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Puerto Rico

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Summary

  • Reconsider your need to travel to Puerto Rico due to major damage to buildings and infrastructure following Hurricane Maria.
  • Recovery efforts continue in Puerto Rico. Access to electricity may be limited, particularly in rural areas. Repairs to road infrastructure, such as traffic lights, and buildings is continuing.
  • Contact your airline or tour operator to check the latest information. See Additional information.
  • As Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, read this advice together with our travel advice for the United States of America.
  • United States entry and visa requirements apply to enter or transit Puerto Rico.
  • Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Puerto Rico. The Australian Consulate General in New York provides consular assistance to Australians in Puerto Rico.
  • See Travel smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

As Puerto Rico is an unincorporated United States territory, United States entry and visa requirements apply. The United States administers a strict entry regime and you may be refused entry if you don't comply with requirements. 

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the United States for up-to-date information, even if you only plan to transit Puerto Rico.

Where children are travelling alone, or with one parent/guardian, carry a notarised letter of consent for travel signed by the non-travelling parent(s) or guardian.

The United States has specific requirements regarding locks used on airline baggage. More information: the US Transportation Security Administration.

More information: United States of America

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible. You can either:

Money

The currency in Puerto Rico is the US Dollar. ATM facilities are widely available.

Safety and security

Crime

Petty crime, including drug and alcohol-related crime, occurs in Puerto Rico. Use common sense, as you would in Australia.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. 

More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

As Puerto Rico is an unincorporated United States territory, read this advice together with our travel advice for the United States of America.

The US National Terror Advisory System is applicable in Puerto Rico.

More information: US Department of Homeland Security website

Civil unrest and political tension

  • You might encounter protests or demonstrations in Puerto Rico.
  • Keep an eye on the news and other sources for information about possible demonstrations.
  • Avoid crowds, protests and demonstrations, where possible.
  • Follow the advice of local authorities.

Local travel

Hurricane Maria

In September 2017, Hurricane Maria severely affected Puerto Rico. Destructive winds and widespread flooding caused deaths and significant damage. Parts of the country are still without power, particularly rural areas. Recovery efforts in some areas is continuing including to road infrastructure and buildings.

Seek local advice before entering areas affected by the hurricane.

Road travel

Generally, roads are of a high standard in Puerto Rico, but some secondary roads outside major population centres are poorly maintained. Driving practices can ignore standard, international norms, such as obeying traffic signals, using indicators, or observing speed limits.

More information:

Airline safety

The Australian Government doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Puerto Rico.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to the local laws of Puerto Rico, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular services charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, and a mix of US and local laws apply. See our travel advice for the United States of America for more information.

Penalties for drug-related offences, including marijuana use, are severe and include minimum mandatory terms of imprisonment.

More information: Carrying or using drugs

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 you overseas. If you commit these offences while overseas, you can be prosecuted in Australia.

Information for dual nationals

The United States recognises dual nationality. Dual nationals are required by United States law to travel with both passports and use their United States passport to enter and exit the United States and its territories, including Puerto Rico.

If you're an Australian-United States dual national, read the travel information on the United States Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website before you travel.

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away, and check what circumstances and activities aren't 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 won't pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. Get vaccinated 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) and our health pages provide useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The standard of medical facilities and care in Puerto Rico compares well with that available in Australia. However, medical costs can be extremely high. A visit to the doctor in Puerto Rico for even minor complaints can cost several hundred dollars, excluding laboratory tests or medication costs. In the absence of accepted health insurance, or proof of ability to pay, payment is generally required up front. In the event of a serious illness or accident, an expensive medical evacuation to Miami may be necessary.

Transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus can occur in Puerto Rico. We advise all travellers to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Given the possibility that the Zika virus can cause severe malformations in unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, pregnant women should discuss any travel plans with their travel doctor and consider postponing travel to Puerto Rico. More information: Zika virus

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

The contact number for emergency services is 911, and for local police 787-343-2020.

The Consular services charter explains what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas. Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Puerto Rico. You can contact the Australian Government at the Australian Consulate-General in New York for consular assistance(USA) at:

Australian Consulate-General, New York

150 East 42nd Street, 34th Floor
New York, New York 10017-5612
Telephone: +1 212 351 6500
Fax: +1 212 351 6501
Website: newyork.consulate.gov.au

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Consulate-General you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +1 888 239 3501 toll-free within the United States from a land-line or +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Natural disasters occur in Puerto Rico. If a natural disaster occurs, or a warning is issued, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media for updates.

Hurricanes

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.

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 Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. Information is also available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

More information: Earthquakes

Additional resources