|Still current at: 07 January 2011
Updated: 31 October 2010
This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Travel Summary (End of Hurricane Tomas). The overall level of the advice has not changed; there are no travel restrictions in place in Barbados.
(see travel advice legal disclaimer)
Safety and Security - Terrorism
There is a low threat from terrorism, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. See our terrorism abroad page.
Safety and Security - Crime
Around 250,000 British tourists visit Barbados each year and the vast majority of visits are trouble-free. Barbados is a friendly and welcoming country and crime rates are relatively low. However, despite the relaxed atmosphere, incidents of violent crime including murder do occur. There has been an increase in incidents of serious attacks on foreign visitors, including armed robbery, as well as more opportunist theft of wallets, handbags and personal possessions. A number of assaults on tourists have taken place in the Holetown area on the west coast of Barbados during October 2010. Two particularly serious incidents happened during daylight hours. You should exercise caution when walking alone off the busy main roads and on quiet beach access paths.
You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as you would in the UK and ensure that your living accommodation is secure. Avoid walking alone in isolated areas, including beaches, particularly after dark. Do not carry large amounts of cash or jewellery. Valuables and travel documents should be left, where possible, in safety deposit boxes and hotel safes.Safety and Security - Political Situation
You must obtain a local temporary driving licence from any police station at a cost of BD$100 (US $50) valid for 12 months or at a cost of BD$10 valid for two months You will need to produce your UK/EU licence to obtain the local one.
Motorists drive on the left in Barbados. There is a high incidence of road accidents, including fatalities, for the size of the island. Most roads are paved but, with the exception of the main highways, many have potholes. In rural areas they are narrow, usually unlit and often have obscured side roads and blind corners. Road surfaces lack grip and become very slippery when wet. Speed limits are posted in kilometres per hour (40, 60 and 80 kph maximum) and are lower than the UK. Road signs are poor. Vehicle directional indicators are used intermittently; exercise caution, particularly on roundabouts. Pedestrians walk on the roads because of a lack of pavements. In the event of an accident, leave your vehicle where it comes to rest and call the police.
Standard taxi fares exist for some destinations but not all, and taxis are not metered. It is sensible to clarify the fare in Barbados dollars with the driver before beginning the journey. You can often pay in US Dollars (fixed exchange rate: $2 Barbados Dollars = $1 US Dollar) as well as Barbados Dollars.
See our driving abroad page.
You should note that there are severe penalties for all drug offences. Pack all luggage yourself and do not carry anything through customs for anyone else.
You should be aware that it is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing.
Barbados, in common with much of the English speaking Caribbean, has a very conservative attitude to homosexuality and homophobic views are unfortunately common. Contrary to popular belief, homosexuality itself is not illegal although sodomy remains a criminal offence. However, the penalties set out in the 1992 Sexual Offences Act concerning sexual relations between members of the same sex are rarely enforced when this takes place in private.
There is no overtly public gay scene in Barbados and no gay and lesbian publications. However, many gay Barbadian couples are known and live together without problems by maintaining a low profile. Whilst there are few visibly active local pressure groups, blogging and debate on the internet is becoming more common.
See our your trip page.
Entry Requirements - Visas
UK passport holders do not need visas to enter Barbados for visits up to six months. But you are normally only granted 28 days entry on arrival. You should note that overstaying without permission from the authorities is an offence, as is taking any form of employment without a work permit. Visa extensions and work permits must be applied for at the Immigration Department, Careenage House, The Wharf, Bridgetown.
Entry requirements may change from time to time and should be checked with the Barbados High Commission in London.Entry Requirements - Passport validity
Private medical insurance is essential as medical treatment in Barbados can be very expensive. Local private clinics provide good on the spot treatment with minor surgery in some cases. State hospital can cope with many surgical requirements but serious cases that require specialist treatment will mean emergency evacuation (usually to USA)
Dengue fever is common across the Caribbean and can occur throughout the year. Dengue is a mosquito-borne infection that can cause a feverish illness associated with headache, muscle aches and pains, and rash. Some cases of dengue are severe. Dengue can be prevented by avoiding being bitten by the disease-carrying mosquitoes that feed predominately during daylight hours. For more information on prevention, see the National Travel Health Network and Centre website: http://www.nathnac.org/pro/factsheets/dengue.htm.
In the 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 2,200 adults aged 15 or over in Barbados were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at around 1.2% of the adult population. This compares to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. See HIV and AIDS.
You should seek medical advice before travelling to Barbados and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) and NHS Scotland’s Fit for Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.See our travel health and Pandemic and Avian Influenza pages.
Natural Disasters - Hurricanes
The hurricane season in the Caribbean normally runs from June to November. You should monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation. You can also access the US National Hurricane Centre for updates. Please also see Tropical Cyclones for more detailed information about what to do if you are caught up in a hurricane.
General - Insurance
We recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel (covering theft and unexpected losses or expenses (e.g. stolen bank/credit cards and cash, lost luggage, cancelled/missed flights) and medical insurance before travelling. This should cover medical evacuation by air ambulance. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. For more general information see travel insurance.
If things do go wrong when you are overseas see When Things Go Wrong.
The passport service for British nationals in Barbados has now moved to the UK Passport Service Centre for the Americas and Caribbean in Washington D.C. (http://ukinusa.fco.gov.uk/passports).
If you are applying for a renewal of your UK passport and you are in Barbados, your application, with the appropriate passport fee plus a return courier fee of US $21, should be sent direct to:
The UK Passport Service for the Americas and Caribbean
19 Observatory Circle, NW
Washington, DC 20008
The British High Commission in Bridgetown will continue to issue Emergency Passports for people who have lost their passports and who have an urgent need to travel to the UK.