Security Alert
May 17, 2024

Worldwide Caution

International Travel

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Learn About Your Destination

Jamaica

Jamaica
Jamaica
Reconsider travel to Jamaica due to crime. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling to many areas due to increased risk. Please read the entire Travel Advisory.

Last Update: Reissued with updates to crime and health information

Reconsider travel to Jamaica due to crime and medical services. U.S. government personnel under Chief of Mission (COM) security responsibility are prohibited from traveling to many areas due to increased risk. Please read the entire Travel Advisory. 

Country Summary: Violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides, are common. Sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts.

Local police often do not respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. When arrests are made, cases are infrequently prosecuted to a conclusive sentence. Families of U.S. citizens killed in accidents or homicides frequently wait a year or more for final death certificates to be issued by Jamaican authorities. The homicide rate reported by the Government of Jamaica has for several years been among the highest in the Western Hemisphere. U.S. government personnel under COM security responsibility are prohibited from traveling to the areas listed below, from using public buses, and from driving outside of prescribed areas of Kingston at night.

Emergency services and hospital care vary throughout the island, and response times and quality of care may vary from U.S. standards. Public hospitals are under-resourced and cannot always provide high level or specialized care. Private hospitals require payment up front before admitting patients and may not have the ability to provide specialized care. Ambulance services are not always readily available, especially in rural areas, and are not always staffed by trained personnel.

We strongly encourage you to obtain traveler’s insurance, including medical evacuation insurance, before traveling to Jamaica. The Department of State does not pay medical bills.

Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance. U.S. citizens with medical emergencies can face bills in the tens of thousands of dollars, with air ambulance service to the United States in the range of $30,000-50,000.  Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Jamaica.

If you decide to travel to Jamaica:

  • Do not attempt to bring firearms or ammunition. This includes stray rounds, shells or empty casings. The penalties for carrying firearms and/or ammunition, even inadvertently, are severe, and can include lengthy prison sentences.
  • Avoid walking or driving at night.
  • Avoid public buses.
  • Avoid secluded places or situations.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and keep a low profile.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Country Security Report for Jamaica.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.

Violence and shootings occur regularly in many neighborhoods, communities, and parishes in Jamaica. 

U.S. government personnel under COM security responsibility are prohibited from traveling to the following areas of Jamaica due to crime:

St. Ann’s Parish—Do Not Travel - Steer Town and the Buckfield neighborhood near Ocho Rios

St. Catherine’s Parish—Do Not Travel

  • Spanish Town
  • Central Village
  • Areas within Portmore, including: Naggo Head, New Land, Old Braeton, Portmore Lane, Gregory Park, and Waterford

All of Clarendon Parish—Do Not Travel

All of Clarendon Parish, except passing through Clarendon Parish using the T1 and A2 highways.

St. Elizabeth’s Parish—Do Not Travel

Vineyard District Community, between the communities of Salt Spring and Burnt Savanna, St. Elizabeth

Hanover Parish—Do Not Travel

Logwood and Orange Bay

St. James Parish/Montego Bay—Do Not Travel

All of Montego Bay on the inland side of the A1 highway and The Queen’s Drive from San San to Harmony Beach Park

Kingston and St. Andrew Parish—Do Not Travel

  • Cassava Piece
  • Downtown Kingston, defined as between Mountain View Avenue and Hagley Park Road, and south of Half Way Tree and Old Hope Roads. Downtown Kingston includes Arnett Gardens, Cockburn Gardens, Denham Town, Olympic Gardens, Seaview Gardens, Trench Town, and Tivoli Gardens.
  • Duhaney Park
  • Grants Pen
  • Standpipe
  • Swallowfield
  • Elleston Flats
  • August Town

Manchester Parish—Do Not Travel

Green Vale, Gray Ground, Red Ground, and Vineyard neighborhoods of Mandeville

St. Thomas Parish—Do Not Travel

  • Black Lane neighborhood in Seaforth
  • Grands Penn
  • Church Corner neighborhood near Yallahs
  • Town of Yallahs, except when driving through on the main highway

