Preface Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:00 AM
Although more developed than many of its neighboring islands,
Barbados remains a developing, third world country. The U.S. Mission
here has approximately 160 employees and a strong regional focus.
The Chief of Mission is also accredited to the less developed
countries of St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and
Barbuda, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The consular
district covers dependent territories as far north as the British
Virgin Islands. Many Mission employees have regional
responsibilities in as many as 11 countries and travel frequently.
This may require adjustments for both employees and families.
Barbados has about 268,000 inhabitants, about 80,000 of whom
reside in the capital, Bridgetown. The pace of life is slower than
in the U.S. but is becoming more hectic with a rapid increase in the
number of vehicles on the island. However it is still quite common
for a driver to stop in the middle of the road to chat with a
passerby, completely blocking traffic. Motorists share the narrow,
shoulderless roads with bicyclists, joggers, pedestrians, pushcarts,
slow‑moving agricultural vehicles, and large buses. Sidewalks are
rare outside the town center. Cultural activities are not as diverse
or sophisticated as in a large metropolitan capital, and most are
oriented to the tourist trade. Some locally produced drama, dance,
and classical and jazz music presentations are held throughout the
year. Shopping opportunities are generally adequate, but selections
are limited and prices may be double U.S. prices. Those who enjoy
the beach, water sports, tennis, golf, or horseback riding will find
ample recreational opportunities in Barbados.
Younger children do well here; older children often miss the
entertainment and cultural options found in a larger country. Most
Embassy children over age 14 attend boarding schools in the U.S.
Many Embassy families feel the need to travel to the U.S. once or
twice a year for shopping, recreation and environmental change.
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:01 AM
Barbados lies about 270 miles northeast of Venezuela and 1,612
miles southeast of Miami. The island is 21 miles long and 14 miles
wide with an area of 166 square miles. Constant westward tradewinds
temper the tropical climate throughout the year.
Situated 100 miles to the east of the Caribbean Windward Island
chain, Barbados is distinct from those islands by the fact that it
is a coral island, rather than volcanic, and relatively flat.
Mt. Hillaby, the highest point, is only 1,104 feet above sea
level. Bridgetown, the capital, is located on the southwest corner
of the island. The west and south coast areas are densely populated,
with hotels, residential, and commercial areas intermingling. The
rugged, windswept East Coast boasts the scenic Scotland District.
The currents on the East Coast are very dangerous, and swimming is
forbidden on many of its beaches. The interior of the island rises
gently and sugarcane fields are interspersed with villages, farms,
and the occasional plantation Great House.
Temperatures in Barbados vary little during the year, averaging
about 77°F (25°C) and rarely rising above 89°F (32°C) or falling
below 65°F (18°C). However, the intensity of the sun this near to
the Equator often makes it seem much hotter, especially when
combined with high humidity. During July through October, the rainy
season as well as the hurricane season, high humidity levels make
the weather quite uncomfortable. During the “dry”winter months from
November through May, which is the tourist season, it is more
comfortable and can even become cool in the evenings. However, even
in these months a significant amount of rain can fall.
Population Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:02 AM
Approximately 268,000 people live in Barbados, with about 80,000
of them residing in the capital of Bridgetown.
Arawak Indians are thought to have once lived here, only to be
destroyed by the fierce Carib Indians who then abandoned the island.
Barbados was uninhabited when British sailors landed in 1627 at what
is now Holetown. As the sugar industry developed into the main
commercial interest, Barbados was divided into huge estates. Slaves
were brought from Africa to work the plantations until slavery was
abolished throughout the British Empire in 1834.
Barbados is more densely populated than other Eastern Caribbean
islands. The people of Barbados came from Africa, England, South
America, North America, other Caribbean nations, and, more recently,
from Asian countries. Over 90% of the population is directly
descended from African slaves, and they dominate the island’s
politics. Over the last 20 years, interest in the country’s African
cultural heritage has grown. Approximately 20% of the population are
of mixed black and white blood, with shades of skin color playing an
important role in defining how Barbadians view one another. This can
be seen in the variety of terms used to describe the variations
between black and white: brown skin, light skin, fair skin, high
brown, red, and mulatto among them. About 7% of the population is
white, and still controls much of the economic activity on the
island. Since the mid-1980s, willingness on the part of educated
blacks and others to discuss racial issues has led to heated
debates. However, racially motivated violence is almost nonexistent.
Barbadians consider themselves as friendly, relaxed, and
informal, and many visitors to Barbados who stay for only a few days
or weeks leave with that same impression. Expatriates who live here,
however, perceive Barbadians as more reserved, formal, and less
spontaneous and outgoing than other West Indian peoples. They are
not nearly as quick as Americans to call people by their first
names, resorting more often to titles and formal styles of address.
A proud people, some Barbadians may take offense easily to any
perceived slight. Embassy officers usually find it necessary to
observe protocol scrupulously when dealing with government
English is the official language in all the countries to which
the Chief of Mission is accredited, but dialects vary from country
to country in the region, as well as from parish to parish on each
island. Most Americans need some time to adapt to the heavy
Barbadian (Bajan) dialect, which for newcomers can be impossible to
understand. A French patois is spoken widely in St. Lucia, Dominica
and in certain areas of St. Vincent, as these islands have spent
some time under French control.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:04 AM
From the arrival of the first British settlers in 1627 until
independence in 1966, Barbados was under British control. The House
of Assembly, which began meeting in 1639, is the third oldest
legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, preceded only by
Bermuda’s legislature and the Virginia House of Burgesses.
Local politics at that time were dominated by a small group of
British plantation owners and tradesmen. It was not until the 1930s
that a movement began for political rights by educated descendants
of emancipated slaves. One of the leaders, Sir Grantley Adams,
founded the Barbados Labor Party in 1938. He became the nation’s
first premier before independence, and is considered the father of
modern democracy in Barbados.
Progress toward a more democratic government was made in 1950
when universal suffrage was introduced. This was followed by steps
toward increased self‑government until full internal autonomy was
achieved in 1961.
From 1958 to 1962, Barbados was one of ten members of the West
Indies Federation. When the Federation ended, Barbados reverted to
its former status as a self‑governing colony. Following several
attempts to form another federation composed of Barbados and the
Leeward and Windward Islands, Barbados negotiated its own
independence at a constitutional conference with the U.K. in June
1966. After years of peaceful, democratic, and evolutionary progress
toward self‑rule, Barbados attained independence on November 30,
Barbados is an independent and sovereign state and a member of
the British Commonwealth. In the past couple of years there has been
much discussion about the possibility of the country becoming a
republic and leaving the Commonwealth. Under the current
constitution, Barbados is a Westminster‑style parliamentary
democracy. The Queen of England, Barbados’ titular head of state,
appoints a Governor General as her representative in Barbados. The
bicameral Parliament, consisting of an appointed Senate and an
elected House of Assembly, is supreme. The Prime Minister (normally
the leader of the House’s majority party) and other Cabinet members
are appointed from among the House members. The Senate consists of
21 members; the House, 28. The Governor General appoints all
Senators: 7 without advice of government in order to include
religious, economic, social, or other interests; 12 on the advice of
the Prime Minister; and 2 on the advice of the opposition leader.
