Preface Last Updated: 6/3/2004 9:56 AM
Bermuda is the most northerly group of coral islands in the
world, lying just beyond the Gulf Stream some 650 miles off the
coast of the Carolinas. Although very small and isolated in its part
of the ocean, this Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom offers a
variety of places to see, people to meet, and things to do. The
island's economy is based on international business and tourism, and
Bermudians enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the
world, with only three percent unemployment and no sales or income
tax. They do face, however, an extremely high cost of living, as
well as the increasing stress of maintaining the lifestyle of an
economically developed western society.
Places to see vary from Bermuda's capital, Hamilton, with its
pastel buildings, smart shops, and busy streets, to St. George, the
only other rmunicipality on the island and a World Heritage site
with Old World charm, narrow twisting lanes, and fortresses. The
North Shore offers bizarre rock formations, and the South Shore is
world-renowned for its soft pink and white beaches. From one end of
the island to the other, Bermuda presents a series of
picture-postcard vignettes. The landscape is dotted with
pastel-hued, white-roofed houses, stately hotels and cottage
colonies nestled among an abundance of colorful semi-tropical trees
Bermudians are definitely among the most pleasant and hospital
people in the world. In addition, the island's population
encompasses large numbers of more recent arrivals from other
countries, including the official representatives of the United
Kingdom and United States and their families. Thousands of
Americans, British, and Canadians live on the island all or part of
the year. There is also a large and long-settled Portuguese
community, as well as many residents and workers from the West
Indies. A constant stream of tourists from the United States and
around the world swells population numbers on a daily basis.
Bermuda offers a host of activities. Professionally, members of
the small Consulate General staff maintain a wide range of official
contacts with the British and Bermudian authorities associated with
their particular portfolios. Socially, the Consul General can expect
an extensive round of ceremonies, luncheons, dinners, receptions,
and other functions. Other members of the staff will find official
demands less pressing, but can participate in a wide range of
professional and social opportunities according to their personal
preferences. For recreation, there are a number of outdoor sports
including world class golf, tennis, fishing, sailing, diving, and
swimming. There are a number of restaurants serving up everything
from the classic Bermudian Sunday morning cod fish and potatoes to
superb international cuisine. Other forms of entertainment include
movies, theatrical productions, art exhibits, musical concerts,and
several internationally-attended annual festivals including the
Bermuda Music Festival (formerly Jazz Fest) and the Bermuda
International Film Festival (BIFF). Volunteer opportunities abound.
The island is small, yet life in Bermuda -- although confined to the
20 square miles that make up this tiny country -- is varied and
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 6/3/2004 10:22 AM
Bermuda is an archipelago of seven main islands and some 150
other islands and islets. The main islands, joined by bridges or
causeways, stretch from northeast to southwest in a long, narrow
formation that hooks northward at the western end. On the map, the
shape is much like that of a fishhook. The main islands are in close
proximity and, since being joined, the Bermuda Islands (or Somers
Isles, their other name) are generally called the island of Bermuda.
Bermuda’s total land area is about 20 square miles — some 22
miles in length and an average of less than a mile in width — making
the country smaller than the city of Manhattan. During World War II,
the U.S. military created 1.25 square miles of the present land mass
by uniting and enlarging some of the islands with material dredged
from the sea bottom, now the site of the Bermuda International
The archipelago is the summit of a submerged volcanic mountain
range, 14,000–15,000 feet high, which has been extinct since before
the first ice age. Between the volcanic foundation and the
inches-thin layer of soil capping it lies a 200-foot thick layer of
limestone formed by deposits of mollusks, coral polyps, and other
sea creatures. The coral content in the limestone substructure
justify Bermuda’s classification as a “coral island,” though it is
more fulled described as a mixed superstructure of Aeolian petrified
sand hills and limestone upon an eroded volcanic base. The
surrounding reefs are true coral growths, making Bermuda the most
northerly point on the globe where reef-building coral exists.
Bermuda lies at latitude 32’18” north and longitude 65’46” west.
Geographically, it is remote and does not lie within or near the
West Indies or Caribbean, with which it is often erroneously
identified. The nearest land is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, 570
nautical miles away. New York City is 733 nautical miles to the
The terrain is hilly, with the highest — Gibb’s Hill — 260 feet
above sea level. A fertile valley extends along the length of the
main island. Wind-carved cliffs cascade into the sea along the rocky
northern shore. Similar rock formations form a dramatic backdrop for
the long beaches and small coves along the south shore. The
enclosing reef, a few yards offshore on the south coast and up to
several miles offshore on the north, emerges from the sea each day
at low tide, framing the islands and completing the topographical
Except for a few small ponds, there are no rivers, streams,
lakes, or other surface freshwater formations. For most of its
history, Bermuda was thought to have no ground water, but freshwater
lens formations lying above underground salt water were discovered
in the 1920’s and 30’s. These have subsequently been exploited to
supplement the island’s main source of drinking water, which is
rainwater collected on roofs and paved catchments.
Though far north from tropical latitudes, Bermuda has a mild,
humid, frost-free climate. The annual mean temperature is 70.2
degrees Fahrenheit. Highs in summer rarely top 90 degrees, and lows
in winter rarely drop under the 50’s. The lowest temperature ever
officially recorded was 44 degrees Fahrenheit. The Gulf Stream,
running west and north of the island, is the main reason for the
good climate. Average annual rainfall is 57.6 inches, spread evenly
throughout the year. The year-round high humidity, averaging more
than 75%, makes some days uncomfortably sticky in summer and damp
and cold in winter.
January through March tends to be overcast and squally, although
when the sun shines it can be like a breezy spring day. April and
May are very pleasant. June through August are like summer in
Washington, D.C. — very hot and very humid. The heat factor
(temperature plus humidity) during the hottest summer months can
exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit. September is the stormy season,
although hurricane season officially extends from June through
November. Barring hurricanes, October through December are calm,
mild, and usually sunny, and are considered by many to be the most
pleasant part of the year.
The climate, well-distributed rainfall, and heavy dew promote the
luxuriant growth of vegetation of every description, despite the
dearth of soil. Palms, Australian and Norfolk Island pines,
mangroves, poincianas, casuarinas, and ficus trees, citrus, and some
tropical fruit trees grow well in Bermuda. Prolific oleander and
hibiscus brighten gardens and lanes everywhere. Sadly, the famous
Bermuda cedar trees that for centuries dominated the landscape, and
were the islands’ pride, were nearly all destroyed by blight in the
1940s. The few remaining native cedars are protected, and some
reforestation with blight-resistant stock is underway.
Population Last Updated: 6/7/2004 9:44 AM
Bermuda is named for the Spanish seafarer Juan de Bermudez, who
discovered the island in 1503. There is evidence of occasional
visits by Spanish or Portuguese seamen, and at least one fruitless
Spanish plan to settle the island, but generally the local reefs and
raucous native birds convinced most Spanish sailors the island was
inhabited by devils. In 1609, Admiral Sir George Somers’ ship Sea
Venture, carrying a new lieutenant governor to Virginia, ran aground
on Bermuda’s eastern reef. The crew was stranded until they built a
new ship from local timber to continue their voyage. Their
descriptions of Bermuda attracted great interest, and in 1612 about
60 colonists — including some of Somers’ crew — sailed for what were
then called the Somers Isles. Shortly after landing, they founded
the town of St. George at the eastern end of the island. In 1790,
the more centrally located town of Hamilton was incorporated, and
the seat of government was transferred from St. George to Hamilton
in 1815. The new capital had a larger harbor and was more central to
a greatly-expanded British program of fortification building that
included the massive Royal Dockyard at the west end, and Fort
Prospect (the principal land garrison) and other forts in the
parishes near Hamilton.
