British Virgin Islands Basics

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The Basics

Time: GMT -4.

Electricity: Electrical current is 110 volts, 60 Hz. The two plug types are the same as in the US. One has two-pin flat blades; the other is the same, though it has a third round grounding pin.

Money: The official currency is the US Dollar (USD), which is divided into 100 cents. Most establishments on the larger islands accept credit cards, but on Anegada it is best to have cash. Banks and exchange facilities can be found in Road Town, Tortola. ATMs are available in Tortola and Virgin Gorda.

Currency Exchange Rates

USD1.00 = USD 1.00GBP 0.82CAD 1.33AUD 1.48ZAR 15.14EUR 0.91NZD 1.58
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: English is the main language spoken on the islands.

Entry requirements for Americans: United States passport holders must have a valid passport or a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, as well as proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. No visa is required for stays of up to six months.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: UK passport holders need a passport, but no visa is necessary.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian passport holders require a passport or a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, as well as proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. No visa is required for stays of up to six months.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian passport holders need a passport, but no visa is necessary for a stay of up to six months.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans need a passport, but no visa is necessary for stays of up to six months.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals require a passport, but no visa is necessary for stays of up to six months.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals need a passport, but no visa is necessary for stays of up to six months.

Passport/Visa Note: Travellers need a return or onward ticket and all the documents required for their next destination, as well as sufficient funds. As part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), all travellers travelling between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean region are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States. If departing from the USA, a valid passport will be required by immigration authorities. It's recommended that passports be valid for six months after the intended period of travel.

Getting around: There are regular ferries between the various islands, where visitors will find rental-car agencies. Drivers with valid licenses from their home country will need to obtain a BVI license for $10. Flat-fare taxis are available, though they're expensive. For short distances, many travellers like to use bicycles or simply walk.

Travel Health: There is a small risk of dengue fever in the British Virgin Islands, so visitors should protect themselves with insect repellent. Recommended vaccinations are minimal but include hepatitis A, if not previously taken. Limited medical facilities can be found on all the main British Virgin Islands and there is a hospital located in Road Town, Tortola. Comprehensive medical and travel insurance is recommended.

Tipping: For good service, a 10 to 15 percent tip is usual in the British Virgin Islands. Hotels often add a service charge to the bill, usually between 10 and 12 percent, so it is best to check before tipping. Bellhops and porters usually expect $1 per item of luggage.

Safety Information: The British Virgin Islands are generally considered very safe for travellers and they have a low crime rate. That said, sensible precautions should always be taken regarding valuables, especially on beaches. The islands are susceptible to hurricanes, particularly between June and November, but tropical storms can occur throughout the year. It is a good idea for visitors to check the forecast for storms during their stay, and to plan around the hurricane season.

Local Customs: In the British Virgin Islands, it is considered impolite to take photographs of the local people without asking their permission beforehand.

Business: Business attire in the British Virgin Islands is fairly formal and conservative. A lightweight suit is appropriate for most meetings, unless in an informal outdoor setting where smart slacks and a shirt is more appropriate. Handshaking is customary for introductions between both men and women; women are considered equals in the business world and should be treated as such. Business cards are exchanged on introduction. Being late for meetings is considered offensive despite the laid-back impression of the island. Meetings are usually fairly unstructured, though. The language of business is English, and business hours generally run from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Communications: The international dialling code for the British Virgin Islands is +1 284. The outgoing code is 011 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 01127 for South Africa). Many hotels provide wifi.

Duty Free: Travellers to the Virgin Islands over 18 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco, and wine or spirits up to 1 litre.