Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, and other aspects of international travel.
Jamaica gained independence from Great Britain in 1962 and U.S. visitors will therefore notice some British influences on business practices, traditions, and customs. In Kingston, a business suit or blazer may be advisable, especially for the first engagement. Dress tends to be less formal in resort areas such as Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.
Embassy notices to U.S. citizens in Jamaica can be accessed at: https://jm.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/security-and-travel-information/
All U.S. citizens traveling by air outside of the United States are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to exit or enter the United States. U.S. citizens traveling by sea must present a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant document such as a passport or a passport card for entry to the United States. Passport cards are an acceptable travel document for entry into Jamaica for sea travelers only.
Visitors to Jamaica must have a return ticket and be able to show sufficient funds for their visit. U.S. citizens traveling to Jamaica for work or extended stays are required to have a current U.S. passport and a visa issued by the Jamaican Embassy or a Jamaican Consulate. There is a departure tax for travelers, which is generally included in the airfare.
Effective 2005, foreign nationals who are conducting business on short-term basis will not require a business visa once they will be in Jamaica for a period not exceeding thirty days. However, foreign nationals will need a business visa to enter Jamaica if they are conducting business for periods exceeding thirty days. Foreign nationals who need visas for entry to Jamaica will require a business visa to conduct business. Affidavits will not be accepted by the immigration office.
U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following link(s): State Department Visa Website.
The Bank of Jamaica has the sole authority to issue notes and coins in Jamaica. Jamaican paper notes are issued in denominations of $50, $100, $500, $1000 and $5,000. The Bank is planning to introduce a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in 2022 and will be running a pilot between May and December 2021. While the Jamaican dollar is the legal tender, the United States dollar is accepted as a form of payment, particularly in tourist resorts, where prices are sometimes quoted in both currencies. In 2020, over 1,000 ATMs were available across the country. There were also approximately 30,000 point-of-sale terminals of which over 10,000 were deployed. This network allows for the use of a wide variety of debit and credit cards, including international cards. These transactions generally attract a fee. Traveler’s checks are accepted by financial entities, most hotels and larger commercial entities.
Jamaica has a modern and fully liberalized telecommunications system, which has seen significant expansion since 2001. There are two primary mobile providers, former monopoly full-service provider, FLOW, and Digicel. A third provider, Rock Mobile has received a license to provide mobile internet access. Digicel is the largest provider of cellular telecommunications in Jamaica and the Caribbean. Jamaica’s tele-density now exceeds 100%, with many subscribers maintaining accounts with both providers. FLOW also operates a fixed line system and was acquired by Liberty Global in May 2016. While Jamaica continues to lag in broadband mobile and fixed internet penetration, Wi-Fi technology is prevalent in hotels, and starting to be rolled out in public spaces. Jamaica has submarine communications cables with the United States, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. The Jamaican country code is 1-876. Electrical equipment in Jamaica operates on 110-120 volts at 50 Hertz (Hz), while in the United States the standard is 60 Hz. However, most small electrical appliances, such as mobile phones, battery chargers and hairdryers will work. Jamaica and the United States use types A and B receptacles.
Jamaica has two major international airports. Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport receives flights from Air Canada, American Airlines, British Airways, Caribbean Airlines, Cayman Airways, Copa, Delta, , JetBlue, Spirit, and WestJet. Sangster International Airport in the resort town of Montego Bay is served by over 30 airlines and a number of charters. Major cruise ship terminals in Jamaica are located in Falmouth, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. A fourth terminal was opened in Port Royal in 2020.
Ground transportation options include taxis, car rental, and luxury coach services. Allowance should be made for possible delay arising from traffic congestion, particularly in the capital city, Kingston. Public transportation is not recommended, as public buses can be overcrowded, off schedule and susceptible to crime. Travelers who use taxicabs should take only licensed operators or those recommended by their hotels. In June 2021, ridesharing company Uber entered Jamaica through a “vehicle-with-driver” lease agreement.
A new highway linking Kingston and the resort town of Ocho Rios was opened at the beginning of 2016. However, A1, A2, and A3 highways remain the primary links between the most important cities and tourist destinations on the island. Most of these roads are not comparable to American highways, and road conditions can be hazardous due to disrepair, inadequate signage and poor traffic control markings. The B highways and rural roads are often very narrow and frequented by large trucks, buses, pedestrians, cyclists, and open range livestock. Highways are traveled at high speeds, but are not limited-access. Nighttime driving is especially dangerous and should be avoided whenever possible. U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from driving at night outside of the cities of Kingston, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, and Negril.
Jamaica’s official language is English, but there is a local dialect known as patois.
Jamaica has a number of public and private hospitals. Most public hospitals have deteriorated over time due to underinvestment. One major public hospital operates a private wing, which provides more personalized services and a Spanish chain currently operates a private hospital in Montego Bay. While there is significant room for improvement, the existing state of the health sector compares favorably with other developing countries. Apart from the recent introduction of mosquito borne diseases and COVID-19, the Embassy is not aware of any potential health risks of which businesspersons should be notified.
Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays
The normal working day for government offices and factories is 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Fridays. Government offices are generally closed on Saturday and Sunday. Almost all commercial businesses are open on Saturday, but only few open on Sunday. Jamaica is on Eastern Standard Time (EST) year-round and does not observe daylight savings time (DST).
Holidays observed in Jamaica are the following:
New Year’s Day January 1
Ash Wednesday Variable
Good Friday Variable
Easter Monday Variable
National Labor Day May 23
Emancipation Day August 1
Independence Day August 6
National Heroes Day October (Variable)
Christmas Day December 25
Boxing Day December 26
Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings
Those who wish to bring in items temporarily such as software, exhibit material, etc., are required to identify the items at Customs, pay the required duty and General Consumption Tax (as security), and collect a refundable revenue deposit receipt. On exit from the country, the Customs authority refunds the entire amount paid as security. When importing machinery for between three and six months, the above procedure applies in addition to a completed Customs Form C25. Laptop computers can be brought in duty free.