Lots of Facts About Jamaica

Yes, it's true... You're going to get a lot of facts about Jamaica here. But more importantly, what you'll get is the information you need as a visitor to our beautiful island.

Ready? Come on, let's go!

You will find listed below some helpful visitor information. It is our belief that you will find it useful when you're planning your vacation... and also during your stay on the island of Jamaica. Needless to say, here's our desire for you: "Have a wonderful vacation in Jamaica, Mon!".


HELPFUL VISITOR INFORMATION

Alcohol and Drugs - Facts about Jamaica

Jamaica's legal drinking age is 18 but this law is rarely enforced. There are no restrictions on drinking alcoholic beverages in public places.

Please do not drive while under the influence of alcohol. The Illegal Blood Alcohol Level is .08%. In addition, don't swim after consuming alcohol. If you do, make sure to stay in shallow water and within sight of your friends.

Under Jamaican law, using, selling and possessing drugs such as ganja (marijuana), cocaine, crack, heroin, ecstasy and any other controlled substance is ILLEGAL.

If you're caught, you will be subject to severe punishments meaning you will be arrested, fined and imprisoned.

Please... please... DO NOT even think about purchasing, using, consuming or transporting ANY drug nationally or internationally.

And if someone tries to sell you drugs, just be firm and say NO!

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Banks/Currency/Money Matters - Facts about Jamaica

Currency

The currency used in Jamaica is Jamaican Dollar (JMD). You're not required to change our currency back to your local currency when leaving the country. It's entirely up to you to exchange your Jamaican currency at the airport... or keep some for your next trip to Jamaica! ;o)

Click here to read more interesting information about Jamaica currency.

Banks

Banks are located islandwide and will exchange just about any currency. You'll also be able to get credit card advances and change traveller's cheques as well as offer other financial services. Most commercial banks are open Monday to Thursday 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. and on Fridays 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Cambios/Bureaux de Change

There's no need for you to get Jamaican money before getting to the island. You'll find that licensed cambios and bureaux de change are widespread in the country. Often they're more convenient than banks because they open later and offer better exchange rates. Generally, the exchange rates quoted by hotels are somewhat lower than that offered by the banks.

ATM Machines

By the way, international bankcards with Visa, Mastercard, Plus and Cirrus logos are accepted by many ATMs in Jamaica. You'll receive Jamaican currency at the ATM at the current exchange rate (for a nominal fee, of course).

Prices may be accepted... and quoted in US Dollars in some resort areas (e.g. Negril and Montego Bay). But here's a tip for you: Pay with US Dollars only if you have the exact change. Why? Because generally you'll get back change in Jamaican currency... and the exchange rate may be lower than that of the bank or cambio.

Tipping

Although tipping is Jamaica is optional, here are a few guidelines to help you determine how much to tip.

  • Restaurants

    Tipping 10-20% is customary to restaurant staff... if gratuities are not already part of the bill. Check with your server what the final bill includes before deciding if and how much you'll tip.

  • Hotels

    Some hotels may already include a service charge for your room, food and beverage expenses. When you check-in, get information at the front desk about the hotel's gratuities and/or service charges policy. Here are some rates if you do decide to tip helpful employees: bellhops, 1-2 US Dollars per bag, and maids, 1-2 US Dollars per day. (NOTE: If you'll be staying at an all-inclusive hotel, most of them strictly prohibit tipping.)

  • Taxis

    Before starting on your trip, check with the driver if you'll be paying a flat rate or a metered rate. If you're paying a flat rate, negotiate the best rate (and agree on the currency you're using). This price may not include tip. With this in mind, a 10-15% tip is customary for taxi drivers. However, for trips taking place between midnight and 5 a.m., 25% tipping is recommended in addition to the metered fee (if applicable).

Exchange Rate

Because the official exchange rate fluctuates daily, it's a good idea to shop around for a rate that's suitable to you before changing your cash.

Currency Converter

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Dress in Jamaica - Facts about Jamaica

You would do well to pack lightweight cottons and linens for Jamaica's tropical climate. Also pack some light woolens for the evenings which tend to be cooler. Synthetics should be avoided because they may be less breathable than linens and woolens.

Sunglasses and hats (especially those with large brims) should also be included in your luggage. You may also want to pack a sweater if you're visiting during the "winter" season (December - April).

In Jamaica, rain showers often seem to come out of nowhere... and then quickly disappear! Be prepared by bringing a waterproof jacket and umbrella just in case you get caught in a downpour.

One more thing, swimsuits are generally acceptable only at the beach and the pool. Outside of these ares, a beach cover up will usually suffice. Men should wear a shirt (T-shirt or button-up shirt) in public. Be aware that the more classy establishments usually require you to be formally attired. (You may want to check the dress code of where you'll be staying before you get here.)

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Driving Permit - Facts about Jamaica

In order to rent a car in Jamaica, you must be at least 25 years of age.

Jamaican law requires you to carry a valid drivers licence while operating a motor vehicle. If you have a valid International Drivers Licence, you may use it in Jamaica.