The country’s two major political parties, the Barbados Labor Party
and the Democratic Labor Party (which arose out of the early labor
movement) have precipitated much of the country’s political change.
The National Democratic Party, an offshoot of the Democratic Labor
Party, contested the election in 1999 but won only 2 seats.
The Barbados judiciary comprises the Supreme Court and numerous
courts of summary jurisdiction. The Supreme Court includes a Court
of Appeal and a High Court.
The island is divided into 11 parishes and the city of
Bridgetown. No local governments exist, and all these divisions are
administered by the central government.
The islands in the region are linked in various ways, but little
popular support exists to merge them into a common Caribbean or
other regional political grouping. There have been unsuccessful
attempts to form a political union in the past, with the latest
being in 1991. There are continuous efforts within the Caribbean
Community Organization (CARICOM, a regional trade and political
alliance) to increase intra-area trade and economic development.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:05 AM
The educational system, traditionally oriented toward preparing
administrative and clerical personnel as well as some university
entrants, has changed in recent years. There has been a great deal
of progress in certain branches of technical training, especially
manufacturing, engineering service, hotel management, and management
The government operates primary and secondary schools, and
through grants, aids some private schools, all of which offer
regular academic subjects — English, math, languages, science,
history, and geography. The educational system is patterned after
the British model. The Cave Hill Campus of the University of the
West Indies (UWI) has faculties of law, arts, and general studies,
natural and social sciences, and a school of education. Other UWI
facilities are located at the Jamaica and Trinidad campuses. The
Barbados Community College offers junior college level courses in
commercial and engineering subjects and liberal arts. The Samuel
Jackman Prescod Polytechnic Institute concentrates on vocational and
technical education. Erdiston College conducts a 2‑year
teacher‑training course. Codrington College, an Anglican seminary
dating back to the early 1700s, is now affiliated with UWI.
Each year the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) sponsors the
National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) in November.
A jazz festival, sponsored by GMR International Tours, takes place
each year during January. There is also the Holder’s season, a
performing arts festival which runs during March. A mixture of
plays, operas and concerts, it is sponsored by Virgin Atlantic and
is held at Holder’s House, a 17th century plantation house.
The NCF also sponsors the street party “Congaline” Festival
during April/May. The island’s largest festival, Crop Over, which
runs from late June to early August, is similar to the Carnival
celebrated on other islands in the Caribbean. It includes calypso
competitions and other festivities, culminating in “Kadooment,” a
street parade of costumes and general merrymaking.
Throughout the year, performances by calypso artists, amateur
theatrical productions, the Barbados Symphonia (a local orchestral
ensemble), and a variety of talent competitions and concerts by
local groups and church choirs are offered. There are also several
local art shows.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:05 AM
In 1991, Barbados experienced a severe crisis in the major
sectors of its economy, which contributed to a deep recession. Since
then the country has made steady progress in expanding its economy
and the standard of living of its citizens. This is particularly
noticeable when compared to other Eastern Caribbean Island nations.
With its introduction in the 17th century, sugar became Barbados’
largest industry. However, in recent years, tourism and light
industry have surpassed sugar in both foreign exchange earning and
Tourism is now the largest industry in Barbados, with
approximately 700,000 annual visitors, about half of whom are day
visitors from cruise ships. Most come from the United Kingdom,
Canada, the U.S., and other European countries and CARICOM nations.
Barbados produces a few consumer items, but imports most food,
heavy machinery, and consumables. Duty on imports is generally high.
Trade with the U.S. has increased, making the U.S. the island’s
leading supplier. Barbados is a member of CARICOM.
Unions play an important role in the nation’s political and
economic development. Approximately 40% of the workforce are
unionized, and the labor movement, particularly the Barbados Workers
Union, has traditionally been a significant factor in the political
process in Barbados.
Automobiles Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:07 AM
Private cars are the only practical means of getting around for
Embassy employees. Rental cars are very expensive, so arranging to
purchase your car before you arrive can result in considerable
Cars may be ordered duty free from a local dealership upon
arrival or in advance by contacting the dealership directly. The
Newcomer’s Briefing Book, sent by the Community Liaison Office (CLO)
to prospective employees, has a list of local dealerships with
addresses and phone numbers. Toyota, Suzuki, Nissan, Mazda, Honda,
Subaru, Daihatsu, Hyundai, Polish Fiat, Mitsubishi, Peugeot, and
Mercedes have dealers in Barbados. Many employees have also imported
‘reconditioned’ right hand drive vehicles direct from Japan and they
can be ordered via the Internet. Contact the CLO or GSO for more
Employees with families and full diplomatic privileges may import
two cars or purchase them locally duty free. The U.S. Government
will only ship one vehicle per employee, however. Unmarried
employees are limited to one duty‑free car. Technical and support
personnel are entitled to import one duty‑free car during the first
6 months of their tour.
Traffic moves on the left. Left-hand drive cars are permitted,
but cost more to insure, and most parts for U.S. specifications are
not available on the island. Roads are narrow, poorly developed, and
create dangerous driving situations. They lack shoulders, and
sidewalks are rare. Smaller, narrow cars predominate. Most cars sold
locally are right-hand drive. Both leaded and unleaded gasoline are
available. Rustproofing is recommended due to the humidity and salt
air and can be done locally.
The Administrative Office will help you obtain a local drivers
license and permanent plates. We suggest that you bring a set of
U.S. plates to be used as temporary plates until permanent plates
are available. The Embassy has arranged duty‑free gasoline purchases
at two service stations, although Value Added Tax (VAT) must be paid
and reimbursement claimed with the Barbadian VAT office.
According to Barbadian law, all vehicles must carry insurance for
property damage for BD$ 500,000 (US$ 250,000) of coverage and for
unlimited personal liability. A no-claim certificate covering the
past 5 years will entitle you to a 60% discount. Local insurers
charge an extra premium for left‑hand‑drive cars and convertibles or
The Embassy motorpool is small and is only available for direct
support of daily Embassy activities. New arrivals use taxis or
rental cars, or obtain rides with colleagues.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:08 AM
Barbados has an extensive road network — 900 miles of paved roads
— but they are narrow, sometimes in poor condition, and are
inconsistently maintained. The tropical climate includes frequent
brief rains that cause potholes and leave the roadway extremely
slippery. There are blind corners and dangerous intersections
throughout the island, and the lack of sidewalks forces pedestrians
to walk along the roads. Traffic tends to be congested in and around
Bridgetown during daytime hours.
Inexpensive public bus service covers nearly all the island.
