Trinidad and Tobago

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Tuesday, 03 June 2014.   This advice has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments. The overall level of the advice has not changed. We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Trinidad and Tobago because of the high levels of serious crime.

Trinidad and Tobago overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Trinidad and Tobago because of the high levels of serious crime.
  • Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
    • organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
    • register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
    • subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it's reissued.
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Trinidad and Tobago for the most up-to-date information.

If you are travelling to Trinidad and Tobago through the United States of America, or if you are transiting in Honolulu or other US points of entry, you are required to meet US entry/transit requirements. Make sure you check with your nearest US Embassy or Consulate your visa requirements well in advance of your travel. You should also read our travel advice for the United States of America.

Trinidad is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease preventable by vaccination. We strongly recommend that all travellers be vaccinated for yellow fever before travelling to the island of Trinidad (see Health section).

As the quarantine requirements for yellow fever vaccination differ between countries, we recommend that you check the yellow fever entry requirements for Trinidad and Tobago and all countries you intend to enter or transit by contacting their foreign missions in Australia. Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate before being allowed to board flights out of the country. For more information about yellow fever, including Australian re-entry requirements, see the Department of Health website.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.

Civil unrest/political tension

You should avoid demonstrations, protests and large gatherings as they may turn violent.

Crime

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Trinidad and Tobago because of the high levels of serious crime. Pay close attention to your personal security and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

The number of violent crimes, including assault, sexual assault, kidnapping and murder, continues to increase. Armed robbery is common, particularly in major urban centres. Home invasions are also common. Avoid downtown Port of Spain at night as tourists have been robbed at gunpoint. Visitors can be inadvertently affected by gang and drug-related crime. Daylight attacks, including the use of firearms, have occurred at popular tourist sites, hairdressing salons, licensed premises and in car parks of supermarkets and shopping malls. Robbery and theft levels tend to rise significantly in the lead up to and during Christmas and until Carnival seasons, which is usually in February/March. Visitors should appraise themselves of areas which have a high level of crime, including the suburb of Laventille in Port of Spain. Other areas to avoid include Morvant, Sea Lots, Belmont, the inside of the Queens Park Savannah and scenic rest stops after dark.

Due to criminal activity at Maracas and Las Cuevas beaches, and on access roads, we advise visitors to remain vigilant at all times and avoid staying in these areas past twilight. You should avoid visiting isolated beaches, such as Englishman's Bay and King Peter's Bay on the island of Tobago, due to the high risk of crime.

Robberies have occurred when travelling from Piarco Airport. There have been incidents of violent theft by gangs who follow cars travelling from the airport and attack their victims when they reach their destinations. You should avoid travel on the Beetham/Churchill Roosevelt Highway airport route late at night. If your vehicle breaks down or you are in an accident on this highway, you should remove yourself from the area to a safe location before you seek assistance. Robberies, assaults and carjackings have occurred when travellers have stopped on this section of road. Shared, route and maxi taxis should be avoided as they pick up additional passengers along the route. Crimes including rapes, assaults and robberies have taken place inside shared taxis. There have also been reports of attempts to illegally block traffic along Lady Young Road, which is an alternate airport route close to the city of Port of Spain. You should take care and exercise caution when using these roads.

Serious crimes against tourists and foreigners, including rape and armed robbery, have been reported. The inability of the authorities to catch and prosecute offenders also remains a concern.
Petty crime including bag snatching, pick-pocketing and theft from cars is common, especially near tourist attractions in both Trinidad and Tobago. Visible items left in unattended parked cars are prime targets for smash-and-grab style theft. Public transport, such as maxi-taxis, should be avoided if possible in favour of safer means of transport, such as taxis affiliated with major hotels. Travellers should ensure that a high level of security is in place at their accommodation, including in private villas.

Due to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Trinidad and Tobago.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering and theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

Driving in Trinidad and Tobago can be hazardous due to poorly maintained roads, local driving practices and traffic congestion. Conditions on rural and mountain roads are particularly hazardous. Driving at night should be avoided other than on major highways.

The road from Port of Spain to the popular Maracas beach area is narrow, heavily utilised and the traffic is often dangerous.

Shared, route and maxi taxis should be avoided. Private taxis are available at airports and hotels and should be used. See under Safety and security: Crime.

For further advice, see our road travel page.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Trinidad and Tobago, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and possession of even small quantities of illegal drugs, including marijuana, may lead to imprisonment. When departing, visitors are thoroughly screened for drug possession.

Penalties for some serious crimes, including murder and treason, include the death penalty.

Homosexual acts are illegal and penalties include imprisonment ranging from 5 years to life. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Public nudity in non-designated areas and indecent language, such as cursing, can lead to arrest.

It is illegal for civilians to wear army or police camouflage clothing.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The standard of medical facilities in Trinidad and Tobago is limited. Costs at public hospitals range from free for general problems to very expensive for complicated procedures. At private hospitals, where treatment can be very expensive, patients are required to make a down payment in local currency. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to Miami may be necessary, costing from $A30,000.

Tobago has one decompression chamber which is located in Roxborough.

The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Trinidad and Tobago is high. You should exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

Trinidad is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which is preventable by vaccination. We strongly recommend that you are vaccinated against yellow fever before travelling to the island of Trinidad. See the Entry and Exit section for important information about vaccination certificate requirements. For more information about yellow fever, see the Department of Health website.

Mosquito-borne illnesses occur commonly in Trinidad and Tobago, especially during the rainy season (June to December). Seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache as they are symptoms of both dengue fever and the more recently emerging Chikungunya virus. We recommend that you take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.
For further information see the World Health Organization's factsheets on dengue fever and chikungunya fever.

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis A) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We encourage you to discuss your vaccination requirements with your doctor before travelling. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Where to get help

In Trinidad and Tobago, you can obtain consular assistance from the:

Australian High Commission, Port of Spain

18 Herbert Street, St Clair
Port of Spain
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Telephone: (1 868) 822 5450
Facsimile: (1 868) 822 5490
Website: http://www.trinidadandtobago.highcommission.gov.au/
Email: australianhighcommission.pos@gmail.com

If you are travelling to Trinidad and Tobago, for whatever reason and however long you will be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency-whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

If you are unable to contact the High Commission in a consular emergency, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 (outside Australia) or 1300 555 135 (within Australia).

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

The hurricane season is June to November when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services may occur. Monitor local media reports and follow the instructions of local emergency officials.

If you are travelling to Trinidad and Tobago during hurricane season, you should contact your tour operator to check whether tourist services at your planned destination have been affected.

The direction and strength of hurricanes can change with little warning. You can check the latest information on hurricane or severe weather conditions at the National Hurricane and Tropical Prediction Center, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.

In the event of an approaching hurricane, you should identify your local shelter. Flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended. Available flights may fill quickly. You should contact your airline for the latest flight information. The hurricane could also affect access to sea ports in the region. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe hurricane may not be available to all who may choose to stay. You should familiarise yourself with your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans. You should carry your travel documents (passport, picture IDs) at all times or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. We also suggest that you contact friends and family in Australia with updates about your welfare and whereabouts. For further information, see our Severe Weather page.

Earthquakes: Trinidad and Tobago are subject to earthquakes. You can find out further information on earthquakes from Trinidad and Tobago's Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management.

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.