Trelawny Parish—Do Not Travel

  • Clarks Town

Westmoreland Parish—Do Not Travel

  • Russia community in Savanna-la-Mar (The Southeastern quadrant of Savannah la Mar east of Darling Street and south of the A2 highway/Barracks Road)
  • Morgan Bay
  • Kings Valley
  • The Whitehall, Bethel Town, and Red Ground neighborhoods of Negril

If you do decide to travel to the above-listed Do Not Travel areas, please visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

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Embassy Messages

Alerts

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY:


Must be valid at the time of entry and exit

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


One page required

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Only for a stay over 90 days

VACCINATIONS:


Yellow fever vaccine required if traveling from a country with yellow fever risk

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


$10,000

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


None

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Kingston

142 Old Hope Road
Kingston 6
Jamaica, West Indies
Telephone:
+(876) 702-6000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(876) 702-6000
Fax: +(876) 702-6018
Email: 

Consulates

U.S. Consular Agent - Montego Bay
Whitter Village, Ironshore
Unit EU-1 (across from Burger King)
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Telephone:
+(876) 953-0620
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica: +(876) 702-6000
Fax: +(876) 953-3898
Appointments are made by phone or email
Email: 

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Jamaica for information on U.S.-Jamaica relations. 

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

U.S. citizens are generally required to present a valid U.S. passport when traveling to Jamaica, as well as proof of anticipated departure from Jamaica. If you are traveling to Jamaica on a cruise, you may use another Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant document. However, we strongly recommend you obtain a passport before travel in case an emergency requires you to disembark and return by air. You do not need a visa for tourist travel up to 90 days. All other travelers will need a visa and/or work permit.

Visit the Passport, Immigration, & Citizenship Agency of Jamaica or the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington D.C. websites for the most current visa information.

Exit Information: Your departure tax is regularly included in the airfare. You won’t be charged an exit tax on your way out.

HIV/AIDS restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Jamaica.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction, and customs regulations on our websites.

Safety and Security

Crime: Violent crime, including sexual assault, is a serious problem throughout Jamaica, particularly in Kingston and Montego Bay. Jamaica’s police force often does not respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. When arrests are made, cases are infrequently prosecuted to a conclusive sentence. Families of U.S. citizens killed in accidents or homicides frequently wait a year or more for final death certificates to be issued by Jamaican authorities. Gated resorts are not immune to violent crime.

Recommendations:

  • Avoid walking or driving at night.
  • Avoid public buses.
  • Avoid secluded places or situations.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and keep a low profile.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Jamaica.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

International Financial Scams:  See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information. Internet romance and financial scams are prevalent in Jamaica. Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help.  Common scams include:

  • Lotteries
  • Romance/Online dating
  • Money transfers

The most notorious Jamaican scam is the Lotto Scam, a kind of advance-fee fraud. The victim is led to believe that a Jamaican lottery prize will be released after the payment of “fees.”

  • You did NOT win a lottery. The person on the telephone is lying. Just hang up.
  • Never send money to someone who calls to say you have won the lottery in Jamaica.
  • Do not travel to Jamaica to collect a “prize.” Victims have been killed, kidnapped, extorted, or robbed.
  • Be very cautious about sending money to help a traveler claiming to be in trouble. When in doubt, contact your local police department for advice and assistance.
  • Be wary of promises to protect a loved one from harm or to help the loved one out of trouble, in exchange for money. That is extortion – contact your local police department.
  • Scam artists often fake romantic interest to get money from a would-be lover, especially on the internet. When in doubt, contact your local police department.
  • If you are being targeted for financial scams, you will need to file a report with your local police department.

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance.

Report crimes to the local police at 119 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +1 (876) 702-6000.  Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.

Sexual Assault:  Rape and sexual assault are serious problems throughout Jamaica, including at resorts and hotels. Date rape drugs may be used at private parties and resorts.

