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Safety Travel Safety: Americas: Barbados

Barbados: Barbados
Capital: Bridgetown
Population: 276,607
Currency: Barbadian dollar (BBD)
Languages: English
Religions: Protestant 67% (Anglican 40%, Pentecostal 8%, Methodist 7%, other 12%), Roman Catholic 4%, none 17%, other 12%
Borders: 0 km

Barbados is an independent island nation in the Caribbean with a moderately developed economy. The capital is Bridgetown. Facilities for tourism are widely available. The U.S. Embassy in Barbados has consular responsibility over Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as the British dependent territories of Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and Montserrat, and the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe and their dependencies.

There are no extremist groups or areas of instability in Barbados. Drug-related organized crime exists, but does not generally directly affect tourists.

Crime in Barbados is characterized by petty theft and street crime, but incidents of violent crime including rape, drug related crimes, auto theft and home invasions appear to be on the rise, particularly in Bridgetown. Crimes occur day and night, with criminals usually traveling with non-lethal weapons in groups of two or more. There has been an increase in robberies of tourists, including armed robbery, and visitors to Barbados should be especially vigilant on the beaches at night. Reports of valuables stolen out of parked automobiles and hotel rooms have increased in recent months; visitors should try to secure valuables when left unattended and take care to always lock hotel room doors. Police are generally ineffective in deterring crime and response times can be extreme.

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Barbados laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Barbados are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. American citizens should never purchase marijuana or any other illegal substance. Persons who do so may expect extremely heavy fines and/or jail time (even for very small amounts).

Medical care is generally good, but medical transport can take hours to respond and ambulance attendants are prohibited from applying lifesaving techniques during transport. Minor problems requiring a visit to the emergency room can involve a wait of several hours, however, private clinics and physicians can offer speedier service. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services, and U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.

All Caribbean countries can be affected by hurricanes. The hurricane season normally runs from June to the end of November, but there have been hurricanes in December in recent years. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Barbados is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair 
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Fair

Driving in Barbados is on the left-hand side of the road. Taxis and buses are generally safe. Buses and vans are often crowded and tend to travel at high rates of speed. Night driving should be done with great caution because of narrow roads with no shoulders and pedestrian/bicycle traffic.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at For specific information concerning Barbados driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Barbados Tourism Authority at (212) 986-6516,

As there is no direct commercial air service by Barbadian carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Barbados, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Barbados' Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.

Please also refer to the separate Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.

January 12, 2004

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