However, buses are not air‑conditioned and are overcrowded during
rush hours and on Saturdays when people go to market. Independently
owned minivans operate unscheduled at low cost and breakneck speed,
with a minimum of regulation. Taxis are available in population
centers and at most hotels.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:08 AM
Daily flights are available to Miami, New York and through San
Juan to other U.S. cities. Travel from the U.S. to the Caribbean is
expensive, particularly in the high season — mid‑December to
mid‑April. Airfares within the Caribbean are fixed year round and
are more reasonable. Several local travel agents offer moderately
priced packages over holiday weekends and during the low season to
the other Caribbean islands, Puerto Rico, and Caracas. Martinique,
St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, and Grenada are nearby.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:08
The telephone system in Barbados is generally good, with
direct‑dial service via satellite to the U.S. However, repairs often
take several days. The country code for Barbados is 246. Direct
calls are expensive, but cheaper when charged to a U.S. AT&T card.
The Barbadian Telephone Company (BARTEL) blocks most calls attempted
through call‑back systems. Calls from the U.S. to Barbados are
generally much cheaper than from Barbados to the U.S. Most employees
maintain contact with their friends and families in the U.S. by
Internet Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:09 AM
The most commonly used Internet Service Providers are Sunbeach,
Caribsurf, and Cariaccess, which are generally reliable, but cost
nearly twice the U.S. rate for non‑highspeed service. Highspeed
Internet service rates for home use are prohibitive
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:10 AM
Letters and packages from the U.S. should be sent via Fleet Post
Office to the following address:
Full Name Agency or Section CMR 1014 FPO AA 34055
Mail is received daily (Monday through Friday); however, incoming
FPO letter mail can take up to 2 weeks and packages between 1 and 5
weeks, depending on the priority selected. Mail can be sent either
Priority, 1st Class or Space Available Mail (SAM). The military post
office can accept certified and insured mail, but not registered
mail. Mail goes out Monday through Friday via an American carrier,
but can take 2–3 weeks to arrive at the destination due to handling
problems in Miami. Therefore, it is important to plan ahead with
your outgoing mail. Many employees use online banking services to
ensure that payments arrive on time.
Mail privileges are restricted to American employees and their
authorized dependents, and Military Post Office regulations are
The incoming and outgoing mail restrictions are as follows:
No larger than 108 linear inches (longest measurement and girth)
No more than 70 pounds The Barbadian Postal System offers express
mail service to the U.S. in addition to regular airmail service, and
it is usually faster than Military Post Office mail. An airmail
letter to the U.S. costs BDS90¢ (US45¢) and takes 4–7 days.
International airmail should be addressed to:
Full Name American Embassy P.O. Box 302 Bridgetown, Barbados
Radio and TV Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:11 AM
Barbados has two AM radio stations, several FM radio stations and
a wire service available through subscription. The AM stations favor
West Indian sounds, with lively discussions on local issues and
extensive local news coverage. The FM stations present American pop,
easy listening, and religious formats. One of the FM stations also
presents a classical program on weekends. The wire service, Red
Iffusion, carries classical music, drama, and literature. The BBC’s
World News is broadcast on both AM and FM daily. In addition to the
Barbados stations, several regionally based radio stations can be
picked up on the AM band, including Radio Francaise Outre-Mer and
stations in Grenada, St. Vincent, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, and
Venezuela. VOA is carried 7 hours a day over Radio Antilles (930
The Government‑owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) TV
station carries 12 hours of programming daily, including about 4
hours of CNN Headline News weekday mornings. Evening programming is
a mix of older American and British serials, locally produced news,
and information and entertainment shows. Sesame Street is telecast
weekday afternoons. CBC broadcasts in NTSC and U.S. sets operate
without adjustment. In addition, there are two pay television
services available: Multi‑Choice and Direct TV. MultiChoice is
offered by CBC and has three packages — Basic, Plus and Premium.
Direct TV is a satellite service. Cost for cable TV service is
currently about US$42 per month.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
11/28/2003 9:11 AM
Barbados has two local daily newspapers, The Nation and The
Advocate. They concentrate on local and regional news. Their
coverage of international news outside the Caribbean is very
limited. Home delivery is available. A local distributor offers same
day or 1‑day-later provision of The Wall Street Journal, USA Today,
The Herald Tribune, and The New York Times, but at fairly high
subscription costs. Most employees read U.S. and international
papers through the Internet.
Popular U.S. magazines may be purchased at the three or four
local bookstores, at grocery stores and at newsstands, but they are
expensive. International editions of U.S. newsmagazines are
available locally. A delay of at least one week is normal, whether
one purchases locally or awaits arrival of a U.S. subscription
through FPO mail.
Barbados has a public library system, and the small central
library has a fair collection. Several local bookstores carry a
limited selection of paperbacks and hardbound books at very high
prices. The CLO maintains a moderate lending library of hardcover
and paperbacks for Embassy personnel. Most employees order new books
through the Internet for delivery via the FPO.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:13 AM
Medical facilities in Barbados are good compared to other islands
in the region, and there are practitioners of most medical
specialties. However, care is generally below U.S. standards and
some ailments and injuries cannot be adequately treated locally.
Medical facilities on the other islands are generally inadequate,
and most islands lack the facilities to treat major medical
problems. Each island has at least one hospital, but complicated
cases are usually transferred to Barbados. Embassy employees and
their dependents usually return to the U.S. for treatment of
potentially serious illnesses, injuries, or for surgery. Obstetrical
care is available, but Embassy personnel are advised to travel to
the U.S. for delivery.
The Embassy’s Health Unit is located in the Administrative Annex
across the street from the Chancery and is staffed by a registered
nurse on a part-time basis. The regional medical officer (RMO) is
assigned to the Florida Regional Center (FRC) in Fort Lauderdale,
and visits the post about once a year. He is available for phone
consultations when necessary. The nurse is available for guidance in
selecting physicians and helping with other medical issues.
Two main hospitals, the Government‑supported Queen Elizabeth
Hospital and the private Bayview Hospital are available, along with
several clinics and medical centers. The selection of a personal or
family physician is the responsibility of the individual and should
be done as soon as possible. The physician with whom you register
will determine at which hospital you will receive treatment. In case
of emergency, your private physician may meet you at the hospital,
which can greatly expedite treatment.
Individual or family counseling is available through community
resources, which can be recommended by the CLO or the Nurse. The
regional psychiatrist (RMO/P) is based in Mexico City and visits
Therapy services, including physical, occupational, and speech,
are available both privately and through Government services. Most
therapists are trained abroad in the U.S., U.K., or Canada and
provide reasonably good care by U.S. standards.
The Medical Unit maintains a list of dentists who can provide all
routine dental services. Crowns, root canals, dental surgery, etc.,
should usually be done in the U.S.
