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SafetyTravel Safety: Americas: Turks and Caicos

Turks and Caicos: Turks and Caicos Islands
Capital: Grand Turk (Cockburn Town)
Population: 19,350
Currency: US dollar (USD)
Languages: English (official)
Religions: Baptist 40%, Methodist 16%, Anglican 18%, Church of God 12%, other 14% (1990)
Borders: 0 km

The Turks and Caicos Islands are British Overseas Territory comprising a small archipelago of eight major islands and numerous uninhabited keys 600 miles southeast of Miami. Most tourist facilities are located on Providenciales (" Provo ") Island. The U.S. dollar is the unit of currency and the larger hotels and shops accept credit cards. The U.S. Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas has jurisdiction for consular matters in the Turks and Caicos.

Petty street crime does occur. Visitors should not leave valuables unattended in their hotel rooms or on the beach. The U.S. Embassy has received several reports of sexual assaults on U.S. citizens at resort hotels in the Turks and Caicos. Visitors should make sure that their hotel room doors are securely locked at night. In the Turks and Caicos, visitors may dial 999 or 911 for emergency police, fire, or medical assistance. In the Turks and Caicos, carrying illegal/undeclared firearms or ammunition is a very serious crime, as is possession of illegal narcotics. Visitors should be cognizant of individuals attempting to sell illegal drugs and of police sting operations, which are not considered entrapment in the Turks and Caicos.

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens are subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protection available to individuals under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the laws of the Turks and Caicos, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Turks and Caicos are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct includes any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18. The law defines a commercial sex act as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by a person under the age of 18. 

Medical facilities are available but limited in the Turks and Caicos. There is a small public hospital on Grand Turk and a private clinic on Provo. This clinic has a hyperbaric chamber. Most serious medical problems require medical evacuation by air from the Turks and Caicos to the United States.

All Caribbean countries can be affected by hurricanes. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. 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 the Turks and Caicos 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: Poor

Driving in the Turks & Caicos Islands is on the left. Traffic tends to be light, and the terrain is flat. When entering roundabouts and other intersections without signs or traffic signals, drivers are required to give way to those on their immediate right. Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal, and drivers convicted of the offence may face fines, detention, or both. Wild donkeys are a common sight and often walk on the roads, presenting a hazard to drivers, especially at night.

Road signs are not prevalent, but as there are few roads on the island, finding one's way with a tourist map is generally not a problem. Drivers should be alert for unmarked hazards such as blind intersections or changes in road conditions. Secondary roads are often unpaved, and have ruts and potholes. Visitors require a valid driver's license from their country of residence. Most car and motor scooter rental agencies will not rent to anyone under the age of 21. A government tax is levied on all car and motor scooter rentals (insurance is extra).

For specific information concerning Turks and Caicos driver�s permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board at (649) 946-2321.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the Turks and Caicos civil aviation authority as Category 2 - not in compliance with international aviation safety standards for the oversight of Turks and Caicos air carrier operations. While consultations to correct the deficiencies are ongoing, the Turks and Caicos air carriers currently flying to the U.S. will be subject to heightened FAA surveillance. No additional flights or new service to the U.S. by Turks and Caicos air carriers will be permitted unless they arrange to have the flights conducted by an air carrier from a country meeting international 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 carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. In addition, DOD does not permit its personnel to use air carriers from Category 2 countries for official business except for flights originating from or terminating in the United States. Local exceptions may apply. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.

Please also refer to the separate Travel Warning for Turks and Caicos and to the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.

July 1, 2004

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