COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCIS) are a British Overseas Territory comprising a small archipelago of eight major islands in two groups, with numerous uninhabited keys. Theyform the southeastern extremity of the Bahamas chain and lie 90 miles north of Haiti and the Dominican Republic and 575 miles southeast of Miami. Tourist facilities are split between resorts, which are located on the island of Providenciales, or "Provo", and the cruise ship port, which is located on Grand Turk Island. The U.S. dollar is the official currency. Larger hotels and shops accept most credit and debit cards. The U.S. Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas has jurisdiction for consular matters in the Turks and Caicos and a Consular Agent in Providenciales supports American citizen interests. For additional country information, read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on the United Kingdom.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP): If you are going to become a resident of or visit the Turks and Caicos Islands, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your trip. The Embassy can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. To enroll, please visit our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program webpage. U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We encourage U.S, citizens traveling to the Bahamas to download our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes and the Android market.
CONTACTING THE U.S. EMBASSY: You can reach the Embassy's switchboard at (242) 322-1181 and the American Citizen Services Unit at (242) 328-3496. You may also contact the American Citizens Services Unit by fax at (242) 356-7174, or e-mail at ACSNassau@state.gov and through the Embassy website. In the event of an after-hours emergency involving an American citizen, please call (242) 357-7004.
Local embassy information is available on the U.S. Embassy Nassau website and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates,
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: U.S. citizens do not need visas to enter the Turks and Caicos Islands as tourists for short periods, however, U.S. citizens must present a passport. Note: U.S. Passport Cards cannot be used to travel by air or private vessel to TCIS.
If remaining in the Turks and Caicos Islands for more than 24 hours each person must fill out an immigration form.
Air Travel: All U.S. citizens traveling by air outside the United States to TCIS are required to present a valid U.S. passport to enter or re-enter the United States.
The importance of having and safeguarding a U.S. passport. The Turks and Caicos Islands are geographically remote, with the nearest emergency passport facility located almost 500 miles away which adds a costly flight to Nassau to get to the nearest U.S. Embassy. Since it is not possible to travel by air without a U.S. passport out of TCIS (as most flights to Nassau stop first in the United States) it is difficult to fly to Nassau if your passport is lost or stolen. If you are a dual national, a visa cannot be placed in a foreign document to travel to Nassau through the United States as U.S. citizens do not qualify for visas.
If you are traveling by sea, it is prudent to carry a passport even if not required in order to avoid being stranded in an emergency. Securing a passport before initiating travel can bring greater peace of mind if a crisis occurs and removes one additional stress and cost during an emergency. In addition, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau cannot replace a lost or missing passport with another 10 year validity document. U.S. passports issued by the U.S. Embassy carry a validity of 90 days or less, causing U.S. citizens to have to repeat the application process again in the U.S. upon return. U.S. citizen travelers are advised to apply for a U.S. passport well in advance of anticipated travel and to carry your passport in a safe place with you when debarking from a cruise ship in case you miss the ship or have a medical emergency while at port. You can call 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778 ) for information on how to apply for a passport.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Turks and Caicos.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page and visit our website at nassau.usembassy.gov.
Minors traveling unaccompanied or accompanied by a guardian or chaperone: What is required to enter The Turks and Caicos Islands may vary greatly than what is required to re-enter the country of origin. In general a child under 16 years of age may travel into the Turks and Caicos Islands merely with proof of citizenship. Proof of citizenship is a raised seal birth certificate and preferably a government issued photo ID if on a closed loop cruise or a U.S. passport if entering by air or private vessel.
The Turks and Caicos Islands requires compliance with regulations to divert child abduction. Any child traveling without one of the parents as listed upon the birth certificate should have a letter from the absent parent granting permission for the child to travel. This should be sworn before a notary public and signed by the absent parent(s). If the parent is deceased a certified death certificate may be necessary.
It is advisable to have the minor carry a written notarized consent letter from both parents (if both are listed on the child’s certificate of birth) before sending your child to travel as a minor with a guardian or chaperone.
Sea Travel: U.S. citizens may enter the United States from Turks and Caicos by sea using a passport, passport card, or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant document if traveling by cruise ship. Sea travelers should check with their cruise line or travel agency for any additional foreign entry requirements.
Travel by private vessel has different entry requirements.
Private Vessel Entry Requirements: Upon entry you will be required to fill out and present the following documentation: a) TCIS Pleasure Craft Report Inward; b) TCIS Customs Form; c) TCIS Immigration Form - one per person (if remaining in the TCI for more than 24hours); and d) a passport. The U.S. Embassy advises traveling with a second form of identification, especially a government issued photo ID, in case your passport is ever lost or stolen. Keeping an electronic scanned copy of your passport is also helpful.
