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World Travel Guide > Guides > Caribbean > Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands travel guide

About Cayman Islands

Ask people to define their idea of paradise and they may well describe the Cayman Islands, a Caribbean archipelago renowned for its beautiful beaches, world-class diving and incredible food.

Mere specs in the Caribbean Sea, the Caymans are made up of three islands in all: Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. These British Overseas Territories are home to around 50,000 people, a significant number of whom are British expatriates working in everything from finance and property to scuba diving and services.

A trip to the Caymans is all about switching off. The extraordinary beaches on all three islands are perfect for whiling away lazy days, whilst the surrounding waters are a treasure trove of marine life, making them a hit with divers.

The financial industry looms large over the islands and there’s no income tax, leading many to believe that paradise really does exist here. Still, the high duty on consumer goods, food and fuel makes the cost of living sharply felt.

If you've got the cash, there’s an exceptional selection of high-end restaurants scattered across the archipelago – more than 200 on Grand Cayman alone. Island cuisine is also celebrated at Cayman Cookout, an annual culinary jamboree that attracts chefs from around the world. If that’s a bit highfalutin for you, then drop in at Taste of Cayman, which is a far more accessible food festival.

The jamborees come thick and fast throughout the winter months. Pirates Week celebrates local culture and the archipelago’s swashbuckling history, while Heritage Days allow visitors to sample local food, entertainment and history of the island in even more detail.

Another noteworthy jamboree is Batabano – the Cayman Islands’ own version of Carnival, complete with floats, extravagant costumes, steel bands and all the dancing you can muster. So pour out a glass of the local brew, Swanky, grab a spot on Seven Mile Beach, sit back and enjoy the show.

Key facts

Area:

260 sq km (100 sq miles).

Population:

60,764 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

215.7 per sq km.

Capital:

George Town.

Government:

British overseas territory and parliamentary democracy.

Head of state:

HM King Charles III since 2022, is represented by Governor Martyn Roper since 2018.

Head of government:

Premier Juliana O'Connor-Connolly since 2023.

Travel Advice

The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory, so there is no British Embassy, and the Cayman Islands authorities will support you if you need help.

Hurricane Beryl 

A major hurricane passed the Cayman Islands on 4 July. There have been disruptions to some services across the islands. You should follow and monitor local and international weather updates from the US National Hurricane Center and follow the advice of the local authorities. See Extreme weather and natural disasters.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

About FCDO travel advice

FCDO provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

This information is for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK. It is based on the UK government’s understanding of the current rules for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in the Cayman Islands set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, check the Cayman Islands Customs and Border Control.

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering the Cayman Islands.

Passport validity requirements

To enter the Cayman Islands, your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay. 

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

You will be denied entry if you try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.

You can enter the Cayman Islands for up to 30 days without a UK passport if you have photo identification and a certified copy of a UK birth certificate, or a naturalisation certificate.

Visa requirements

You can visit the Cayman Islands without a visa for up to 6 months, for business or tourism.

After 6 months, you can apply for an extension – applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.

To work, study or request residency, check the Cayman Islands immigration requirements. It is not usually possible to apply for a work permit while you are in the country as a visitor.

Checks at border control

Border officials may ask to see a return or onward ticket and proof of funds.

Vaccine requirements

For details about medical entry requirements and recommended vaccinations, see TravelHealthPro’s Cayman Islands guide.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of the Cayman Islands. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty. This includes gambling appliances.

Check customs regulations if you want to import pets, plants, or animal or plant products.

It is illegal to take some marine and animal specimens from the islands. If in doubt, check with the customs office before buying such items.

Taking money into the Cayman Islands

You must make a customs declaration if you bring more than 10,000 in Cayman Island dollars or the same amount in foreign cash.

Terrorism

There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.    

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 how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in the Cayman Islands

Although there is no recent history of terrorism in the Cayman Islands, attacks cannot be ruled out.

Crime

Protecting your belongings

Crime rates are low, but you should take sensible precautions to protect your personal safety and belongings:

  • use a hotel safe or a safety deposit box for valuables where possible
  • take particular care of your passport as you cannot renew or replace it in the Cayman Islands
  • keep a copy of your passport’s photo page in a separate place
  • report the theft or loss of your passport immediately to the police and get a written report

Laws and cultural differences

The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory and has its own laws.

Sunday trading

Religion and family are of significant cultural importance across the Cayman Islands. Many shops, banks and services close on Sundays.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

There are harsh penalties for those caught with drugs of any kind. Penalties can include imprisonment for up to 35 years, and fines of unlimited amounts.

LGBT+ travellers

Same-sex civil partnerships were legalised in 2020. Hotels and resorts are generally welcoming, regardless of sexual orientation. Local attitudes can be conservative and some people may not approve of same-sex couples showing affection in public.

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism

Swimming safety

See information on water safety on holiday from the Royal Life Saving Society.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in the Cayman Islands, see information on driving abroad and check the driving regulations and other legal requirements you need to be aware of.

You can use a UK photocard driving licence to drive in the Cayman Islands. If you still have a paper driving licence, you may need to update it to a photocard licence or get the correct version of the international driving permit (IDP) as well.

Hire car companies often have stricter requirements for their customers, such as a year of driving experience or a higher minimum age.

Drink-driving is a serious offence in the Cayman Islands. If you are tested and found to have more than 0.07% of alcohol in your system (slightly lower than the limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland), you may get a fine and possible imprisonment for 6 months.

Minibuses are currently the only form of local public transport. They run only on the main routes. For other journeys, taxis are available, or you can hire a car.

Air travel

Airlines have early check-in times for passengers and luggage, as all luggage is subject to being hand-searched. Check your recommended check-in time with your airline.

You will get an immigration card when you arrive which you must keep for your departure.  

Extreme weather and natural disasters

Find out what you can do to prepare for and respond to extreme weather and natural hazards.

See guidance for how to stay safe and how to contact local authorities on the Cayman Islands Emergency website.

The National Emergency Notification System (NENS) is a free mobile app launched by the Cayman Islands Government that delivers emergency alerts by email, SMS and app notification. Residents and visitors can download the app on their mobile devices.

Hurricanes

The hurricane season in the Cayman Islands normally runs from June to November. You should:

Earthquakes

Earthquakes are a risk in the Cayman Islands. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency website has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

The largest recent earthquake in the Cayman Islands was in 2020. It struck southeast of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman at magnitude 7.7. It caused sinkholes and aftershocks but no serious damage or injuries.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Call 911 and ask for an ambulance.

Contact your insurance company quickly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Vaccine recommendations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip:

See what health risks you’ll face in the Cayman Islands, including:

  • Zika virus
  • dengue

Medication

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

Healthcare facilities in the Cayman Islands

There are 3 well-equipped hospitals on Grand Cayman, 2 in the capital, George Town, and one in the Eastern part of the island. A smaller facility, Faith Hospital, on Cayman Brac, can cope with most routine medical and dental problems.

Treatment is expensive and more serious cases will normally be stabilised in the Cayman Islands before being transferred to the USA.

Hospital treatment

For non-urgent medical assistance, contact:

  • Grand Cayman Hospital: (345) 949 8600
  • Cayman Brac Hospital: (345) 948 2225

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory, so there is no British Embassy, and the Cayman Islands authorities will support you if you need help.

Emergency services in the Cayman Islands

Telephone: 911 (ambulance, fire, police, police marine unit)

Marine emergencies

Divers hyperbaric chamber: 911

The Royal Cayman Islands Coast Guard: (345) 649 6722

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Risk information for British companies

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating in the Cayman Islands on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

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