General Information on Turks and Caicos
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. Technically, the Turks and Caicos are located in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean Sea. The islands are home to roughly 30,000 full-time residents and welcome more than 200,000 tourists annually.
Currency: The US dollar is the official currency of Turks and Caicos. Most hotels, restaurants and taxi services accept traveler’s cheques. Banks accept most cards and offer ATM’s as well as cash advances on credit cards. You should tip waiters, taxi drivers, maids, and porters at 15%.
Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time and Daylight Savings Time are observed from April to October.
Electricity: 110 volt/60 cycle, suitable for U.S. appliances.
The average temperature ranges between 85 and 90 0F from June to October, sometimes reaching the mid 90’s, in late summer. From November to May the average temperature is 80 to 84 0F. Water temperature in the summer is 82 to 84 0F and in winter about 74 to 78 0F. A constant trade wind keeps the climate at a very comfortable level. There is an annual rainfall of 21 inches on Grand Turk and South Caicos. In contrast, as you go further west the average rainfall could increase to 40 inches. In an average year, the Turks and Caicos have 350 days of sunshine. Finally, hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30th.
People: Turks and Caicos Islanders are mostly descendants of Africans brought in to work the salt pans or cotton plantations. The expatriate population consists of British, Canadians, Americans, French, Bahamians, people from Hispaniola and virtually everywhere in the world.
The economy of the TCI relies on the tourism industry, real estate development and the exportation of seafood. 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.
Government: The Turks & Caicos Islands are a British Crown Colony. The Queen appoints a Governor, who presides over the locally-elected Executive Council. Government offices are located in Grand Turk, with branches on other Islands as needed. The legal system is based on English Common Law.
Daily delivery service is provided by FedEx, with offices in Provo and Grand Turk. Service is also provided by DHL and UPS.
Cable Television: Satellite television service is provided throughout the islands, with most major American networks available.
Water: As on many islands, our fresh water is precious. We depend upon rainfall or desalinated water produced by reverse osmosis for the supply. Therefore, please be conservative in using water.
Telephone Service: Local and international service is provided by Cable & Wireless and Digicel (wireless only). Telex, facsimile, internet and cellular phone services are provided. You may use your credit card or a debit PhoneCard at public phone booths. The country code is 649. The network is through Cable and Wireless. Payphones, calling cards, facsimile, Internet, cell phones for rent at various locations.
If you have cell service in the USA please bring your phone with you. Do you have International Roaming service with a cellular carrier that has a roaming agreement in the Caribbean? If yes, then your phone will be able to make and receive calls whilst in the Turks and Caicos. If you do not have roaming then you will be able to make calls using the credit card platform.
First of all, post offices are located on all inhabited islands. All of the mail comes in by air transport. There are many different issues and denominations of stamps for enthusiasts to collect. Philatelic Bureaus are located on both Provo and Grand Turk.
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 possess a Visitors Permit. The permit can be obtained at the Road Safety Department, located on Good Street, Grand Turk and at the office on the Old Airport Road, Providenciales.
Crime: These Islands boast one of the lowest crime rates and highest crime-solved rates in the Caribbean. However, do not let down the guard against opportunist-type theft. Do not leave valuables unattended. Lock doors and windows. Use the hotel safe for storage of valuables. These simple precautions should prevent the loss of cash, jewelry, and identification. Therefore, confrontation and violent crimes are extremely rare. Report any issues to the Royal Turks and Caicos Police.
Shorts are worn in town and the beach during daytime, and it is advisable to also wear sunhats and sunscreen. Light sweaters and jackets may be occasionally needed in winter evenings. Most restaurants accept dress shorts. Others require pants with a collared shirt for gentlemen and dress slacks or dresses for ladies. Above all, public nudity is illegal throughout the islands.
Customs and Immigration:
You may bring duty-free goods to the Islands. These include up to 50 cigars, 200 cigarettes, 1.136 liters of spirits or wine and perfume for personal use. There are no restrictions for travelers on the import of cameras, film, or sports equipment. (Except spear guns and Hawaiian slings.) Consequently, to bring in firearms of any type, you must have written approval from the Commissioner of Police. Controlled drugs and pornography are illegal.
Effective January 8, 2007, all US Citizens traveling by air to the Turks & Caicos Islands will be required by the US Government to have a valid US passport. Cruise ship passengers have until June 1, 2009, to meet the requirement. Visitors from other countries do require passports, but no visas are necessary excepting countries of the former Eastern Bloc.
All visitors must hold a round trip ticket. If you are a visitor you may stay for 30 days. This is renewable one time only. Consult your individual airline for luggage restrictions.
There is now a modern hospital system comprising two state-of-the-art medical centres. InterHealth Canada manages each of them. This includes the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre on Providenciales and Cockburn Town Medical Centre on Grand Turk. Services provided include emergency care, dental, dialysis, internal medicine, surgical, orthopedic, obstetric and endoscopic procedures, physiotherapy and diagnostic imaging. Providenciales also has a number of private general practitioners and all of the other islands have community clinics.