US Virgin Islands Basics

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The Basics

Time: GMT -4.

Electricity: 120 volts, 60Hz. Two-flat-pin plugs are standard.

Money: The official currency is the US Dollar (USD) divided into 100 cents. Most credit cards are accepted, including American Express, Diners Club, Mastercard, and Visa, and are useful for withdrawing cash at ATMs. Foreign exchange bureaux are available to exchange other currencies, but it is best to arrive with US Dollars as many banks and hotels will not exchange foreign currency.

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: English is the official language. Spanish, Creole and some French are also spoken.

Entry requirements for Americans: A valid US passport is required. A visa is not required.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: UK passport holders require a valid passport for travel to the US Virgin Islands. British Citizens require a passport valid for duration of stay. Passports with other endorsements must be valid for six months beyond period of intended stay. Under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP), most British citizens do not require a visa for holiday, transit, or business purposes provided that their passports are machine-readable, the stay does not exceed 90 days, a return or onward ticket is held, and they check into the US government ESTA website prior to departure to register.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians require a passport valid for duration of stay but a visa is not required. Visitors should hold tickets and documents required for return or onward destination.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian nationals require a passport valid for duration of stay but do not require a visa for tourist stays of up to 90 days. Passports need to be machine-readable, a return or onward ticket is required, and Australians must check into the US government ESTA website prior to departure.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans must hold a passport valid for duration of stay, and a visa is required. Visitors must have return or onward tickets and the necessary documents for further travel.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for duration of stay but do not need visas for stays of up to 90 days. New Zealanders require machine-readable passports and return or onward tickets, and must register on the US government ESTA website before departure.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals require a passport valid for duration of stay, but as Ireland qualifies for the US Visa Waiver Programme, visas are not required for tourists or business stays of up to 90 days. Visitors must have machine-readable passports, return or onward tickets, and they must register on the ESTA site before departure.

Passport/Visa Note: Entry requirements are the same as for the United States of America. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. There is no immigration control for visitors arriving from mainland USA. Visitors from countries that qualify for the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) must have a machine-readable passport (MRP) that has a bar code on the photo page. Eligible travellers under the VWP must include biometrics in their machine-readable passports if they wish to enter the country without a visa; this means that unique personal data, such as fingerprints or iris details, must be included in passports. All passports must contain a digital photo image in order to travel visa-free. Those travelling under the VWP must also register on the US government ESTA website three days before departure, which allows the US to screen visitors before travel. All visitors to the USA will have a photograph and two fingerprints taken by an inkless scanner on arrival, including those travelling visa-free under the Visa Waiver Programme. All travellers arriving or departing by air, land or sea between the USA and Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, Bermuda, and Central and South America are required to present a valid passport. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Travel Health: There are no significant health risks. However, only bottled water should be drunk outside the major towns. Medical facilities are of a high standard, but health insurance is vital as medical care is very expensive.

Tipping: Tipping of 15 to 20 percent is customary for good service. Some hotels and restaurants automatically add a service charge and room tax.

Safety Information: The US Virgin Islands are generally safe for travellers and the vast majority of visits are trouble-free; however, normal precautions against petty crime should be taken, especially in the back streets of towns at night. Don't leave valuables lying on the beach when snorkelling or swimming.

Local Customs: In the US Virgin Islands, politeness is important. Greet people before asking questions or requesting assistance. Greetings depend on the time of day, with good morning, good afternoon, and good evening being common. You may hear locals thanking 'jumbi' (spirits) for good luck, or blaming them for misfortune.

Business: The economy in the US Virgin Islands revolves primarily around tourism, though petroleum refining takes place off St. Croix. Like many other Caribbean countries things are pretty relaxed, and formal business attire is generally not considered necessary as the climate makes this quite uncomfortable. The people are friendly and polite and shaking hands is common upon introductions for men and women; business cards are handed out upon introduction. Business hours are typically 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday, with lunch breaks around 12pm.

Communications: The international country code for the US Virgin Islands is +1 340 and the code for dialling out internationally is 011 (followed by the relevant country code, for example 01144 for the United Kingdom). City/area codes are not required. The AT & T Wireless GSM mobile network covers the islands. Internet cafes are available in the main resorts.

Duty Free: Travellers to the Virgin Islands who are residents of the USA and are over 21 years are allowed to return the the US with 4 litres of alcoholic beverages; 100 cigars or 1,000 cigarettes, tax free, granted they have been purchased in the Virgin Islands.