During the first 300 years of the colony’s existence, except for
its function as a military bastion of the British Empire and periods
of prosperity generated by the American Revolutionary and Civil
Wars, Bermuda itself remained quite isolated from developments
abroad. The industrial revolution virtually passed it by. By the
turn of the 20th century, wealthy Americans, Canadians, and Britons,
seeking refuge from the pressures of modern life, were renting or
buying homes and estates for seasonal occupancy in Bermuda. Soon
shops and restaurants sprang up to cater to this carriage trade. As
the economic benefits of tourism became apparent, the colony sought
to cultivate and broaden it. Several impressive luxury hotels were
built in the 1920s and, in the early 1930s, large passenger
steamships were put into service between New York and Bermuda. In
1937, passenger seaplane service between New York and Bermuda was
inaugurated. The tourist industry continued to develop until the
outbreak of World War II.
The war gave new importance to the colony as a strategic outpost
for British and American forces. In 1941, the UK granted the U.S. a
99-year rent-free lease for construction and maintenance of two
military bases in Bermuda. For the next 50 years, the U.S. Naval Air
Station on St. David’s Island and the U.S. Naval Air Station Annex
in Southampton played an integral role in Bermuda’s life and
economy. The U.S. bases closed in 1995, and were formally returned
to Bermuda in 2002. The airfield built by U.S. forces during World
War II continues to this day to serve as Bermuda’s International
Bermuda's population is estimated to be around 64,000. The racial
composition of the native Bermudian population is about 70% black,
20% white, and 8% mixed or other. Among the entire resident
population, including expatriates, the proportions are closer to 55%
black, 34% white, and 12% mixed or other. More than 8,500 Americans
and a similarly large number of Canadians live on the island all or
part of the year. About half of the 13,000 Portuguese (Azoreans) on
the island are now Bermudians; the rest are contract workers
expected to return to their homeland. Several hundred other
Europeans are employed in Bermuda's hospitality industry, as are a
large number of Filipinos, other Asians, and West Indians.
Approximately 487,000 tourists visit the island every year, most of
Slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1834, but racial
segregation was practiced in Bermuda’s schools, restaurants, hotels,
and other public places until the 1960s. Although legally racial
discrimination in any form is not tolerated in today’s multiracial
Bermudian society, racial issues continue to play a role politically
English is the official and vernacular language of Bermuda. The
traditional Bermudian dialect is characterized by broad vowels and a
frequent transposition of “v” and “w” sounds. Educated Bermudians
have accents ranging from standard British to standard American,
with the “typical” accent sounding like a cross between New England
and Maritime Canadian. British visitors often find the local accent
American, while many American visitors think it sounds vaguely
British. Some Azorean Portuguese is also spoken on the island.
Bermuda has a strong religious tradition. Many Christian
denominations are represented on the island, with the largest being
the Church of England, Roman Catholic, African Methodist Episcopal,
and Seventh Day Adventist. There are many other smaller Protestant
groups, as well as active Baha’i, Muslim, and Jewish communities
(although there is no Jewish synagogue on the island).
Public Institutions Last Updated: 6/7/2004 9:55 AM
Bermuda, an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, is the
oldest self-governing colony in the British Commonwealth.
Representative government was first introduced to the colony in
1620. Since 1684, the Crown has appointed a Governor and local
legislature has been enacted by the colony. Bermuda has its own
written constitution, giving its elected cabinet government almost
complete self-determination in conducting local affairs. The Bermuda
parliament is the third oldest in the world, following Iceland's and
The Governor, who is appointed by the Queen, is responsible for
external affairs, defense, and internal security. In other matters,
he or she acts on the advice of the cabinet. A Deputy Governor is
appointed by the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and is
normally a British Foreign Service officer. These two officials and
their staff are the representatives of the United Kingdom on the
Bermuda's legislature is composed of a Senate and House of
Assembly. Members of the Senate are appointed by the Governor, five
on the advice of the Premier, three on the advice of the Leader of
the Opposition, and three at the Governor's own discretion. The
Senate elects its own president and vice president. The House of
Assembly consists popularly elected members from 36 single seat
constituencies; it elects a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker. Universal
suffrage, with one vote for one person, has existed since 1968. In
1989, the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18.
The Cabinet consists of the Premier and at least 6 other members
of the House of Assembly or the Senate. The Governor appoints the
majority leader in the House of Assembly as Premier, who in turn
nominates at least six other members of the House or the Senate as
other Cabinet ministers. This Cabinet is responsible for government
departments and related business. The Opposition Leader, whose
position is formally designated under British parliamentary
practice, is the leader of the largest minority party in the House
The judiciary consists of a Court of Appeal, Supreme Court, and
Magistracy. The Chief Justice presides over the Supreme Court and is
consulted by the Governor in the appointment of judges, magistrates,
and court officers.
Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda, was made a city by an act of
legislation in 1897 and is governed by a corporation. The town of
St. George, one of the oldest English settlements in the New World,
was founded in 1612 and was the capital until 1815. Charges for
water and dock facilities, and municipal taxes, are the main revenue
sources for both towns.
Aside from these two municipalities, Bermuda is divided into nine
districts, called parishes. From east to west, there are St.
George's, Hamilton Parish (not be confused with the city of
Hamilton), Smith's, Devonshire, Pembroke, Paget, Warwick,
Southampton, and Sandys.
Bermuda has two main political parties, the currently governing
Progressive Labour Party (PLP) and the opposition United Bermuda
Party (UBP). The PLP first assumed power in November 1998.
Promising "a new Bermuda," the PLP rose to victory on the public
perception that the party valued ordinary men and women, and was
committed to improving their quality of life. The PLP was
re-elected, although by a much smaller margin, in 2003. Many
Bermudians felt the former UBP government concentrated on economics
to the exclusion of more rudimentary needs.
Political independence from the United Kingdom is a basic tenet
of the PLP government. However, former Premier Jennifer Smith made
it clear early on in her tenure (1998-2003) that she had more urgent
priorities, and that her government would not pursue independence
until at least its second term. Smith's successor, Premier Alex
Scott (2003-present), has taken a proactive approach towards
independence and in 2004 opened a public debate on the issue.
However, a poll conducted in May 2004 revealed that 65.5% of 403
respondents oppose cutting ties with the UK.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 6/8/2004 3:08 PM
Bermuda hosts a variety of cultural events. The Bermuda Festival,
held annually in January/February, features internationally renowned
artists and attracts additional tourists during the slower winter
months, as well as providing entertainment for local residents. Past
festivals have brought the creative talents of the Dance Theater of
Harlem, the Russian National Orchestra Wind Quintet, the Aquila
Theatre Company, and Wynton Marsalis to the island. The spring
brings the Bermuda International Film Festival and summer brings
Harbour Nights and Concerts in The Park. Harbour Nights occurs
Wednesdays on Front Street, Hamilton, during the cruise-ship season
and includes arts and crafts for sale, food stalls and entertainment
for the evening, including regular appearances throughout the season
of the Bermuda Gombeys and the Bermuda Regiment band. Concerts in
the Park series are held first Sunday of every month from June to
October in Victoria Park in Hamilton a relaxing early evening in the
park. The Bermuda Music Festival is the next large event and takes
place in October. This festivals showcases international musicans
alongside many local talented musicans.
Local groups, such as the Bermuda Philharmonic Orchestra, Gilbert
and Sullivan Society, Musical and Dramatic Society, and Society for
the Arts, present classical, opera and pop concerts, light opera,
plays, musicals, and exhibitions.
