British Virgin IslandsOfficial Name: Virgin Islands, British
Must be valid at time of entry
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Not required for stays up to one month
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
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
The British Virgin Islands (BVI) is a British overseas territory, part of the British West Indies, lying about 60 miles east of Puerto Rico. There are about 50 islands in the BVI, many of which are uninhabited. Tortola is the main island; other islands include Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and Anegada. Tourist facilities are widely available.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
U.S. citizens must have a valid U.S. passport to enter the British Virgin Islands. For further information, travelers may contact the BVI Tourist Board at (800) 835-8530 or (212) 563-3117, Fax: (212) 563-2263 or visit the BVI Tourist Board online for current entry requirements. U.S. citizens should take special care to secure their passports while traveling as it can be time-consuming and difficult to acquire new proof of citizenship to facilitate return travel should the passport be lost or stolen.
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.
Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of the BVI. Anyone who does not appear to be in good health may be required to undergo a medical exam, including HIV test, prior to being granted or denied entry. Please verify this information with the BVI Immigration Department before you travel.
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.
Safety and Security
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 visiting 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: Theft, armed robbery and other violent crimes do occur in the BVI. Visitors should take common-sense precautions to guard against petty crime. Travelers should avoid carrying large amounts of cash and use hotel safety deposit facilities to safeguard valuables and travel documents. Do not leave valuables unattended on the beach or in cars, and do not leave them in plain view inside rental properties or hotel rooms. Always lock up boats when going ashore.
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 British Virgin Islands is 999.
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 BVI, 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 BVI law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the BVI 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.
The removal of any marine organism from BVI waters is illegal for non-BVIslanders without a recreational fishing permit. Fishing without a permit, even for sport, may lead to heavy fines or imprisonment. Contact the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour at (284) 468-3701 ext. 2147 for information. Please see our Please see our information on customs regulations.
There is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in BVI. The U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados is responsible for American Citizens Services in BVI. 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: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBT events in the BVI. For more detailed information about LGBT rights around the world, 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 Information for LGBT Travelers page.
Medical care in the BVI consists of a small general hospital, Peebles Hospital (Telephone (284) 494-3497), with an emergency room staffed 24-hrs/day by physicians, several clinics on Tortola, and one public and one private clinic on Virgin Gorda. Both islands are served by ambulances staffed with paramedics. There is a clinic staffed by a government nurse on both Jost Van Dyke and Anegada. There are no medical facilities on the other islands. A volunteer organization, Virgin Islands Search and Rescue (VISAR), responds 24-hrs/day to medical emergencies at sea or on the outer islands. VISAR transports casualties to the nearest point for transfer to ambulance. To reach VISAR, dial SOS (767) or call on Marine Channel 16.
There is no hyperbaric chamber in the BVI. Patients requiring treatment for decompression illness are transferred to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Most sensitive medical cases are transferred to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
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 or 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 a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the British Virgin Islands is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Vehicles drive on the left (the “British side”) with most steering wheels on the left (the “American side”). Seatbelts are required by law and cell phone use while driving is prohibited. Road signs are limited and drivers often fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, even at painted crosswalks. Speeding and reckless driving are fairly common in the BVI. Drivers can encounter nighttime drag racing on main thoroughfares and livestock on roads both day and night. Roads in Tortola's interior can be steep and extremely slippery when wet. Travelers planning to drive across the island should consider requesting four-wheel drive vehicles and should ensure that tires and brakes are in good operating condition on any rental vehicle.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: Civil aviation operations in the British Virgin Islands fall under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the British Virgin Islands’ air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.