What makes Montserrat a unique country to travel to?
Montserrat is a British overseas territory and part of the British West Indies. The island rises in a series of mountainous slopes to a high point of over 3,000 feet at the Soufriere Volcano in the exclusion zone. Montserrat is a highly active volcanic island. The Government of Montserrat has issued several recent proclamations and warnings urging residents and visitors to be vigilant and to be prepared to move at short notice. It last erupted in January 2009, requiring the large-scale evacuation of residents. Since that evacuation, residents have returned to their homes. On October 4, 2009, a series of eruptions began, but no one has been required to evacuate as of yet.
While Montserrat’s crime rate is relatively low, both petty and violent crimes do occur. Take common-sense precautions to ensure your personal security, such as avoiding carrying large amounts of cash or displaying expensive jewelry. You should not leave valuables unattended in hotel rooms or on the beach. Use hotel safety deposit facilities to safeguard all valuables and travel documents. Similarly, keep your lodgings locked at all times, whether you are present or away, and do not leave valuables in vehicles, even when locked.
Take some time before you travel to learn how to improve your personal security—things are not the same everywhere as they are in the United States. Here are some useful tips for personal security.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
While you are traveling in Montserrat, 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 in Montserrat, 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.
IF ARRESTED: If you are arrested in Montserrat, authorities of Montserrat 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 police or prison officials to notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest.
Medical Facilities and Health Information
St. John's Hospital (telephone (664) 491-2843), Montserrat's main hospital, can handle most routine and surgical emergencies. However, there is no hyperbaric chamber in Montserrat. Doctors in private practice are also available. There is now a charter company based in Montserrat, outfitted with stretchers and other equipment that can quickly transfer emergency medical cases to Antigua, Guadeloupe, or Puerto Rico.
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 Montserrat is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
In Montserrat, vehicles are operated on the left-hand (British) side of the road. There is no organized government roadside assistance, but local residents are often willing to aid those with car trouble. Roads are narrow, winding and steep. For specific information concerning Montserrat driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Montserrat Tourist Board in Montserrat at tel. 1 (664) 491-2230 or 491-8730.