The Bermuda Biological Station, on Ferry Reach at the island's
eastern end, was founded in 1903 by a group of North American
universities to further the study of marine sciences. With support
from the Government of Bermuda and funding from the US National
Science Foundation, the Bio Station hosts scientists from around the
world and conducts research at sea with its own ocean-going vessels.
Because of the island's mid-Atlantic location, both shallow and deep
sea habitats are easily accessible to research scientists. The Bio
Station also hosts Elderhostel groups.
Conservation and preservation groups include the Bermuda National
Trust, Audubon Society, Maritime Museum, and Zoological Society --
responsible for the popular Aquarium, Zoo and Natural History
Museum. The Botanical Gardens and Arboretum are publicly maintained.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 6/7/2004 10:08 AM
In 2002, Bermuda's GDP was estimated to be over $3.7 billion, or
about $59,864 per capita - one of the highest per capita income
rates in the world. The island's economy is based primarily on
international business and related financial services. International
companies account for 15.8% ($593 million) of the total GDP. The
real estate/rental sector was the second largest contributor to GDP
at 12.9% ($484 million), followed by the financial intermediation
sector at 12.5% ($462.5 million), trade/retail/repair at 9.4%
($351.5 million), and hotel and restaurant at 7% ($237.7 million).
The role of international business in the economy is expected to
continue to expand, and tourism will most likely continue to
As of December 2003, the government reported a total of 13,509
foreign companies registered in Bermuda, many US-owned. They are an
important source of foreign exchange for the island. International
companies spent $1.05 billion in Bermuda in 2002, and directly
employed 3,781 people.
Tourism, historically Bermuda's most important industry, has
experienced a continuing decline over the past several decades. In
1996, Bermuda welcomed 571,700 visitors to the island. By the end of
2003, that figure had dropped to 487,377. During that same
approximate period, the number of bed nights sold dropped from 2.365
million to 1.598 million. Visitors contributed an estimated $475
million to the economy in 1996, but that figure had declined to $300
million by the end of 2003. Direct employment in the tourism
industry (about 4,900 in 2003) and related retail industry is
dropping in tandem with declining visitor numbers.
Preliminary 2003 employment statistics indicate that there were
37,634 filled jobs in Bermuda, a decline of 0.4% over the previous
year. Despite the overall decline, employment in international
business increased. The greatest decline in employment was found in
restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels. Although many Bermudians hold
more than one job, unemployment on the island is 3%.
Bermuda's small size dictates that almost everything be imported,
and the value of imports continues to rise, hitting an estimated
$745.5 million in 2002. The United States is by far Bermuda's
primary trading partner, providing approximately 77% of imports at
an estimated value of $533 million in 2000. Bermuda's other trading
partners are Canada (7%), the United Kingdom (5%), and the Caribbean
(4%). The island's export market is comprised mostly of the
re-export of pharmaceuticals imported into the small free port;
exports totaled $51 million in 2000.
Until 2000, duty on imports was the major source of revenue for
the Government of Bermuda. In recent years, however, payroll tax
receipts have exceeded duty as the top revenue source. The
government's 2004 budget revealed revenue for 2003/04 at $666
million, of which $208 million derived from payroll tax and $197
million from customs duty. Of the $643.2 million in expenditures,
wages/salaries were the highest expense at $292 million. Public
borrowing for the capital account is limited to 10% of GDP.
Heavy import duties are reflected in retail prices. However, even
though import duties are high, wages have kept up with the cost of
living, and poverty--by U.S. standards--appears to be practically
nonexistent. Bermuda imposes no income, sales or profit taxes.
Bermuda has tight immigration and property ownership
restrictions. The island's 21-square mile area precludes an
open-door policy. An already strong Bermudianization policy was
strengthened further in 2001 with the passage of new immigration
legislation that limited the duration of work permits to a maximum
of six years. In early 2004, the government relaxed its policy
slighting with the announcement of exemptions from work permit term
limits for a number of job categories, including senior accountants,
attorneys, IT engineers, butchers and chefs.
The influx of expatriate employees has had a physical impact on
this small island, raising the issue of sustainable development. One
Bermuda government report predicts that there will be a further
6,000 jobs created here by 2010. With virtually full employment in
Bermuda and declining birth rates, it is probable that
non-Bermudians will be needed in greater numbers to supplement the
local workforce, which in turn would most likely result in a
population increase greater than the number of new jobs. The labor
minister has pointed out that for every two work permit holders,
there are one and one-half dependents. Among the problems already
plaguing Bermuda - and bound to worsen - as a result of an
increasing population are traffic congestion, escalating real estate
costs, housing shortages, private school waiting lists, and
increasingly frequent tension between Bermudians and the outsiders
who have come to live and work on the island.
Expatriates may purchase only those houses or condominiums listed
as available for sale to non-Bermudians. The list is short and the
properties are expensive. Homes that can be sold to non-Bermudians
must have a minimum annual rental value (ARV) of $126,000, and must
meet several other restrictions. First generation expatriates can
inherit as long as the residence's minimum annual rental value meets
or exceeds the ARV required for non-Bermudian ownership. The
inheritors must pay a fee and provide a copy of the will, but they
are exempt from paying the government tax for first-time overseas
The effects of September 11 had both positive and negative
ramifications for Bermuda. On the positive side, a number of new
re/insurance companies located on the island, contributing to an
already robust international business sector. On the negative side,
the influx of expatriate executives has taxed Bermuda's limited
housing market, and caused housing prices - especially for rentals -
to rise far above what most Bermudians can afford (for example,
three bedroom houses now range from around $5,000 to over $18,000 a
month). Bermuda's already weakened tourism industry - which depends
heavily on visitors from the United States - was also hard hit as
American tourists chose not to travel.
Automobiles Last Updated: 6/3/2004 3:11 PM
Until 1946, there were no cars in Bermuda. Today, the law forbids
the use of private cars except by residents, permits only one car
per household, and limits the size and horsepower of all vehicles.
Because of the one car per household restriction, many families own
one or more motorbikes, motor scooters, or motorcycles in addition
to a car. While motorbikes can be practical for commuting, Consulate
General personnel will find that a car is needed for transporting
goods or more than one person with any convenience. Rental cars are
not available. All Consulate General direct hire American staff
members, including the Consul General, are allowed to import or
purchase locally one car duty free for their personal use.
Bermuda’s laws restrict passenger vehicles to a maximum of 169
inches in overall length and 67 inches in overall width, with a
maximum engine capacity of 2,000cc (2.0 liters). There are technical
restrictions that might bar some vehicles, such as sports cars or
unusual models, so check with the Consulate General before shipping
any car. Most cars in Bermuda are of Japanese manufacture
(Mitsubishi, Nissan, Honda, Toyota, and Mazda, etc.). Volkswagen,
British Ford, Hyundai, Peugeot, BMW, Renault, and various other
makes are also sold here. Bermudians drive on the left, so almost
all cars are right-hand drive although right-hand drive cars are not
compulsory. Because most roads are narrow and winding, with no
shoulder and bordered by stone walls, Bermuda’s speed limit is 35
km/h (21.7 mph).
Bermuda’s laws virtually forbid the import of used cars. A
vehicle may be imported only if it was purchased new within 6 months
of importation. The local used car market is small and prices tend
to be high, as they reflect the 75% duty that new car buyers pay.
Departing Consulate General personnel who imported their cars
duty-free may sell their cars without any duty being levied if the
cars have been on the island for at least two years.
New cars may be purchased through local dealers. When an American
with duty-free privileges buys a car from a local dealer’s existing
stocks, import duty must be paid on it since the Bermuda Government
does not grant a rebate of any duty if the vehicle has already been
cleared through customs by a dealer. However, if an order is placed
through a local dealer to import a car, the car can be brought in
duty-free; when you buy a car in this manner, delivery can take one
to four months unless a suitable car is already at sea and the
import papers can be adjusted prior to arrival.
