Valid Passports are required. Tourists are granted admission (upon arrival) as tourists for 14 days (maximum 3 months, upon request). A $20 tax is imposed upon departure from the Juliana Airport. Those arriving on the French side may stay up to three months, but a visa is required for longer stays. A 3 euros departure tax is included in the price of airfare for those leaving from Esperance Airport.
In St. Martin, Euro is the legal currency, but U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere. Banks are open Monday to Friday 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, with an additional hour on the French side Monday to Thursday 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm and on the Dutch side, Friday 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Hotels on the French side typically add 5% occupancy tax per person, but a small gratuity is greatly appreciated for exceptionally good service. Restaurants also add a service charge to the bill. For taxi drivers, it is customary to tip between 50 cents and a dollar, while porters at the airport usually get $1 per bag.
Choice of clothing should be casual and comfortable but neat. Swimming attire is not appreciated in hotel lobbies or for walking around town. At night dress remains somewhat informal, but jackets and shawls are recommended since casinos and restaurants can get a little chilly.
Officially, French is the language of St. Martin and Dutch in St. Maarten, but almost everyone speaks English, and many speak Spanish as well. French Creole and Papiamento, a Creole language of the Netherlands Antilles, is spoken here locally, especially in the southern parts of the island.
For getting around from place to place a car is virtually indispensable although most hotels offer shuttle service to the casinos on the Dutch side of the island. Rental agencies are located at both airports and at the major hotels. Driving is on the right side of the road, and most of the roads are in fairly good repair. Motorcycles and mopeds are also available for hire.
Dialing from abroad, the country code for French St. Martin is (590)590 followed by the local number which is six digits long. The country code for Dutch St. Maarten is (599)5 followed by the five digits of the local number. Calls between the two countries are also international. From St. Martin to St. Maarten, remember to use the prefix 00599 54 then the number of fixed phones or 00599 55 or 00599 5 the number for cellular. Calling the other way requires the prefix 00 (590) 590 then the number for fixed phones or 00 (590) 690 the number for cellular. Phone cards, which must be used for all public phones, must be prepaid and bought at the post office or at some stores in downtown Marigot.
Electrical appliances run at 220 volts (50 Hz), following the European standard, in St. Martin, and at 110 volts (60 Hz), after the American standard, in St. Maarten. Visitors to the island should bring the appropriate converters, depending on where they plan on staying.
The Manchionneel tree is extremely poisonous, and it grows all over the island but mainly along the beaches. It can be recognized by its deep green leaves and attractive green fruit that look like little apples. Both the sap and the fruit are caustic and will burn the skin. In case of contact or ingestion, contact a physician or a pharmacist immediately.