Jamaica travel guide
The famous birthplace of Bob Marley, reggae and the Rastafari movement, Jamaica’s cultural offering to the world is far greater than its size might suggest. With varying degrees of success, beach resorts around the world have attempted to emulate the Jamaican seaside vibe, but once you’ve felt the sand between your toes on this Caribbean island, you’ll accept no substitutes.
But it’s so much more than a beach destination. Beyond the swaying palms and white sands lie misty coffee plantations, the epic Blue Mountains, raging rivers prime for rafting and forests alive with exotic species. It’s not all wild. Manicured parks and gardens are a Jamaican speciality, and you can spot exuberant clusters of tropical blooms on any street corner of this fertile island.
At the heart of it all, though, is music. From bass-heavy beats pumping out of Kingston’s frenetic nightclubs to harmonious choirs singing in village churches, it is in the air wherever you go. If song satisfies Jamaica’s sensual needs, food and drink tend to its soul. Culinary delights range from gourmet seafood in award-winning restaurants to street-side jerk chicken washed down with a chilled can of Red Stripe. You can taste some of the world’s best rum and coffee here, not to mention a sumptuous range of tropical fruits.
Negril and Montego Bay are Jamaica’s two main coastal resorts, with exquisite sands, lively clubs, fine restaurants and world-class golf. And then there’s Kingston, the island’s spirited capital and home of the island’s music scene, where grand Georgian plazas and elegant mansions are serenaded by soca rhythms and the pulsating buzz of the city. Sleepy fishing villages offer a glimpse of Jamaica’s quieter side, but ultimately, whether it’s high-octane adventure or slow travel you’re looking for, you’ll soon be seduced by the rhythm of life on this irresistible island.
10,992 sq km (4,244 sq miles).
2,881,000 (World Bank estimate 2016).
266 sq km.
HM King Charles III since 2022, represented locally by Governor-General Sir Patrick Linton Allen since 2009.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness since 2016.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Jamaica 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.
Test providers can be found on the Visit Jamaica website.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Jamaica.
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 will need to self-isolate until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment in Jamaica.
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 Jamaica
Anyone with colds, coughs and flu symptoms is required to stay at home. Anyone who has tested positive for COVID must self-isolate until fully recovered.
Public places and services
On entering locations open to the public, you are required to wash or sanitise your hands. Mask wearing is no longer mandatory, but is recommended.
Events must limit the number of persons in attendance to below 70% of the normal capacity of the venue.
Certain restrictions may apply to hospitals, nursing homes, infirmaries and correctional facilities.
Hotels and private rentals are open in Jamaica. Travellers are advised to confirm arrangements before travelling.
Healthcare in Jamaica
If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should contact the Jamaican Ministry of Health on +1-888-ONE-LOVE (663-5683) or on the other numbers available.
Isolation facilities are operational at all public hospitals, with a specialist facility available at the National Chest Hospital. Quarantine facilities will be provided by the Government of Jamaica. For additional information check the Jamaican Ministry of Health website.
For contact details for 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 Jamaica.
See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.
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 your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
For further information visit the Jamaican Ministry of Health website.
Crime levels are high, particularly in and around certain areas of Kingston and Montego Bay. Gang violence and shootings are common, and while these incidents are generally confined to inner city neighbourhoods there have been recent incidents outside of these where the risk of becoming a collateral victim does exist. Be especially cautious if you’re travelling to West Kingston, Grant’s Pen, August Town, Harbour View, Spanish Town and certain parts of Montego Bay, including Flankers, Barrett Town, Norwood, Glendevon, Rose Heights and Mount Salem.
The motive for most attacks on tourists is robbery. There are mobile police patrols, but you should take steps to protect yourself and your belongings. Be vigilant at all times, even if you’re staying with friends and family. Don’t walk alone in isolated areas or on deserted beaches, even during the day. Take particular care when withdrawing money from ATMs. Don’t carry large amounts of cash or wear eye-catching jewellery. Try to vary which restaurants you use. Using the same place too often might make you a target for thieves. Avoid using buses at night.
Most hotels and resorts are well guarded, but robberies can occur. Follow hotel security procedures. Use hotel safe, lock windows and doors and report suspicious activity. If you are in residential accommodation, make sure proper door locks and window grilles are fitted and consider employing a guard and fitting a house alarm. Gated and guarded compounds are normally the safest type of accommodation.
Criminals have targeted visiting British nationals and those returning to resettle permanently in Jamaica. Before returning to resettle, seek advice from the Jamaican High Commission in London and the local Jamaican Information Service. The Jamaican Constabulary Force have produced a safety and security guide for returning citizens.
There have been some violent incidents, including armed robbery, murder and rape. There is also a risk of sexual assault against tourists. You should maintain a high level of personal safety awareness, including at popular events. The FCDO has guidance for women travelling abroad that may be helpful.
Don’t resist in the event of an attempted robbery. If you need the police in an emergency, call 119.
Security operations are ongoing and further activity including curfews could occur with little or no notice. You should exercise caution if you’re travelling to affected areas, particularly if travelling at night, and follow the advice of the local authorities, including any restrictions. These may also result in road closures or travel delays, and the operating hours of some businesses may be subject to change.
As part of security enhancement measures, the Government of Jamaica may impose a State of Emergency (SoE) or other measure with little warning. Such measures allow the military to support the police in joint security operations in response to recent violence and shooting incidents. Police and military checkpoints may be established on roads from time to time, and full cooperation with security forces is recommended.
Public order incidents and demonstrations can occur across Jamaica, and may cause significant disruption to traffic and public transportation. You should avoid all demonstrations; they have the potential to turn violent and are often used by criminals as cover for robbery and theft.