Local pharmacists will not normally fill U.S. physician
prescriptions. However, they will usually supply a medicine to
someone who has run out of it while visiting, if the vial and some
form of identification are produced. The pharmacy with which the
Health Unit deals honors the RMO’s prescriptions when written on a
local prescription pad and will supply some brand‑name medicines at
cost. Pharmacies in Barbados order from all over the world,
including the U.S., with many of the brand names supplied in the
U.S. available here, sometimes at a lower price. The RMO can assist
with the ordering of medicines through the mail prescription service
available from most Federal employee health insurance plans.
Community Health Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:13 AM
The Government of Barbados is continuing its efforts to improve
sanitation. Most residences in Bridgetown are connected to sewers.
Free garbage pickup is provided once or twice a week in many areas.
Sanitation inspectors periodically check homes, hotels, restaurants,
and factories to control flies and mosquitoes.
Barbados has pure water, filtered through 600 feet of coral. Tap
water is potable. The water is not fluoridated, so employees should
bring fluoride drops or chewable fluoride tablets for their
children. A limited supply is available from the Medical Unit. The
water’s lime and calcium content are high and some prefer bottled or
distilled water for coffeemakers and irons. Do not assume the tap
water is potable on the other islands. Drink bottled water, soft
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:16 AM
The intense sunlight is a serious hazard. Use sunscreen, which is
available locally, on a daily basis before leaving home. Children
particularly need to be protected from overexposure. The climate can
cause heat exhaustion, sunburn, and fatigue. Drink plenty of fluids
to offset increased perspiration. Local milk and milk products are
safe. Fruits and vegetables only need washing.
Skin problems such as acne and fungal infections may be
aggravated by the high humidity, and extra hygienic care is
necessary. Photosensitivity reactions from taking certain
medications may occur. Pollen from cane, mango, cashews, and other
flora may cause allergic reactions. Some people suffer
gastrointestinal disturbances after arrival, but the effects are
generally slight and mainly due to the change in eating habits,
climate, and water. External ear infections are common. Hookworms,
roundworms, and pinworms are common on the island, but normally do
not present a problem for Embassy employees.
Mosquito‑borne, dengue fever is a chronic problem in Barbados and
epidemics break out periodically. Some Embassy employees and family
members have contracted dengue. There is no immunization for dengue
fever and the only protection is to avoid mosquito bites. Use coils
and repellants. A few cases of bilharzia (schistosomiasis) are
reported each year on St. Lucia as well as on Martinique and
Guadeloupe. To avoid the disease, do not expose any part of the body
to freshwater streams, lakes, or pools. Tuberculosis is a recurrent
problem in Dominica, and, to a lesser extent, in St. Lucia. Skin
tests for tuberculosis are available at the Medical Unit.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 11/28/2003
The majority of employment opportunities for spouses who wish to
work are in the Embassy and are part-time, intermittent or temporary
(PIT) or Family Member Associate (FMA) positions covering a range of
clerical and administrative activities. Several positions require
professional credentials and a few are on-call positions.
The Embassy has a reciprocal agreement with the Barbadian
Government through which up to ten family members may work on the
local economy. An interested family member must first find a job and
the Embassy will then request a work permit through the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs. Although most salaries would be about half of what
one would make in the U.S. for the same work, there have been
situations where someone who is well-qualified for a hard‑to‑fill
job may make more. In the past, family members have found positions
in teaching, information management, engineering, architecture, and
Certain voluntary activities are considered as work in Barbados
and may require a work permit. Artists may produce, display, and
sell their work in Barbados, although a work permit may be required.
American Embassy - Bridgetown
Post City Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:17 AM
Bridgetown, founded in 1629, is Barbados’ capital and largest
city. It has about 80,000 inhabitants. The Careenage, a small inlet
of the Caribbean Sea, divides the city. Some charter boats and
fishing boats for tourists are docked there. Two of the old
warehouses lining the Careenage have been partly renovated and
provide space for some cafes and shops. Broad Street is the
principal tourist shopping and banking street. The Chancery is
located on Broad Street at Philadelphia Lane.
Broad Street ends at Trafalgar Square, bordered by the Parliament
Building (constructed in 1872), other public buildings, and the
Careenage. A small statue of Lord Nelson stands in the square,
commissioned by the Bridgetown merchants in gratitude for Nelson’s
saving the West Indies by defeating the French at Trafalgar. The
Government has recently proposed to relocate the statue, based on
the view that its presence in the newly established “Heroes Square”
Many of the older buildings in Bridgetown have been destroyed to
make way for modern, utilitarian structures. In recent years, the
Barbados National Trust has become interested in preserving
Barbados’ architectural heritage. As a result, some of the charming
old buildings have been repainted and renovated.
A deep‑water harbor was constructed in 1961, and inter-island
shipping has since been moved from the Careenage to a shallow draft
harbor. The Government has built Bridgetown Fishing Harbor, which
provides piers and moorings for the fishing fleet and a fish market.
The Garrison Savannah, once the training ground for the British
West Indies Regiment, is now a park. Horseracing is held at the
track there on most Saturdays in season and on some holidays.
Surrounding the Savannah are private buildings that once housed the
British forces. One of these is now the Barbados Museum.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:18 AM
The Chancery occupies the third and fourth floors of the Canadian
Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) Building on Broad Street. The
Department of Defense (Defense Attaché’s Office and Military Liaison
Office) and the Department of Justice (Drug Enforcement
Administration and Legal Attaché’s Office) are also located there.
The Administrative Section, the Health Unit, and a small office of
the USAID Mission in Jamaica are located in Nicholas House across
the street. The Consular Section is located about a half-mile west
of the Chancery on the ground floor of the American Life Insurance
Company (ALICO) building. The Department recently approved a new
Chancery for Bridgetown that will bring all elements of the Mission
under one roof. It is anticipated that this building will be ready
for occupancy in 2004 or 2005.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:18 AM
The Embassy arranges temporary housing for newcomers in various
hotel suites with kitchen facilities. Most are on or very near a
beach and generally have access to swimming pools and other resort
facilities. The Embassy has recently moved from an LQA housing
system to Embassy short-term leased (STL) housing which will
gradually reduce the need for temporary quarters.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:20 AM
The U.S. Government owns both the Ambassador’s and DCM’s
residences, both of which are fully furnished. The Ambassador’s
residence has four air‑conditioned bedrooms, five full baths, living
room, dining room, study, covered veranda, kitchen, and pantry. It
also has a servants’ room and a guard’s locker room with two baths,
a two‑car garage, storage/laundry room, outdoor covered storage
space, potting and fernery house, and a swimming pool.
The DCM’s residence has four bedrooms, three‑and‑a‑half baths,
living room, study, dining room, kitchen, large veranda, a one‑car
garage, laundry room, and two servants’ rooms. All bedrooms and the
study, dining room, and kitchen are air‑conditioned.
