What makes Turks and Caicos Islands a unique country to travel to?
The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCIS) are a British Overseas Territory comprising a small archipelago of eight major islands in two groups, with numerous uninhabited keys. Theyform the southeastern extremity of the Bahamas chain and lie 90 miles north of Haiti and the Dominican Republic and 575 miles southeast of Miami. Tourist facilities are split between resorts, which are located on the island of Providenciales, or "Provo", predominantly on Grace Bay, and the cruise ship port, which is located on Grand Turk Island. The U.S. dollar is the official currency. Larger hotels and shops accept most credit and debit cards. The U.S. Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas has jurisdiction for consular matters in the Turks and Caicos and a Consular Agent in Providenciales supports American citizen interests.
The overall crime rate in the Turks and Caicos Islands is relatively low. Crimes typically involve opportunistic petty theft. However, more serious robberies have been reported, and there were a string of armed robberies in Providenciales about which the Embassy issued a security message in March 2013. The crime level is highest on Providenciales, the territory’s economic hub and larger city. The U.S. Embassy has received a few reports of more serious crimes, including vacation home invasions, armed robberies, assaults and boat thefts.
Most visits to the Turks and Caicos Islands are trouble free, but you should nonetheless take sensible precautions against theft. Exercise caution when walking after dark or in isolated areas, such as deserted beaches, and avoid placing yourself in vulnerable situations. Never leave valuables unattended, especially on beaches. Hotel guests should always lock their doors and never open their hotel room door without first verifying the identity of the person knocking. Hotel guests should consider storing passports/identity documents, airline tickets, credit cards, and extra cash in hotel safes, but remember to take your passport with you when debarking your cruise ship. It is best to keep your passport on your person and not in a handbag in case of theft. Automated teller machines (ATMs) are available; however, visitors should try not to frequent them, especially after dark.
Visitors are advised to report crime to the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force as quickly as possible. Early reports frequently improve the likelihood of identifying and apprehending suspected perpetrators.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, you may be breaking local law which could lead to arrest or detainment. The same is true for illicit drugs. Vendors often tell visitors that marijuana is legal. Please note this is not true and the purchase of any amount of drugs is a crime that could lead to arrest and jail time.
There is nobody better at protecting you than yourself. Beware of your surroundings at all times. The U.S. Embassy reports that victims of crime are often those who have let their guard down to individuals who appeared overly friendly or became victims after criminals targeted them as easy prey due to the visitor appearing drunk or unaware. Take some time before travel to improve your personal security—things are not the same everywhere as they are in the United States.
While traveling in another country, 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, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. 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. You can be prosecuted under U.S. law upon return to the U.S. if you buy pirated goods overseas. 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 Turks and Caicos, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution and the nearest U.S. Embassy is 500 miles away. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Turks and Caicos are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and/or heavy fines.
Non Mandatory Consular Notification Country:Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Turks and Caicos, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Medical Facilities and Health Information
Medical facilities in the Turks and Caicos Islands have improved with two new hospital facilities on Providenciales and Grand Turk managed by Inter Health Canada. Most extreme medical problems do require medical evacuation by air from the Turks and Caicos to the United States or Nassau in The Bahamas if a suitable doctor, surgeon or specialist is not on island. For this reason, it is strongly recommended to purchase medevac insurance before departing.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747 ) or via the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information. The TCIS has had cases of dengue fever in the past year.
Safety and Security
The threat of terrorism is low, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including places frequented by travelers.
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
Driving in the Turks and Caicos Islands is on the left. The terrain is flat and subject to flooding during or after storms. Primary roads are generally good in both urban and rural areas. Secondary roads are often unpaved and contain ruts and potholes. Road signs are not prevalent, but navigating with a tourist map is possible as there are few roads on the island. Hazards such as blind intersections, road work, changes in road conditions which are unmarked, and a lack of familiarity with roundabouts and other intersections are often the main cause of problems while driving. At a roundabout, drivers are required to give way to those on their immediate right and those who enter the roundabout first. Wild donkeys are a common sight on the island of Grand Turk and occasionally walk into the roads, presenting a hazard to drivers, especially at night.
Temporary visitors wishing to drive in the Turks and Caicos require a valid driver's license from their country of residence or an International Driving License which is good for up to a month, after which a local license from the Department of Road Safety is required. You should observe the speed limits (20 mph in town, 40 mph elsewhere). Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal, and drivers convicted of the offense may face fines, detention, or both. Use seat belts at all times as you could face possible fines. Accidents are on the increase on the Leeward Highway (Providenciales) and are often fatal. Roadside assistance in the event of a breakdown is generally not available. For emergencies, drivers may call 999 or 911 for police, fire, or medical assistance. Visitors should take care to ride only in taxis with seatbelts. Most car and motor scooter rental agencies will not rent to anyone under the age of 21. A government tax is levied on all car and motor scooter rentals (insurance is extra). Public transportation is available in the Turks and Caicos and is generally safe.