Safety, health and legal requirements for travel to puerto rico



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SAFETY, HEALTH AND LEGAL REQUIREMENTS

FOR TRAVEL TO PUERTO RICO

Do I need a passport?
No. When you travel to Puerto Rico, it's like going anywhere within the U.S. All you need is a driver’s license or other valid form of photo ID. In fact, Puerto Rico is one of only two destinations in the Caribbean (the other is the U.S. Virgin Islands) that do not require U.S. citizens to carry a passport. If you are NOT an USA citizen you will need a Passport, since you are entering USA territory (SEE section “ENTRY REQUIREMENTS AND CUSTOMS” BELOW).

Will my cell phone work?
Yes, your cell phone should work in San Juan and most of the cities.

Will I need to convert money?
No. The USA dollar is the only currency you’ll need.

Do I need to know Spanish?
Both Spanish and English are the official languages of Puerto Rico. In the big cities and in the islands of Vieques and Culebra, you can get by without a word of Spanish. The people who work in the tourist trade—waiters, shopkeepers, guides, etc.—usually speak fluent English. The police are another issue: it’s not easy to find an English speaking cop. The farther away you move into the less urban interior of the island, the more you’ll need to have some command of the language.

How’s the weather?
Good news! Leave the sweaters in the closet. Puerto Rico’s year-round temperature fluctuates from a balmy 71 degrees to a get-in-the-water 89 degrees. Still, the island does see its share of rain, mostly in the mountainous interior and during hurricane season. The driest months are January to April.

(The forecast in mainland Puerto Rico differs from that of Culebra and Vieques; check accordingly if you plan to travel to the islands.)



When is the best time to go?
This is a matter of some debate. Puerto Rico has two seasons, and these follow the weather. The peak travel period is December to April, when Americans escaping the winter invade the island by boat- and planeloads. In this season, you’ll pay the highest prices for hotels, and you’d be wise to reserve restaurants and activities in advance. The low season falls between May and November, and this is when travelers can find terrific deals on hotels, airfare, and vacation packages. Of course, June 1 to November 30 is also hurricane season.

Do I need to avoid hurricane season?
Hurricanes are no strangers to Puerto Rico, even though the island has not suffered a Category 4 or 5 storm since the 1930s. Hurricane Georges in 1998 did some damage, but it was the only storm that directly hit the island in the past 60 years. Still, a downgraded tropical storm can ruin your vacation just as effectively as a hurricane. If you’re planning a vacation during this season, make sure to check with the following resources for up-to-the-minute forecasts:

  • The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center provides online statistics and predictions.

  • The Weather Channel offers daily, weekly, and monthly data on every city it covers. You can also call 1-800-WEATHER to hear about up-to-date conditions ($0.95 per call).

Should I rent a car?
Most major national car rental companies have offices on the island, along with many local agencies. The highways are well paved and generally easy to navigate. But before you book your rental, consider the following:

  • Cost – In general, you’ll pay a bit more than the average price of a rental in the U.S. (try the local competition for better rates). You may also be required to pay liability insurance: credit cards that offer auto coverage in the continental U.S. don’t always extend that coverage to Puerto Rico, and your insurance company may not cover the island.

  • What do you want to do? – If you plan to explore the island in depth, you’ll definitely need a car. Also, people traveling to Vieques and Culebra should consider renting a jeep or car once they get there. But, if you are sticking around San Juan, forget the rental. Old San Juan is a walking city, and you can easily get around the city in a taxi or a bus. Parking and traffic can be a nightmare in the city, and a rental might be more trouble than it's worth.

  • Numeric Confusion – For reasons best known to themselves, Puerto Ricans use both miles and kilometers: distances are posted in kilometers, while speed limits are shown in miles. Also, gas is sold in liters, not gallons.

  • Traffic – Puerto Rican motorists are in a great, careening hurry to get places, and the orderly laws of road conduct are more loose guidelines than strict rules here. This makes for a sometimes harrowing experience for timid drivers. If aggressive drivers scare you, a rental might not be your thing.

Entry Requirements & Customs


Passports

Because Puerto Rico is a commonwealth, U.S. citizens coming from mainland destinations do not need passports to enter Puerto Rico. However, because of new airport security measures, it is necessary to produce a government-issued photo ID (federal, state, or local) to board a plane; this is most often a driver's license or birth certificate.