All other personnel will be assigned housing from the Embassy’s
newly created housing pool. On average, houses in Barbados have less
storage space than American homes do. However, the houses typically
have air‑conditioned bedrooms, a study or family room, tiled floors
throughout (although a few houses may have wood floors in the living
room and/or dining room), and few carpeted areas. Kitchens are
modern with reasonable storage; many have dishwashers and all
residences are provided refrigerators, freezers, and washers and
dryers by the Embassy if they are not provided by the owners.
Depending on family size, residences typically have three or four
bedrooms, with a living and dining room, kitchen, and two or
two‑and‑a‑half baths. Some have breakfast eating areas, a study or
family room, three bathrooms, and a patio. Residences rarely have
Furnishings Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:21 AM
The Embassy provides basic appliances — stove, refrigerator,
freezer, washer, dryer as needed — but does not provide furniture
and furnishings. All employees are authorized full household effects
(HHE) shipments. The Embassy also provides employees with fire
extinguishers, smoke detectors, and a security alarm system. New
appliances often have surface rust created by the humidity and salt
air while in storage.
Employees should ship only furniture suitable for the Tropics.
Since much of your leisure time will be spent outdoors, plan on
shipping lawn/porch furniture and outdoor recreational items. Due to
the heat and humidity, overstuffed furniture, heavy wool rugs, and
heavy draperies are general unsuitable. Soft wood furniture may be
damaged by termites. Metal furniture will likely corrode rapidly in
the humid, salt air. Special books and leather‑bound items may
mildew and are better left in storage.
A limited selection of good quality mahogany furniture is
available locally. However, delivery times can be as long as 2–3
months, and most of it is quite expensive in relation to similar
items in the United States.
Small appliances, toys, and sporting goods are very expensive
here. Plan to purchase these items in the U.S. or order by mail.
Larger items — such as barbecue grills, swing sets, outdoor
furniture, and bicycles too large for the FPO — should be included
in your HHE shipment. Computer equipment should be kept in a
well-ventilated, dehumidified, or air‑conditioned room to avoid
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:22 AM
Electricity and other public utilities are generally reliable. In
contrast to elsewhere in the Caribbean, outages are infrequent.
Electric current is 110v, 50‑cycle, AC, but 220v current is
available for major appliances if needed. Electricity rates are very
high. Voltage fluctuates and can damage computers and other
electronic equipment. Use a good-quality voltage regulator/surge
protector for sensitive electronic equipment. Most employees keep
candles and lanterns ready for the hurricane season.
Most houses have U.S.‑type two and three‑pronged outlets. Plugs
and adapters are sold locally, but are expensive. Clocks, older tape
recorders, and phonographs geared for 60 cycles will run slow,
unless modified for 50 cycles. Other electrical equipment such as
hairdryers, mixers, and blenders operate at 50 cycles, but will run
slightly slower. Irons, frying pans, and slow cookers with heating
elements will operate equally well on 50 or 60 cycles. If purchasing
new appliances, consider buying those that are made for either 50 or
Most homes have a telephone already installed in the lessor’s
name. It is easier to get a line changed to your name than to have a
new one installed for it could take weeks or even months. Natural or
bottled gas is inexpensive and generally used for cooking. Newer
houses typically have solar‑water heaters with electric auxiliary
heaters for cloudy days.
Employees should not expect to run air‑conditioners 24 hours
daily as the cost to the Embassy is prohibitive. Dehumidifiers and
occasional air‑conditioning are recommended in storage areas to
reduce humidity and mildew. Rooms should also be closed off from
insects and the ash that results from occasional fires in the cane
fields. Ceiling fans are popular, and most houses are situated to
take advantage of the trade winds.
Food Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:24 AM
Most meat sold locally is imported; American beef is available,
but quite expensive. Local pork, chicken, and lamb are available,
fresh and frozen. Fresh fish is sold every afternoon at fish markets
around the island. Kingfish, dorado (referred to locally as
dolphin), and flying fish are staples; red snapper is available
during the summer months. Tuna, shark, and marlin are also
available. Shrimp and lobster are expensive.
Pasteurized milk, cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, and sour cream
are available from the local dairy and are safe for consumption.
They are expensive by U.S. standards and tend to spoil rapidly. Ice
cream and frozen yogurt are produced locally, but are expensive.
Imported brands of yogurt, sour cream, and ice cream are also sold,
but are even more expensive than local brands.
The variety and quality of fruits and vegetables available are
very limited. Prices are high by U.S. standards, whether locally
grown or imported. Most fruit sold in the supermarkets is imported.
Local lettuce, cucumbers, green beans, carrots, bell peppers, okra,
and cabbage are available, but frequent shortages occur, especially
during the tourist season (mid‑December to mid‑April). Tomatoes,
avocados, melon, squash, broccoli, mangoes, and papayas are
available seasonally. Quality varies and you may have to search
through the local vendors’ stalls to find good ones. All bananas
sold in Barbados are grown locally. Oranges, grapefruit, and
pineapple are imported from the other CARICOM countries. The market
at Cheapside, which is open Monday through Saturday in the mornings,
is where many local small farmers sell their produce. While variety
is limited, prices are much lower than in supermarkets.
The American Embassy Employees Association used to operate a
small military- supported commissary but it closed in June 1999. The
AEEA board has had some success in arranging group purchases of
duty‑free consumables from alternative sources.
Wine and liquor can be purchased duty‑free through local
distributors by the case. The CLO has duty‑free wine lists for
various distributors. Harrison’s Liquors, close to the Embassy on
Broad Street, will sell individual bottles of duty‑free wines and
liquors to those holding diplomatic ID cards.
Clothing Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:25 AM
Dress in Barbados is more traditional and conservative than
elsewhere in the Caribbean. This translates to more suits and ties
and dresses than may be expected from perusal of tourist brochures
of Caribbean vacations. Informal clothing is lightweight for both
men and women. The local selection is limited and expensive. Most
employees order through U.S. mail‑order catalogs. Get on the mailing
list of your favorite stores before coming to post.
Keep in mind that clothing will be laundered more frequently here
and will therefore fade and wear out more quickly. Elastic loses its
stretch; metal pieces rust. When purchasing new items for Barbados
try to avoid metal buckles, zippers, snaps, or buttons. Leather
belts and shoes tend to mildew.
Infrequently worn clothing that is left on metal hangers may be
damaged by rust. Leave most woolen clothing or other items that
require dry cleaning in storage in the U.S. The humidity may cause
mildew to grow on clothing kept in closets, necessitating frequent
washing or drycleaning.