Visiting Boaters on Private Vessels: Visiting boaters to the Turks and Caicos Islands must notify and clear Customs and Immigration when arriving at the nearest designated Port of Entry. Travelers arriving via private vessel are charged docking fees and have additional paperwork requirements. Customs and Immigration officials will come to your vessel and all passengers must remain onboard the boat until the vessel has been cleared. A Report Inward and Customs form must be completed and everyone on board must have proof of citizenship in the form of a passport.
The Report Inward allows boaters to enter the TCI for a period of 7 days. If remaining in the Turks and Caicos for more than 7 days, a cruising permit must be purchased.
Cruising permits: Cruising permits are required for vessels that will be in Turks and Caicos territorial waters for 7 days or more. They must be purchased at a minimum of three months at a cost of $300 each. Forms can only be obtained at ports of entry or by contacting The Harbour Master on each island. Telephone numbers for each office are listed below.
TCIS Harbour: Cruising permit information is not available on the web, however, additional information is available by contacting the following offices: Providenciales: 649-946-4450; Grand Turk: 649-946-2325; South Caicos: 649-946-3214; North Caicos: 649-946-7109. Currently, cruising permits are $300 for 3 months. Upon entrance each vessel must pay a $15 Entry Fee and a $15 Clearance Fee. Regular entering hours are from 8 am until 4:30 pm Monday – Thursday and 8 am until 4 pm on Friday. Vessels arriving after 4:30pm Monday –Thursday or after 4pm Friday are subject to a $10 overtime charge. Additionally on weekends and holidays arriving vessels are subject to a $15 overtime charge.
Firearms: The importation of firearms to the Turks and Caicos is strictly forbidden without prior approval in writing from the Commissioner of Police. U.S. citizens may contact the Turks and Caicos Customs Department at (649) 946-2867 for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Private Vessels with Weapons, Firearms or Ammunition Aboard: All firearms and/or weapons on board a private vessel must be declared to customs when entering the Turks and Caicos Islands. If you have firearms or weapons on board,it is recommended that prior to your arrival, you have a completed list of all firearms and/or weapons on board and an exact count of ammunition to be attached to your Report Inward.
If remaining in the Turks and Caicos Islands for 24 hours or less you will be permitted to have your firearms and/or weapons on your boat, although you cannot remove them from the boat. Firearms, weapons, or ammunition of any kind must remain in a locked compartment on the vessel at all times.
When remaining in the Turks and Caicos for more than 24 hours with firearms and/or weapons on board, customs will remove them from the vessel and turn them over to the Royal Turks and Caicos Police Force to be held until departure. You must notify Customs at least 24 hours prior to your departure so that firearms and/or weapons can be returned to you in a timely manner.
In cases of an emergency which requires your departure by air,you must notify Customs and the Royal Turks and Caicos Police Force. Your firearms and/or weapons will remain with the Royal Turks and Caicos Police Force until your return to the Islands and departure by your vessel.
If you fail to declare firearms and/or weapons accordingly you will be in illegal possession of such, a crime that isseverely punishable under laws of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Entering and Exiting the TCIS with Cash or Negotiable Instruments: If you or anyone traveling with you as a group takes out or brings into the Turks and Caicos Islands more than $10,000 (U.S. or foreign equivalent, or a combination of the two) in coin, currency or negotiable instruments such as a draft bill of exchange, debenture bonds of a company, script certificates to the bearer for shares or share warrants to the bearer, you are required by law to declare it to Customs.
Entering and Exiting the U.S. with Cash or Negotiable Instruments: While it is legal to transport any amount of currency or other monetary instruments into or out of the United States, a traveler entering or exiting the U.S. with an amount exceeding USD $10,000 - or its foreign equivalent – must file with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) prior to departure FinCen Form 105, Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments.
According to the Currency and Foreign Transaction Reporting Act, if a traveler asks someone to carry currency or monetary instruments on his/her behalf and the full amount exceeds $10,000 then the traveler is required to report the total amount to CBP. This means that you may not give unreported money to any other individual to transport for you if the total amount exceeds $10,000 unless you declare you are the owner of the currency when going through customs.
Failure to declare the total amount of cash carried in or out of TCIS may lead to seizure of all cash or negotiable instruments and may subject you to legal proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: The threat of terrorism is low, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including places frequented by travelers.
SPRING BREAK TRAVELERS: Please click here for additional safety tips for Spring Break Travelers to The Bahamas or TCIS.