It's best to carry plenty of documentation. Be sure that your ID is up-to-date: An expired driver's license or passport, for example, might keep you from boarding a plane.

Visitors from other countries, including Canada, need a valid passport to land in Puerto Rico. For those from countries requiring a visa to enter the U.S., the same visa is necessary to enter Puerto Rico.

Virtually every air traveler entering the U.S. is required to show a passport. All persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America are required to present a valid passport. This includes most of the Caribbean except Puerto Rico. Note:  U.S. and Canadian citizens entering the U. S. at land and sea ports of entry from within the western hemisphere must now also present a passport or other documents compliant with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI; visit www.getyouhome.gov for details). Children 15 and under may continue entering with only a U.S. birth certificate, or other proof of U.S. citizenship.

It is advised to always have at least one or two consecutive blank pages in your passport to allow space for visas and stamps that need to appear together. It is also important to note when your passport expires. Many countries require your passport to have at least 6 months left before its expiration in order to allow you into the destination.

For other information, contact the following agencies:

For Residents of Australia -- Contact the Australian Passport Information Service (tel. 61/131-232), or visit www.passports.gov.au.

For Residents of Canada -- Contact the central Passport Office, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G3 (tel. 800/567-6868; www.ppt.gc.ca).

For Residents of Ireland -- Contact the Passport Office, Setanta Centre, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 (tel. 01/671-1633; www.foreignaffairs.gov.ie).

For Residents of New Zealand -- Contact the Passports Office, Department of Internal Affairs, 47 Boulcott St., Wellington, 6011 (tel. 0800/225-050 in New Zealand, or 04/474-8100; www.passports.govt.nz).

For Residents of the United Kingdom -- Visit your nearest passport office, major post office, or travel agency or contact the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), 89 Eccleston Square, London, SW1V 1PN (tel. 0300/222-0000; www.ips.gov.uk).

For Residents of the United States -- To find your regional passport office, check the U.S. Department of State website (travel.state.gov/passport) or call the National Passport Information Center (tel. 877/487-2778) for automated information.

Visas

The U.S. Department of State has a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allowing citizens of the following countries to enter the United States without a visa for stays of up to 90 days: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. (Note:  This list was accurate at press time; for the most up-to-date list of countries in the VWP, consult http://travel.state.gov/visa.) Even though a visa isn't necessary, in an effort to help U.S. officials check travelers against terror watch lists before they arrive at U.S. borders, visitors from VWP countries must register online through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before boarding a plane or a boat to the U.S. Travelers must complete an electronic application providing basic personal and travel eligibility information. The Department of Homeland Security recommends filling out the form at least 3 days before traveling. Authorizations will be valid for up to 2 years or until the traveler's passport expires, whichever comes first. Currently, there is no fee for the online application. Note: Any passport issued on or after October 26, 2006, by a VWP country must be an e-Passport for VWP travelers to be eligible to enter the U.S. without a visa. Citizens of these nations also need to present a round-trip air or cruise ticket upon arrival. E-Passports contain computer chips capable of storing biometric information, such as the required digital photograph of the holder. If your passport doesn't have this feature, you can still travel without a visa if the valid passport was issued before October 26, 2005, and includes a machine-readable zone; or if the valid passport was issued between October 26, 2005, and October 25, 2006, and includes a digital photograph. For more information, go to http://travel.state.gov/visa. Canadian citizens may enter the United States without visas, but will need to show passports and proof of residence.

Citizens of all other countries must have (1) a valid passport that expires at least 6 months later than the scheduled end of their visit to the U.S.; and (2) a tourist visa.

For information about U.S. Visas, go to http://travel.state.gov and click on "Visas." Or go to one of the following websites:



Australian citizens can obtain up-to-date visa information from the U.S. Embassy Canberra, Moonah Place, Yarralumla, ACT 2600 (tel. 02/6214-5600), or by checking the U.S. Diplomatic Mission's website at http://canberra.usembassy.gov/consul.

British subjects can obtain up-to-date visa information by calling the U.S. Embassy Visa Information Line (tel. 0891/200-290), or by visiting the "Visas to the U.S." section of the American Embassy London's website at www.usembassy.org.uk.

Irish citizens can obtain up-to-date visa information through the U.S. Embassy Dublin, 42 Elgin Rd., Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 (tel. 353/1-668-8777; http://dublin.usembassy.gov).

