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Trinidad and Tobago

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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Trinidad and Tobago because of the very high levels of serious crime, including violent crime. Pay close attention to your personal security. Monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
  • Terrorist attacks are possible in Trinidad and Tobago. Terrorism is a threat in Trinidad and Tobago. Religious holidays and large crowds could be targeted. See Safety and security.
  • Some beaches are not safe. Both popular and isolated beaches have been targeted by criminals. See Safety and security.
  • Avoid downtown Port of Spain at night – tourists have been robbed and/or assaulted at gunpoint. See Safety and security.
  • You could face robbery, carjacking and accidents due to erratic driving when travelling to or from Piarco Airport, especially at night. Aim for flights in daylight hours. See Safety and security.

  • The hurricane season is June to November when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services may occur. See Natural disasters.

  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

If your visit is for tourism, you won't need a visa but you'll need to pay a visa waiver fee. Pay the fee in cash to Immigration Services upon arrival.

In other circumstances, you'll need a visa. Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact a High Commission, Embassy or Consulate of Trinidad and Tobago for up-to-date information.

Trinidad and Tobago does not have a High Commission, Embassy or Consulate in Australia. Its nearest mission is the Embassy of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in Beijing, China.

If you're travelling to Trinidad and Tobago through the United States, or transiting the US, you must meet US entry/transit requirements. Check your visa requirements with a US Embassy or Consulate well in advance of your travel. More information: United States of America

Other formalities

You may need a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate for entry, particularly if you're arriving from a country or area where yellow fever is endemic. Yellow fever, which is endemic in Trinidad, is a serious and potentially fatal disease preventable by vaccination. Some airlines may not let you board your flight unless you present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate. Read yellow fever for advice on requirements for re-entry to Australia following exposure to yellow fever.   More information: Yellow fever risk and certification requirements (by country, WHO)

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.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you're forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

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

Money

The local currency is the Trinidad and Tobago dollar (TTD). Exchange your foreign currency for TTD at commercial banks and official exchange bureaux.

International credit cards are accepted in larger hotels and tourist facilities. ATMs are widely available across the country. Take care when using ATMs as crime occurs. Contact your bank to make sure that your card will work in Trinidad and Tobago.

Safety and security

Crime

The number of violent crimes, including murders, kidnapping, shootings, armed robbery, rape and home invasions, is very high on both islands. Serious crimes against expatriates and tourists happen. Local authorities have a very poor track record in catching and prosecuting offenders

Visitors can be affected by gang and drug-related crime anywhere in Trinidad and Tobago. Areas particularly prone to violent crime, including against tourists, include:

  • downtown Port of Spain, especially at night
  • the docks
  • Sea Lots
  • Belmont
  • Laventille
  • Morvant
  • Beetham
  • Barataria to the east, Cocorite to the west and everything in between
  • the interior of the Queens Park Savannah
  • Lady Young Road
  • scenic rest stops, especially after dark
  • areas around ATMs.

Attacks, including the use of firearms, have also occurred at popular tourist sites, hairdressing salons, licensed premises and in car parks of supermarkets, shopping malls and banks.

Crimes including rapes, assaults and robberies have taken place inside shared taxis. Shared, route and maxi-taxis pick up additional passengers along the route, putting you at risk. Taxis affiliated with major hotels and private taxis are safer transport options.

Crimes targeting foreigners are common. Tourists have been robbed when travelling from Piarco Airport. Gangs follow cars travelling from the airport and violently attack their victims when they reach their destinations. Robberies, assaults and carjackings have also occurred when travellers have stopped on the Beetham/Churchill Roosevelt Highway (which is also the airport route) late at night. There have been reports of attempts to illegally block traffic along Lady Young Road, an alternate airport route close to the city of Port of Spain.

Crimes targeting foreigners have also been reported at:

  • popular tourist sites such as Maracas and Las Cuevas beaches, Fort George and the La Brea Pitch Lake in south Trinidad. 
  • isolated beaches such as Englishman's Bay, King Peter's Bay and those in the Bacolet area in Tobago
  • popular water walls in Tobago.

