Bermuda travel guide
Bermuda is probably best known for two things: lurid, knee-length shorts and the fabled Bermuda Triangle, a stretch of sea where boats and planes are said to have mysteriously disappeared. However, these lazy stereotypes serve only to distract from what is an exceptionally beautiful destination.
Comprised of around 180 islets, Bermuda looks like your archetypal Caribbean retreat with its fine sandy beaches, colourful coral reefs and swaying palms. But it’s nothing of the sort. In fact this lonely archipelago floats 1,030km (640 miles) off the coast of South Carolina, adrift in the Atlantic Ocean, far from anywhere in particular.
A British Overseas Territory, Bermuda has embraced many traditions from the motherland: from sophisticated gents playing cricket to refined ladies supping afternoon tea. There are even red phone boxes.
Discovered by the Spanish in 1505, Bermuda fell into British hands a century later and has remained part of the much-diminished empire ever since. The legendary writer, Mark Twain, popularised the islands in the late 19th century. “You go to heaven if you want – I’d rather stay here instead,” he cooed. John Lennon was another fan of the archipelago, which was the muse behind his song, Borrowed Time.
For some time Bermuda has been considered a destination for the, shall we say, more mature traveller. And while its scenic golf courses, colonial hotels and genteel vibe do suit elderly travellers, the archipelago has started to attract a younger crowd in recent years. They come for the excellent scuba diving, the cycling and other adventure activities, or just to explore the beauty of the archipelago from the back of a motorbike.
And beautiful it is. Bermuda’s coastline is blessed with pink sandy beaches and crystalline waters, while inland visitors will find an abundance of subtropical plants and flowers, interspersed with quaint pastel cottages. There are certainly worse places to disappear.
53 sq km (20 sq miles).
61,662 (UN estimate 2016).
1,324.5 per sq km.
Parliamentary, self-governing British Overseas Territory.
HM Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor George Fergusson since 2012.
Premier Michael Dunkley since 2014.
110 volts AC, 60Hz. American (flat) two-pin plugs are standard (with or without round grounding pin).
Last updated: 10 October 2017
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
As Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory, there’s no formal British diplomatic or consular representation. The local authorities deal with all requests for emergency assistance.
The hurricane season in Bermuda normally runs from June to November. You should monitor progress of storms on the Bermuda weather service and National Hurricane Centre websites and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Most visits to Bermuda are trouble-free, but you should take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings.
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Bermuda, attacks can’t be ruled out.
Safety and security
Bermuda has a moderate crime rate driven in part by the drugs scene. Serious incidents, including use of weapons, do occur. Take precautions to safeguard yourself and your possessions. Common crimes include burglary, mugging, theft of unattended baggage and belongings, and theft of items from rental scooters.
The Bermuda Police Service website provides Tourist Safety Tips. Take particular care after dark.
Stick to well-lit parts of the island and avoid quieter, darker streets. There have been incidents of sexual assault. If you need help, contact the Bermuda Police Service in the first instance.
Tourists are not allowed to drive cars in Bermuda.
Buses, ferries and taxis are generally safe, frequent and efficient. You can’t hire a car in Bermuda, but 50cc scooters are readily available for public hire. A small number of 2-person minicars are offered as an alternative to motorcycles in some locations. Driving is on the left, as in the UK. Roads are narrow, winding and undulating, and traffic may be heavy. Road accidents involving scooters are relatively common, and have resulted in serious injury or even death. You should take care. The national speed limit is 35kmh (22mph) but is lower in some urban areas.
Outside the major urban areas there are few footpaths or street lighting. Take care when out walking, especially at night.
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Bermuda, attacks can’t be ruled out.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Local laws and customs
Bermuda is a separate legal jurisdiction to the United Kingdom and has its own laws.
Don’t become involved with drugs of any kind. Possession or importation can attract severe penalties.
The possession or importation of weapons (including air pistols and catapults) or ammunition (including empty magazines) is illegal. Those caught will be subject to severe penalties.
Bermuda, while welcoming, is a conservative place and you should dress modestly. Bathing suits, revealing tops and short shorts should only be worn at the beach or pools. There are no nude or topless beaches and it is an offence to appear in public topless or wearing a bathing suit top. Drinking alcohol in public outside of licensed premises is not allowed.
Homosexuality became legal under Bermuda law in 1994, and in 2017 the Supreme Court of Bermuda ruled that same-sex couples have a legal right to marry. Attitudes to homosexuality are tolerant but conservative and some people may not approve of public displays of affection between same-sex couples.
British passport holders don’t need a visa to enter Bermuda as a visitor, but you must book accommodation before you arrive. Visitors are usually granted entry for up to 90 days. For further enquiries about visas, visit the website of the nearest British Embassy or High Commission, or the Government of Bermuda website.
If you wish to extend your stay while in Bermuda, you must get permission from the Bermuda Department of Immigration before your initial 21 day stay ends. While an extension of stay is not automatic, extensions are normally granted.
You must hold a valid passport to enter Bermuda. Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.
If you wish to work in Bermuda, you must secure a job before coming to the island. Your employer will then apply to the Department of Immigration for a work permit, and once this is received you may enter the country to work. You may not seek employment while visiting Bermuda.
Department of Immigration, Government Administration Building, Parliament Street, Hamilton. (Telephone: +1 441 295 5151) www.gov.bm
Make sure you carry any medication in the prescribed packaging and bring the prescription. For further information see the website of HM Customs of Bermuda.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Bermuda.
Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.
Bermuda has good modern medical facilities with a fully equipped general hospital and numerous doctors and dentists. King Edward Memorial Hospital has a good accident and emergency department.
Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation by air ambulance as cases that can’t be dealt with in Bermuda are usually referred to either Baltimore or Boston in the USA. Make sure your insurance covers any additional medical expenses incurred in the USA
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
The hurricane season in Bermuda normally runs from June to November. You should monitor the progress of storms on the Bermuda Weather Service and National Hurricane Centre websites, and follow the advice of the local authorities.
See our tropical cyclones page for information and advice about what to do if you’re caught up in a storm.
Travel advice help and support
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCO travel advice
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.