Citizens of New Zealand can obtain up-to-date visa information by contacting the U.S. Embassy New Zealand, 29 Fitzherbert Terrace, Thorndon, Wellington (tel. 644/472-2068; http://newzealand.usembassy.gov).



Customs

What You Can Bring into the U.S. -- U.S. citizens do not need to clear Puerto Rican Customs upon arrival by plane or ship from the U.S. mainland. Every visitor 21 years of age or older may bring in, free of duty, the following: (1) 1 U.S. quart of alcohol; (2) 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars (but not from Cuba), or 3 pounds of smoking tobacco; and (3) $100 worth of gifts. These exemptions are offered to travelers who spend at least 72 hours in the United States and who have not claimed them within the preceding 6 months. It is forbidden to bring into the country almost any meat products (including canned, fresh, and dried meat products such as bouillon, soup mixes, and so on). Generally, condiments including vinegars, oils, pickled goods, spices, coffee, tea, and some cheeses and baked goods are permitted. Avoid rice products, as rice can often harbor insects. Bringing fruits and vegetables is prohibited, since they may harbor pests or disease. International visitors may carry in or out up to $10,000 in U.S. or foreign currency with no formalities; larger sums must be declared to U.S. Customs on entering or leaving, which includes filing form CM 4790. For details regarding U.S. Customs and Border Protection, consult your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, or U.S. Customs (www.customs.gov).

What You Can Take Home from Puerto Rico -- U.S. CUSTOMS -- On departure, U.S.-bound travelers must have their luggage inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, because laws prohibit bringing fruits and plants to the U.S. mainland. Fruits and vegetables are not allowed, but otherwise, you can bring back as many purchased goods as you want without paying duty.

For information on what you're allowed to bring home, contact one of the following agencies:



U.S. Citizens: U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20229 (tel. 877/287-8667; www.cbp.gov).

Canadian Citizens: Canada Border Services Agency, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0L8 (tel. 800/461-9999 in Canada, or 204/983-3500; www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca).

U.K. Citizens: HM Customs & Excise, Crownhill Court, Tailyour Road, Plymouth, PL6 5BZ (tel. 0845/010-9000; from outside the U.K., 020/8929-0152; www.hmce.gov.uk). For information on importation of plants or animals, see the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) website (www.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/food/personal-import/topics/faq.htm).

Australian Citizens: Australian Customs Service, Customs House, 5 Constitution Ave., Canberra City, ACT 2601 (tel. 1300/363-263; from outside Australia, 612/6275-6666; www.customs.gov.au).

New Zealand Citizens: New Zealand Customs, The Customhouse, 17-21 Whitmore St., P.O. Box 2218, Wellington, 6140 (tel. 04/473-6099 or 0800/428-786; www.customs.govt.nz).

Medical Requirements

Unless you're arriving from an area known to be suffering from an epidemic (particularly cholera or yellow fever), inoculations or vaccinations are not required for entry into the United States.



Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

Read more: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/puerto-rico/744386#sthash.sIUU7isN.dpbs#ixzz3boaEWvEv
















Traveling to Puerto Rico


Take some time and travel to a tropical island. Hire a cast of thousands to play friendly, welcoming people most of whom speak English (in addition to their native Spanish). When you are looking for exotic locations, miles upon miles of white sand beaches, plus an unbelievable rain forest and mountains, you come to Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is a modern progressive and civilized vacation spot that maintains the charm and hospitality of days gone by. You will find everything that the Caribbean has to offer in this all around family destination - and with it is a people whose warmth is equaled only by the sunshine that graces its shores.

Before you go on your trip to Puerto Rico, find out all the basics and all the facts.

When to Go


Puerto Rico enjoys year round summer temperatures, an average annual temperature of 80°F (26°C). The peak tourist season is between December and April, but this has more to do with the climate in U.S. mainland than anything else. July and August represents another peak tourist seasons. The best time to avoid the crowds is the low season between May and November, which, unfortunately, coincides with hurricane season (officially -- from June 1 to November 30). In recent years, Puerto Rico has also become popular Spring Break destination.

How to Get and Around Puerto Rico


It's easy to find your way to and around. There is a wide selection of flights and cruises to Puerto Rico, and there are several ways of getting around when you arrive.

Best Places to Visit in Puerto Rico


Looking for the best of the best? Ask anyone individual and you will get as many different answers as people you ask. Each person sees a different picture of Puerto Rico. Sights, sounds and experiences will forever be embedded in the memories of those who come to visit. The Best of the Best by Frommers offers recommendations to visitors for a must see places, cities, or scenery.

