Turks and Caicos Islands
Where is turks and caicos located? The Turks and Caicos Islands consist of 40 islands and cays, eight of which are inhabited. The islands are located 550 miles southeast of Miami, Florida, just below the Bahamas chain and just to the east of Cuba and the island of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti.) Technically, the Turks and Caicos are located in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean Sea. The islands are home to over 30,000 full time residents, and welcome more than 500,000 tourist annually.
Turks and Caicos Time Zone – Eastern Standard Time and Daylight Savings Time is observed from April to October.
Turks and Caicos Currency – The US dollar is the official currency of Turks and Caicos Islands. Most hotels, restaurants and taxi services accept traveler’s cheques, which can be cashed at local banks. Almost all major credit cards are accepted, and banks offer ATM’s as well as cash advances on credit cards.
Customs and Immigration – Duty free goods that may be brought in to the Islands include: 50 cigars, 200 cigarettes, 1.136 liters of spirits or wine and perfume for personal use.
There are no restrictions for travellers on the import of cameras, film or sports equipment, except spear guns and Hawaiian slings.
To bring in firearms of any type (including spear guns and Hawaiian slings), you must have written approval from the Commissioner of Police. Controlled drugs and pornography are illegal.
All US Citizens traveling by air or sea to the Turks & Caicos Islands are required by the US Government to have a valid US passport. Visitors from other countries do require passports, but no visas are necessary except from countries of the former Eastern Bloc. They are advised to contact the nearest British Consulate Office. All visitors must hold a round trip ticket. Visitors are allowed to stay for 30 days; this is renewable one time only. For luggage restriction, individual airlines should be consulted.
Language – English, however like many Caribbean countries it is spoken with a unique accent, similar to a Bahamian dialect.
Economy – Initially, the economy of the Turks and Caicos Islands relied on the export of salt and conch meat. Over the years, various exports maintained the local economy. Guano, cotton, sisal, fish, lobster and sponges have been replaced by tourism and a financial services industry. Fish and seafood are still lucrative exports.
Electricity – 110 volt / 60 cycle, suitable for US appliances.
Driving License Requirements – Visitors from the British Commonwealth Countries, The United States of America, Canada and holders of International drivers license are permitted to drive for 30 days on their respective license. Visitors from all other countries are required to posses a Visitors Permit, which can be obtained at the Road Safety Department, located on Good Street, Grand Turk and at the office on the Old Airport Road, Providenciales.
Financial Services – A wide variety of financial services are available, including company formation, offshore insurance, banking, trusts, limited partnerships and limited life companies. The Financial Services Commission regulates, develops and promotes the industry in major world markets.
Churches – There are many faiths represented in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Newcomers are welcomed at all churches, which are a center of community life. Some of the churches include: Adventist, Anglican, Baha’i, Episcopal, Baptist, Catholic, Church of God of Prophecy, Methodist, Pentecostal, Jehovah’s Witness and Faith Tabernacle Church of God.
People – The Turks & Caicos Islanders are mostly of African descent who were brought in to work the salt pans or the cotton plantations. The expatriate population consists of people from England, Canada, America, The Bahamas, Jamaica, Philippines, Mexico, China, Hispaniola and virtually everywhere in the world.
Turks and Caicos Government – The Islands are a British Crown Colony. The Governor, Dr. John Freeman, is appointed by the Queen and presides over an Executive Council. Government offices are located in the capital Grand Turk, with branches on other Islands as needed but mostly concentrated in Providenciales. The legal system is based on English Common Law.
Pets – Your pet may travel with you but you must meet all the conditions of the TCI Environmental Health Department Veterinary and Animal Control Unit. This includes an Import Permit, Veterinary Health Certificate, Vaccination Certificate and Laboratory Test Results which must ALL be submitted at the port of entry to obtain veterinary clearance.
Rental Cars – It is recommended to plan for a rental car for at least a few days to pick-up groceries, sightsee and shop for souvenirs. Some resorts within the Grace Bay area have plenty of shopping and dining options within a 1.5 mile (2.5km) radius. Staying in other areas of Providenciales you will most likely require transportation. Remember to drive on the LEFT!
Taxes – There are no direct taxes on either income or capital for individuals or companies. There are no exchange controls. Indirect taxation comprises customs duty, stamp duty on certain transactions, sales tax on food, beverage, tours and activities and departure tax.
Taxis -Your taxi is independently owned and operated by the driver and although there is a regulated fee structure, be warned that this form of transportation can be significantly more expensive than in your home country. There is no rule about tipping taxis but it is generally given for personable service. Your driver can direct you to all the places and restaurants you will want to visit.
Telephone – Local and international service, and internet are provided by FLOW. Cellular phone services are also provided by FLOW, and by Digicel. You may rent phones while on island for your convenience. If you plan to use your own cellular phone while here please check with your cellular provider to be certain they have an agreement with a local provider.
Tipping – There are no rules about tipping but it is customary to add 15% for good service. Some restaurants will add a 10% service charge to your bill, not to be confused with the 12% restaurant tax, please check before automatically adding your tip.
Water – As on many Islands, our fresh water is precious, we depend upon rainfall or desalinated water produced by reverse osmosis for the supply. Please be conservative in using water. Our water is safe to consume but visitors may prefer to drink bottled water.