CRIME: The overall crime rate in the Turks and Caicos Islands is low. Crimes typically involve opportunistic petty theft. However, more serious robberies have been reported. The crime level is highest on Providenciales, the territory’s economic hub and larger city. The U.S. Embassy has received a few reports of more serious crimes, including vacation home invasions, armed robberies, assaults and boat thefts.
Most visits to the Turks and Caicos Islands are trouble free, but you should nonetheless take sensible precautions against petty crime. Exercise caution when walking after dark or in isolated areas, such as deserted beaches, and avoid placing yourself in vulnerable situations. Never leave valuables unattended, especially on beaches. Hotel guests should always lock their doors and never open their hotel room door without first verifying the identity of the person knocking. Hotel guests should consider storing passports/identity documents, airline tickets, credit cards, and extra cash in hotel safes, but remember to take your passport with you when debarking. It is best to keep your passport on your person and not in a handbag in case of theft. Automated teller machines (ATMs) are available; however, visitors should try not to frequent them, especially after dark.
Visitors are advised to report crime to the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force as quickly as possible. Early reports frequently improve the likelihood of identifying and apprehending suspected perpetrators.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, you may be breaking local law which could lead to arrest or detainment. The same is true for illicit drugs. Vendors often tell visitors that marijuana is legal. Please note this is not true and the purchase of any amount of drugs is a crime that could lead to arrest and jail time.
There is nobody better at protecting you than yourself. Beware of your surroundings at all times. The U.S. Embassy reports that victims of crime are often those who have let their guard down to individuals who appeared overly friendly or became victims after criminals targeted them as easy prey due to the visitor appearing drunk or unaware. Take some time before travel to improve your personal security—things are not the same everywhere as they are in the United States. Here are some useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the U.S. Embassy in Nassau. If your passport is stolen we can help you replace it. For violent crimes such as assault and rape, seek medical attention and request a rape kit for forensic evidence gathering immediately. The U.S. Embassy can help you find the nearest hospital or rape crisis center, contact family members or friends and help you get money from them if you need it. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime are solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. We also have information on Victim’s Assistance programs nearest to your home.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Turks and Caicos is 999 or 911.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While traveling in another country, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In some places driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted under U.S. law upon return to the U.S. if you buy pirated goods overseas. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Turks and Caicos, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution and the nearest U.S. Embassy is 500 miles away. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Turks and Caicos are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and/or heavy fines.
Non Mandatory Consular Notification Country: Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Turks and Caicos, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Hurricanes: The Turks and Caicos Islands, like all countries in the Caribbean basin, are vulnerable to hurricanes. Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, although hurricanes have been known to occur outside that period. Visitors to the Turks and Caicos Islands during hurricane season are advised to monitor weather reports daily and have contingency plans.
For more information on hurricane or disaster preparedness, please refer to: Hurricane and Typhoon Season, Hurricane Season: Know Before You Go, the U.S. Embassy Nassau’s Hurricane Preparedness page, the National Hurricane Center and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Information regarding pets and disasters is also available from FEMA. If you are enrolled in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, you will receive emergency messages by email from the U.S. Embassy nearest your location with the latest hurricane and other emergency information.
Accessibility for the physically challenged: While in Turks and Caicos, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. The island could be difficult to traverse if one is physically limited as few buildings have special facilities for persons with physical challenges or disabilities.
Customs: The Turks and Caicos customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation or exportation of goods or cash. U.S. citizens have been arrested and face stiff penalties for not following Turks and Caicos customs regulations, especially in the area of firearms or ammunition. If in doubt, you may contact local customs authorities directly at at (649) 946-2867 for specific information regarding customs requirements. Tourists who plan to arrive by private boat may seek permission to declare firearms to Turks and Caicos Customs and leave firearms securely on the boat for the duration of their stay in Turks and Caicos. Please see further information on Customs Regulations in other sections of this information sheet, or click here.
Boating/Fishing: Boaters and fisherman should be aware that there are stiff penalties for catching lobster or other marine life out of season, undersized, or in protected areas. Sports Fishing license fees and National Park User fees also apply to visitors and residence alike. Specific information is available from the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources. Turks and Caicos Islands Boating and Fishing License Fees
Wildlife: There are laws and ordinances in the Turks and Caicos Islands with specific regard to fisheries limits, the protection of plants and the protection of wild birds. There are also areas marked as National Park Zones where restriction of certain activities harmful to ecology is prohibited. Visitors and residents can find detailed information on the TCI Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources website that list the specific Laws and Regulations.All other hunting is prohibited in Turks and Caicos. A number of endangered and/or protected species reside in The Turks and Caicos Islands. U.S. citizens should not disturb, harass, or otherwise threaten wildlife and could receive stiff penalties for doing so.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities in the Turks and Caicos Islands have improved with two new hospital facilities on Providenciales and Grand Turk managed by Inter Health Canada. Most extreme medical problems do require medical evacuation by air from the Turks and Caicos to the United States or Nassau in The Bahamas if a suitable doctor, surgeon or specialist is not on island. For this reason, it is strongly recommended to purchase medevac insurance before departing. For further information on medevac insurance in The Bahamas or Turks and Caicos, click here.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747 ) or via the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information. The TCIS has had cases of dengue fever in the past year.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: Do not assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave. You need to ask your insurance company
Most doctors and hospitals in TICS will expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance is often not accepted in TCIS and may not cover doctors’ and hospital visits.