If you are victim of a sexual assault, contact the police and the U.S. Embassy in Kingston as soon as possible. In a hotel, management should assist you with these communications.

Victims of sexual assault in Jamaica should not expect the same assistance routinely offered in the United States. Rape kits are not always available, and victims must often ask for medication to avoid STD transmission and reduce the chances of pregnancy. Counseling is unlikely to be offered. Law enforcement shortcomings exist in collection of evidence. Prosecution of rape cases moves very slowly, and victims may need to return to Jamaica during the legal process.

Recommendations:

  • Avoid secluded places or situations, including at resorts. Try to always be accompanied by someone you know, including when going to the restroom.
  • Security outside of resort areas is unpredictable, especially at night. Do not leave resort property with someone you have just met.
  • Many guests drink heavily in all-inclusive resorts, which can lead to unpredictable behavior and increased vulnerability. 
  • Shout for help immediately if you feel threatened or encounter individuals who make you feel uncomfortable. 
  • Report any suspicious or inappropriate activity, including inappropriate comments or behavior by hotel employees or other guests, to hotel management, the U.S. Embassy, and local police as appropriate.R esort employees are generally prohibited from engaging in romantic or sexual relations with guests.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • Help you find appropriate medical care
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • Provide general information regarding the victim’s role during the local investigation   and following its conclusion
  • Provide a list of local attorneys
  • Provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • Replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.

Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field.  In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws.  If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.  Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.  

Futhermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Firearms: Jamaica strictly forbids importing or possessing firearms in Jamaica without prior authorization of the Firearms Licensing Authority of Jamaica. A U.S. concealed carry permit does not allow you to bring a firearm or ammunition into Jamaica. On November 1, 2022, the Firearms (Prohibition, Restriction and Regulation) Act 2022 went into effect. This new law includes mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years for possession of even a single cartridge.

If you bring an unauthorized firearm, firearm components, firearm parts, or ammunition to Jamaica, you will be arrested and prosecuted. This will result in a large fine and/or incarceration for an unspecified amount of time. Bringing mace, pepper spray, or knives into Jamaica without authorization will also lead to arrest.

Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:

LGBTQI+ Travelers: Jamaican law contains specific prohibitions on “acts of gross indecency” – generally interpreted as any kind of physical intimacy – between persons of the same sex, in public or in private, and provides punishment of up to 10 years in prison. There is also a law that specifically prohibits even consensual same-sex sexual conduct between men.

Negative attitudes towards LGBTQI+ issues are widespread in Jamaica. There are continued reports of serious discrimination and abuse against LGBTQI+ individuals, including:

  • Assault
  • “Corrective rape” of women accused of being lesbians
  • Arbitrary detention
  • Mob attacks
  • Stabbings
  • Harassment of LGBTQI+ patients by hospital and prison staff
  • Blackmail 

See our LGBTQI+ Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights Report for further details.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) individuals have been targeted through the use of dating apps, especially apps popular within the LGBTQI+ communities.  Criminals have used dating apps to lure foreign visitors into meeting in public spaces such as hotel restaurants and bars, and then later assaulting, threatening , and or robbing the victims. Police have not been responsive in making arrests or prosecuting assailants in these cases.

  • Protect your identity and be careful about sharing personal information on your public profile.
  • Remember that criminals both in the United States and abroad use dating apps to extort victims through threats to expose compromising pictures or other information.  Only share personal information with users who you trust, and be aware of phishing and romance scams.
  • Don’t rush into things; try to verify through social media or mutual friends that the person you are communicating with is who they say they are.  Make sure you have a photo and name of the person you plan to meet through an app.

Travelers with Disabilities: The law in Jamaica prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual or mental disabilities, although the law is not reliably enforced. Social acceptance of persons with disabilities in public is not as prevalent as in the United States.  The most common types of accessibility may include accessible facilities and information. Expect accessibility to be limited in public transportation, lodging, communication/information, and general infrastructure. There is a significant difference in accessibility between major cities such as Kingston and Montego Bay compared to accessibility in Jamaica’s smaller communities. Qualified and certified service providers such as sign language interpreters and personal assistants and rental, repair services, and replacement parts for aids, equipment, and devices can be difficult to locate outside of the major cities.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Health

For emergency services in Jamaica, dial 119.

