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St Helena (British Overseas Territory)

Flag of St Helena
Still current at: 07 January 2011
Updated: 10 November 2010

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments throughout. The overall level of the advice has not changed; there are currently no travel restrictions in place in St Helena.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)

Travel advice for this country

Travel Summary

  • St Helena is a British Overseas Territory and the local people are British nationals. There is no formal British diplomatic or consular representation in St Helena and the local authorities deal with all requests for consular assistance. See General - Consular Assistance.

  • 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.

  • An adequate standard of medical care is available on St Helena but it is not free. Costs can be high and medical evacuations depend on the schedule of the RMS St Helena. See Health.

  • You must take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. See the General - Insurance.

Safety and security

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  
The level of crime on St Helena is low.

Safety and Security - Local Travel
Travel to St Helena is by sea only. There is no air access to the Island and all transport/supplies are brought in by sea. In order to reach the shore from the RMS St Helena or any other ship you have to be transferred by small boat. Heavy swells or bad weather can make this hazardous.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Road Travel
Many roads on St Helena are single lanes. Vehicles travelling downhill are required to give way to those travelling uphill. Driving is on the left-hand side on the road when there is one. The drink drive laws are strictly applied with a limit of 50 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath.

See our Driving Abroad page.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Sea Travel  
It is only possible to travel to the Island by sea.  The Royal Mail Ship (RMS) St Helena is the only means of access. For further information please contact Andrew Weir Shipping, who are currently responsible for running the shipping service. Contact details: Andrew Weir Shipping Ltd, Dexter House, 2 Royal Mint Court, London. EC3N 4XX.Telephone No. 020 7575 6480 or our Fax No. 020 7575 6200 or refer to the RMS website at

Due to limited harbour facilities the RMS has to anchor offshore and passengers are ferried by smaller local boats to the landing steps. In heavy swells or bad weather, this transfer can be hazardous. See our River and Sea Safety page.

Local laws and customs

You should not become involved with drugs of any kind.  Possession or importation of even small quantities attracts severe penalties. 

Consuming alcohol in public in the Jamestown area is not allowed.

See our Your Trip page.

Entry requirements

Entry Requirements - Visas
If you visit the island, you will be allowed to stay up to 90 days, with evidence that you are in possession of a return ticket, or funds for a return ticket, valid medical insurance, have adequate accommodation plans, and are able to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds for your stay.

There is an entry fee charge of £12 for up to four days, £14 up to ten days, £16 up to 21 days, £20 up to 60 days, and £25 up to 90 days. If you wish to stay for longer than 90 days you should apply to the St Helena Immigration Control Board for a Residents Permit.

If you require a South African visa it is essential that it is obtained before your visit and that it is valid for the date of your planned return journey. There are no facilities to issue international visas on the island.

Entry Requirements - Passport validity

Visitors to St. Helena must have at least six months validity left on their passport. The Immigration Service in St. Helena only deals with issuing and renewing of British Overseas Territory Citizen (BOTC) passports and Emergency passports.

Any request for a British passport is processed through the UK Home Office. Given the time required for mail to travel to and from the Island, this means that the issuing and renewal will take a minimum of two months.

Entry Requirements - Travelling with children

If you intend to send an unaccompanied minor to St Helena you should seek advice from Andrew Weir Shipping which is currently responsible for running the shipping service.

Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.


An adequate standard of medical care is available on St Helena, but visitors are charged a fee for medical treatment. A UK Resident is  required to pay for emergency medical and dental treatment. Prescription fees are currently £6.25 an item. As a guide, an emergency major surgical operation in St Helena would cost between £412.65 and £619.50. Hospital ward charges are £49.35per a day.

Fees for non-UK Residents are much higher, with prescription fees costing £21 per item. An emergency major surgical operation would cost between £2,100 and £3,675 with hospital ward charges being £157.50 per a day.

Exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. See our HIV and AIDS page. 

Seek medical advice before travelling to St Helena 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 page.


General - Insurance
You must take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. Check any exclusion, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. See our Travel Insurance page.

If things do go wrong when you are overseas then see our When Things Go Wrong page.

General - Registration
Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.

General - Consular Assistance
St Helena is a British Overseas Territory and as such there is no formal Consular Representation. All consular protection services are delivered by the St Helena Police Force. 

General - Money
The local currency in St. Helena is the Saint Helena Pound which is linked at parity to the British Pound (Sterling). Notes and coins are similar in denomination and appearance to their UK counterparts. Banking services on St Helena and Ascension Island are provided by the Bank of St. Helena. For more details about the Bank of St. Helena and the services it offers please refer to their website at Bank of St. Helena.

Credit Cards are not widely used on the island, although a few outlets and business will accept them. Note that you will be charged a commission (variable rate) for using your credit card. Bank of St. Helena can advance cash against Credit or Debit Cards. Please note that all cash advances are subject to charges and you will need identification bearing a photograph and signature. The Bank of St. Helena also offers foreign exchange facilities.

Travellers’ cheques are recommended for visitors and can be encashed at the Bank. It is necessary to change back any surplus local currency before leaving, as it is not possible to exchange St Helenian notes or coins once back in the UK. St Helena currency can however be used on Ascension Island and on the RMS St Helena.

General - Contact Details

Diplomatic Representation

The principal points of contact are Overseas Territories Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Governor's Office, Jamestown, St Helena.

UK Representative for St Helena
Mrs Kedell M Worboys
Suite G4
7 Portland Place
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7031 0314
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7031 0315

Commercial Representative for St Helena
Mr Adam Kossowski
PO Box 2115
Cape Town
South Africa
Tel: + 27 (0)21 6837430
Fax: + 27 (0)21 6837430

Office of Tourism, The Canister, Jamestown, St Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean, STHL 1ZZ – tel: 00 290 2158; fax: 00 290 2159
Office Hours: GMT: (Local Time = GMT): Mon-Fri: 08:30-12:30 and 13:00-16:00.

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