Petty crime including bag snatching, pick-pocketing and theft from cars is common, especially near tourist attractions. Visible items left in unattended parked cars are prime targets for smash-and-grab style theft. 

Crimes of opportunity, including theft and robberies, rise significantly in the lead-up to Christmas until the end of Carnival, which is usually held in February or March.

  • Exercise a high degree of caution throughout Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Stay alert to your surroundings at all times.
  • Arrange your transport from the airport to your accommodation in advance. Use a hotel vehicle, a taxi affiliated with a major hotel vehicle or a private taxi.
  • Never use shared taxis or public transport.
  • Make sure there is a high level of security at your accommodation, including in private villas.
  • Don't carry large amounts of cash.
  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables, including your passport, in a secure location.
  • Don't tempt thieves – avoid wearing or displaying expensive watches, jewellery, cameras, phones or tablets/laptops.
  • Keep vehicle windows closed, doors locked and valuables out of sight at all times, including when moving.
  • Don't use ATMs on the street. Use ATMs in daylight hours in hotels, shopping centres or other controlled areas.
  • If you're female, avoid travelling alone, especially at night.
  • If your vehicle breaks down or you are in an accident on the Beetham/Churchill Roosevelt Highway, remove yourself from the area to a safe location before you seek assistance.
  • Due to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, if you become a victim of violent crime, especially rape, seek immediate medical assistance.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat in Trinidad and Tobago. An attack could occur at any time. Religious holidays and large crowds could be targeted.

There have been no recent terror attacks in Trinidad and Tobago but, on 8 February 2018, Trinidad and Tobago authorities arrested several individuals who planned to carry out attacks against Carnival. 

More than 100 Trinidad and Tobago nationals have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside Daesh (ISIL). The Government has a national counter-terrorism strategy and action plan to address violent extremism but those who travel to fight with Daesh are likely to pose a security threat on return.

  • Be alert to possible threats, especially in public places.
  • Exercise particular caution around locations known to be possible terrorist targets.
  • Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • Monitor the media for any new or emerging threats.
  • Take official warnings seriously.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so. 

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Civil unrest and political tension

You could encounter demonstrations or protests in Trinidad and Tobago. Large gatherings can turn violent.

  • Avoid all large gatherings, protests and demonstrations.
  • Monitor the media for reports of planned or possible unrest. Avoid affected areas.
  • Follow instructions from local authorities.

Local travel

Road travel

You're about three times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Trinidad and Tobago than in Australia. Hazards include poorly maintained roads, local driving practices and traffic congestion. High-speed accidents, particularly along the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway, often result in fatalities. Conditions on rural and mountain roads are particularly hazardous.

The road from Port of Spain to the popular Maracas beach area is narrow, windy, poorly maintained, subject to landslides and busy. Road users often drive in a dangerous manner.

There have been fatal accidents caused by erratic driving to and from Piarco International airport.

Security risks along several routes increase, especially at night. See Safety and security.

It's against the lawto use mobile phones while driving, except in 'hands-free' or Bluetooth mode. 

Trinidad and Tobago police administer tests at unannounced check-points and conduct traffic stops if driving under the influence of alcohol is suspected.

  • Check you have adequate insurance cover before driving.
  • Familiarise yourself with local traffic laws and practices before driving.
  • Drive defensively.
  • Avoid driving at night, unless on major highways.
  • Avoid travel outside major populated areas late at night and early in the morning.
  • Avoid travel to and from the Piarco International Airport late at night and early in the morning.

More information: Road travel

Driver's licence

You can drive in Trinidad and Tobago with a valid Australian driver's licence and an International Driving Permit (IDP). You must obtain your IDP before departing Australia.

Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when using a motorcycle, quad bike or similar vehicle. Your policy may not cover you for accidents that occur while using these vehicles. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet.