Ambulance services are:

  • not widely available and training and availability of emergency responders may be below U.S. standards.
  • not present throughout the country or are unreliable in most areas, especially in rural areas.
  • not equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment.
  • not staffed with trained paramedics and often have little or no medical equipment.
  • Injured or seriously ill travelers may prefer to take a taxi or private vehicle to the nearest major hospital rather than wait for an ambulance.
  • Traffic congestion and road conditions may slow response times.

We do not pay medical bills.  Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.  Check with the Government of Jamaica to ensure the medication is legal in Jamaica.

Vaccinations:  Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals here.  We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.

Health facilities in general:

  • Health facilities may be below U.S. standards, especially when it comes to mental health care and specialty care.
  • Public medical clinics lack basic resources and supplies.
  • Private hospitals and doctors require payment “up front” prior to service or admission.
  • Be aware that some hotels and resorts have exclusive agreements with medical providers, which may limit your choices in seeking emergency medical attention.
  • Generally, in hospitals only minimal staff is available overnight in non-emergency wards
  • Patients bear all costs for transfer to or between hospitals.
  • Psychological and psychiatric services are limited, even in the larger cities, with hospital-based care only available through government institutions

The following diseases are prevalent:

  • Dengue
  • Chikungunya
  • HIV/AIDS
  • COVID 19
  • Use the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended mosquito repellents and sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets.  Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers even for short stays.
  • Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Resources for Travelers regarding specific issues in Jamaica. 

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Jamaicans drive on the left side of the road. Here are some notes for your safety:

  • Nighttime driving is extremely hazardous due to poor lighting and unpredictable pavement.
  • Heavy rains can make roads impassable and dangerous.
  • Many roads suffer from ill repair, inadequate signage, large potholes and poor traffic markings. There is a lack of pedestrian crosswalks.
  • Pedestrians and animals share the roadways with vehicles.
  • There have been reports of carjackings, including of rental cars.
  • Only two highways are roughly comparable to U.S. standards. Both are toll roads and part of Highway 2000. The East-West leg (“T1”) runs from Portmore to May Pen. The North-South leg (“T3” or the Edward Seaga Highway) connects Caymanas (west of Kingston) to Ocho Rios (Mammee Bay).
  • Driving habits range from aggressive speeding and sudden stops by taxis in the middle of the road to over-polite drivers who suddenly stop to allow a car to pull in front of them. All can lead to accidents.
  • Official emergency response can be slow. In practice, assistance given in emergency situations is generally by fellow motorists.

Traffic Laws:

  • Traffic circles (“roundabouts”) are often poorly marked and require traffic to move in a clockwise direction. Motorists entering a roundabout must yield to those already in it. 
  • Drivers and front-seat passengers are required to wear seat belts.
  • Motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets.

Public Transportation:

  • Official public transportation vehicles have red license plates. 
  • Private vehicles, NOT licensed for public transportation, have white license plates with blue letters/numbers.
  • Avoid public buses, which are often overcrowded and frequently a venue for crime. There are reports of private buses, acting as public transport, driving erratically leading to injury and death for both riders and pedestrians. You should only use licensed taxicabs having red-and-white PP license plates or transportation services recommended by your hotel.
  • Do not accept rides from strangers.

See our Road Safety page and the website of Jamaica’s national tourist office for more information.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Jamaica’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of air carrier operations in Jamaica. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Jamaica should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) broadcast warnings.

For additional travel information

International Parental Child Abduction

Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Jamaica. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

Last Updated: November 16, 2023

Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Kingston
142 Old Hope Road
Kingston 6
Jamaica, West Indies
Telephone
+(876) 702-6000
Emergency
+(876) 702-6000
Fax
+(876) 702-6018

Jamaica Map