The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends that comprehensive travel insurance, including medical insurance, is obtained before travelling to Jamaica. Irish citizens intending to travel to Jamaica should ensure that they have comprehensive medical insurance prior to departure as treatment in Jamaica often requires cash payment in advance. The Irish Government will not provide funds for medical expenses, hospital charges and emergency medical repatriation or for the repatriation of remains.
The state of emergency that was declared following civil unrest in Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine, was lifted on 23 July 2010. However, there still remains a probability of increased security force activity in these and other areas. Irish nationals should at all times follow the instructions of the Jamaican security forces, and should be aware of the generally high crime level in Kingston as outlined in the Crime, Safety and Security Section of this Travel Advice.
Safety and Security
CONSULAR ASSISTANCE FOR IRISH CITIZENS IN JAMAICA
The Embassy of Ireland to Canada is also responsible for relations with Jamaica. In the event of an emergency, or for advice and assistance, you may contact the Embassy of Ireland in Ottawa on +1 613 233 6281. Intending travellers are advised to register their details with the Department of Foreign Affairs.
CRIME, SAFETY & SECURITY
The capital of Jamaica, Kingston, is prone to high levels of crime and violence, including kidnapping. Incidences of gang violence are usually restricted to non-tourist areas of the inner city, however they can occur elsewhere. Impromptu demonstrations also take place in these areas. West Kingston and inner city areas should be avoided. It is recommended that travellers to Kingston should stay in established hotels away from the inner city.
Beware of pickpockets, muggers and bag snatchers, especially in areas where large numbers of people crowd together. Keep all valuables safe, secure and out of sight. Travellers are advised to carry just one credit card and a small amount of cash. Other money and credit cards should be left in a secure place such as a hotel safe. Leave copies of your passport, travel and insurance details with family or friends in Ireland. You may also want to keep a record of the details in your e-mail account, but check that your account is absolutely secure before you do this.
The motive for attacks on tourists is usually robbery. In such cases, do not attempt to resist. Travellers should avoid walking through the city at night, and avoid walking alone at any time. Travellers should avoid public buses and only use taxis regulated by the Jamaica Union of Travellers Association and ordered from a hotel for their sole use.
The Emergency Number for the Police in Jamaica is: 119
The Emergency Number for the Ambulance Service in Jamaica is: 110
Local Laws and Customs
The Jamaican authorities take the issue of illegal drugs in any quantity extremely seriously and possession of even a small amount of a prohibited substance can result in imprisonment. Conditions in Jamaican prisons are extremely harsh. The smoking of marijuana in Jamaica is not legal.
Natural Disasters and Climate
Visitors to Jamaica should be aware that the hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June to November each year, with frequent severe storm warnings during this time. You are advised to monitor local weather updates.
Additional Country Information
Irish citizens do not require a visa to enter Jamaica. It is advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.
The Department of Foreign Affairs encourages caution and vigilance when driving abroad. Traffic in Jamaica keeps to the left as in Ireland, however much of the road network, especially outside the main cities, is in a poor state of repair. Travellers should exercise caution when driving in Jamaica as the rate of road traffic accidents is high.
You must hold a full driving licence to drive in Jamaica. Ensure that you have a valid Irish or international licence. Drive within the speed limit and do not drink and drive.
The international code for dialling Jamaica from Ireland is 001. The code for Kingston is 876.
To call Ireland from Jamaica use the prefix 011 353. For example to call the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin dial: 011 353 1 408 2000.
If you are planning on using your mobile phone while in Jamaica, you should check with your service provider to ensure that your phone is capable of operating there. If you use a pre-paid mobile, such as Speakeasy, Ready to Go or Pay As You Go, ensure that you top it up with plenty of credit before you leave home. You may wish to register with your provider to allow you to top-up via the internet, through your mobile, or by text.
The Jamaican dollar is the official currency. €1 is worth approximately JAM$87. Irish ATM cards displaying the Maestro and Cirrus symbols can usually be used in ATMs in Jamaica, but travellers are advised to confirm this with their bank prior to departure. Caution should be exercised when using ATMs due to the crime problems in Jamaica discussed above. US Dollars are widely accepted but change may be returned in the form of Jamaican currency.
If your credit card has been lost or stolen, you should cancel the relevant card(s) immediately, to prevent illegal use by phoning the following numbers:
- AIB Credit Cards 011 353 1 668 5500
- Bank of Ireland Credit Cards 011 353 56 775 7007
- Permanent TSB Credit Cards 011 353 1 215 7333
- MBNA Credit Cards: 011 353 71 965 6262
- National Irish Bank Credit Cards: 011 353 1 484 3701/2/3
- Ulster Bank Credit Cards: 011 353 1 702 5108