Time


Atlantic Standard Time (AST) (EST +1; GMT -4) all year around, which means that the island does not observe Daylight Saving Time (one hour later than Eastern Standard Time (EST) from October to April, and the same as Eastern Daylight Saving Time from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October).

For the exact time of day call: 787-728-9595.


Gateways & Flying Times




From Puerto Rico To

By Air

By Sea

New York

3 ½ hours

2 ½ days

Los Angeles

8 hours

10 days

Miami

2 ½ hours

2 days

Atlanta

3 ¼ hours

 

Washington, DC

3 ½ hours

 

Chicago and Dallas

4 ½ hours

 

Toronto

4 ¼ hours

 

Europe

8 hours

14 days

Madrid

7 ¾ hours

 

Paris

10 hours

 

Brussels

10 ¼ hours

 

London

12 hours

 

Caracas

2 1/2 hours

 

Mexico City

5 3/4 hours

 

Sao Paolo

11 hours

 

Estimated travel time to arrive to major cities and other attractions from San Juan.

From

To

Time (hours)

Kilometers/Miles

San Juan

Aguadilla

2

130km/81mi

Camuy Caverns

1 ½

80km/55mi

El Yunque

¾

55km/35mi

Fajardo

¾

54km/34mi

Mayagüez

2 ½

160km/98mi

Ponce

1 ½

112km/70mi

Tourism Brochures and Other Literature


The Puerto Rico Tourism Company, the island's official tourist center, produces and distributes several publications. The most popular is Qué Pasa! magazine, a bimonthly magazine that extols Puerto Rico's vast number of tourist attractions and natural wonders available throughout the island. Featuring outstanding photography and packed with information, every issue of Qué Pasa! includes useful and fully updated lodging and restaurant listings, detailed full-color maps for touring the Island, engrossing feature articles plus vital information on Puerto Rico's history, local cuisine and night life, arts and crafts, folklore, sports and much more.

For a full information package, call the Puerto Rico Tourism Company at 1-800-866-7827. The official tourism guide is the Que Pasa! magazine, it includes information on accommodations, restaurants, shopping centers, casinos, transportation services, special events and fiestas.

Some other magazines and guides to look for include: Tables Magazine, Places to Go, San Juan Guide, Bienvenidos and Go To Puerto Rico Travel Planner.

You can also buy maps practically at any store or gas station. Many recommend the Puerto Rico Adventure Map, which contains the most current and accurate map information available. If you are renting a car, the car rental agency may also provide you with a map, usually by request.

If you prefer to study your route before traveling you can purchase or download maps online.

Accommodations


Puerto Rico offers a huge variety of lodgings that will appeal to a multiplicity of personalities and pocketbooks. There are 13,000 hotel rooms available in Puerto Rico (2010), 50% are located in the San Juan area. The government sponsors "Paradores Puertorriqueños", a group of 18 inns located throughout the island. Quality and prices varies among the group. A centralized reservation and information system has been set up. (From the U.S., call 1-800-443-0266. Outside of the San Juan metro area, call 1-800-981-7575. Within the San Juan area, call (787) 721-2884.)

If you are planning on renting, buying or leasing property on the island, Real Estate Agencies offer a variety of services, whether it is a small quiet home or a vacation rental, real estate agents will provide you with the information you need. There is a wide selection of rental properties available in San Juan and throughout the island at beach and resort areas.


Courtesy & Dress


Puerto Ricans are a gentle and friendly people. The island feels more like Latin America than the United States. Swim wear is fine for the beach and leisure wear for the resorts, but elsewhere a little dressing up is in order. Night time in San Juan is somewhat informal.

Light and loose cotton clothing is the best bet year-round for Puerto Rico's warm tropical climate. Pack a sweater for cool season evenings or if you plan to visit the mountain regions.

There are no nudist facilities (camps and/or beaches) in Puerto Rico. Nudism is illegal in Puerto Rico.

Getting Married in Puerto Rico


Puerto Rico is the perfect destination for an unforgettable wedding. The island provides a wide range of location options that you can choose from, colornial forts, sandy beaches and tropical forests.

Learn about how to apply for a marriage lincense in Puerto Rico.


Health and Medical Facilities


Health standards in Puerto Rico are generally comparable with those of the United States, its medical facilities are among the finest in the Caribbean. There are physicians and hospitals in all cities. For more information contact the "Departamento de Salud" (Department of Health), (787) 766-1616.

