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World Travel Guide > Guides > Caribbean > Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda travel guide

About Antigua and Barbuda

“We have 365 beaches here – one for every day of the year.” If you were given a dollar every time you heard that in Antigua, your holiday would surely be paid for. It’s the national catchphrase and you’ll get tired of hearing it. But locals have every right to be proud of Antigua and its dashing twin, Barbuda: with their powdery beaches and swaying palms they’re the quintessence of Caribbean island idyll.

Most of the action takes place in Antigua, a glamorous island where expensive yachts float in the harbour, honeymooners frolic in the surf and scuba divers explore colourful coral reefs in crystalline waters. You can see why Giorgio Armani and Oprah Winfrey keep homes here.

Away from the glamour, there are many attractions: from steamy rainforests to historic sites such as Shirley Heights, a military lookout with views over Nelson’s Dockyard, the only working Georgian dockyard in the world.

Antigua’s highest point, Mount Obama, begs to be climbed. It’s also worth checking out the island’s national parks and billowing blowholes, such as Devil's Bridge, which are caused by the colliding surf of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

The buzzing Saturday market in St Johns, the capital, is a must: pick up anything from fresh fruit to local crafts. Antigua springs to life at night, with dozens of places to party including Shirley Heights, which is the setting for Sunday night “jump ups” (street parties) featuring live music and lots of rum punch.

Antigua’s little sister Barbuda is quieter, but no less beautiful. Lying 43.5km (27 miles) to the north, its beating heart is Codrington, which is widely referred to as “The Village”. Codrington consists of only a handful of streets and offers a glimpse of Caribbean life as it used to be.

Although small, there is much to do in Barbuda. The island is a haven for wild deer and exotic birds, and is home to the Frigate Bird Sanctuary. Important Amerindian rock carvings can be found at Two foot Bay, while sumptuous beaches abound.

Key facts

Area:

Total: 441.6 sq km (170.5 sq miles).

Population:

100,963 (World Bank estimate 2016).

Population density:

228.42 per sq km.

Capital:

St John's.

Government:

Constitutional monarchy.

Head of state:

HM Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor-General Rodney Williams since 2014.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Gaston Browne since 2014.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Antigua and Barbuda on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Antigua and Barbuda.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You will be contacted by the Health Authorities and instructed to self-isolate or move to a quarantine facility. This will be determined by the Quarantine Authority. You may be instructed to stay at the Government’s Quarantine facility. This would be at a charge of XCD 82 per night. You may also need to seek treatment there. Minors will be subject to the same regulations as adults.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Antigua and Barbuda

For information on entering Antigua and Barbuda, see Entry requirements

The following regulations exist under the Public Health Act:

  • face masks must be worn in medical facilities and senior care homes. It is encouraged but not required for public spaces. Face masks must cover nose and mouth, leave eyes, forehead, and ears visible, and cannot be worn at the same time as head coverings or dark glasses
  • proof of vaccination is no longer required to enter bars, gyms, or restaurants
  • supermarkets and retailers such as food and clothes shops, pharmacies, and hardware stores are allowed to operate but must ensure hand washing or sanitizing of all customers
  • public-facing government offices may have restrictions on opening hours and visitors
  • pleasure craft and other seagoing vessels are permitted to operate
  • competitive sports are permitted with the permission of the Ministry of Sports
  • residents of Antigua and Barbuda who test positive for COVID-19 maybe required to enter government quarantine and wear a quarantine bracelet. Those in their household will be required to undergo testing and may also be required to enter a government quarantine facility and wear a quarantine bracelet

The Antigua and Barbuda Emergency Medical Service are asking the public to call the COVID-19 inquiries hotline on (+1 268) 462 6843 if they suspect they might have contracted the virus, been exposed to or any other matters relating to the virus. The public are asked to call the hotline and not visit a healthcare facility unless instructed to.

Healthcare in Antigua and Barbuda

For contact details of English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health

View Health for further details on healthcare in Antigua and Barbuda.

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Help and support

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact the British High Commission in Bridgetown (+ 1 246 430 7800 and select option 2 for consular services) which is available 24/7. Alternatively complete the webform. If you are outside Antigua and Barbuda you can call the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in London on +44 (0)207 7008 5000.

Further information

You should follow the advice of local authorities, including local measures to help minimise your risk of exposure to coronavirus. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda post updates via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Crime

Most visits are trouble-free, but there have been incidents of violent crime including murder, armed robbery and sexual assault.

You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as you would in the UK and make sure your accommodation is secure. This also applies if you are staying on a yacht. Be vigilant at all times. Take care when walking alone off the busy main roads and avoid isolated areas, including beaches, particularly after dark.