Men Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:25 AM
A shirt and tie is worn to the office, and suits are appropriate
for most business and social functions. The Marine Ball and the
American Women’s Club Ball are black‑tie affairs. Tails and morning
coats are not used. When selecting your wardrobe for Barbados, keep
in mind the heat, the humidity, the island’s limited professional
cleaning facilities, and the fact that clothing fades and wears out
Women Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:26 AM
Short‑sleeved cotton dresses or skirts and blouses are suitable
for work. Short‑sleeved or sleeveless cotton dresses, sundresses,
blouses, and skirts or shorts are suitable for home or running
errands. Shorts are worn for weekends and leisure activities. Slacks
are worn in the evening or when the weather is cooler. Bring 100%
cotton clothing and lingerie; synthetics are fine for the office or
evening. Bring several bathing suits (they wear out quickly),
shorts, shirts, and beach cover-ups. Many employees and family
members join one of the health clubs, so consider bringing exercise
wear. Hats (except on the beach), gloves, and hose are rarely worn.
Sweaters are rarely needed, except in air‑conditioned offices. Bring
a gown or two for the Marine Ball and the charity balls given by the
American Women’s Club and other organizations. Clothing worn at less
formal events is usually termed “elegantly casual,” i.e., dressy
casual shirt without coat or tie for men and cocktail dresses for
Children Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:26 AM
School‑aged children wear uniforms. Although each school has its
own color uniform, some pieces (i.e., blue shorts, brown or black
shoes) may be purchased in the U.S. at a lower cost. Some specific
items must be purchased locally. Children will live in swimsuits,
shorts, and T‑shirts. Bring plenty of hats, sandals, sneakers, and
underwear. Children’s clothing is more expensive and of poorer
quality than that available in the U.S.
Supplies and Services
Basic Services Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:27 AM
Tailors and dressmakers are difficult to find, and the quality of
workmanship varies. Drycleaning is more expensive than in the U.S.,
and the quality varies considerably. Several good beauty shops
operate with prices similar to those in the U.S.
Spare parts are expensive and hard to find for all types of
repairs, including radios, TV’s, VCR’s, and automobiles. The cost of
labor on these repairs is less than in the U.S., but the quality of
the work is less reliable. The Embassy has used one contractor who
has successfully repaired microwaves and fans for several employees.
Spare parts for auto repairs will be less of a problem if your car
is purchased locally. Charges for film developing is very expensive
compared to U.S. prices, so most employees mail their film to the
U.S. for processing.
Domestic Help Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:27 AM
Full- or part-time help is easy to find. Some supervision and
training in the use of American appliances may be required. Good
cooks and live‑in help are extremely difficult to find. Some
families have a maid 5 days a week and a part‑time gardener who
works 1 or 2 days. Single staff members often have part-time maids,
some of whom can cook. Wages are lower than in the U.S., but higher
than at many other third world posts. Some employers furnish a
uniform and some food. Barbadian law requires both employer and
employee to make contributions to the National Insurance Plan.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:28 AM
More than 140 different religious denominations are represented
in Barbados. The Anglican Church is the largest with Anglican
congregations spread across the island. The island has six Catholic
churches. Protestant denominations include Methodist, Seventh‑day
Adventist, Moravian, Pilgrim Holiness, New Testament Church of God,
Church of the Nazarene, Assembly of God, Baptist, and the United
Christian Brethren, Christian Science, Mormons, and Jehovah’s
Witnesses. More Caribbean in character and African in outlook are
the Sons of God Apostolic Church or “Spiritual Baptists” and
Rastafarians. Barbados also has two Greek Orthodox churches, a
synagogue, a mosque, and Baha’i and Hindu congregations.
Dependent Education Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:30 AM
The education system in Barbados is modeled on the British
system. The schools generally lack such U.S. amenities as science
labs, theaters, libraries, gyms, and computer labs. The buildings
typically appear rundown with bare walls. Despite these limitations,
children coming from an American or international school have done
well at the primary level. However, secondary students have found
the adjustment very difficult.
Many parents are satisfied with local preschools and primary
schools. The local schools are not obliged to accept U.S. children,
however, and it is difficult to find places after June 30. It is
important to let the CLO know your schooling needs as soon as
possible. The Office of Overseas Schools and the CLO have more
detailed information on the schools attended by Embassy children.
Primary school children usually attend St. Gabriel’s, St.
Angela’s, or St. Winifred’s. All schools require uniforms. Plan to
purchase a Thermos, as well as a lunch box with a small cooling
block that you can freeze in your freezer. There are no school
cafeterias in Barbados, and rooms are not air‑conditioned, so the
cooling block will help keep food cool and prevent spoilage. Bring a
bookbag for each child before coming to post. Some schools have
Brownie and Cub Scout troops.
Secondary education begins at age 11 upon completion of the 11
plus examination. Most families choose to have children aged 12–17
remain at post even though the system is not ideal for children
expecting to return to the American system.
The schools used by all Embassy employees are private schools,
which are the most prestigious in Barbados and in high demand.
Therefore, it is extremely important that all new arrivals with
school-age children contact the CLO as soon as they are certain they
will be posted to Barbados. All private schools have huge waiting
lists for each form (grade) and the CLO needs to start the
application process as far in advance as possible to ensure
Unfortunately, neither the CLO nor parents will know which school
their children will finally attend until after the final exams for
the previous year. Once exams have been completed and graded,
schools know exactly how many children will move up to the next form
and how many will need to repeat the form. Because of this, children
normally attend the first school for which they are accepted, and
often do not find out until shortly before the beginning of the
Since 1998, there have not been any private secondary schools for
boys on the island. While there are still local government schools,
they are generally considered below standard for students
transferring to U.S. schools. The post strongly recommends that boys
in the 12–17 age group attend school in the U.S. The post has
generally not had difficulty placing teenage girls in either of the
two private all-girl secondary schools used by Embassy personnel.
The differences in the educational systems are most apparent at
the secondary level, where emphasis is on memorization of material
in preparation for taking public examinations. The curriculum is
inflexible, and course offerings are limited by the form (grade) in
which a child is placed. For example, if a child is ready to begin
the second year of Spanish and the form is in the third year of
French, the child will have to do third year French or no foreign
language at all. Creativity is not rewarded and is even discouraged.
No credit is given for having completed course work; scores on the
year-end public examination determine success or failure.
Extracurricular activities such as sports, drama, music, journalism,
or other special interests are rarely available. Pressure is placed
on children to compete with their classmates to be “first in form.”
The Office of Overseas Schools strongly advises families with
children at the secondary level to consider boarding school. The
Regional Education Officer (REO), in Washington, D.C., is available
to counsel parents. The CLO will be happy to provide parents with
updated school information. More information is also available in
The Newcomer’s Briefing Book, which is sent to newly assigned
employees before they come to post.
Special Needs Education Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:34 AM
The Office of Overseas Schools advises against bringing
handicapped children to Barbados.
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:34 AM
Children can take lessons in ballet, modern dance, swimming,
tennis, riding, piano, Spanish, French, chess, table tennis,
drawing, karate, judo, gymnastics, and recorder. The Barbados
Yachting Association offers sailing lessons in the summer for
children 8 and older.
