Foreign travel advice

Montserrat

Summary

As Montserrat is a British Overseas Territory there’s no formal British diplomatic or consular representation. The local authorities deal with all requests for emergency assistance.

UK health authorities have classified Montserrat as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Around one third of the island is virtually unaffected by volcanic activity. The other two-thirds are vulnerable. The Soufriere Hills Volcano has been active since 1995. However, there has been no major volcanic activity since February 2010.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Montserrat, attacks can’t be ruled out.

The hurricane season in Montserrat normally runs from June to November. Hurricane Irma is forecast to bring hazardous sea and weather conditions to north-eastern parts of the Caribbean from around Wednesday 6 September 2017. You should follow the advice of the local authorities and any evacuation orders.

Safety and security

Crime

Crime levels are low, but you should take the same sensible precautions as you would at home. If your hotel does not have a safe, you may need to keep valuables with you.

Air travel

There are two companies offering flights from Antigua’s VC Bird International Airport to the John A. Osborne Airport in Montserrat: FLY MONTSERRAT and SVG Air. Between them they offer 6 flights per day in each direction on 9-seater aircraft. Baggage space is limited. Oversized bags can’t be carried due to the small baggage hold.

Road travel

Minibuses are available along a number of routes in Montserrat (fares range from EC$3 to EC$5 per journey), but with no regular schedules. Taxis are available and can be booked throughout the day and night. Taxis aren’t metered. Agree the fare in local currency before you set off.

To drive in Montserrat, you’ll need to get a temporary visitor’s driving licence from any police station on production of a valid driving licence and payment of a fee of EC$50. The temporary licence is valid for 3 months. Driving is on the left, as in the UK. There is a speed limit of 20 mph due to multiple hairpin bends. Don’t drink and drive.

Sea travel

A ferry service runs between Port Little Bay in Montserrat and the Bryson’s Pier, Heritage Quay in Antigua 5 days a week. For more information see the Visit Montserrat website.

Political situation

The last general elections were held on 11 September 2014. The People’s Democratic Movement won 7 out of 9 seats in the Legislative Council and formed a Government.

Emergency assistance

As Montserrat is a British Overseas Territory there’s no formal British diplomatic or consular representation. The local authorities deal with all requests for emergency assistance.

On arrival, you should be given a leaflet called ‘Welcome to Montserrat. A Visitor’s Guide to Consular Services’. If you are not given one, you should ask. Alternatively, download one before you travel.

Terrorism

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Montserrat, 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

Montserrat is a separate legal jurisdiction to the United Kingdom and has its own laws.

There are harsh penalties if you are caught with drugs of any kind. You should observe the customs regulations on the importation and exportation of agricultural products and the protection of marine and animal life. There are a number of marine and animal specimens that may not be taken from the island. If in doubt check with the local customs authorities prior to the purchase, importation or exportation of such items.

Homosexuality is legal under Montserrat law, but there’s no provision for marriage or civil partnerships between same sex couples, and they aren’t recognised in law. Throughout the island, the general public is very conservative. In general people aren’t tolerant of homosexual couples and don’t approve of public displays of affection between same sex couples. Hotels don’t discriminate against same sex couples and are generally welcoming to all, regardless of sexual orientation.

Beach wear (ie swimwear) isn’t acceptable away from beach areas.

Health

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.

UK health authorities have classified Montserrat as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Montserrat has a small hospital with limited facilities. Anyone needing specialist medical treatment may need to travel to a neighbouring island. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

Dental care for visitors is by private practice, which is only available in the evenings, and at weekends.

If you suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems you could be affected by airborne dust, volcanic ash and gases.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 or 999 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Entry requirements

Visas

You don’t need a visa for Montserrat if you are either a British citizen passport holder or a British Overseas Territories citizen passport holder. For other nationalities there is an on-line visa application service.

Passport validity

You must hold a valid passport to enter Montserrat. Your passport must be valid for the proposed duration of your stay.

Embarkation tax

When you leave Montserrat you will be charged an embarkation tax of EC$25 for residents or EC$45 for non-residents. In addition, there is a security charge of EC$10 for every passenger departing from John A Osborne Airport and at the ferry port, payable at check-in.

Yellow fever

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Natural disasters

Volcanoes

The Soufriere Hills Volcano has been active since 1995. An area around the volcano, containing about two-thirds of the island, is vulnerable to volcanic hazard and is a no-go area. In addition there are three areas around the coastline which are designated Maritime Exclusion Zones where no shipping should enter. Seek local advice about safety precautions and access restrictions.

A new Hazard Level System was introduced on 1 August 2014. The southern part of the island is divided into five zones A, B, C, F and V and two maritime zones E and W. Access permission to enter any of these zones depends on the level of volcanic activity. The current Hazard Level is Level 1 on a scale of 0 to 5 where 5 is the highest. At Level 1 there is 24 hour unlimited access to Zones A, B, C and F by vehicles, and controlled access only with permission to Zone V. The maritime zones E and W can only be transited by shipping during daylight hours, and no anchorage is possible in these zones at Level 1.

Around 40% of the island is unaffected by volcanic activity but these areas may be prone to ash falls and volcanic gases during any volcanic activity and if the wind is blowing from south to north. These sometimes cause cancellation of flights to and from the island. The volcanic situation is monitored 24/7 by the Montserrat Volcano Observatory staff and the situation remains under constant review.

An island-wide siren system is installed to warn of volcanic activity. The sirens are tested daily at 12:00 midday. If the sirens sound outside this, tune to Radio Montserrat (ZJB) immediately on FM 88.3 or 95.5 for an accompanying message. The radio station also provides regular scientific updates and advice to listeners. Brochures outlining the Hazard Level System are available at ports of entry to the island.

Maritime Exclusion Zone

There are three areas around Montserrat’s coastlines designated as Maritime Exclusion Zones. Shipping should not enter these zones. The largest of these extends for 4km on the eastern side of the island and there are two on the western side of the island. The most southerly of the two extends for 2km off shore and the third for a half kilometre off shore. Maps showing these zones along with their GPS co-ordinates are available to mariners at the Montserrat Port Authority at Port Little Bay.

Hurricanes

The hurricane season in the Caribbean officially runs from 1 June to 30 November, though very stormy weather can occur outside this period. Monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation and the US National Hurricane Centre.

See our tropical cyclones page for advice about what to do if you are caught up in a tropical cyclone.

Money

Most major credit cards are accepted in supermarkets, restaurants and hotels.

The local currency is the eastern Caribbean dollar. It’s fixed to the US dollar at 2.68 eastern Caribbean Dollars to 1 US dollar. This equates roughly to £1 = EC$4. But US dollars are widely accepted. The territory has limited but modern banking facilities.

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.

Travel safety

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 looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

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.