If you purchase a car in the U.S. or elsewhwere before arriving
in Bermuda, it may be shipped as part of your personal effects. In
general, your agency will pay the shipping cost up to the cost that
would have incurred if the vehicle had been shipped directly from
your previous post. Still, there is some argument to be made for
waiting until you arrive to select a car, for it will give you a
chance to see what models are popular here and how they perform
under local conditions.
Cars either purchased in Bermuda or brought to Bermuda should be
undercoated to protect the chassis against the corrosive effects of
the climate and sea-sprayed roads.
New and used motorbikes or scooters are readily available. As
with cars, duty must be paid on a new vehicle bought from a local
dealer’s existing stocks, but USG personnel may request a dealer to
import a vehicle for them to obtain it duty free. The duty on
scooters is not a substantial amount; some staff members have
preferred to pay the local price, including duty, and avoid
complications on resale of these quasi-disposable vehicles.
Bermuda has adequate repair shops for motorbikes and most popular
makes of small cars. Common spare parts are usually in stock; other
parts, must be imported on an as needed basis, which can delay
repairs from several days to weeks. Labor and materials are
All drivers must pass a written and driving test geared toward
any motorized vehicle, be it motorcycle, car, van, pickups and heavy
vehicles. The Transport Control Department (TCD) does not recognize
any foreign license. The only exception is that tourists with
foreign licenses, or anyone with a local learner's permit, may drive
vehicles with engines of 50cc or less; this allows tourists to rent
small mopeds or scooters while they are on the island.
All motorized vehicles must be registered with and inspected by
TCD. TCD vehicle inspection requirements are similar to examinations
in the U.S. Consulate General personnel are exempt from paying
registration and inspection fees. Locally purchased third-party
liability insurance is compulsory on all vehicles. Comprehensive
insurance can also be purchased on the island, but is less expensive
if purchased from an American company. Most Bermuda insurance firms
grant no-claim discounts; so be sure to bring letters from previous
insurance firms attesting to the numbers of years you have driven
Gasoline sold at local service stations costs about $5.11/gallon,
or $1.35/liter. Safety helmets must be worn when driving any
Local Transportation Last Updated: 6/4/2004 7:16 AM
More than 600 taxis are available on the island, although they
can sometimes be hard to find during heavy rainstorms or in the
middle of the night, and a limousine service may begin in 2004.
About 300 Bermudian taxi drivers have attained "Qualified Tour
Guide" status by successfully completing special government exams.
Taxi fares are high, with rates depending on number of passengers
and time of day. Fares are expected to increase by 20 percent;
currently, in March 2004, the cost of a taxi from the airport to
Hamilton runs around $25.
Local bus service is extensive and reasonable in price, and is
used by both Bermudians and tourists. A government ferry service
connects Hamilton with points across the harbor in Paget and Warwick
parishes at frequent intervals. There is less frequent service on
larger ferries to three points in Somerset, including the Dockyard.
Ferries are heavily used by tourists and are a convenient form of
commuting for those living near the landing points. The Consulate
General is a 20-minute walk from the Hamilton ferry terminal.
Ferries are canceled, however, whenever sea conditions are
unfavorable. Occasional strikes or work slow-downs of government
employees shut down all public transportation for several hours or
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 6/4/2004 7:20 AM
The number of flights servicing Bermuda increased in 2004
following government efforts to improve tourist access to the
island. Daily flights are available between Bermuda and a number of
US cities, including New York, Newark, Baltimore, Washington,
Philadelphia, Boston, Atlanta, and Charlotte. Seasonal flights
operate to Chicago, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale and Halifax. Good
non-stop services also connect Bermuda with London five days a week
and Toronto daily. Washington National and Baltimore-Washington
International Airports are about 2 hours away by direct flight.
Passengers on the many flights to the US are pre-cleared by US
Customs and Border Protection officials at Bermuda's airport,
arriving at domestic terminals on the mainland. British Airways and
Air Canada are the only non-American carriers serving Bermuda,
although a new Spanish charter flight from Cuba will begin operating
fortnightly in 2004. All the airlines servicing Bermuda have regular
"seat sales" during which round trip airfares are reduced
substantially. Bermuda is on Atlantic Time, one hour ahead of the
East Coast of the United States throughout the year.
Cruise ships bring thousands of visitors to the island from May
to October, most often from New York and Boston every week, but with
occasional arrivals from other ports. Each year, local travel
agencies arrange several cruises that either originate or can be
joined in Bermuda.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 6/4/2004 7:29 AM
Telephone and fax service extends throughout the island. Long
distance service is rapid and efficient, with direct dialing to the
US and most of the world. Rental rates and local service costs are
comparable to those in the US. With the advent of competition,
direct dial calls to the US average $.38 per minute. Many
international brands of telephone and fax sets are available for
purchase on the island for home and business use, and a wide range
of cellular phone equipment and services are available. Consulate
General staff members may also bring telephone equipment, cordless
phones, faxes, etc., with them in their shipments or order them from
the US after arrival.
Telegram service is available through Cable and Wireless Ltd.
(297-7129); however, delivery is no longer guaranteed.
Although communications in Bermuda are state of the art, with
multiple satellite, ocean cable, and fiber-optic cable facilities in
place, severe winds can bring communications down for periods
ranging from hours to weeks.
Internet Last Updated: 6/4/2004 7:28 AM
There are six Internet services companies providing dial-up and
DSL service on the island (four consumer, two business). Prices are
considerably higher than in the United States and the Caribbean. For
example, DSL service runs about $99 per month.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 6/4/2004 7:32 AM
Airmail to local Bermuda addresses arrives from the US and around
the world daily; surface mail arrives weekly. For local or
international mail, you can use the address of your assigned housing
in Bermuda or the following:
Your Name American Consulate General P.O. Box HM 325 Hamilton HM
US Government direct hire employees and family members may
receive personal mail and packages through the diplomatic pouch,
which can take two to six weeks to arrive. Some restrictions on size
and content apply. Personal pouch mail should be addressed to you as
Your Name 5300 Hamilton Place Dulles, VA 20189-5300
Official mail and packages must be addressed to the following
pouch address. The same time constraints and similar size/content
American Consulate General Hamilton 5300 Hamilton Place
Department of State Washington D.C. 20521-5300
Radio and TV Last Updated: 6/4/2004 7:59 AM
Three local TV stations can be received on any standard American
television set without alteration. One is a CBS affiliate, another
carries NBC programs, and the other carries ABC. Cable service is
also available, at costs similar to or slightly above those
available in most American cities. A new channel offering local
proramming, Fresh TV, is available via cable service. There are a
number of video rental shops across the island, although costs are
significantly higher than in the US.
There are five AM and three FM radio channels available here.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
6/4/2004 8:11 AM
Bermuda has one daily English-language newspaper, the morning
Royal Gazette. The Mid-Ocean News is published on Fridays and
Bermuda Sun is published on Wednesdays and Fridays. While the local
newspapers concern themselves mainly with island events, they
include wire-service coverage of leading US and other foreign news
stories. Local vendors receive the New York Times and Washington
Post by air and usually have them available for sale either the day
of publication or the following morning. Several other leading
American and British newspapers are available on local stands.