Physicians 1 doctor per 523 people

Hospital beds (1 per 381 persons) (1993-94)

Infant mortality rate: total: 9.14 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)


Handicapped Facilities


Like all major destinations in the world, Puerto Rico provides comfortable conditions for travelers with disabilities. Since Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States business that provides goods or services to the public must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

All public buildings are wheelchair accessible and have accessible rest rooms. Most hotels and attractions provide wide doorways, wheelchair ramps and elevators.

For information call: (787) 721-2800, Ex. 1549.

Medications


Bring enough prescription medication for your stay. Unexpected delays and extended stays can upset your medication regimen. Similar to the United States, pharmacists cannot distribute prescription medications without authorization from a doctor.

Vaccinations


No vaccinations are required for visitors to Puerto Rico. However, those arriving from, or transiting through countries where a health epidemic has been formally declared, may need proof of vaccination before they can enter the island.

Vital Records


Puerto Rico Department of Health issues certified copies of Puerto Rico birth certificates, death records, marriage licenses, and divorce decrees for events that occurred within Puerto Rico.

For faster service, visit one of the many offices located throughout the island.


Personal Safety


Robbery and theft does happen occasionally as any place else, but you need not be concerned. Just don't be too careless. Women can wear as much jewelry as they want anywhere (as the locals do) with no fear.

Always keep a copy of your documents with you. Take precaution and make copies of your important documents. Keep a copy at home. Take a copy with you and leave the originals in a safe place in your hotel room or wherever you are staying.


Travel Insurance


It is a good idea to take out travel insurance covering cancellations, lost or stolen property, injury, and illness. You're likely to have partial or complete coverage.

Some credit and charge cards provide health insurance for travelers.


Relative Costs


Budget meal: US $3-15

Moderate restaurant meal: US $15-30

Top-end restaurant meal: US $30 and up

Budget room: US $40-75

Moderate hotel: US $75-200

Top-end hotel: US $200 and up


Taxes & Tips


Puerto Rico has a 5.5% sales tax. Municipalities have the option of imposing an additional sales tax of up to 1.5% (effective on November 15, 2006). In addition, in the event that the governor determines an insufficiency in collections for the general fund an additional 1% to the central government will be imposed.

Tipping is much the same as in the States. In hotels, major restaurants and nightclubs services charges are usually included. However, many inexpensive restaurants do not add service charge. If it isn't, tip between 15% and 20%.

Read about other travel tips.

Business Hours


Most commercial businesses operate from 8:30am or 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday. Government offices are open 8:30am to 4:30pm. Banking hours are 9:30am to 3:30pm. Department stores and malls are generally open Monday through Thursday and Saturday from 8am to 6pm On Friday, stores have a long day: 8am to 9pm. Many stores also open on Sunday from 11am to 5pm.

Casinos


They are located in many hotels around the Island. Proper dressing should be observed by men and women. People under 18 are not allowed.

Sports


Puerto Ricans love sports. Any sport you can do in the Caribbean, you can do in Puerto Rico.

Liquor Laws


You must be 18 years old to purchase liquor in stores or buy drinks in hotels, bars, and restaurants. A municipal statute forbids alcohol consumption on the streets of many cities, like San Juan. It is illegal to operate motor vehicle at or above .08 blood alcohol level.

Festivals


You will find a full calendar of events to choose from throughout the year. Every year, each town celebrates a patron saint festival. The festivities include crafts, music, food, parades and religious processions. The activities usually take place at the town plaza. In addition, festivals featuring something special about each town is celebrated, like the San Sebastian Street Festival, the Ponce Carnival, and the Aibonito Flower Festival, among many others.

Shopping


Shoppers from the Caribbean and beyond are drawn to metropolitan San Juan, Plaza Las Americas in Hato Rey is the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean, containing 190 stores, including J.C. Penney's, Sears, Macy's, and dozens of smaller stores for clothing, gifts, electronics, cosmetics, etc. (787) 767-1525. Other commercial centers: Plaza Carolina in Carolina, Río Hondo in Levittown, Plaza del Carmen in Caguas and Mayagüez Mall in Mayagüez, Plaza de Aguadilla in Aguadilla, and Plaza del Caribe in Ponce.

In almost all cities there are regional commercial centers. Retail stores like: Sears, Wal-Mart, Kmart and JCPenny anchor shopping centers and malls alongside locally owned shops and island chain stores.

