French West IndiesOfficial Name: French West Indies
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Not required for stays under 90 days
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
0 Min/10,000 Euro Max
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
0 Min/10,000 Euro Max
Embassies and Consulates
Wildey Business Park
St. Michael BB 14006
Telephone: +(246) 227-4399
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(246) 227-4000
Fax: +(246) 431-0179
U.S. Consular Agent - Martinique
Hotel Valmeniere, Suite 615
Avenue des Arawaks
97200, Fort de France
Telephone: +(596) 596-75-67-54
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(596) 696-93-84-06
The French West Indies consists of the islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Martin (the French side) and St. Barthélemy. These islands are well developed. French is the official language on these islands; English is widely spoken in St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, but much less so in Martinique and Guadeloupe. U.S. currency is widely accepted in St. Martin and St. Barthélemy. If visiting Guadeloupe and Martinique, you will need to use a credit card or change your U.S. currency to Euros. Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on France for additional information on U.S. – French West Indies relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
Passports are required for U.S. citizens entering the French West Indies. Visas are generally not required for visitors planning to remain fewer than 90 days. For further information, travelers can contact the Embassy of France at 4101 Reservoir Road, N.W., Washington, DC 20007; telephone 1 202 944-6000; or the nearest French consulate in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, New Orleans or San Francisco.
All U.S. citizens traveling outside of the United States are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter the United States. This extended to all sea travel (except closed-loop cruises), including ferry service on June 1, 2009. Travelers must now present a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant document such as a passport or a passport card for entry to the United States. While passport cards and enhanced driver’s licenses are sufficient for entry into the United States, they may not be accepted by the particular country you plan to visit; please be sure to check with your cruise line and countries of destination for any foreign entry requirements. We strongly encourage all U.S. citizen travelers to apply for a U.S. passport or passport card well in advance of anticipated travel. U.S. citizens can call 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778) for information on how to apply for their passports.
Note: Be aware that Caribbean cruises that begin and end in the U.S. (closed loop cruises) do not require that you travel with a valid passport. However, should you need to disembark due to an emergency and you do not have a valid passport, you may encounter difficulties entering or remaining in a foreign country. You may also have difficulty attempting to re-enter the United States by air because many airlines will require a valid passport before allowing you to board the aircraft. As such, we strongly recommend that you always travel abroad with your valid passport.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
HIV/AIDS Restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of the French West Indies.
Safety and Security
Demonstrations and strikes, usually caused by labor disputes, can occur and can have a substantial effect on all sectors of society, including halting many social services. Commercial activities, including fuel sales and flights, can be curtailed significantly or shut down entirely. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. While not common, these strikes significantly impact the tourism industry in the French West Indies, and U.S.citizens should avoid the islands when a strike is ongoing. U.S. citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times.
To stay connected:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean on Twitter and visit the Embassy’s website.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Petty street crime, including purse snatching, occurs throughout the French West Indies. On occasion, tourists are injured during the commission of these crimes. Visitors should take care whenever traveling to safeguard valuables and always lock hotel rooms and car doors.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport.
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, contact family members or friends.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in the French West Indies is: 18 for Fire, 17 for Police, and 15 for Medical Emergencies.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in the French West Indies, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than those in the United States. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In some places driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country.
There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted in the United States for engaging in sexual conduct with children or for using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country regardless of the legality of these activities under that country’s laws. Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well.
Persons violating French West Indian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the French West Indies are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Arrest notifications in host country: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in that country, others may not. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
In addition to being subject to all French laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on French citizens. Although France recognizes dual nationality, dual nationals are considered French citizens and are subject to French laws without regard to the other nationality. For additional information, please see our Dual Nationality flyer.
French customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from the French West Indies of items such as firearms, medications, animals, etc. For questions, travelers may wish to contact the Embassy of France or a French Consulate for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please see our information on customs regulations.
The French West Indies can be affected by hurricanes. The hurricane season normally runs from June to the end of November, but there have been hurricanes in December in recent years. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
There is no U.S. Embassy or consulate in the French West Indies, however there is a Consular Agent in Martinique. The U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados is responsible for U.S. citizens’ services on these islands. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their citizenship documents with them at all times so, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available.
If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers
LGBT RIGHTS: The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in French West Indies, you may review the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in the French West Indies, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Access to buildings, pedestrian paths and transportation is extremely difficult for persons with disabilities. Sidewalks (if they exist) are very uneven and will only occasionally have ramps at intersections. Pedestrian crossings are also very infrequent. In general, restaurants, hotels and residential buildings have stairs at the entrance without wheelchair ramps, except perhaps major hotels and retail areas. Buses and taxis do not have special accommodations for disabled persons.
Relatively good medical care is available throughout the French West Indies. Not all doctors speak or understand English. Hyperbaric chambers are available in Guadeloupe at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Abymes and in Martinique at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Fort de France.
Chikunguya and Dengue are mosquito-borne illnesses that are becoming more frequent in tropical and equatorial climates around the world. Symptoms can include fever, rash, severe headache, joint pain, and muscle or bone pain. There are no specific treatments for Chikungunya and Dengue and vaccines are still in the developmental phase. Preventing mosquito bites is the most important way to prevent these illnesses. Avoidance and prevention techniques include: reducing mosquito exposure by using repellents, covering exposed skin, treating clothing and tents with permethrin and sleeping in screened or air conditioned rooms. You can also reduce exposure through mosquito control measures, including emptying water from outdoor containers and spraying to reduce mosquito populations. The Aedes mosquitos that carry these illnesses are primarily day biting and often live in homes and hotel rooms especially under beds, in bathrooms and closets. Travelers should carry and use CDC recommended insect repellents containing either 20% DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535, which will help diminish bites from mosquitoes as well as ticks, fleas, chiggers, etc., some of which may also carry infectious diseases. For further information, please consult the CDC's Chikungunya Virus Website and Dengue Virus Website.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in the French West Indies, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Driving in the French West Indies is on the right side of the road. Children under 12 are not legally allowed in the front seat. Seatbelt laws are strictly enforced. The roads in the French West Indies are the best in the Eastern Caribbean. Roads are well paved and well maintained. Main roads are well marked; secondary roads and tourist sites are adequately marked. Excellent maps are available and local residents are helpful, especially if greeted in a friendly manner. Both Martinique and Guadeloupe have expressways. Traffic safety is enforced by the police. Night driving can be dangerous, especially in the mountains and on winding rural roads. Public transportation in the form of taxis, vans, and buses is relatively safe. For specific information concerning French West Indies driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the French National Tourist Organization offices.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: Civil aviation operations in French West Indies fall under the jurisdiction of France. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of France’s Civil Aviation Authority as complying with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of France’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.