Taxis

Private taxis are available at airports and hotels. Private taxis in Trinidad and Tobago are unmetered and unmarked but can be identified by vehicle registration plates beginning with 'H'. The airport is served by the Airport Taxi Drivers' Cooperative.

Crime occurs on route and 'maxi taxis' (mini-buses) services. See Safety and security.

Public transport

Avoid public transport due to safety concerns. See Safety and security.

Sea travel

A number of cruise vessels stop in Trinidad and Tobago. See Going on a cruise?

An inter-island ferry operates between Trinidad and Tobago. Cancellations may occur with little or no notice. Check the status of your travel with the Port Authority.

A water taxi operates between Port of Spain and San Fernando. Purchase tickets at water taxi terminals.

Air travel

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Trinidad and Tobago. More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to the local laws and penalties, of Trinidad and Tobago, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

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.

Drug laws

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 screened thoroughly for drugs. More information: Drugs

Other laws

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

Homosexuality is illegal but penalties are only rarely enforced. More information: LGBTI travellers

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.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal offences apply overseas. You can be prosecuted for them in Australia. These offences include, but aren't limited to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child sex offences and child pornography
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law 

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

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.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may be illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel

Take legal prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Carry copies of your prescription and a dated letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, its generic name, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

HIV/AIDS

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

Insect-borne diseases

Yellow fever, a potentially fatal disease that is preventable by vaccination, is endemic in Trinidad.  

There is widespread transmission of Zika virus in Trinidad and Tobago. The Australian Department of Health advises pregnant women to discuss any travel plans with their doctor and defer non-essential travel to affected areas.

Other mosquito-borne illnesses, including dengue fever and chikungunya virus, commonly occur in both Trinidad and Tobago, especially during the rainy season (June to December).

Protect yourself against insect-borne diseases:

  • ensure your accommodation is insect proof, including with treated mosquito nets
  • take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
  • get vaccinated against yellow fever before travelling to the island of Trinidad
  • seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.

More information:

Other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis A) are prevalent. More serious outbreaks occur from time to time. 

  • Use good hygiene practices including frequent handwashing.
  • Boil drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid raw and undercooked food.
  • Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

The standard of medical facilities in Trinidad and Tobago is variable.

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) before treatment.

Tobago has one decompression chamber which is located in Roxborough in the north of the island.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to Miami or another destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.

Natural disasters

Trinidad and Tobago can experience hurricanes, severe storms and earthquakes.

If a natural disaster occurs:

If you're travelling to Trinidad and Tobago during hurricane season or following a natural disaster, monitor weather reports and contact your tour operator to check whether tourist services at your planned destination have been affected. Contact your airline for the latest flight information. 

Hurricanes

The hurricane season is June to November when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services may occur. Trinidad and Tobago is rarely affected by hurricanes but more commonly experiences severe storm conditions. The direction and strength of hurricanes can change with little warning.

If there is a hurricane or severe storm, you may not be able to leave the area. Flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended. Available flights may fill quickly. Access to sea ports could also be affected. Roads may be blocked. Power, communication systems and other essential services could be affected. In some areas, adequate shelter from a hurricane may not be available for all those who stay.

If a hurricane is approaching, follow the advice for all natural disasters above and:

More information: Severe weather

Earthquakes

Trinidad and Tobago is located in an active seismic zone and can experience earthquakes. Familiarise yourself with earthquake safety measures for each place you stay and visit.

More information:

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Police: 999
  • Fire services: 990
  • Ambulance: 990 or 811.

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism products and services

For complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas.  For consular assistance, contact the Australian High Commission in Port of Spain.

Australian High Commission, Port of Spain

18 Herbert Street, St Clair
Port of Spain
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Phone: (1 868) 822 5450
Fax: (1 868) 822 5490
Website: trinidadandtobago.highcommission.gov.au
Email: ahc.portofspain@dfat.gov.au
Facebook: Australia in the Caribbean

Check the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

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

Additional information

Additional resources