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Safety Travel Safety: Americas: Bermuda

Bermuda: Bermuda (to UK)
Capital: Hamilton
Population: 63,960
Currency: Bermudian dollar (BMD)
Languages: English (official), Portuguese
Religions: non-Anglican Protestant 39%, Anglican 27%, Roman Catholic 15%, other 19%
Borders: 0 km

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION ^
Bermuda is a highly developed British overseas territory with a stable democracy and modern economy. Tourist facilities are widely available.

CRIME ^
Bermuda has a moderate but growing crime rate. Incidents of serious violent crime that were unheard of in the past - particularly those involving weapons - occur with increasing frequency, though most appear related to drug or gang activity. Examples of common crimes include theft of unattended baggage and items from rental motorbikes, purse snatchings (often perpetrated against pedestrians by thieves riding motorbikes), muggings, and thefts from hotel rooms. Petty thefts and assaults occur regularly and have increased in frequency. Valuables left in hotel rooms (occupied and unoccupied) or left unattended in public areas are vulnerable to theft; the Consulate regularly receives reports of thefts of money, valuables, and passports. Criminals often target transportation systems and popular tourist attractions.

Travelers should exercise caution when walking after dark or visiting out-of-the-way places on the island, as they can be vulnerable to crime, and because narrow and dark roadways can contribute to accidents. There have been incidents of sexual assault and acquaintance rape, and the use of "date rape" drugs such as Rohypnol has been reported in the media and confirmed by local authorities; one local advocacy group reports a significant increase in the use of these drugs and accompanying sexual assaults.

Criminal activity continues to take place at St. George's, a popular cruise ship destination and World Heritage Site. Incidents of verbal and physical assault against both locals and tourists have been reported. Petty drug use is frequent and open, and gang activity has been reported in the area as well. In recent years, the area of Pitts Bay Road from the Hamilton Princess Hotel into the town of Hamilton was a common setting for muggings, but the installation of surveillance cameras appears to have reduced these incidents. The back streets of Hamilton are often the setting for nighttime assaults, particularly after the bars close.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES ^
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 Bermuda's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Bermuda are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. If arrested for possession of even a small quantity of an illegal drug, offenders will be bound over for trial and not allowed to leave the island until sentencing is complete. Many drug-related arrests of American citizen visitors are made each year, and there are several American citizens serving extensive prison sentences in Bermuda.

MEDICAL FACILITIES ^
Good medical care is available, though extremely expensive. The hospital performs general surgery and has intensive care units. Serious or complex medical problems will likely require medical evacuation to the United States.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS ^
Bermuda is a hurricane-prone country. The worst of these storms generally skirt the island, however, and little or no property damage is incurred. Cruise ships regularly alter their schedules and courses to and from the United States due to hurricanes in the Atlantic. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS ^
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 Bermuda is provided for general reference only, and it 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: Poor

Driving in Bermuda is on the left side of the road. The maximum speed limit in Hamilton is 25 kph (15 mph, 35 kph (21 mph) on the rest of the island. Under Bermudian law, non-residents are not allowed to own, rent, or drive four-wheeled vehicles. Non-residents must rely on taxis, the excellent local bus system, or motor scooters. Traffic is moderate, but road accidents - particularly involving motorbikes - are common and often result in serious injuries. Licensing and registration are strictly enforced, as are driving and parking regulations. Because Bermuda does not allow the importation of used vehicles, most vehicles are in good condition.

Those unfamiliar with driving on the left are likely to find the roundabouts and regulations for yielding at junctions confusing and dangerous. In addition, vehicles often stop on the side of the road, blocking one lane of traffic. Main roads, while generally in good condition, are extremely narrow and tend to be bordered by heavy vegetation or low stone walls.

Pedestrian crosswalks marked by white lines are found on all roads. Vehicles must, and do, stop when a pedestrian is seen approaching a crosswalk. Horns are seldom used aggressively or as a warning. Instead, horn honking is used as a general form of greeting in Bermuda. As almost everyone knows everybody else, horns are heard honking at all times, which may be confusing to those visiting the island.

Rental motor scooters are readily available, and the required helmet is provided. While renting a scooter for daytime activities in good weather should be reasonably safe, visitors should carefully consider whether or not it is worth the risk to ride a scooter during rainy weather or at night. Motor scooters provide the greatest road peril in Bermuda; local operators tend to abuse the speed limit more than other drivers, and they will often pass on the left or right with no warning. Travelers who rent scooters should be aware that scooter accidents involving visitors are relatively common, and they can sometimes be fatal or involve serious injuries.

Taxis are readily available. The local bus system, which is excellent and relatively inexpensive, services the length of the island and stops close to most beaches, hotels, the downtown shopping area, and other points of interest. In addition, water ferry service to a variety of stops around the island is available seven days a week, and is a very safe and enjoyable mode of transportation.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Bermuda driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Bermuda Department of Tourism offices at 310 Madison Avenue, Suite 201, New York, N.Y., telephone (212) 818-9800, or via the Internet at http://www.bermudatourism.com.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT ^
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Bermuda's Civil Aviation Authority as category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Bermuda's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

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 the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.

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Please also refer to the separate Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.

January 28, 2004

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