Puerto Rico Basics

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The Basics

Time: Local time is GMT -4.

Electricity: Electrical current is 120 volts, 60Hz. Two-pin flat attachment plugs are in use.

Money: The United States Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency, which is divided into 100 cents. It is often referred to as the 'peso' in Puerto Rico. ATMs and bureaux de change are freely available and all major credit cards and travellers cheques are generally accepted. Banking hours are 9am to 3.30pm.

Currency Exchange Rates

USD1.00 = USD 1.00GBP 0.78CAD 1.31AUD 1.46ZAR 14.57EUR 0.90NZD 1.58
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: Spanish and English are the official languages of Puerto Rico.

Entry requirements for Americans: Valid passport or passport replacing documents are required. Visa not required.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: Those with UK passports endorsed 'British Citizen' require a passport valid for 6 months beyond the period of intended stay, but no visa is required for touristic stays of 90 days. Those with any other endorsement should check official requirements.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian citizens require a passport valid for period of intended stay. No visa is required.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian citizens require a passport valid for period of intended stay. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans must hold a passport valid for period of intended stay and a visa is also required, unless holding a valid US visa.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for the period of intended stay. A visa is not required for touristic stays up to 90 days.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish citizens require a passport valid for the period of intended stay. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days.

Passport/Visa Note: All passport holders must have an onward or return ticket and documents necessary for further travel. Entry requirements for Puerto Rico are the same as for the United States of America. When arriving from mainland USA there is no immigration control. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Travel Health: There are no vaccination certificates required for travel to Puerto Rico, but travellers are advised to be up to date with routine vaccinations. Cases of dengue fever occur annually and mosquito protection measures are essential. Schistosomiasis is endemic and swimming in lakes, rivers and streams should be avoided. It is best to drink bottled water to avoid stomach upsets. Thoroughly wash or peel produce you buy in markets before eating it. Medical services are good but can be expensive; medical insurance is advised.

Tipping: Some restaurants and hotels automatically add a 10-17 percent service charge to the bill. If not, a 15 percent tip is expected. Taxi drivers and bar staff also expect tips.

Safety Information: Puerto Rico is still recovering from Hurricane Maria with regular power and communication outages and unstable buildings. Visits to Puerto Rico are usually trouble-free but travellers should take sensible precautions to avoid petty theft. Many travel and health authorities classify Puerto Rico as having a high risk of Zika virus transmission. Visitors are advised to seek advice from health professionals before travel.

Local Customs: Social etiquette in Puerto Rico is typically Latin American, with some North American influences such as a stronger sense of female independence, and a toning-down of the machismo ideal. Western visitors to the country should feel comfortable in most social situations. Hygiene, cleanliness, and personal appearance are viewed as matters of self-respect, so travellers who've been on the road for a little while might consider neatening up their beards or trimming their hair, especially if they want to make a good first impression. A final, important aspect of Puerto Rican social life, is the concept of relajo. Generally shy of direct confrontation and open criticism, relajo refers to the gentle, joking manner in which Puerto Ricans will bring up uncomfortable issues around each another. Visitors should be aware of this technique, as they may, on occasion, be required to read between the lines to discover what locals are really trying to express.

Business: Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory although the resemblance is closer to Latin America. English is understood by many on the island, but Spanish may also be the language in which business is conducted. Dress codes will vary according to different sectors, but suits are favoured on very formal occasions. Shaking hands is common for both men and women. Business hours are generally 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, with an hour taken at lunch.

Communications: The international access code for Puerto Rico is +1 787 and +1 939. The outgoing code is 011 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 01144 for the United Kingdom). The outgoing code is not needed for calling the US, Canada, and most of the Caribbean. Mobile phones work throughout the island and local operators use CDMA networks that are not compatible with GSM phones, as used outside North America. Internet cafes are available in most towns and resorts.

Duty Free: Puerto Rico's customs regulations are the same as those for the United States. Visitors over 21 may bring in the following items without paying duty: 200 cigarettes or 100 cigars or 2kg of tobacco; 1 litre of alcohol; and gifts valued up to US$100. There is a long list of restricted and prohibited items which may not be imported or imported only under license, ranging from fireworks and matches to pre-Columbian sculpture and Cuban cigars. If in doubt, consult your nearest US Embassy for advice. Any merchandise from embargoed countries (Afghanistan, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Serbia and Montenegro and the Sudan) may not be brought onto US soil.