While you are traveling in Jamaica, 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 some form of identification 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 in Jamaica, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what is legal and what is illegal where you are going.
Persons violating Jamaica’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Jamaica are can be severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Airport and dock searches at cruise line ports are thorough and people attempting to smuggle illegal drugs are often apprehended. Several U.S. citizens currently incarcerated in Jamaica prisons for drug smuggling say they were arrested for carrying bags that friends or acquaintances asked them to deliver to someone in the United States. In one case, the U.S. arrestee claimed that she express mailed a package for a local taxi driver who claimed not to have his identification with him. U.S. citizens should never accept packages/baggage in such circumstances.
Jamaica has no tolerance for violations of its firearms laws and persons can end up serving years for possession of a firearm. Bringing ammunition into Jamaica is also illegal and can result in heavy fines and/or imprisonment.
Prison conditions in Jamaica differ greatly from prison conditions in the United States. Prisoners are provided only the most basic meals and must rely upon personal funds, family, and friends to supplement their diets, provide clothing, and supply personal care items such as toothpaste and shampoo. Most prisons are very overcrowded. Prisons do not supply bedding to prisoners. Packages shipped from the United States to prisoners are subject to Jamaican import taxes and are undeliverable when the recipient lacks the funds to pay the duties.
If you are arrested in Jamaica, authorities of Jamaica 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, perhaps because you are also a Jamaican citizen, you should request the police or prison officials to notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest.
You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.