Magazines are available on the island, at prices much higher than
in the US. Having US or other magazine and newspaper subscriptions
delivered to the Consulate pouch address will cut costs
significantly, although delivery will be two to three weeks after
Current books, including paperbacks, are available in Hamilton
bookstores or can be ordered, but are quite expensive. Using
book-buying services or clubs in the US or ordering books from
Amazon.com or half.com provides a much greater variety at
significantly lower prices.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 6/4/2004 8:14 AM
The Consulate General does not have a medical unit. Staff and
family members rely upon local physicians and hospital facilities
for medical care, or see their family doctors and specialists when
they are traveling in the US. The Bermuda Government licenses all
physicians listed in the Bermuda telephone directory's yellow pages.
Health care costs range from somewhat to substantially higher than
in the US.
There is not a full range of specialists on the island. Some,
such as a neurologist, fly in monthly or quarterly to consult with
patients. In other circumstances, Bermudian health insurance
provides for sending patients to the United States for care and
treatment not available on the island. Unfortunately, most US health
insurance plans do not provide for medical evacuation for specialist
consultation and/or treatments.
There are two hospitals in Bermuda: St. Brendan's, which is a
psychiatric hospital, and King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH),
which is Bermuda's primary care hospital. Both are located just east
of Hamilton. King Edward is a general medical and surgical hospital
with about 300 beds; however, its aging infrastructure is taking its
toll. Most customary services are available at KEMH, including an
emergency room, surgical wards, and intensive care unit. The
hospital is accredited under a Canadian system. Critical patients,
however, are often medically evacuated to the US or Canada. This can
be extremely costly if it is not provided for under a person's
Most local dentists are trained in the US or Canada, and many
Consulate General staff and family members have been satisfied with
the dental care received, although it is much more costly here that
in the US and many other countries.
Community Health Last Updated: 6/4/2004 8:20 AM
mmunization and preventative care in Bermuda are undertaken
vigorously and the general health of the community is good. No
unusual communicable disease or severe epidemic has been recorded in
the past few years. A successful diabetic program and a family
limitation and birth control programs are offered. Births on the
island have decreased annually over the past four decades.
As in any subtropical region, Bermuda is afflicted with a variety
of insect pests. Most households, no matter how clean, have ants,
cockroaches, and/or termites at one time or another. Ants are a
particular problem following strong tropical storms. Mosquitoes are
kept in check by a rigorous government inspection and spraying
program and by the scarcity of standing fresh water for breeding.
Bermuda government inspectors visit all homes on the island during
the summer months, and residents are notified of actions needing to
be taken to reduce mosquito-breeding areas. Those who do not comply
are fined. An occasional small, harmless lizard or tiny nocturnal
tree frogs find their way into a house. Mice and rats are a problem
in some areas; in the aftermath of severe hurricanes, they sometimes
find their way into houses in search of food. There are no snakes in
Bermuda. The Consulate General sponsors a self-help pest control
program, and provides information on safe pesticides and alternate
methods to deter infestations.
The Department of Health monitors the food operations of all
hotels, restaurants, shops, food manufacturers, pasteurizing plants,
dairy farms, and slaughterhouses, with a close watch kept on the
quality of imported foods. The Bermuda Government supervises the
health standards of housing and sanitary engineering. Garbage is
collected twice a week and recyclables once a week, although
recycling is limited to aluminum cans and glass.
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 6/4/2004 8:29 AM
The Bermuda Department of Health recommends that those coming to
Bermuda have their vaccinations up to date as a precautionary
measure. Tuberculosis exists in Bermuda, but its incidence is
decreasing and cases are rigidly controlled.
Few health hazards exist in Bermuda. However, because the source
of each home's water supply is rainwater, collected on Bermuda's
white roofs and stored in cisterns, the possibility of contamination
always exists. Simple precautions, periodic testing, and use of
chlorine to remove any contaminants have made this problem minimal.
Foodstuffs available on the island present no health hazard. Milk
from local dairies is safe. No special treatment of raw fruits and
vegetables is required. All milk is pasteurized.
No unusual dangerous insects or animals are present, and the
island is rabies free. However, you can be severely sunburned or
suffer heat exhaustion during the summer, and standard precautions
should be taken. The sun is stronger in Bermuda, due to the island's
breezy climate that blows any pollution out to sea. Portuguese
men-of-war and other stinging jellyfish are found seasonally near
the shore. Their sting produces serious, but rarely fatal, illness.
If you are stung, get immediate medical care.
Those with respiratory ailments may suffer from the humid
climate, which also seems to activate potential arthritis in some
people. Asthma and hay fever sufferers, however, may find relief
here. It is not necessary to bring medicines or drugs with you to
Bermuda; most medication can be bought locally. However, local
pharmacy prices for prescriptions and over the counter medications
are high, and it is more economical to stock up on any regular
medications needed in the US, or to order them from an Internet
pharmacy, such as drugstore.com. Fluoride supplements are provided
for all children over six months of age and children receive free
dental screening and fluoride at school, at Bermuda government
expense as part of a 25-year study.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 6/4/2004 8:31
The Bermuda Government has for many years pursued a policy of "Bermudianization"
of the local labor force, and non-Bermudians wishing to work on the
island must have a work permit. In general, before expatriates will
be issued a work permit, they must have the necessary skills and
experience to fill positions for which qualified Bermudians are not
available. In 1995, the Bermudian Government passed a law that
exempts US citizen spouses of USG employees stationed here from the
normal expatriate work permit procedures. Paperwork to secure a work
permit for spouses of USG employees has been reduced to filling out
a single form. Spouses interested in local employment should contact
the Community Liaison Officer at the Consulate General prior to or
upon arrival. The host government hires some expatriate teachers and
registered nurses, and local business openings for all types of
skills are published in the Royal Gazette.
Spouses of USG employees in Bermuda may apply for any position
opening at the Consulate, and are welcome to enquire about openings
prior to their arrival at post. In 2004, the Consulate General had a
number of locally hired American employees, including secretary to
the Consul General, realty assistant, political/economic assistant,
voucher examiner, consular assistant, security guard, and Community
Liaison Officer, and two of those positions were filled by USG
employee family members. In mid-2004, all spouses who wished to work
had found employment.
Consulate General - Hamilton
Post City Last Updated: 6/4/2004 8:42 AM
According to the 2000 Census, only 969 people reside within
Hamilton Corporation limits. However, Hamilton is the island's
business center and its daytime population swells to about 14,000.
The city's main attractions are the restaurants, shops, and
department stores along Front Street, which faces the busy quayside
of Hamilton's harbor. While the city's low, pastel-colored
traditional buildings are giving way on many streets to
international-style low-rise business buildings with few Bermudian
architectural grace notes, the town still retains a basically
British-colonial appearance. When viewed from across the harbor, the
towers of the new ACE and XL insurance buildings, City Hall, the
Bermuda Cathedral, and the parliament building dominate Hamilton's
skyline. The last contains the chambers of the House of Assembly and
Supreme Court. Nearby on Front Street is the Cabinet Building, which
houses the Senate chamber and the offices of the Premier and his
staff. Government House, the official residence and office of the
British Governor, stands on a hill just north of the city,
overlooking the city and the harbor to the south, the Dockyard
across the water to the west, and the ocean to the north.
Other Hamilton attractions include Albuoy's Point, site of the
Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and a park overlooking the harbor, the
Bermuda Library, which houses the Museum of Bermuda History, and the
adjacent Par-La-Ville Gardens. The remains of Fort Hamilton, which
provides splendid harbor and city views from its ramparts, are on
the eastern edge of the city.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 6/4/2004 8:46 AM
The Consulate General is located in an old Bermuda home known as
"Crown Hill," and is located at 16 Middle Road in Devonshire Parish,
just outside the eastern limits of Hamilton. Built in 1906, the
property was purchased and converted to office use by the State
Department in 1989. The telephone number is (441) 295-1342. The
Consulate General workweek is Monday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to
4:30 p.m. Customs and Border Protection officials, who work at the
US PreClearance facility at Bermuda International Airport, work
shifts 365 days per year clearing flights leaving Bermuda.
