|Still current at: 08 December 2011|
Updated: 08 December 2011
Safety and Security - Crime
Jamaica (particularly the capital city, Kingston) suffers from a high crime rate – including violent crime. Gang violence and shootings are usually concentrated in inner city neighbourhoods, including West Kingston, Grant's Pen, August Town, Harbour View, Spanish Town and certain parts of Montego Bay. Public order incidents and demonstrations, sometimes violent, can occur in Kingston, Spanish Town and Montego Bay.
The motive for most attacks on tourists is robbery. Although the Jamaican government has a system of mobile police patrols, there is a risk in walking alone in isolated areas or on deserted beaches even in daylight hours. Vigilance is particularly advised when drawing money from ATMs.
Most hotels and resorts are well guarded. However, robberies can occur. Hotel guests are advised to follow hotel security procedures such as using room or hotel safes, locking windows and doors and reporting suspicious activity to the hotel. Longer-term visitors and residents should ensure proper door locks and window grilles are fitted and consider employing a guard and/or fitting a house alarm. Gated/guarded compounds represent the safest accommodation in the Kingston area.
Criminals have targeted visiting British nationals and those returning to resettle permanently in Jamaica. There have been some violent incidents, including cases of armed robbery, murder and rape. Before returning to resettle, seek advice from the Jamaican High Commission in London and/or the local Jamaican Information Service.
You should still maintain vigilance even when staying with family or friends.
You should follow these guidelines:
Be particularly alert for thieves but do not offer resistance in the event of an attempted robbery.
Don’t walk or use buses at night. Only hire taxis authorised by the Jamaica Tourist Board usually operated by the Jamaica Union of Travellers Association (JUTA) or taxis ordered from hotels for your sole use (i.e. unshared).
Do not give lifts to strangers and keep car doors and windows locked.
Avoid large crowds and public demonstrations. Criminals use the confusion of such events to engage in acts such as robbery.
Do not carry large amounts of cash or wear eye-catching jewellery. Use hotel safety deposit boxes to store valuables, money and passports.
Try to vary which restaurants you use. Frequenting the same place too often might make you a target for thieves.
Unless you are fully acquainted with the route and are driving in daylight hours, you should not self-drive a car to or from Kingston International Airport. Instead, take an official 'JUTA' taxi, or taxi recommended by your hotel or airport’s official taxi dispatcher for your journey to or from the airport. There have been outbreaks of violence in the Mountain View area on one route from the airport to the city. You should therefore avoid this route and use the alternative Humming Bird route via South Camp Road.
For more general information see victims of crime abroad.
In the event of an emergency in Jamaica, call 119 for police and 110 for an ambulance.
Safety and Security - Terrorism
There is a low threat from terrorism, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. For more general information see terrorism abroad.
Safety and Security - Political Situation
On 29 December 2011 Parliamentary elections will take place across Jamaica. Political rallies and meetings, which have the potential to turn violent, may occur in the period leading up to or following the elections. You should check local media for the latest information, remain vigilant and avoid any political rallies or meetings.
Jamaica country profile
Contrary to popular myth, it is illegal to smoke marijuana ('ganja') in Jamaica. There are severe penalties for all drug offences, including those involving ganja. Every year many British nationals are arrested for attempting to traffic ganja and other drugs. Possession of even small quantities of illegal drugs can lead to imprisonment. All sentences are served in Jamaica. Prison conditions are harsh. Pack all of your luggage yourself and do not carry anything through customs for anyone else.
Jamaica has laws which make certain homosexual acts illegal. The attitude of many Jamaicans to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people is hostile.
For more general information for different types of travellers see your trip.
Entry Requirements - Visas
Entry Requirements - Passport validity
Entry Requirements - Travelling with children
Medical treatment can be expensive. The standard of private medical facilities can vary throughout the island.
Dengue fever is common across the Caribbean and can occur throughout the year. Dengue is a mosquito-borne infection that can cause a feverish illness associated with headache, muscle aches and pains, and rash. Some cases of dengue are severe. Dengue can be prevented by avoiding being bitten by the disease-carrying mosquitoes that feed predominately during daylight hours. For more information on prevention, see the National Travel Health Network and Centre website: http://www.nathnac.org/pro/factsheets/dengue.htm.
In the 2010 Report on the global AIDS epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around31,000 adults aged 15 or over in Jamaica were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 1.7% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. For more general information on how to do this see HIV and AIDS.
You should seek medical advice before travelling to Jamaica and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Heath Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
For more general health information see travel health.
The hurricane season in the Caribbean normally runs from June to November. You should monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation and the US National Hurricane Centre. See tropical cyclones for more detailed information about what to do if you are caught up in a hurricane.
General- InsuranceYou should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. Check for any exclusions and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. For more general information see travel insurance.
General - Arrival and departure taxes
General - Consular RegistrationIf you are living, working or staying in Jamaica for three months or more you should register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.