The Barbados Community College also offers adult education
courses such as foreign languages and computers. The Alliance
Francais offers French‑language courses at various levels.
The University of the West Indies will allow a college‑age
dependent to enroll as an “occasional student” and audit courses on
a noncredit basis. Expenses are equal to a nonresident student at an
American university. Computer courses are given at a local
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:36 AM
Cricket is the national sport, and most Barbadians take an avid
interest in it. The quality of cricket played locally is high,
especially in test matches. The West Indian team is one of the
world’s top test match teams.
Soccer, rugby, golf, field hockey, running, cycling, and tennis
are popular, and basketball is becoming increasingly so. Embassy
golfers have access to three courses: the 18‑hole Sandy Lane Hotel
course (currently being renovated), the 9‑hole course at Rockley,
and Southern Pines, a new 18‑hole course that is nearing completion
on the southern end of the island, near the homes of several Embassy
families. The Embassy has an active tennis group which plays at the
Barbados Lawn Tennis Association in Wildey or at the Casaurina Beach
Club. Other tennis courts are available, although few are public,
and most require club membership. At least five squash clubs are
available, and several gyms and fitness centers offer exercise
classes as well as Nautilus equipment. Bodybuilding is a very
popular sport in Barbados. The country has produced a number of
world‑class bodybuilders, including a former Mr. Universe and a
former Mr. World.
All beaches in Barbados are public. There is some harassment by
panhandlers and itinerant vendors, with some selling drugs. Women on
the beach alone can expect to be approached by several persistent
young men. Swimming, water skiing, sailing, surfing, windsurfing,
scuba diving, snorkeling, water polo, horseback riding, rifle
shooting, pingpong, netball, volleyball, and fishing are popular
sports. The water is warm year round. Some of the hotels offer the
use of their pools gratis or for a small fee. Most employees use the
pool at the Casaurina Beach Club without charge. Most swimming areas
do not have lifeguards. Swimming on the east coast can be extremely
dangerous and is strongly discouraged.
Adult softball is often played on weekends, so bring gloves and
bats since these items are not sold in Barbados. An
Embassy‑initiated youth baseball group has also recently offered
Sunday baseball instruction and games to children ages 7–10. The
2000 season will run from October and continue until June. Bring
gloves, spiked shoes, and other needed baseball gear from the U.S.
Sailing conditions are good, but there are few nearby locations
to sail to. No marinas or docks are available to pleasure boat
owners in Barbados, with existing ones being primarily for the use
of commercial fishing boats. Boats may be moored along the coast;
most are moored in Carlisle Bay adjacent to the Yacht Club. No
charge is made for your mooring. The Yacht Club has modest fees to
join for both boating and tennis and sponsors serious sailing races
for racing, cruising, and dinghy classes.
There are a few thoroughbred horses on the island and the
Barbados Turf Club offers a well‑organized season of races. Horses
are occasionally brought in from other Caribbean islands and Europe.
Polo matches are held during winter.
For runners, two or three 10K races and a marathon are held each
year. The Barbados Hash House Harriers meet every Saturday afternoon
at various spots on the island for a run or walk through the
countryside. The National Trust sponsors walks each Sunday morning
and afternoon that offer great views, historical overviews of the
island, and good exercise.
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:37 AM
All touring on Barbados is done by car. Distances are not great,
but travel can sometimes be time-consuming due to narrow, congested,
and unevenly maintained roads.
Barbados has several old plantation “Great Houses”open to the
public. Sam Lord’s Castle, Villa Nova, and St. Nicholas Abbey are
the best known, but Sunbury and Francia are also interesting to
visit. Farley Hill, a great house now in ruins, is a National Park
with beautiful views of both coasts, a picnic area, and playground.
The Flower Forest, Welshman Hall Gully, and Andromeda Gardens are
botanical parks. The Wildlife Reserve has monkeys, caiman, peacocks,
tortoises, and other small animals and is a favorite with children.
Harrison’s Cave is a large limestone cavern very popular with the
St. Vincent and the Grenadines offer some of the most beautiful
sailing waters in the world. It is a short flight from Barbados to
Grenada, Union Island, or St. Vincent. Chartering a sailboat and
sailing among the Grenadine Islands is a memorable experience for
those who are able to take advantage of the opportunity to explore
the unique character and attractions of each of these islands.
Bridgetown is an R&R post and Miami, Florida is the designated
Entertainment Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:38 AM
Beyond the tourist‑oriented shows, entertainment possibilities in
Barbados are limited and those who seek them out, begin by asking
long‑term residents and Barbadians. There are two movie houses and
the island’s drive‑in theater is a great treat on balmy evenings
with a cooler of drinks and a vat of popcorn.
Most Americans in Barbados have VCR’s for videos from home. There
are also many video outlets around the island, but most of the tapes
are unauthorized copies from U.S. and European originals. Amateur
and semi‑professional theater, music, and dance groups perform
occasionally. In addition, most large hotels provide calypso and
steelpan band music. The island also has some nightclubs and discos.
Barbados has many restaurants, which offer standard tourist fare
at tourist prices. A few noteworthy restaurants offer excellent
cuisine at very high prices. Some hotels offer buffet brunches and
other specials, which can be more reasonably priced.
The Barbados National Trust holds an open house each week from
January to April at some of the finer homes on the island, which
include plantation great houses as well as luxury winter homes.
These tours are popular with residents and tourists alike.
Amateur photographers and artists will find both scenic beauty
and human interest shots. Art materials are limited. Film can be
purchased locally, but is expensive. Many Embassy personnel send
their film to the U.S. for processing.
There are several active bridge clubs. The Barbados Bridge League
offers duplicate bridge four times a week. A chess club and a ham
radio club accept members.
Among Americans Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:39 AM The American
Women’s Club is a large social organization that meets monthly.
Membership is open to both Americans and others. The club sponsors
several activities, including a booth at the Multi-National Fair
held on the first Saturday in February, a book group, a cooking
group, bridge, a literary group, and an occasional charity ball.
International Contacts Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:40 AM
Opportunities exist to meet Barbadians officially and in community
activities. These contacts can later broaden into more personal
relationships, but may require more effort to overcome the reserved
nature of most Barbadians. Nationals of other countries,
particularly the U.K. and Canada, are easy to meet and share many
interests with Americans. The Multi‑National Women’s Committee
sponsors an annual fundraising fair to benefit a variety of
children’s charities each February, thereby offering opportunities
to get involved in Barbadian society and meet people from many
The U.K., Canada, Australia, and Trinidad and Tobago are
represented by High Commissioners and staff; Cuba, Venezuela,
Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, and the People’s Republic of China
have small embassies here. There are also several honorary consuls
on the island. All other diplomatic missions accredited to Barbados
are located elsewhere, usually in Caracas, Port‑of‑Spain, or
International organizations represented in Barbados include UNDP,
PAHO, EC, IDB, UNICEF, the OAS, and CARICOM.
