If you’ve never been to Barbados, surely you’ve heard of it as a popular vacation destination. The island country of Barbados lies in the East Caribbean and is an independent British Commonwealth. Foreign visitors to Barbados, including U.S. citizens, are required to present a valid passport to enter the country, as well as proof of their anticipated departures (e.g., return tickets). Passports should be valid at the time of travel, and only one page for a passport entry stamp is required. 

should you carry your passport around with you in Barbados when you travel?

Bridgetown, Barbados’ capital city, is a common cruise stop, featuring lovely colonial architecture, including Nidhe Israel, a medieval Jewish synagogue dating back to 1654.

The scenic tropical island also features beaches, caves, botanical gardens, and 17th-century plantation-era structures, including the famous St. Nicholas Abbey.

As in Great Britain, the country of its origin, Barbados boasts traditions such as afternoon tea and a national fanaticism for the sport of cricket. English is the primary language in Barbados, the weather is warm and temperate year-round, and the best-priced season to visit is from mid-April to November.

Do You Need a Visa to Enter Barbados?

Barbados does not require visas for tourists staying for up to six months. You can find information about longer-term visas for staying in Barbados at one of the country’s embassies, consulates, or on its website.

Do Cruise Passengers Need a Passport to Enter Barbados?

Travelers going to Barbados via cruise ship are allowed to use some other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant documentation, though a valid passport is highly recommended for cruise ship passengers as well. If a cruise passenger needs to return home from Barbados by plane for whatever reason, he or she will want to have their valid passport handy.  

Should I Carry My Passport When I Travel Throughout Barbados?

Barbados is a friendly country, especially to American and British tourists, and random police stops are rare to none. Be sure to have some sort of valid photo identification on you, as well as a photocopy of your passport handy, just in case. You may be asked to present these documents/photocopies at your hotel or bank. You can leave your passport securely locked away in your hotel room while traveling around Barbados. 

Traveling Safely With Your Passport

If you prefer to carry an original hardcopy of your passport with you as you travel around Barbados, carry it safely inside a security pocket of your pants, or in a money/security belt around your waist. Also keep a photocopy of your passport locked up at your hotel, and carry a photocopy with you securely in another pocket with you along with a valid photo identification.

As one added layer of security, scan your passport, and any travel insurance documentation, then email these scans to yourself so you can easily access them electronically if you should be required to.

The U.S. State Department highly recommends that you treat your passport like a valuable by keeping it secured under lock and key at your hotel while touring around.

Can the U.S. Embassy Intervene on Behalf of U.S. Citizens in Barbados?

The United States and Barbados have been on friendly terms since Barbados declared its independence from Great Britain back in 1966, so U.S. diplomatic efforts may have further reach in Barbados compared to its influence with other countries’ governments. A U.S. passport is not a way to avoid legal peril if you should find yourself in a bad situation.

Tips for Entry, Exit, and Traveling Through Barbados

1 – U.S. citizen tourists tend to be left alone as opposed to being targeted by criminals in Barbados. Theft, burglary, break-ins, etc., and even some violent crimes including sexual assault, shootings, murder, and drug-related violence do occur from time to time. Travelers, including U.S. citizens, are highly encouraged to remain vigilant in Barbados, especially in urbanized areas and tourist hotspots.

2 – Never leave valuables and possessions lying around unsecured in vehicles, hotel rooms, rental homes, beaches, public and tourist areas, etc. Avoid walking around alone, especially in metro areas, on beaches, and at night, and stay away from poorly lit areas.

3 – Travel only in clearly marked taxis and rideshares if you need to. Never get in a vehicle with an officially affiliated driver or other strangers.

4 – Don’t display expensive items out in the open or a lot of jewelry. Especially avoid taking lots of cash out in public.

5 – Travel with a companion and/or in groups, and stay on the beaten, well-lit path when it comes to night activities in reputable areas and venues. Vary your travel routines and avoid traveling using the same route every single day.

6 – Carefully assess any and all risks associated with recreational water activities, including your own physical condition and athletic skills. Be mindful of boat activity around the beach if you’re swimming. Don’t roam around alone, especially on isolated beaches or get on any watercraft with strangers. Stay away from water deeper than your waist if you’ve been drinking alcohol. 

