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World Travel Guide > Guides > Caribbean > Montserrat

Montserrat travel guide

About Montserrat

Montserrat is a quiet, laid-back island where you can hike, birdwatch, snorkel, or enjoy a couple of drinks over a game of dominoes.

The tiny Caribbean island was dealt a devastating blow when the Soufrière Hills volcano erupted massively in 1995 and again in 1997. Almost half the island was rendered uninhabitable, including the capital, Plymouth, which today stands half-submerged in volcanic ash and mud. The effects were not limited to physical destruction. Montserrat's economy was severely damaged, and around two-thirds of the 12,000 population left the island.

The volcano remains active and much of the island is still out of bounds, but this in itself is a draw for tourists looking for something beyond the usual Caribbean experience of beaches and luxury resorts.

Key facts

Area:

102 sq km (39.4 sq miles).

Population:

5,154 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

51.3 per sq km.

Capital:

Plymouth is still officially the capital, but was mostly destroyed by pyroclastic flows in August 1997. The government headquarters are currently in Brades. There are plans to turn Little Bay into the new capital.

Government:

Self-governing British Overseas Territory.

Head of state:

HM Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor Andrew Pearce since 2018.

Head of government:

Premier Easton Taylor-Farrell since 2019.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

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

International travel

Commercial flights to and from Montserrat remain very limited. Check with your travel company for the latest information.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Montserrat.

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 may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

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 Montserrat

There are currently no restrictions on internal travel in Montserrat, although social distancing requirements have reduced the capacity on buses and taxis. The wearing of a face covering is mandatory in all publicly accessible buildings, including banks, shops, and government offices etc, and remains mandatory on public transport and planes.

All curfew restrictions have been lifted.

Accommodation

Hotels are not currently open, as entry restrictions prohibit touristic visits.

Public places and spaces

Most businesses are open as normal, although all must adhere to social distancing rules and wear a face covering, expect – except when eating and drinking in restaurants and bars. No gatherings of more than 50 people are allowed. Shops, restaurants and bars are allowed to open as normal, but must put in place and enforce a strict social distancing policy (six feet) and have approval from the Ministry of Health. Hairdressers, spas etc can only operate on an appointment basis.

Schools are now open.

Visit the government of Montserrat’s website for more information.

Healthcare in Montserrat

If you think you have COVID-19, flu or common cold symptoms, you are asked to call the “Flu Hotline” on +1 (664) 496-9724.

More information is available on the Government of Montserrat’s website and on the FCDO’s dedicated coronavirus travel advice page.

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 Montserrat.

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

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Montserrat

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 Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine for supply in the UK, Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories for use in Montserrat. Further information on the vaccine programme in Montserrat can be found at https://www.gov.ms/.

Finance

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

Further information

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

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 ad hoc flights from Antigua’s VC Bird International Airport to the John A. Osborne Airport in Montserrat: FLY MONTSERRAT and SVG Air. In normal circumstances they offer either 4 or 6 flights per day in each direction on 7-seater aircraft. Currently only around one or two flights per day are operating and there are frequent short notice cancellations due to insufficient passengers. Baggage space is limited. Oversized bags can’t be carried due to the small baggage hold. You must wear a face covering on flights to or from Montserrat.

Sea travel

The ferry service is currently suspended until further notice.

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. You must wear a face mask in minibuses and taxis.

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.

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.

Emergency assistance is provided by the Office of the Deputy Governor. More information is available on the Government of Montserrat’s website.

In the event of a natural disaster:

  • listen to ZJB (Radio Montserrat) on 88.3FM or 95.5FM
  • stay in contact with your local hosts
  • follow the advice given by ZJB

Victims of crime should contact the Royal Montserrat Police Force:

  • telephone 999 or +1 (664) 491 2555 or +1 (664) 491 2556

In a medical emergency (ambulance required) contact Fire, Search and Rescue: Telephone 911 or +1 (664) 491 7790

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

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 are tolerant of homosexual couples but 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. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

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

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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

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.

You should be prepared to show evidence that any medication you are carrying has been prescribed by a medical professional, if required by Customs officials on arrival.

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

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.

Cases of dengue fever have been confirmed in Montserrat. You should visit the NaTHNaC website for further information and advice on dengue fever and take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

If you suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems you could be affected by airborne dust, volcanic ash and gases (including sulphur dioxide SO2).

Medical facilities

Montserrat has a small hospital with limited facilities. Anyone needing specialist medical treatment may need to travel to a neighbouring island. Medical evacuations may require a negative COVID-19 test prior to approval to travel – test results sometimes take 2 – 4 days. 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.

There are two pharmacies in Montserrat; one is part of the Glendon hospital, +1 (664) 491 2552 and can fulfil prescriptions issued by licensed medical professionals. Lee’s Pharmacy is located in Brades, +1 (664) 491 3444.

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 rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

All travel to or from Montserrat is via Antigua. If you are travelling to Montserrat you must comply with Antiguan entry requirements, even when immediately transiting on to Montserrat. Check travel advice for Antigua before booking any flights to or from Montserrat.

Pre-arrival requirements

Resident permit holders, Montserratians (plus dependents) and a few limited other categories of people are allowed to enter Montserrat.

All intended arrivals must submit an Access Declaration Form at least 72 hours prior to booking your travel, and have evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result within 5 days prior to arrival. You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.

Upon submission of the form you will receive an email reply pre-clearing your entry. You must save this email. The airline might ask for it when you book your flight. You can find the form and other information, including a full list of categories of people who are allowed to enter Montserrat at this time, on the Government of Montserrat website.

Screening on arrival

The Government of Montserrat has introduced enhanced health screening and all new arrivals will need to self-isolate. Individuals who exhibit signs of the virus may face quarantining at the discretion of the Medical Officer. Technicians are required to take a PCR test after 5 days if staying longer than 5 days.

Non-resident technicians are required to be tested on arrival (in addition to providing a negative test before departure).

Further information, including the costs of these mandatory tests can be found here

Quarantine requirements

People that are eligible for entry, who have been fully vaccinated against COVID (two doses, two weeks at least since the second dose) need to spend 5 days in self-isolation / quarantine on arrival whether staying in their own home, a rented property or a government approved quarantine facility. A negative PCR test 3-4 days after arrival is required to confirm exit form self-isolation/ quarantine.

Unvaccinated passengers need to spend 14 days in quarantine and are required to have a negative PCR test before release from self-isolation.

Regular 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.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for exit only from Montserrat.

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 most cases this fee will be included in the purchase of a flight ticket, but you are advised to check with your airline before departing.

Yellow fever

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

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 volcanic Hazard Level System was introduced in 2014 for the Exclusion Zone. It rates the Level of Volcanic activity on a scale from 0-5; where 5 is the highest. This part of the island is divided into five zones A, B, C, F and V and two maritime zones E and W and permission to enter these zones depends on the level of volcanic activity. The current Hazard Level is 1 and allows unlimited access to Zones A, B, C and F. Permission is required for access to Zone V. At this level the maritime zones E and W can only be transited during daylight hours and no anchorage is allowed.

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 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.

Most major credit cards are accepted in (some, but not all) supermarkets, restaurants and hotels.

The local currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$). It’s fixed to the US dollar at 2.70 EC$ to 1 US dollar. US dollars are also widely accepted. The territory has limited but modern banking facilities.

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.

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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