The Consulate General is staffed by a Consul General appointed by
the President of the United States, three Foreign Service Officers
(Deputy Principal Officer, Consul and Vice Consul), and a number of
locally employed Bermudian, American and non-American personnel. The
Consulate General is unusual in that it is a stand-alone, Special
Embassy Program post, and reports directly to the Department of
State's Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.
Officers of the Department of Homeland Security's Bureau of
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are based at a Pre-Clearance
Facility at the Bermuda International Airport. Built by US military
decades ago on land recovered from the sea, the airport terminal is
on St. David's Island in the parish of St. George's. There, CBP
staff members carry out pre-departure immigration and customs
clearance of people leaving on flights to the US. The agency falls
under the authority and oversight of the Consul General, and the
Consulate General performs some administrative functions, including
management of the leased housing program. The US/Bermuda
Pre-clearance Agreement provides CBP personnel with the diplomatic
privileges accorded the official staff of the Consulate General,
including duty-free entry of household effects and other goods.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 6/4/2004 8:52 AM
The Consulate General makes every effort to put newly arrived
State staff in permanent housing directly upon arrival or shortly
thereafter. In case of any extended delay, new arrivals will be
placed in a furnished apartment leased week-to-week. For shorter
delays, new arrivals may be placed in a hotel or rental cottage with
housekeeping facilities. Other agency personnel should coordinate
their lodging needs directly with their Officer-in-Charge.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 12/8/2005 2:50 PM
The Consul General is housed at "Vagabond House," a leased home
with views of Castle Harbour. The residence consists of foyer,
powder room, living room, dining room, library with office and full
bath, bar, family/games room, kitchen with eating area and full
bath, and 4 bedrooms with 4 baths. The residence also has a pool
house and a separate guest suite with bedroom, bath, living/dining
room and small kitchen. The house has dual air conditioning/heating
units, multiple telephone lines, and is wired for cable and
satellite television. Security features including exterior lighting,
a residential alarm system, a perimeter fence and electronic gate at
the entrance to the property. "Vagabond House" is 25 minutes from
the Consulate or the city of Hamilton. The house is fully furnished
and is supplied with china, glassware, and kitchen utensils.
Other American staff of the Consulate General and CBP
pre-clearance employees are housed in single-family or
multiple-family houses, townhouses, apartments and/or condominiums
that are under lease to the US Government. All US government
agencies in Bermuda participate in a State Department-managed
housing program. Housing assignments are made by the Inter-Agency
Housing Board, which is composed of representatives from all
agencies at post. Assignments made by the Interagency Housing Board
are based on position grade, family size, the need for access to
schools, and any other special requirements. Employees are
encouraged to contact the Consulate's Management Officer or Realty
Assistant as soon as possible after they receive their assignment to
Bermuda, to communicate any special requirements and personal
preferences that could impact on their housing assignment.
There is considerable movement in leased housing and personnel
seldom occupy the houses held by their predecessors, so there is
little point in describing specific properties now available.
Suffice it to say that most personnel assigned here have regarded
housing as good by Foreign Service standards. In general, the
interiors of most Bermuda homes are charming, with fairly spacious
rooms, very high ceilings, a liberal use of handsome cedar, and
usually a fireplace in the living room. Storage space is usually
limited and contents prone to moisture damage from the constant
humidity without use of dehumidfiers. Exteriors are generally
picturesque, and nicer homes have grounds with many trees, shrubs,
and flowers. Due to the hilly terrain many homes have impressive
views of the surrounding area or seascapes.
Most homes on the island are single-family homes of one or two
stories, many with attached apartments. Some houses, usually of two
stories, accommodate two or more families. Apartments are mainly
two-story, often part of multi-unit condominiums, and may include
such facilities as swimming pools and tennis courts. Housing in
Bermuda normally has modern kitchens and baths, carpeting or ceramic
tiles, and includes ceiling fans and dual air conditioning/heating
units. Post is committed to provided safe and secure housing which
is adequate to meet the personal and professional needs of occupants
at a cost most advantageous to the US Government.
Furnishings Last Updated: 6/4/2004 9:53 AM
State Department employees are provided with furniture and
furnishings, and may only bring a limited shipment of 7,200 pounds
of personal belongings with them to Bermuda, such as your own
pictures, hangings, and some lamps to fill out basic furniture
allotments. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) allows
full shipments for its employees, so CBP employees must provide
their own furniture and furnishings. The Consulate makes every
attempt to lease units with window coverings and appliances (stove,
fridge, dryer, dual heating and cooling air conditioners, and
whenever possible, microwave and dishwasher). Both State and CBP
provide a fire extinguisher, one or more dehumidifiers, a bottled
water cooler/dispenser, and a house alarm system.
Furniture for State Department employees consists of complete
sets, including lighting, for the living room, dining room, kitchen,
and bedrooms. Additional furniture for a family room or outdoor
patio is provided according to need and depends on inventory and
funding availability. Furniture is replaced approximately every
eight years. Because costs are so high in Bermuda, USG furniture
cannot be recovered or refinished between occupants. Post may
however agree to the purchase of slipcovers for new occupants if
funds are available. Individuals should check with post to determine
the sizes of beds (queen, twin, etc.) they will find in their new
home. Employees should plan to bring their own cookware, dinnerware,
bedding, linens, kitchen appliances, ironing board, hangars, stereo,
television, VCR, DVD, computer, any other electronics, and
The Consulate does not have any storage capability. Employees
should not ship excess belongings, as any storage requirement will
have to be arranged personally and will be quite costly. In
addition, the high humidity and salt air is hard on furniture and
effects not constantly monitored and maintained. Mold and mildew can
damage linens, books, paintings, clothes, shoes, other leather
goods, photos, videotapes, etc, and metal corrodes quickly. Musical
instruments suffer in this climate and need tuning every few months.
A piano becomes "tinny" after a year or two of exposure to the
subtropical climate and may suffer soundboard damage; an electric
heating rod is essential. The wooden structure of a violin or guitar
may warp, and brass instruments are likely to corrode unless
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 6/4/2004 10:04 AM
Electricity in Bermuda is US standard, 110 volt/60 cycle. All
American electric and electronic equipment can be used here.
Transformers are not easily found, so 220 volt/50 cycle European or
Asian appliances and equipment will not be useable. The electrical
supply is reliable, except for occasional weather-associated or
equipment-failure outages to be expected by residents of islands or
the Washington suburbs. Power outages of several hours to one or
more weeks can be expected after the occasional severe tropical
storms and/or hurricanes that occur between June and December.
Employees should bring a supply of flashlights, batteries, battery
operated radio, oil lamps, and alternate cooking source, such as a
propane or butane camping stove or propane grill in their shipment.
The US Government pays utility costs. Houses are furnished with
electric refrigerators, electric or propane gas stoves, an electric
water cooler, and electric washers and dryers. Many homes have
automatic dishwashers. Home freezers are not essential, though they
might be useful — most houses do not seem to have convenient places
to put them. The water supply in Bermuda depends on rainfall, and
occasional dry spells can lead to a critical water shortage. Each
home has an underground storage tank which collects rainwater from
roof catchments, and an electric pump that automatically distributes
water from the tank into the plumbing system. With reasonable care,
this water supply is entirely adequate and safe. In emergencies,
truckloads of water can be delivered and fed in to the underground
tanks. All agencies supply their staff with bottled drinking water
that is delivered to the houses on a regular basis.