North Americans are permitted to use their licence for as much as 3 months for each visit. Our guests from the United Kingdom can use their licence for a period of 12 months. However, Japanese visitors can only use their licence for 1 month.

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Emergency Services - Facts about Jamaica

Police: 119, Fire: 110, Ambulance: 110

Listed below are the phone numbers for Police and Fire Stations in some Jamaican resort areas. (If you're calling from overseas, Jamaica's area code is 876.)

Police Stations

Resort AreaPhone Number
Montego Bay952-2333, 952-3781

Immigration: 940-3500

Negril957-4148, 957-4268, 957-4857

Fax: 957-4149

Ocho Rios974-2533, 974-4588
Port Antonio993-2546
Mandeville961-5538, 962-2250


Fire Stations

Resort AreaPhone Number
Montego Bay952-2311, 952-2145
Negril957-4242
Ocho Rios974-2317
Port Antonio993-2525, 993-3041
Mandeville962-2588, 962-5935, 961-3706

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Health Services - Facts about Jamaica

In the event you get sick or injured, Jamaica has 24 hospitals located around the country. In all there are 309 health facilities in the island plus pharmacies and doctors' offices in all major towns. If the need ever arises, you'll be able to get help.

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Holidays in Jamaica - Facts about Jamaica

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN JAMAICA, 2012
 Name of Holiday  Date & Day
New Year's Day Jan 1 - Sunday
(observed Jan 2 - Monday)
Ash Wednesday Feb 22
Good Friday Apr 6
Easter Monday Apr 9
Labour Day May 23 - Monday
Emancipation Day Aug 1 - Wedesday
Independence Day Aug 6 - Monday
National Heroes Day Oct 15 - Monday
Christmas Day Dec 25 - Tuesday
Boxing Day Dec 26 - Wednesday


PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN JAMAICA, 2013
 Name of Holiday  Date & Day
New Year's Day Jan 1 - Tuesday
Ash Wednesday Feb 13
Good Friday Mar 29
Easter Monday Apr 1
Labour Day May 23 - Thursday
Emancipation Day Aug 1 - Thursday
Independence Day Aug 6 - Tuesday
National Heroes Day Oct 21 - Monday
Christmas Day Dec 25 - Wednesday
Boxing Day Dec 26 - Thursday

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Internet Service - Facts about Jamaica

Internet service usually available at most hotels and parish libraries. You will also be able to browse the web at a number of local internet cafes.

Internet country code: .jm

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Phone Services - Facts about Jamaica

Country code: 876

Direct international service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you need to place collect, third party or credit card calls, telephone operators will quickly put you through. (Also, most hotels and post offices will send international faxes and cables for you.)

If you prefer to use calling cards, you can purchase "World Talk" or "Chat Nuff" calling cards from stores and other distributors islandwide.

Mobile Telephone

GSM 900 and 1800 networks cover practically the whole country. Network operators include:

Digicel - website: www.digiceljamaica.com
Cable & Wireless - website: www.cwjamaica.com
Claro - website: www.claro.com.jm

You should consider buying a Prepaid Jamaica SIM Card for your GSM phone when you get here to reduce your roaming charges. (The cost should be about 500 JMD.) Telephone cards for prepaid mobile phones can be obtained almost anywhere... just ask or look for the respective company's logo.

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Post Office - Facts about Jamaica

There are post offices in the commercial centre of all towns, open Mon-Fri 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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Tourist Information - Facts about Jamaica

The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) operates information booths within the arrival halls of both major international airports. The contact number for the booth at Sir Donald Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay is (876) 952-2462... while you may contact the Norman Manley International Airport, Kingston booth at (876) 924-8024.

Montego Bay Kingston Port Antonio
Cornwall Beach
P.O. Box 67
Montego Bay
Jamaica, West Indies
Tel: (876) 952-4425
Fax: (876) 952-3587
64 Knutsford Boulevard
Kingston 5
Jamaica, West Indies
Tel: (876) 929-9200/19
Fax: (876) 929-9375
City Centre Plaza
P.O. Box 151
Port Antonio
Jamaica, West Indies
Tel: (876) 993-3051
Fax: (876) 993-2117

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Work Permit - Facts about Jamaica

If you're not a Jamaican citizen, you'll need a work permit to work in Jamaica.

If you're a Commonwealth citizen, you may wait until after arrival in Jamaica to apply for a work permit. If you hold a work permit and have relatives over 18 years of age, they are also eligible to apply for work permits. (This is providing they have special skills.)

On the other hand, you must apply for a work permit before arriving in Jamaica if you're a non-Commonwealth citizen.

Note: If you're the spouse of a Jamaican national, you may not need a work permit if you provide proper documentation.

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My desire for you is to have a happy, healthy and safe vacation in Jamaica... and I hope these facts about Jamaica prove useful to you.

Finally, your feedback helps to make this web site better so if you have any comments about this page, or any other page, don't hesitate, let me know what you think.