Only use licensed taxis and take particular care at late night street parties, especially during the festival season.

Don’t carry large amounts of cash or jewellery. If possible, leave valuables and travel documents in a safety deposit box or hotel safe. You should check that the hotel safe is securely fixed before using it to store your items.

Road travel

Driving is on the left. To drive in the country you must get a local temporary driving licence. Car hire companies will usually help with this process. You must present a valid UK driving licence.

Take care when driving on the roads as there are potholes and unmarked speed bumps. Observe the speed limits. You should take extra care on minor roads and in rural areas where there are narrow roads and blind corners. Pedestrians often walk on the roads and indicators are not always used.

Take extra care when driving at night as some roads are unlit. Road signs and hazards may not be easily visible.

Don’t stop if you’re flagged down by pedestrians. Keep car doors locked when driving.

In the event of an accident, call the police and don’t move the vehicle.

Taxis aren’t metered. Standard taxi fares exist for most destinations. Agree the fare in local currency with the driver before you set off. You can often pay in US dollars as well as EC dollars.

Public transport is available and cheaper. Minibus drivers might drive above the speed limit.

Swimming

Take great care at all times when swimming as currents can be deceptively strong and not all beaches have lifeguards and/or warning flags. You should monitor all beaches carefully and obey any local warnings.

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

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

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.

There are severe penalties for all drug offences. Pack all luggage yourself and don’t carry anything through customs for anyone else.

It’s an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing.

Local attitudes towards the LGBT community are mostly conservative throughout the Caribbean. Public displays of affection (such as hand-holding or kissing) between opposite or same-sex couples are uncommon. Whilst Antigua and Barbuda no longer has legislation against same-sex sexual acts, LGBT travellers should be mindful of local attitudes and be aware that public displays of affection may attract unwanted and negative attention. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

This page has information on travelling to Antigua & Barbuda.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Antigua & Barbuda set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Antigua and Barbuda’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.’

All travellers

As of 26 August Antigua and Barbuda has removed all COVID-19-related restrictions (e.g. proof of vaccination / testing) for passengers arriving by air. All COVID-19-related restrictions are also lifted for passengers arriving by yacht or ferry services, but all must contact the Antigua Port Authority at least six hours before arrival using VHF Channel 16 and follow instructions on which port or holding area to complete entry formalities. Passengers arriving by cruise liner are subject to the protocols placed on board by their cruise company.

Passengers who display symptoms of COVID-19 on arrival may be isolated as determined by the Antigua and Barbuda health authorities.

Exemptions

There are currently no exemptions for entry.

Check your passport and travel documents before you travel

Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Passport validity

If you are visiting Antigua and Barbuda your passport should be valid for six months from the date you arrive.

If you are a resident in Antigua and Barbuda your passport must be valid for six months from the date you arrive.

Visas

British Passport holders don’t need a visa to visit Antigua and Barbuda.

On entry, you’ll be granted a specified period to stay. If you wish to stay longer, you must apply and pay for an extension of stay through the Antigua and Barbuda Immigration Department.

It’s an offence to overstay the entry period or to work without a work permit.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Antigua and Barbuda.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

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

Departure tax

Departure tax is included in the flight costs.

If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.

See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities. Following instructions from the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, hotels are also obliged to facilitate COVID-19 tests for their guests departing Antigua and Barbuda. Where possible you should start making arrangements for testing at least seven days before travel.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Other health risks

Dengue fever is endemic to Latin America and the Caribbean and can occur throughout the year.

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

Cases of Chikungunya virus have been confirmed in Antigua and Barbuda. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Local medical care

The main government hospital can cope with many types of treatment but serious cases may mean emergency evacuation. Medical treatment in Antigua and Barbuda can be expensive.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 999 or 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. Before choosing to be treated at a private facility, you should check their policies on pre-payment. Private clinics may not accept medical travel insurance as payment for treatment.

Hurricanes

The hurricane season in the Caribbean normally runs from June to November. You should monitor local and international weather updates from the Antigua & Barbuda Met Office, the World Meteorological Organisation and the US National Hurricane Centre and follow the advice of the local authorities.

See our Tropical Cyclones page for advice about how to prepare effectively and what to do if you’re likely to be affected by a hurricane or tropical cyclone.

Earthquakes

Earthquakes are a potential threat and tremors are felt occasionally in the Caribbean. In the event of an earthquake, you should follow the advice of the local authorities. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, visit the website of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (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 FCDO 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 FCDO 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 FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team 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, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

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