow the rules of the road. Licensing and registration are strictly enforced, as are driving and parking regulations. Because Bermuda does not allow the importation of used vehicles, most vehicles are in good condition.
Those unused to driving on the left are likely to find the roundabouts and regulations for yielding at junctions confusing and dangerous. In addition, vehicles often stop on the side of the road, blocking one lane of traffic. Main roads, while generally in good condition, are extremely narrow and tend to be bordered by heavy vegetation or low stone walls.
Pedestrian crosswalks marked by white lines are found on all roads. Vehicles must, and do, stop when a pedestrian is seen approaching a crosswalk. Horns are seldom used aggressively or as a warning. Instead, horn honking is used as a general form of greeting in Bermuda. As almost everyone knows everybody else, horns are heard honking at all times, which may be confusing to those visiting the island.
Rental motor scooters are readily available, and the required helmet is provided. While renting a scooter for daytime activities in good weather should be reasonably safe, visitors should carefully consider whether or not it is worth the risk to ride a scooter during rainy weather or at night. Motor scooters provide the greatest road peril in Bermuda; local operators tend to abuse the speed limit more than other drivers, and they will often pass on the left or right with no warning. Travelers who rent scooters should be aware that scooter accidents involving visitors are relatively common, and they can sometimes be fatal or involve serious injuries.
Taxis are readily available. The local bus system, which is excellent and relatively inexpensive, services the length of the island and stops close to most beaches, hotels, the downtown shopping area, and other points of interest. In addition, water ferry service to a variety of stops around the island is available seven days a week, and it is a very safe and enjoyable mode of transportation.
For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Bermuda driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Bermuda Department of Tourism offices at 310 Madison Avenue, Suite 201, New York, N.Y., telephone (212) 818-9800, or via the Internet at http://www.bermudatourism.com.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Bermuda's Civil Aviation Authority as category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Bermuda's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: U.S. citizens who are taking prescription medication must inform Bermuda customs officials at the point of entry. Medicines must be in labeled containers. Travelers should carry a copy of the written prescription and a letter from the physician or pharmacist confirming the reason the medicine is prescribed.
Bermuda customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Bermuda of items such as animals, arms, ammunition and explosives, building sand, crushed rock, gravel, peat and synthetic potting media, foodstuffs (animal origin), fumigating substances, gaming machines, historic articles (relating to Bermuda), lottery advertisements and material, motorcycles, motor vehicles, obscene publications, organotin anti-fouling paint, plants, plant material, fruits and vegetables (living or dead, including seeds), pesticides, prescription drugs, prohibited publications, seditious publications, soil, VHF radios, radar and citizens band (CB) radios. For additional information on temporary admission, export and customs regulations and tariffs, please contact Bermuda Customs at telephone 1-441-295-4816, or email customs@bdagov.bm, or visit the Bermuda Customs web site at http://www.customs.gov.bm.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Bermuda's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Bermuda are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. If arrested for possession of even a small quantity of an illegal drug, offenders will be bound over for trial and not allowed to leave the island until sentencing is complete.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: ATM machines are fairly widely available in Bermuda, though their operation can be somewhat erratic. At various times, the local ATM system has deposited money into the wrong account and has refused to dispense cash to both locally and foreign-issued debit and ATM card holders. No local banks accept checks drawn on a U.S. account, but some Front Street stores catering to the tourist trade do accept U.S. checks as payment. The local American Express office will cash U.S. checks up to $500.00 for a three-percent fee. Credit cards are widely accepted at all establishments.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Bermuda is a hurricane-prone country. The worst of these storms generally skirt the island, however, and little or no property damage is incurred. Cruise ships regularly alter their schedules and courses to and from the United States due to hurricanes in the Atlantic. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000. Bermuda is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Central Authority for international child custody issues in Bermuda is the Attorney General's Chambers, telephone 1-441-292-2463.
REGISTRATION/CONSULATE LOCATION: U.S. citizens may register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate General located at Crown Hill, 16 Middle Road, Devonshire DV03, telephone 1-441-295-1342, where they may also obtain updated information on travel and security in Bermuda. Office hours for American Citizens Services are 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., Monday through Thursday, except Bermudian and U.S. holidays. American citizens in need of after-hours emergency assistance may call the duty officer at telephone 1-441-235-3828.
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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated April 30, 2001 to update sections on Entry Requirements, Crime, Medical Facilities, Medical Insurance, Other Health Information, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, Customs Regulations, Criminal Penalties and Children's Issues.