The Jamaican police may impose curfews at short notice for specific towns or areas.
Travel to and from Norman Manley International Airport
There have been outbreaks of violence in recent years in the Mountain View area on the route between Kingston and Norman Manley International Airport. Therefore, you should avoid the Mountain View Avenue route and use the alternative signposted Humming Bird route via South Camp Road instead.
The British High Commission has previously received reports of British nationals being robbed when travelling to private accommodation from Norman Manley International Airport. Be especially vigilant when travelling from the airport to your accommodation.
Travellers can expect delays and cancellation of flights in and out of Jamaica at short notice. These can be as a result of poor weather conditions or operational problems.
You can drive in Jamaica using a UK driving licence for up to 6 months. If you aren’t familiar with Kingston, don’t drive in the city. If you get lost, you risk putting yourself and your passengers in personal danger. Some hire cars and minibuses don’t have seatbelts fitted in the rear. Check with the hire car company before you arrive.
Road accidents and fatalities are common. Many roads are badly maintained with poor signage. Roads in rural areas are narrow, winding and poorly lit at night. Speeding and drink-driving are common.
Drive defensively, and take great care on the roads, whether you are in a vehicle or a pedestrian. Drivers and front seat passengers must wear seat belts at all times. Keep the windows up except when passing through a police checkpoint and doors locked. Be particularly vigilant when stopping at junctions or traffic lights. Criminals are known to use techniques which distract drivers to gain access to vehicles to steal handbags and other items of value.
Motorcycle riders must wear a helmet.
Hurricanes, tropical storms and road-works can temporarily block roads. Check your route in advance.
Only use Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) approved taxis or minibuses for excursions, airport transfers and sightseeing. Don’t hail a taxi in the street and don’t share a taxi with strangers. Most hotels and resorts have assigned JTB drivers who carry photo ID and display a prominent blue JTB sticker on the front windscreen.
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Jamaica, 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.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s illegal to smoke marijuana (‘ganja’) in Jamaica. There are penalties for all drug offences, including those involving ganja. Every year many British nationals are arrested for attempting to traffic ganja and other drugs.
In April 2015, legislation came into force to decriminalise possession of small amounts of ganja. Possession of up to 2 ounces will continue to be illegal, but will be punishable by a fine of JMD500 which is payable within 30 days. Severe penalties will remain in place for other drug related offences, including attempting to export narcotics.
All prison sentences are served in Jamaica. Prison conditions are harsh. Pack all luggage yourself and don’t carry anything through customs for anyone else.
Local attitudes towards the LGBT community are mostly conservative throughout the Caribbean. In Jamaica, certain same-sex sexual activity is illegal. In practice these laws are rarely enforced. However, the attitude of many Jamaicans to the LGBT community is hostile. LGBT travellers should be mindful of local attitudes and be aware that public displays of affection may attract unwanted and negative attention. Public displays of affection (such as hand-holding or kissing) between opposite or same-sex couples are uncommon. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
This page has information on travelling to Guatemala.
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 Jamaica set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Jamaica’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.
Restrictions in response to coronavirus
Testing and screening on arrival
The requirement for travellers to present a negative COVID test prior to travel ended on 15 April. All travellers arriving in Jamaica may still be tested for COVID-19 if assessed as high-risk as a result of exhibiting symptoms, exposure to people who have tested positive, belonging to a high-risk group or other risk factors. Travellers may be screened for symptoms at the airport.
Regular entry requirements
British nationals don’t need a visa to visit Jamaica. Visitors are usually granted entry for a maximum of 90 days.
The date by which you must leave Jamaica will be stamped in your passport. If you wish to extend your stay beyond this date you will need to apply to the Jamaican Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency. Overstaying without the proper authority can result in detention and/or a fine.
For further information about entry requirements, see the website of the Jamaican High Commission.
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry to and exit from Jamaica. If your passport has been stolen you do not need to obtain a police report unless it is for insurance purposes. If you’re travelling via the USA using an ETD, you’ll need to get a US visa as ETDs are not valid for entry into the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP).
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Arrival and departure taxes
Arrival and departure taxes are usually included in the cost of your ticket, but this isn’t always the case for charter flights. Departure tax is US $35 for air passengers. Check with your carrier if you’re unsure whether the tax has been included in your ticket. Landing fees for cruise ship passengers are usually included in the cost of the cruise.
You can bring local currency (Jamaican dollars) into the country. However, you must declare on your customs form all currencies and monetary instruments over the value of US$10,000.
Personal imports of meat and dairy products from the UK are banned. Customs officials may search baggage and will destroy banned foodstuffs.
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.
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).
The Jamaican authorities have introduced new measures in relation to coronavirus. See Staying during coronavirus
Mosquito-borne diseases, such as Zika, dengue fever and chikungunya have been confirmed in Jamaica. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
UK health authorities have classified Jamaica as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.
Dengue fever is endemic to Latin America and the Caribbean and can occur throughout the year.
The 2013 UNAIDS Report on the global AIDS epidemic estimates that around 28,000 adults aged 15 or over in Jamaica were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 1.7% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.
The standard of medical facilities, both private and government operated, can vary throughout Jamaica and may not meet UK standards; getting access to medication can be challenging.
Medical treatment can be expensive with doctors and hospitals often expecting immediate cash payment for health services. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 110 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 the Caribbean normally runs from June to November. You should monitor local and international weather updates from 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.
Exercise caution in areas close to swamps, rivers, gullies and mangrove areas. Crocodile habitats can be displaced, particularly during heavy rains.
Jamaica is prone to earthquakes. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see 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 & 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.
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.
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.