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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 Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, is represented by Governor Martyn Roper since 2018.

Head of government:

Premier Alden McLaughlin since 2013.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for the Cayman Islands 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 the Cayman Islands.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. 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 will need to remain in quarantine in the place you are staying, until you test negative (unless you require hospital treatment). You will be contacted by the Cayman Islands’ public health authority.

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 the Cayman Islands

Inter-Island flights continue to operate.

Public spaces and services

The following restrictions are expected to remain in place until 22nd November 2021, although this is subject to review:

  • Group gatherings have been reduced to 250 outdoors, and 100 indoors, with some exemptions
  • Masks are compulsory on public transport, including taxis
  • Masks must be worn in indoor public places, where 6 feet distance cannot be maintained
  • Social distancing of at least 6 feet must be maintained in all public places, unless people are from the same household
  • Gyms, fitness centres and other indoor fitness areas cannot permit more than fifty percent of their legal capacity at any time when sporting activities are taking place. No-one other than employees can enter the gym, fitness centre or indoor fitness area if they have not either 1) at least fourteen days prior completed an approved vaccine course, proof of which must be submitted via a vaccine certificate or 2) presented the owner/operator with a medical certificate showing they have received a negative result of an approved test no more than forty-eight hours prior to the date of the sporting activity, which specifies the name and address of the approved laboratory where the test was performed
  • Parades, carnivals and/or processions may not be held, unless permitted under the regulations.
  • Those renting any shared scuba or snorkelling equipment must register with the Department of Environmental Health
  • The use of a hookah, shisha or water pipe is not permitted in places of business
  • There are also new restrictions for visiting health care facilities, residential home care facilities, and detention centres

For further information, check the Cayman Islands Government website. You can find full details about the restrictions, including exemptions, from the Cayman Islands Government.

Any breach of the regulations will be subject to a CI$10,000 fine or two years imprisonment, or both.

Workplaces are generally open, but employees are encouraged to work from home where possible. Educational facilities are mainly open, but may be impacted where there are cases of coronavirus detected. Leisure facilities and businesses, such as restaurants, bars, gyms, spas, swimming pools are open, but subject to the aforementioned restrictions. Public transport is also operating.

Healthcare in the Cayman Islands

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 the Cayman Islands.

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

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Cayman Islands

The UK Government has been supplying vaccines to the people of the UK’s Overseas Territories. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the UK authority responsible for assessing the safety, quality and efficacy of vaccines. MHRA has temporarily authorised under Regulation 174 of Human Medicines Regulations 2012, the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for supply in the UK, Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories for use in the Cayman Islands. Further information on the vaccine programme in the Cayman Islands can be found at https://www.hsa.ky/public-health/coronavirus/.

Finance

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

Further information

If you need urgent assistance, see Emergency assistance. More information is available on the Cayman Islands website.

Help and support

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Crime

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

  • don’t leave valuables lying about.
  • use a hotel safe or a safety deposit box where possible.
  • take particular care of your passport as this can’t be renewed or replaced in the Cayman Islands.
  • report the theft or loss of your passport immediately to the police (from whom a written report must be obtained).

In a genuine emergency, the Cayman Islands Passport Office may be able to issue an Emergency Passport.

Road travel

Minibuses are 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. Driving is on the left, as in the UK. Observe the speed limits, wear your seat belt at all times and don’t drink and drive. It’s illegal to use a mobile phone while driving, offenders face a mandatory fine of CI$150.

Air travel

Airlines require earlier check-in times for passengers and luggage. Both hold-loaded and carry-on luggage is subject to being hand-searched. Allow extra time at the airport and check the recommended check-in time for your flight with your airline. Travellers must ensure they comply with local immigration requirements, eg, retention of immigration card issued on arrival for departure.

Emergency assistance

The Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory so doesn’t have formal British consular representation. All emergency assistance needed by British nationals is delivered by the Cayman Islands government.

In an emergency dial 911.

If you’re a victim of crime, contact the Royal Cayman Islands Police on 911.

Birth and Death registration enquiries:

Telephone: + (1 345) 946 7922

email: cigenreg@gov.ky

You can get information about marriage requirements in the Cayman Islands from the Passport and Corporate Services Office:

Telephone: + (1 345) 943 7678

email: passport&corporate@gov.ky

Visa information:

Telephone: + (1 345) 949 8344

email: visa.queries@gov.ky

Passport Information: telephone: + (1 345) 943 7678

email: passport&corporate@gov.ky

Immigration information is available from the Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman Department:

telephone: + (1 345) 949 8344

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in the Cayman Islands, 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.

