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General Info about Jamaica

Visa Requirements
All US and Canadian citizens need to enter Jamaica is a valid passport, once they are not staying longer than six months. Citizens of the Commonwealth do not require a visa to enter Jamaica either. Japanese natives can enter Jamaica on a valid passport once they are not staying over a period of 30 days. All other nationalities should contact their nearest Jamaican embassy to find out the requirements on entering the country.

Currency
The official unit of currency in Jamaica is the Jamaican Dollar (J$) which is divided into 100 cents. Notes come in denominations of J$5, J$10, J$20, J$50, J$100, J$500 and J$1000. The US dollar is widely accepted also.

Language
Jamaica's official language is English. A regional dialect which mixes African, French and Spanish is also widely spoken.

Climate
Jamaica enjoys a very tropical climate and has an annual average temperature of 37 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit). It can sometimes gets very hot and humid. Rainy seasons last from May to June and again from September to October.

Medical Care
There are hospitals in all the island's main cities. The emergency telephone number for the ambulance is 110.

It is advised that you take out travel insurance before going. You can now purchase travel insurance on Hosteljamaica.com. Click here for further details.

Time Zone
Jamaica is in the Eastern Standard Time zone. This is five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time.

Opening Hours
Business hours are generally from 8.30am-4.30pm Monday-Friday and generally aren't open on Saturdays. Shopping hours are between 9am-5pm and open from Monday-Saturday, with some opening on Sunday also.

Banks open from 9am-2pm Monday-Thursday and until 3pm on Fridays.

Tourist Offices
Tourist offices are all over the country, particularly in the bigger cities and towns.

Tax
A government tax of up to 15% is applied to most goods and services in Jamaica and is called General Consumption Tax (GCT). The service charge in restaurants and hotels is sometimes only taxed at 6.5%, with a service charge also.

Currency Exchange
For the best rates on changing foreign currency go to the banks. Foreign exchange booths are also in operation but don't give the same rates.

Electricity
The standard electrical current in Jamaica is 110 volts, AC 50HZ. 220 Volts is available in some hotels.

Telephones
When ringing internationally from Jamaica simply dial 00 plus the country code, the area code (dropping the 0) and the local number.

When ringing Jamaica from overseas dial 00 plus the country code which is1 876 and the area code (drop the 0) followed by the local number.

Post Office
There are post offices found all over the island. Along with that most hotels will have posting facilities for letters and postcards.

Tipping
Tipping is at your own discretion. Some restaurants will add a service charge so just check first. Whether you give any further tip is up to you.

Public Holidays
It is good to take note what a country's public holidays are as shops, banks etc usually close for these days.

In Jamaica the public holidays are New Years Day (1st January Day), Ash Wednesday (February/March), Good Friday and Easter Monday (March/April), Labour Day (23rd May), Emancipation Day (1st August), Independence Day (6th August), National Heroes Day (3rd Monday in October), Christmas Day (25th December) and Boxing Day (26th December).

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