COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Curaçao is a semi-autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The economy is well-developed and tourist facilities are widely available. Tourism and the financial services sector have been the mainstays of Curaçao economy since the 1970s. Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Curacao for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP)/EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live on or visit Curaçao, please take the time to tell our Consulate General about your trip. If you
enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements while visiting the island of Curacao.
It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. We encourage U.S. citizens traveling to Curaçaoto download our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes and the Android market.
United States Consulate General Curaçao
J.B. Gorsiraweg 1, Willemstad, Curaçao
Telephone: (599-9) 461-3066
Emergency after-hours telephone: (599-9) 510-6870
Facsimile: (599-9) 461-6489
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: All U.S. citizens must have a valid U.S. passport for all air travel, including to and from Curaçao. All sea travelers must also now have a passport or passport card. 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. Temporary visitors to Curaçao may be required to have an onward/return ticket, and may be asked to show proof of sufficient funds and proof of lodging accommodations for their stay. The length of stay granted to U.S. citizens is typically 30-90 days, and may be extended by the office of immigration. For further information, travelers may contact the Royal Netherlands Embassy, 4200 Linnean Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 244-5300, or the Dutch Consulates in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Houston or Miami. Visit the web site for the Embassy of the Netherlands and the island of Curaçao website for the most current visa information.
When exiting the country, visitors may be required to pay an “airport departure fee.” Many airlines have already included this fee in the ticket price, but check the airport’s website for the most current information.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Curaçao.
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.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: There are no known terrorist or extremist groups, areas of instability or organized crime on Curaçao, although gangs and drug trafficking organizations do operate on the island.
Stay up to date by:
CRIME: The crime threat on Curaçao is generally considered low to medium, although travelers should always take normal precautions when in unfamiliar surroundings. Drug smuggling and other criminal activities continue to be issues on Curaçao, and this may affect visitors adversely. Valuables left unattended on beaches, in cars and in hotel lobbies are easy targets for theft. Purses, cameras, and other handheld electronics are most frequently reported stolen. Car theft, especially of rental vehicles for joy riding and parts stripping, can occur. Vehicle damages or losses may not be fully covered by local insurance when a vehicle is stolen or damaged. Be sure you are sufficiently insured when renting vehicles, jet skis, and other items.
While violent crime against tourists is not common, thefts and assaults are reported more often in some isolated areas. Please take care when visiting nature areas on the west end of the island, where a few tourists have reported day-time assaults and robberies. Some of Curaçao’s many beaches charge a fee for access, but also provide some security or surveillance of the area, which provides some crime prevention effect.
Parents of young travelers should be aware that the legal drinking age of 18 is not always enforced on Curaçao, so extra parental supervision may be appropriate. Young travelers in particular are urged to take the same precautions they would when going out in the United States, e.g. to travel in pairs or in groups if they choose to frequent Curaçao’s nightclubs and bars, and if they opt to consume alcohol, to do so responsibly. Anyone who is a victim of a crime should make a report to Curaçao police as well as report it immediately to the nearest U.S. consular office. Do not rely on hotel/restaurant/tour company management to make the report for you.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
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:
Please call “911” for emergency police assistance on Curaçao.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling on Curaçao, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. 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, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws on Curaçao, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.
Persons violating Curaçaolaws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Local law is based on Dutch law, which allows for the detention of subjects during an investigation with the approval of a judge. Persons imprisoned on Curaçaodo not have the option of posting bond for their release.
Arrest notifications in host country:
If you are arrested on Curaçao, authorities of Curaçao are required to notify the nearest U.S.embassy or consulate of your arrest. If you are concerned the Department of State may not be aware of your situation, you should request the policeor prison officials to notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Dutch law, in principle, does not permit dual nationality. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For detailed information, contact the Embassy of the Netherlands in Washington, DC, or one of the Dutch consulates in the United States.
Accessibility: While on Curaçao, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Sidewalks and crossings in many areas are not wheelchair accessible, and many building lack ramps.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical care is generally considered to be good on Curaçao. There is one general hospital, St. Elisabeth Hospital (SEHOS), whose medical standards can be favorably compared to a small hospital in the United States. SEHOS has a loaned decompression chamber on its property, but it is not currently staffed or functional. We urge caution for scuba divers, since persons suffering from decompression sickness have to be medically evacuated for proper treatment. The hospital has three classes of services, and patients are accommodated according to the level of their insurance. First Class: one patient to a room, air conditioning, etc. Second Class: two to six patients to a room. Third Class: 15 to 30 people in open dormitories. Several private clinics such as Dr. Taams Clinic and the Antilles Adventist Hospital, provide good to excellent medical service. The many drug stores or “boticas” provide prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Visitors will need to obtain local prescriptions and may not be able to find the same drugs that they would in the United States. Emergency services are usually quick to respond. A small but significant number of cases of dengue fever are reported each year, insect repellent is recommended. Curaçao is only 14 degrees from the equator, so the solar radiation is very strong. Sunscreen is recommended.
You can find good 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. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors’ and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to obtain supplemental overseas coverage for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While on Curaçao, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Driving on Curaçao is on the right-hand side of the road (as it is in the US). Local laws require drivers and passengers to wear seat belts, and motorcyclists to wear helmets. Children under 5 years of age should be in a child safety seat; older children should ride in the back seat. Right turns at red lights are prohibited on Curaçao, and u-turns are often restricted. Traffic signs prohibiting actions have a red circle around them, but not the red slash you expect to see in the United States.
Curaçao's main roads are usually well lit, and most hotels and tourist attractions can be easily located. Nonexistent or hidden street signs are a major problem. Therefore, drivers should proceed through intersections with caution. Roads on Curaçao are extremely slippery during rainfall. Night driving is reasonably safe, as long as drivers are familiar with the route and road conditions. There are speed limits on Curaçao and driving while intoxicated may result in the loss of a driver’s license and/or a fine. However, these are not consistently enforced. Drivers should be alert at all times for speeding cars or drunk drivers, which have caused fatal accidents. In the rural areas of the island, drivers should be alert for herds of goats or other animals that may cross the roads unexpectedly. Minivans used as public buses are inexpensive, and run non-stop during the daytime with no fixed schedule. Each minibus has a specific route displayed in the front windshield. Buses, which run on the hour, have limited routes. Taxis, while relatively expensive, are safe and well regulated. As there are no meters, passengers should negotiate a price before entering the taxi.
Look out for scooters, motorcycles and ATV’s while driving. They may not strictly follow traffic rules. ATV’s are licensed as cars on Curaçao, and are often driven on major streets.
The emergency service telephone number is 911. Police and ambulances tend to respond quickly to emergency situations.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: Prior to October 10, 2010, Curaçao was a part of the Netherlands Antilles. On that date, Curaçao acquired a new, semi-autonomous status within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) assessed the government of the Netherlands Antilles as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Netherlands Antilles air carrier operations. However, under its new status, Curaçao was assessed by the FAA for compliance with ICAO aviation standards and was found to be deficient in several areas with respect to oversight of Curaçao’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page
* * *
This replaces the Country Specific Information for Curaçao dated April 13, 2011, to update sections on crime, medical care, and aviation safety oversight.