The U.S. Embassy has reported that citizens who did not have medevac insurance quickly learn that an inexpensive cruise can turn into extreme economic hardship as medical fees for the uninsured can quickly surpass $10,000 US dollars. For more information regarding medevacs, click here . Other medical issues reported to the Embassy have included delays in ambulance service on the islands in the event of a major emergency or disaster.
If your policy doesn’t go with you or does not cover a medical evacuation by air or fees before service costs when you travel, it is strongly advised to take out additional international medical insurance for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: Driving in the Turks and Caicos Islands is on the left. The terrain is flat and subject to flooding during or after storms. Primary roads are generally good in both urban and rural areas. Secondary roads are often unpaved and contain ruts and potholes. Road signs are not prevalent, but navigating with a tourist map is possible as there are few roads on the island. Hazards such as blind intersections, road work, changes in road conditions which are unmarked, and a lack of familiarity with roundabouts and other intersections are often the main cause of problems while driving. At a roundabout, drivers are required to give way to those on their immediate right and those who enter the roundabout firsts. Wild donkeys are a common sight on the island of Grand Turk and occasionally walk into the roads, presenting a hazard to drivers, especially at night.
Temporary visitors wishing to drive in the Turks and Caicos require a valid driver's license from their country of residence or International Driving License which is good for up to a month, after which a local license from the Department of Road Safety is required. You should observe the speed limits (20 mph in town, 40 mph elsewhere). Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal, and drivers convicted of the offense may face fines, detention, or both. Use seat belts at all times as you could face possible fines. Accidents are on the increase on the Leeward Highway (Providenciales) and are often fatal. Roadside assistance in the event of a breakdown is generally not available. For emergencies, drivers may call 999 or 911 for police, fire, or medical assistance. Visitors should take care to ride only in taxis with seatbelts. 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). Public transportation is available in the Turks and Caicos and is generally safe.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, visit the website of the country’s national tourist office.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Turks and Caicos Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Turks and Caicos air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
PURCHASING REAL ESTATE, VEHICLES OR PRIVATE VESSELS: When purchasing property, vehicles or private vessels in the TCIS please be advised that there is no title insurance available.
When purchasing property, U.S. citizens should deal directly with the office of Land Registry, which is located in Grand Turk. To verify or authenticate a deed or title we recommend that each buyer obtain a copy of the registry prior to the purchase of land to check the veracity and status of the prospective seller’s ownership. The cost is $25 payable to the office of Land Registry. Once the buyer is satisfied with the prospective seller’s status, the buyer and seller must complete bill of sales forms with the office of Land Registry, and the buyer must pay all applicable fees including the stamp duty tax and a $25 registration fee to register the land in the name of its new owner(s). The office of Land Registry can be contacted at 649-946-2801.
When purchasing private vehicles in the TCIS both the buyer and seller must work with the Road Traffic Department. The Seller must present to the Road Traffic Department proof of ownership. A fee of $20 is then collected to produce a bill of sales to be completed by the seller and buyer that will authorize a transfer of names on the title. The Road Traffic Department can be reached at 649-946-4828, or through the government switchboard at 649-946-2801. The same process is conducted with the Maritime Office for the sale and purchase of private vessels. To obtain proper forms the Maritime Office can be contacted by dialing 649-946-2801.
Offices and Departments to verify validity of titles and deeds to land, vehicles and vessels.
Grand Turk Office
Ministry of Environment & District Administration Complex
Road Traffic Department
Sammy Been Plaza
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
This replaces the Country Specific Information for The Turks and Caicos dated 23 October 2010 to update the sections on Crime, Real Estate and Sale of Property and other Business Transactions, Entering and Exiting with Cash or Negotiable Instruments, and Medical Facilities and Health Information, hurricanes, traveling with cash in excess of $ 10, 000 and some information for all the second homeowners and boaters regarding real estate transactions and entry and exit permits.