Do not forget that Puerto Rico is a large producer of rum, with many different types ranging from light rums for mixing with soft drinks to dark brandy-type rums. Hand made cigars can still be found in Old San Juan and Puerta de Tierra. A wide variety of imported goods from all over the world are available. Local artesanías include wooden carvings, musical instruments, lace, ceramics, hammocks, masks and basket-work.

Craft Shops


For information about island crafts and visits to island artisans, contact:

  • Fomento Crafts Program (787) 758-4747 Ext. 2291.

  • Puerto Rico Tourism Company artisan office (787) 721-2400 Ext. 2201, 2080.

  • Institute of Puerto Rican Culture Popular Arts Center (787) 722-0621.

Tourism (2010)


Tourist Arrivals: 3,737,142

Cruise Passagers: 1,191,055

Hotel Rooms: 13,311

Average Length of Stay (nights): 2.6


Economic Development


Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company, (888) 577-4326.

Chamber of Commerce


Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce/Camara de Comercio, (787) 721-6060.

Foreign Chamber of Commerce


Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce in the U.S., Box 899, Ansonia Sta., New York, NY 10016.

Customs and Immigration


There are no passports or visas necessary for United States citizens, which mean that US citizens can travel freely in and out of the island without going through immigration or customs. US citizens only need to have some form of official government issued picture identification to enter Puerto Rico such as a current driver's license or a photo-identification card issued to non-drivers by a state's motor vehicles department. For additional information, contact your local U.S. embassy. or call the Puerto Rico State Department at (787) 722-2121.

Citizens of other countries have the same requirements as for entering the USA. Potential visitors must first obtain a visa, either a non-immigrant visa for temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The 90-day "visitor" visa is a non-immigrant visa to enter the United States temporarily. Those planning to travel to Puerto Rico for a different purpose, such as study or temporary work, must apply for specialized visas (either an M-1 or F-1 class). A visa is not a guarantee of entry into Puerto Rico. The bearer of a visa is subject to inspection at the port of entry by U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials who have authority to deny admission (Homeland Security Advisor, La Fortaleza, P.O. Box 9020082, San Juan, PR 00902-0082 - 787-977-7730 / 7731).

At the airports in Puerto Rico, your luggage will be inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make sure you are not carrying prohibited fruits and plants to the mainland. Avocado, papaya, coconut and plantain can be taken to the U.S.; mango, sour sop, passion fruit and plants potted in soil cannot. Travelers carrying undeclared prohibited items will be fined on the spot. Articles from Vietnam, North Korea, Kampuchea or Cuba, illegal publications, lottery tickets, chocolate liqueurs or pre-Columbian artifacts may not be brought into the country.

Passing through customs should be routine and quick. If you are taking prescription drugs, make sure you have a copy of the prescription with you; otherwise you could be held up.

If you want a copy of what is and is not permitted back on the mainland, write the U.S. Agriculture Department, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, 4700 River Road, Riverdale, MD 20737 or call (787) 796-1650.

Traveling with Pets


Before taking a flight with your animal, have your veterinarian examine your pet to ensure that it is healthy enough to make the trip. Airlines and State health officials generally require health certificates for all animals transported by air. You will be required to: 1) Outfit your pet with a sturdy collar and two identification tags. The tags should have both your permanent address and telephone number and an address and telephone number where you can be reached while traveling. 2) Rabies quarantine certificate from veterinary doctor stating that pet has had a rabies shot. For more information contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture Puerto Rico office, Veterinary Division at (787) 766-6050.

Traveling with Firearms


According to Federal Regulations, anyone carrying a firearm, must declare the firearm upon check-in, complete a Declaration of Armed Individual, and ask for further instructions.

On July 22, 2004, President George W. Bush signed into effect the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 (LEOSA). This law creates a mechanism by which qualified active and retired sworn law enforcement officers are permitted to carry a concealed weapon anywhere within the jurisdiction of the United States, subject to certain limitations, provided that officers are carrying their official badges and photographic identification.

The title defines the term "state" to include the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and all US possessions excluding the Panama Canal Zone.

For rates and further information on automobile transportation contact Puerto Rico's main maritime shipping agency; Sea Star Line, (www.seastarline.com) (787) 721-2330 or toll-free at 1 (877) 775-7447.