7 – Avoid displaying flashy jewelry, expensive electronics, and large amounts of cash.

8 – Always be mindful and astute in your surroundings. Report suspicious goings-on immediately to police at #211.

9 – Never leave your drink alone in public and don’t accept drinks from strangers.

10 – Watch out for crowded shopping areas and markets, especially during the holiday season. Also be vigilant during events, celebrations, concerts, festivals, etc. Be extra vigilant on cruises and at parties.

11 – It is recommended that all U.S. citizens enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for important alerts, security messages, alerts, and to make it easier to be located during an emergency.

12 – Avoid illegal activities like purchasing/using drugs (including marijuana) and engaging with prostitutes. Note that camouflage is illegal for civilians to wear in public places.

13 – Avoid purchasing or trying to sell counterfeit or pirated goods, as this can possibly get you into legal trouble.

14 – Do NOT enter the country with firearms and/or ammunition without prior permission from the government of Barbados. Contact the Embassy of Barbados with any and all questions regarding traveling with firearms.

15 – Visitors to Barbados are subject to all local laws. Violation of these laws can get you arrested, imprisoned, and even deported. This includes drug possession, use, or distribution. Barbados imposes heavy penalties for drug violations in the form of expensive fines and extensive incarceration.

The U.S. Embassy cannot do much for you if you’ve been caught violating Barbados’ laws.  Some crimes, including those against minors and elders, are also punishable in the United States, regardless of where these violations occurred or of what the local laws will allow.

If you should be arrested or detained, ask the police or other officials to alert your home country’s embassy immediately. 

16 – Never wear camouflage in public, including children. It is also illegal to carry items (like backpacks) that feature camouflage material. 

17 – Before visiting Barbados (or any other country), it’s recommended for travelers to be current with all vaccinations required by their home health administration office (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for U.S. citizens). Always check the country’s website for pertinent information regarding other vaccinations that might be required.

Travelers in Barbados may encounter tropical diseases like Chikungunya, Dengue, and/or Zika.

18 – The medical care available in Barbados is impressively advanced compared to other Caribbean countries. Note that medical transportation may take several hours to respond to an emergency situation. Ambulance attendants in Barbados are NOT allowed to administer lifesaving measures (like CPR) during transport to a medical facility.

19 – For U.S. citizens, the Medicare and Medicaid programs do not cover medical expenses, nor does the U.S. Embassy. It’s recommended to purchase personal medical Insurance for yourself and your family members traveling with you: Double check that your health insurance plan offers coverage in foreign countries. It’s also strongly recommended to purchase supplemental medical evacuation insurance.

20 – If you happen to be on prescription medication, it’s a good idea to verify with the Barbados government that your prescription medication is legal to bring into their country. Always carry prescription medication in its original packaging with your doctor’s signed prescription.

21 – Like in England, driving in Barbados is on the left-hand side of the road. vehicles involved in any accident need to remain unmoved until police arrive on the scene.

22 – Main roads tend to be well-marked and safe to drive on, though you may encounter lots of potholes. Rural roads can be narrow, or not well-marked, with inconsistent maintenance and frequent blind curves. Drive with caution especially out in the country and especially at night. Watch for crossing pedestrians and animals. Watch for sudden braking by vehicles ahead of you.

23 – Public transportation and registered rideshares and taxis tend to be safe, though you’ll likely want to avoid private minibuses (“Zed buses,” with license plates beginning with the letter “Z”) because they’re known for their drivers’ crazy and unpredictable driving. 

Victims of any crime should report those crimes immediately to local authorities, as well as to the embassies of their home countries. Though embassies can help you with documentation and even means to return home if needed, local authorities possess the jurisdiction necessary to investigate and prosecute crimes.

So, Should You Carry Your Passport With You in Barbados?

Though you’ll need a passport and proof of return passage to enter Barbados, you are not required to carry a passport with you while visiting. Keep it safely locked up in your hotel room. Carry a valid photo ID and a photocopy of your passport in case you should need to present it at your hotel or bank. You won’t need a visa for visiting Barbados as a tourist for up to six full months.


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