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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 officials.

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, 1966.

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 training.

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 employment.

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 savings.

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 details.

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 turbocharged cars.

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 AM

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 e‑mail.

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 strictly enforced.

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 AM).

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 periodically.

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 drinks, etc.

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 9:16 AM

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 supermarket management.

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” is inappropriate.

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 swimming pools.

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 damage.

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 60 cycles.

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 quickly.

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 ladies.

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 placements.

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 term.

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 institute.

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 younger set.

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 relief area.

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.

Social Activities

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 countries.

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 Kingston.

International organizations represented in Barbados include UNDP, PAHO, EC, IDB, UNICEF, the OAS, and CARICOM.

Official Functions

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 regularly.

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 to Barbados.

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 exchange transactions.

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¢ denominations.

Barbados and the other islands of the Eastern Caribbean use the metric system.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 11/28/2003 9:45 AM


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 to Barbados.

Hoefer, Hans. Barbados: Insight Guides. APA Publications: Singapore, 1985.

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 December 26

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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