The Cayman Islands is a separate legal jurisdiction to the United Kingdom and has its own laws.

There are harsh penalties for those caught with drugs of any kind. 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.

Observe customs regulations on the import and export 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 islands. If in doubt, check with the customs office before buying, or attempting to import or export such items.

In 2019 a judicial ruling legalised marriage between same sex couples but the Cayman Islands Government appealed the decision. The Court of Appeal overturned the ruling and an appeal was heard by the Privy Council in February 2021. The judgment is awaited. Same sex marriage is no longer legal in the Cayman Islands, however legislation was passed in September 2020 legalising civil partnerships. Hotels and resorts are generally welcoming, regardless of sexual orientation. Local attitudes can be conservative and some people may not approve of public displays of affection between same-sex couples. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

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

The authorities in Cayman Islands set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to the Cayman Islands

The airports in the Cayman Islands are now open to flights however there are few scheduled inbound and outbound international passenger flights. British Airways now offer regular flights to the UK via the Bahamas and Cayman Airways offers a service to the USA, Jamaica and Honduras.

Only people who have been pre-authorised may enter the Cayman Islands at this time. All travellers must apply to travel using the Travel Cayman Portal. All those who are 5 years old and above must take a pre-arrival PCR test. Vaccinated travellers, Caymanians, residents and work permit holders, and those with close ties to the Cayman Islands (such as a child of a Caymanian) are able to travel to the Cayman Islands.

The Cayman Islands are currently not open to unvaccinated tourists and cruise ship tourism.

All travellers are subject to mandatory quarantine upon arrival in the Cayman Islands. Those who are fully vaccinated (and can verify their vaccination status) must quarantine for 7 days. Those who are vaccinated, but who cannot verify their vaccination status, must quarantine for 10 days. Unvaccinated travellers must quarantine for 14 days. Travellers may quarantine in a government facility, pre-approved residence, quarantine facility, or a hotel or other tourist accommodation. All travellers must receive a negative PCR test to leave quarantine. We recommend that you consult the Cayman Islands Government website for further information before travelling.

From 16 March 2020 the Cayman Islands Government imposed a ban on cruise ships docking in the Cayman Islands, which remains in place.

Cargo flights, couriers and air ambulance services continue to operate as usual.

Travel helplines are available to offer advice and assistance to those with an urgent or compassionate need to travel:

Inter-Island flights will continue.

Demonstrating your COVID-19 status

The Cayman Islands will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status. The Cayman Islands Government website also contains information on ‘Demonstrating your COVID-19 status’.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

For information on visa requirements, please consult the Cayman Islands Government website.

Passport validity

You must hold a valid passport to enter the Cayman Islands. Your passport should be valid for at least the duration of your intended stay in the Cayman Islands. Check the Cayman Islands Government website for further details.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from the Cayman Islands.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for the Cayman Islands on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in the Cayman Islands.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each overseas territory 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.

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 overseas territories. 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 local territory government.

If you need to get further supplies of your prescribed medicine whilst you are in the Cayman Islands, you will need to visit a registered physician, who will either countersign your UK prescription or issue a new one. It is likely that you will have to pay for your medicine up front then submit a claim for reimbursement through your travel insurance.

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).

Health risks

Cases of Chikungunya virus have been confirmed in the Cayman Islands. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Medical care

There are three well-equipped hospitals on Grand Cayman, two 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 Territory before being transferred to Miami.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad. Your insurance should include air ambulance, third country (USA) medical treatment and repatriation.

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.

Hurricanes

The hurricane season in the Cayman Islands normally runs from June to November. Monitor local and international weather updates from the Cayman Islands National Weather Service and the US National Hurricane Centre, and follow the advice of the local authorities including any evacuation orders.

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

A number of earthquakes have struck the Cayman Islands in recent years. The largest, of magnitude 7.7, struck approximately 75 miles ESE of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman on 28th January 2020. A number of sinkholes appeared and large number of aftershocks but no serious damage or injuries.

All major credit cards are accepted in hotels, restaurants and local shops. The local currency is the Cayman Islands Dollar (CI$) but transactions using non domestic credit cards will be charged in US$. The US dollar is widely accepted throughout the islands. The CI$ is fixed to the US dollar at $1.25 US Dollars to $1.00 Cayman Islands Dollar.

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 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. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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