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:40 AM
Throughout the year, Embassy officers are invited to participate
in a large number and wide array of official functions. The most
prevalent invitations are to ceremonial events, openings of
conference proceedings, presentations of awards, or special
religious services sponsored either by the Barbados Government or
private organizations. The Barbados Government also holds cocktail
parties, dinners, and receptions, though less frequently than in
other countries and typically with a limited number of invitations
to Embassy personnel. Diplomats of other countries or private
citizens also offer such functions occasionally. The Governments of
St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada,
Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, hold a limited number of
official social functions on those islands annually.
Embassy section heads receive a representation allowance and are
expected to entertain Barbadian and other foreign contacts
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:40 AM
The standards of social conduct for employees assigned to
Bridgetown are basically the same as those for Embassy employees
elsewhere in the Western world. Exchanging business cards is common
practice here. Such cards can be obtained locally, but at
considerable cost. Purchase business cards in the U.S. before coming
Special Information Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:41 AM
Post Orientation Program
The CLO, together with the Administrative Section, sponsors an
orientation session for new employees at least once a year. Welcome
cables and a briefing book on Barbados are sent to newcomers upon
receipt of their arrival notice. CLO, GSO, and Administrative
Section also offer guidance in housing, schooling, transportation,
and many other areas to help new arrivals settle in Barbados.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:41 AM
American Airlines services Barbados on a daily basis from New
York, Miami, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Delta service is also
available daily from New York via their Jamaica Airlines code share
arrangement. No regularly scheduled U.S. passenger liner service is
available between the U.S. and Barbados.
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:42 AM
The Embassy and Embassy personnel are granted free entry for
items imported for their own use. Duty‑free shops are not permitted
to sell goods to diplomatic personnel. USAID employees hired under
Article IV of the Bilateral Agreement, as well as administrative and
technical personnel, can only import items free of duty during the
first 6 months after arrival for duty in Barbados.
If you plan to ship a boat or marine vessel of any kind, contact
the Embassy‑s GSO Section well in advance.
Passage Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:42 AM
Although airport visas are available, the post recommends that
employees with diplomatic passports secure a one‑time entry visa
prior to arrival in Barbados. The Embassy arranges to have
diplomatic multiple‑entry permits stamped into your passport after
you arrive. The Barbados Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issues
small carnets, indicating your diplomatic or official status. These
are issued to staff members and to adult family members (over 18
years) after arrival. You will need at least eight 2 x 2½” photos
for this purpose. As a rule, vaccination certificates are not
required if you are coming from the U.S.
Pets Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:43 AM
Barbados is rabies free, and the authorities are determined to
keep it so. Most families purchase animals locally. Some purebred
animals are sold locally, but they are expensive. Dogs and cats can
generally be imported into Barbados only from the U.K., although one
employee was successful at importing pets from Jamaica, another
rabies‑free country. If you want to import a dog or cat, strict
quarantine regulations require that the animal be quarantined for 6
months in the U.K. You must then apply for an import permit from the
Barbados Ministry of Agriculture at least 30 days in advance of the
pet’s arrival date. Importation from another rabies-free country is
not always permitted, but the cost savings make it worth taking the
steps to apply for an import permit from the Ministry of Agriculture
well in advance of your arrival. The U.K. Ministry of Agriculture
will supply a list of recommended kennels for quarantine upon
request. If you want to import other animals, you must obtain an
import permit from the Barbados Ministry of Agriculture before
shipping the animal. There are excellent veterinarians on the island
who offer boarding facilities.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:43 AM
Barbados has no hunting, and there are only two gun clubs on the
Island. Firearm importation is limited to only .22 and .38 caliber
pistols and revolvers, .22 caliber rifles, and 12‑ and 16‑gauge
shotguns. Ammunition is limited to a maximum of 250 cartridges per
weapon. Get the approval of the Chief of Mission and a license from
the Government of Barbados before importing any firearms. The
Embassy will assist in obtaining the required license. Once the
firearm has been imported, the owner must register and store it with
the police and then obtain a further license to use, or carry it.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
11/28/2003 9:44 AM
The monetary unit is the Barbados dollar (BDS$), comprising 100¢,
with the exchange rate set at US$1=BDS$2. Most hotels and
restaurants on the island accept U.S. currency. The monetary unit in
other territories under the Embassy’s jurisdiction is the East
Caribbean dollar (EC$), comprising 100¢; the exchange rate is
US$1=EC$2.70. Rates seldom fluctuate, but check with the
Administrative Section for current exchange rates. Embassy personnel
may convert the U.S. dollar freely into both Barbados and East
Caribbean currencies when traveling in the region. No restrictions
are imposed on importing the U.S. dollar or other foreign
currencies. The Barbados Central Bank does place limits on currency
The Central Bank of Barbados issues Barbados currency in
denominations of $100, $50, $20, $10, $5, and $2 in notes, and in
$1, 25¢ 10¢, 5¢, and 1¢ denominations in coins. The Caribbean
Currency Authority issues East Caribbean notes in denominations of
$100, $20, $10, $5, and $1, and coins in 50¢ 25¢ 10¢, 5¢, 2¢, and 1¢
Barbados and the other islands of the Eastern Caribbean use the
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 11/28/2003
You can sell your personal property, including vehicles, before
departure. Request, through the administrative officer, permission
to sell all items, imported or purchased duty free, which initially
cost more than the prescribed minimal value. Such items should not
be sold within one year of their importation.
Local banks handle exchange and other financial matters of
Embassy personnel. Although you can buy bank drafts in U.S. dollars
and other currencies, it is convenient to maintain a checking
account in a U.S. bank. Employees should arrange direct‑deposit
checking accounts in the U.S. to avoid worrying over checks lost in
the pouch or international mail. You can use travelers’ checks,
which are accepted by Barbados banks. Employees are strongly
encouraged to open a local checking account to facilitate paying
rent, utilities, and other local bills.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:45 AM
The following titles are provided as a general indication of the
material published on this country. The Department of State does not
endorse unofficial publications.
Books are available in Barbados regarding West Indian life,
history, and culture. Most are not widely available outside of the
Caribbean. Rather than include a long list of these books here,
members of the Embassy staff recommend that newcomers read the
following books, which are available in the U.S. as an introduction
Hoefer, Hans. Barbados: Insight Guides. APA Publications:
Hoyos, F. A. Barbados: A History from Amerindians to
Independence; Macmillan Publishers.
Michener, James. Caribbean.
Wouk, Herman. Don’t Stop the Carnival.
Local Holidays Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:46 AM
The following local holidays are observed in Barbados.
New Year's Day Errol Barrow Day January 21 Good Friday Easter
Easter Monday Bank Holiday Labor Day May 1 Whit Monday Kadooment Day
First Monday in August United Nations Day Frist Monday in October
Independence Day November 30 Christmas Day December 25 Boxing Day