SAFETY TIPS

SAFETY AND SECURITY

VIOLENT CRIME

Violent crime, including armed robbery and murder, is a problem in large cities despite the presence of police to counter criminal activity. The availability of firearms is widespread, and most violent drug- and gang-related crimes, especially murder, involve firearms. There is a risk of becoming the victim of crossfire in these areas.

Due to high violent crime rates in Jamaica, several states of emergency are in effect in various parishes throughout the country.

During a state of emergency, joint police-military forces are deployed to address organized crime and restore public peace. Security forces are also given increased rights to conduct searches, seizures, and detain persons of interest. Curfews may be imposed without notice.

 If you’re travelling in the affected areas:

  • always cooperate with military and police officers
  • carry valid ID at all times and be prepared for various checkpoints
  • avoid outings outside resorts or the town core after dark
  • allow extra time to reach your destination
  • monitor local news to stay informed on the states of emergency in effect
  • follow the instructions of local authorities

The following areas have a significant gang population and high incidences of violent crime:

GREATER KINGSTON

  • Arnett Gardens
  • August Town
  • Cassava Piece
  • Central Village in Spanish Town
  • Denham Town
  • Grant’s Pen
  • Hannah Town
  • Harbour View
  • Mountain View
  • Olympic Gardens
  • Payneland
  • Portmore
  • Tivoli Gardens
  • Trench Town
  • West Kingston
  • Whitfield Town

MONTEGO BAY

  • Canterbury
  • Flankers
  • Hart Street
  • Mount Salem
  • Norwood Gardens
  • Rose Heights
  • St. Clavers Avenue

Reports of violence perpetrated against tourists are actually very low, however, but you should:

  • maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times, particularly at night
  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • monitor local media
  • not walk alone even during the day
  • go out in groups with people that you know
  • avoid visiting beaches and isolated areas at night
  • not use buses at night
  • not resist if you are a victim of crime, as resistance may provoke the use of violence

PETTY CRIME

Crimes of opportunity, including petty theft, pickpocketing and bag-snatching, are common in major tourist areas.

  • Ensure that your personal belongings and travel documents are secure at all times.
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash or show signs of affluence.
  • Protect your cell phone, which is a popular item for theft.
  • Use the hotel safe to secure your valuables.
  • Don’t leave valuables in plain view, even while you are in your hotel room.
  • Enquire with reception upon check-in on security precautions related to theft from hotel rooms.

FRAUD

Credit card and ATM fraud occurs. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:

  • pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
  • use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
  • avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
  • cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
  • check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements

Overseas fraud

ASSAULT

Be wary of “friendly” strangers. There have been reports of alleged sexual assaults at tourist resorts carried out by resort staff and, in some cases, by other tourists. Women travelling alone are often harassed. Refrain from excessive drinking, especially at all-inclusive resorts. Although most hotels and resorts are well guarded, ensure that your hotel room doors and windows are secure.

Be particularly vigilant if you are staying at a smaller or isolated establishment with less security. Compounds that are gated and guarded are considered the safest accommodation option in Jamaica.

Safe-travel guide for women

SPIKED FOOD AND DRINKS

Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum, or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.

WATER ACTIVITIES AND BEACHES

Rescue services may not be consistent with international standards.

Hotels and resorts may not have lifeguards on beaches or may lack warning systems for local water conditions. While private beaches with security guards are generally safer than public beaches, never leave your personal belongings unattended when swimming.

Use only reputable and professional guides or tour operators when booking for recreational activities and ensure that sporting and aquatic equipment is safe and in good condition.

Water safety abroad

DEMONSTRATIONS

Demonstrations may occur. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations

More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)

ROAD SAFETY

Coastal roads are in fair condition but driving in inland is dangerous due to narrow, winding and badly maintained roads that are also poorly lit at night. Weather conditions can damage or render some roads temporarily impassable. Stay on main roads as much as possible. Speeding and driving under the influence of marijuana or alcohol are common. Motorists should keep vehicle windows closed, doors locked and valuables hidden. Roadside assistance is available island wide.

When driving between Norman Manley International Airport and Kingston, take the South Camp Road (also known as the hummingbird route) rather than Mountain View Avenue, where several robbery incidents have been reported.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Public transportation is not safe due to high levels of crime and overcrowding.

Knutsford Express offers reliable and comfortable bus transportation between major towns.

Avoid taking unmarked taxis due to the risk of robbery and sexual assault. Use only taxis ordered from hotels and authorized by the Jamaica Union of Travellers Association (JUTA). These are identified by red-and-white “PP” licence plates and a lime-green JUTA sticker on the window. Since taxis are not metered, agree on the fare in advance and do not share a taxi with strangers.

AIR TRAVEL

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

General information about foreign domestic airlines