Food Last Updated: 6/7/2004 9:27 AM
Almost all of the island's food supply is imported. With
transportation costs and import duties, all consumer goods on the
island cost much more than in the US. A limited number of
vegetables, bakery goods, honey, fresh milk, eggs, meat, ice cream,
and fish are produced locally but are just as, and sometimes more,
expensive. As of March 2004, post's cost of living allowance was
60%, one of the highest in the world. Nonetheless, there are several
US-style supermarkets on the island, including one that specializes
in high end, organic and gourmet foodstuffs, although the selection
is not as large or as reliable. Grocery store shelves can be rather
bare for several days before the arrival of the weekly container
ship. Some grocery stores do ship in some of their goods for sale
via air cargo.
Families should plan ahead during hurricane season, in the event
that the weather or subsequent damages cause travel on-island to be
severely limited and/or not recommended, a disruption in electrical
supply to the retail and grocery stores, or a delay in the arrival
of food and other necessities to the island and disruption of
distribution of said goods.
While it not usually necessary to ship foodstuffs to post, many
Consulate families order food items, paper goods, soap and
detergent, diapers, toiletries, etc., via the internet from such
vendors at NetGrocer.com and Drugstore.com, and have the items
shipped via the US diplomatic pouch address. Of course, all items
and packages must meet the size, weight and content restrictions
imposed on diplomatic pouch mail.
Clothing Last Updated: 6/7/2004 9:28 AM
Clothing that would be suitable for summer wear in Washington,
D.C. is appropriate in Bermuda from April through November. Somewhat
heavier clothing is needed for Bermuda's frost-free but damp, chilly
winter, such long sleeves, sweaters, and light jackets.
Wash-and-wear clothing is a great boon in Bermuda's climate,
especially since dry cleaning is very expensive.
Good quality, fashionable clothing is available in local stores.
However, choices and sizes are limited. Prices are usually the same
as those in Washington but deals can be found with the
ever-increasing numbers of sales. There are also exclusive stores
with exlusive prices, similar to the specialty boutique stores in
the US. Formal wear can be rented locally.
Office wear is more casual in Bermuda than in Washington, and
Bermudian men often wear Bermuda shorts with long socks, blazers,
shirts, and ties during the summer months. In general, dress in
Bermuda is informal and colorful, but not to the extent associated
with the tropical tourist islands to the south. Most social
occasions and visits to all the better restaurants and hotels
require at least jackets and ties for men and comparable outfits for
women. The Consul General will likely need formal wear, but most
other officers will not.
All schoolchildren, from Kindergarten through high school, and in
both public and private schools, wear uniforms that must be
purchased locally. Otherwise, children wear the same clothing as
their American and European counterparts. Because Bermudian cable TV
is piped in from the US and Canada, children are exposed to
commercials and may ask for brands and/or fashions that cannot be
found here. Children's shoes may be hard to find when supplies are
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 12/1/2003 9:31 AM
Virtually everything is available in Bermuda at a price or can be
obtained quickly by mail order from the United States.
Basic Services Last Updated: 6/4/2004 2:01 PM
There are a number of beauty salons, nail salons, spas, and
barbershops in Hamilton and elsewhere on the island. Appliances can
often be repaired, although parts must sometimes be ordered from the
US or Europe. As with everything in Bermuda, any kind of service
will cost somewhat to considerably more than in Washington.
Domestic Help Last Updated: 6/4/2004 2:02 PM
Domestic help is difficult to find and is very expensive. For
example, having someone in to do general cleaning will cost $15-25
per hour. If a family requires a live-in domestic or nanny, they
will need to arrange to bring one with them to Bermuda. Baby-sitters
can sometimes be located but are also expensive. Pool care is
expensive and a gardening service will cost several hundred dollars
The Consul General is authorized a cook and a housekeeper under
official residence regulations. Landscaping, gardening, and pool
care are also provided at the Consul General's residence.
At Post Last Updated: 6/4/2004 2:07 PM Bermuda's public education
system is divided into primary, middle and high school levels. There
are only 2 public high schools in Bermuda, both located on the
outskirts of Hamilton.
Bermuda has a number of private schools. In addition to
denominational (Roman Catholic and Seventh-Day Adventist) schools,
there are one girls' school, two co-educational English-style
schools, and a Montessori school. Saltus Grammar School offers a
post-graduate year designed to prepare qualified graduates of any
Bermuda secondary school for attendance at American, Canadian and
British universities. The Bermuda High School for Girls is in the
third year of its new International Baccalaureate (IB) program.
Somersfield Academy offers Montessori education in its lower levels
and IB studies for older children.
Obtaining places for children of USG personnel in private schools
is quite difficult. Arriving employees should contact the Consulate
General and individual schools as soon as an assignment to Bermuda
is made to get assistance in finding an opening for their child(ren).
On a few occasions, children have had their first year of education
on the island at a Bermuda government school, and transferred to a
private school when an opening becomes available.
Schools in Bermuda do not provide bus services for their
students. The public bus system offers a reduced-cost term pass for
students, but the majority of parents drive their children to and
from school. Most schools offer an after-school program at an extra
cost to accommodate working parents.
Away From Post Last Updated: 6/4/2004 2:05 PM The island's
proximity to the east coast of the United States provides access to
a wide choice of specialized schools. The 2003 away-from-post
education allowance is the same as the at-post allowance for grades
K-6, $13,450 but increases to $30,100 for grades 7-12.
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 6/4/2004 2:06 PM
The Bermuda College, established in 1974, provides post-secondary
education on a level with American junior or community colleges.
Courses offered include "academic studies" (designed for
pre-university work), "commerce and technology"(designed to prepare
students for various trades and business skills), and "hotel
technology." The college offers some courses from Queens University
in Canada and has cooperative programs with several US colleges. The
private Webster University also operates associate, bachelor's, and
master's degree programs on the island.
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 6/4/2004 2:09 PM
Bermuda life centers around outdoor activity. The island boasts
more golf courses per square mile than any other country in the
world. Of eight courses on the island, three are public, three are
associated with hotels, and two are private with long waiting lists
for membership. Green fees are more expensive than in the US.
Tennis is popular and almost all hotels have courts. The National
Tennis Stadium has five courts available at moderate charges, and
tennis clubs throughout the island may be joined easily.
Sailing is the outdoor sport supreme. Racing in the various
classes takes place throughout the year, but the sport is expensive.
Sailing classes for children and adults are available at the Royal
Bermuda Yacht Club and the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dingy Club during
the summer and periodically throughout the year. The Bermuda Sailing
Association also offers a government-subsidized sailing program at
White's Island in the summer.
Excellent light-tackle fishing is available and more than 430
species of fish are found in the waters of Bermuda. Charter boats
equipped with outriggers and all modern equipment are available at a
Bermuda's beaches are the main recreational areas. Along South
Shore, superb white and pink sand beaches are ideal for swimming and
sunbathing. Hardy individuals can bathe in the sea year-round,
although most swimming occurs from late May to early October when
the surface sea temperature becomes a little warmer. Water skiing,
jet skiing, and parasailing can be enjoyed in the protected waters
of the harbors and sounds. Skin-diving with a mask and snorkel or
with aqualungs is popular, and even inexperienced swimmers can soon
learn how to explore reefs close off Bermuda's shore.
Most sporting equipment, and cameras and film, can be found in
Entertainment Last Updated: 6/4/2004 2:11 PM
As a tourist destination, Bermuda has a varied though not
extensive program of spectator events. The Queen's Birthday in June
and other national holidays are celebrated with military parades on
Front Street. The opening of Parliament each autumn is also marked
by impressive ceremonies. The International Yacht Race between
Newport Rhode Island, and Bermuda, held every other year in June,
brings well over 100 entries from North America, South America, and
Europe to Hamilton Harbor where they form as large a fleet of
ocean-going sailing vessels as may be seen anywhere in the world.