For information on estimated tax liability contact the Puerto Rico Treasury Department ("Departamento de Hacienda, Negociado de Arbitrios Generales"), at (787) 721-1257. You can also contact the Office of Excise Taxes at (787) 721-6237 or (787) 721-0338 for assistance.

Embassies & Consulates


Because Puerto Rico is part of the United States, Puerto Rico is represented abroad by US Embassies and Consulates.

Puerto Rico hosts Consulates from 42 countries from the Western Hemisphere and Europe. Most consulates are located in San Juan.


Puerto Rico Tourism Company Offices


The Puerto Rican Tourism Company operates offices around the island and numerous regional offices in countries around the world. Some of them listed below.

Puerto Rico Main Office


La Princesa Bldg. #2 Paseo La Princesa
Old San Juan, P.R. 00902

P.O. Box 902-3960


San Juan, P.R. 00902-3960
(787) 721-2400
1-800-866-7827

New York
135 West, 50th Street, 22nd Floor


New York, NY 10020
(212) 586-6262 / (800) 223-6530

California


3575 W. Cahuenga Blvd., Suite 405
Los Angeles, CA 90068
(323) 874-5991 / (800) 874-1230 - Ext. 10

Canada
6-295 Queen Street East


Suite 465
Brampton, Ontario L6W 4S6
(416) 368-2680 /
(800) 667-0394 within Canada only

Spain
Calle Serrano 1, 2 A


28001 Madrid
34-91-431-2128

Germany
Schenkendorfstr.1


65187 Wiesbaden
49 611 2676710

Emergency Numbers


In Puerto Rico in the case of an emergency (police, ambulance or fire), call 911. If there is no 911 service or for non-life-threatening emergencies, such as a traffic accident without injuries, call the Puerto Rico police department phone number, which is generally the regional prefix plus 2020.

Helplines and Agencies



  • Emergency Services: 911

  • Police: 787-343-2020

  • Ambulance: 787-343-2222

  • Civil Defense: 787-724-0124

  • Fire Department: 787-343-2330

  • F.B.I: 787-754-6000

  • U.S. Secret Service: 787-766-5539

  • U.S. Coast Guard: 787-729-6770

Other important numbers:

  • Abuse of Minors: 787-749-1333

  • American Red Cross Blood Bank: 787-759-7979

  • Federal Marshals: 787-766-6000

  • Federal Secret Service: 787-766-5539

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): 787-729-7637

  • Humane Society of Puerto Rico: 787-720-9398

  • Tourist Information: 787-722-1709

  • Toxic, chemical and oil spills: 1-800-424-8800

Other Resources:

  • Bureau of Consular Affairs U.S. Department of State

  • Currency converter

  • Health Center Statistics (PDF)

  • Master Card®/Cirrus® ATM Locator

  • Paradores de Puerto Rico Map Source: Frommer's Puerto Rico, 5th Edition

  • Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association

  • The Pulse of of Tourism (PDF), December 2009, from Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico

  • Shipping a Car to Puerto Rico

  • The Universal Currency Converter™

  • U.S. State Department - Passport Services and Information


Currency


Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the US and uses the dollar. The US dollar is often referred to as the "peso."

Currency Exchange

Currency Exchange can be arranged through many institutions in Puerto Rico, including:



  • Banco Popular. Foreign currency exchange: any branch. International division, second floor, 1500 Ponce de León, corner Europa, Santurce, (787) 723-0077.

  • Caribbean Foreign Exchange. 201B Tetuan, Old San Juan. (787) 722-8222.

  • Thomas Cook Foreign Exchange. International Airport, Isla Verde. (787) 791-1960, (787) 791-2233. Popular Center Building, Hato Rey (787) 754-2228.

  • Scotia Bank of Puerto Rico. Canadian exchange only. Any branch. (787) 758-8989.

  • Western Union. Cable money transfer. All Pueblo supermarkets (800) 325-4046.

Banking hours are 9am to 3:30pm.

Currency Exchange Rates

US$ 1.00 =

AU$ 1.20

CA$ 1.06

NZ$ 1.35

� 0.50

EUR .74

JPY 122.1

Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Forms of Payment

Travellers' Checks, Debit and Credit Cards


All major credit cards are widely accepted: American Express, Visa, Diner's Club, Discovery, Master Card and other Bank credit cards. You can also access your money at thousands of ATMs throughout the island.

Notes: (1) It is recommended that you inform you bank before travelling abroad.



(2) Overseas credit card charges may apply.


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