Another popular sports event is the two-day cricket Cup Match each
August. Both days of the match are national holidays. A celebrity
golf tournament and the Bermuda International Film Festival made
their debut in 1997.
Several clubs in Bermuda are open to American personnel of the
Consulate General. The Principal Officer is an honorary member of
the Mid Ocean Golf Club, the Coral Beach Tennis Club, the Royal
Bermuda Yacht Club, the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club and
several others. There is an active International American Women's
Club and Junior Service League for women.
Hamilton has two modern movie theaters, and two others are
located at Dockyard and St. David's. Concerts and ballets are
sometimes offered in the small theater at Hamilton's City Hall. In
recent years, several excellent plays have also been presented.
International stars appear at the annual Arts and Music festivals,
both widely attended by island residents and visitors from all over
Good restaurants are available throughout the island, and most
hotels have first-class dining rooms. However virtually all dining
establishments are priced for the tourist trade and are expensive.
"Continental" and Italian cuisine predominate. Ethnic restaurants -
Chinese, Indian, and Mexican - exist, but are far from authentic.
Some hotels and clubs offer dancing, with prices scaled to the
Official Functions Last Updated: 6/4/2004 2:12 PM
The Consul General may entertain or be entertained by a number of
private and official Bermudians, British, Americans, and others,
throughout his or her tour. Other officers and staff also receive
occasional invitations to social events. The most common forms of
entertainment are the receptions, luncheons, and dinners. Events
range from exceedingly formal during the winter to quite informal
("smart casual") in the summertime.
Special Information Last Updated: 6/4/2004 2:08 PM
Post Orientation Program
All new employees and family members are required to attend an
official orientation and security briefing, scheduled by the
Community Liaison Officer. Newcomers also receive a welcome kit
containing general information about post, and a sponsor or CLO will
help new arrivals get established.
Related Internet Sites Last Updated: 12/8/2005 3:02 PM
The website address for this Post is: http://hamilton.usconsulate.gov
Following are links to such things as the local governement,
online newspapers, tv and radio stations, classifieds of items for
sale, tourism, weather, and activities and events.
Bermuda Broadcasting Company, tv and radio station:
Bermuda Sun, newspaper: www.bermudasun.bm
Defontes Broadcasting Co. Ltd, tv and radio station: www.vsb.bm/
The Royal Gazette, newspaper: www.theroyalgazette.com
Government Departments, Agencies and Political Parties
Bermuda Department of Tourism: www.bermudatourism.com (copy and
paste website address to a new browser window in order to view)
Bermuda Government: www.gov.bm
Bermuda Progressive Labour Party: www.plp.bm
Bermuda Weather Service: www.weather.bm
United Bermuda Party: www.ubp.bm
Activities / Events
This Week In Bermuda, online publication by Bermuda Directories,
African Diaspora Heritage Trail:
Bermuda Audubon Society: www.audubon.bm
Bermuda Biological Station for Research (BBSR): www.bbsr.edu
Bermuda Festival (in January and February):
Bermuda International Film Festival (BIFF) (in the spring):
Bermuda Music Festival (in October): www.bermudamusicfestival.com
Bermuda Railway Trail: www.bermudarailway.net
Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI): www.buei.org
Bermuda Classified, free online classified ad service:
Bermuda Mall Useful Bermuda Links: www.bermudamall.com/bermuda_links.shtml
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 6/4/2004 2:13 PM
Americans do not need a visa or vaccinations for entry. Tourists
may enter with a passport or birth certificate to establish their US
citizenship, along with picture ID such as a driver's license.
Official personnel travel on their diplomatic or official passports
and arrive by air from East Coast airports, Toronto or London.
All pets arriving in Bermuda must be accompanied by an Import
Permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection,
together with an original veterinarian's health certificate and
other documentation evidencing rabies vaccination and residual
activity against ticks and fleas. Proof must also be provided that
the animal has been implanted with a microchip that may be read by a
standard microchip reader. Because the island is free of rabies and
ticks, entry requirements
for pets are rigid and must be met on a specific time schedule.
If you intend to bring pets to Bermuda, write or call the Consulate
General in advance so that necessary forms may be provided to obtain
an Import Permit from the Department of Environmental Protection.
Transmission of necessary information by fax helps to meet the
stringent timeliness deadlines for health procedures. The Consulate
General fax number is 441-296-9233. Inquiries must also be made to
ensure that pets are allowed in any hotel, guesthouse, cottage used
for temporary quarters, as well as your assigned housing.
Personal effects shipped to Bermuda should not be packed in hay
or straw, and lift vans should be lined to protect against weather
since sheltered dock storage is not always available. The employee's
name should be printed clearly on all crates and packages. No other
special landing and customs clearance arrangements are necessary.
Cars need not be boxed. Upon departure from post, local packers
provide satisfactory packing and shipping services. Three shipping
lines serve Bermuda from US ports; shipping through New Jersey ports
via the US Dispatch Agent in Baltimore has proven most effective.
Airfreight arrives quickly from the East Coast, with direct
Washington-Bermuda routing preferable. If indirect routing through
other cities is necessary, it is best to avoid shipments through
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 6/4/2004 2:59 PM
All USG direct-hire personnel assigned to the Consulate General
and the airport Preclearance Facility have duty-free-entry
privileges on items imported for personal use.
Items purchased in local shops include customs duty, which can
range from under 10% to over 30% depending on the item. However,
when American official personnel order an item through a local
shopkeeper, they may be able to arrange for the item to be imported
free of duty upon certification by the Consulate General to the
customs authorities of the purchaser's duty free status.
An item imported free of duty cannot be resold in Bermuda unless
the purchaser pays the import duty at the time of sale (the
exception is for vehicles, as explained earlier). The duty is
computed on the item's value at the time of sale rather than its
original price. Items may be sold duty-free after they have been on
the island for two years. Before selling any personal belongings,
employees must check with Consulate management staff in advance to
ensure that pertinent regulations are followed.
Passage Last Updated: 6/4/2004 3:00 PM
Visitors to Bermuda must present round trip tickets to Bermuda
Immigration on arrival. Clearly, this is not necessary for personnel
assigned here, although airport immigration officers are not always
cognizant of that fact. This can be resolved easily enough for
assigned personnel, but temporary visitors on official orders will
avoid complications if they have onward tickets on arrival for TDY
visits. USG personnel assigned to Bermuda, and TDY visitors on
official business, may obtain a refund of the airport departure tax
for their agency by providing the Consulate management assistant
with their boarding passes following travel. Departure tax refunds
can also be requested for employees' personal travel.
Bermuda is on the receiving end of the international drug
traffic; in fact, most narcotics entering Bermuda come from the
United States. Efforts to control the local consumption of narcotic
drugs include strict enforcement of drug importation laws at the
airport and docks. Travelers arriving in Bermuda are required to
declare even prescription drugs carried on their persons or in their
baggage. Persons found in possession of illegal drugs are always
Pets Last Updated: 6/4/2004 3:01 PM
Bermuda has no quarantine restrictions for pets arriving on the
island, and arriving pets who are not accompanied by an animal
import permit from the Bermuda Department of Environmental
Protection (see "Getting to Post" above) will be sent back to their
point of origin on the next flight. There are no facilities at the
airport or elsewhere for storing animals, and there are no
exceptions to the Government's tough animal import regulations.
Veterinarians and pet groomers are available in Bermuda. Fleas
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 12/1/2003 9:41 AM
Bermuda laws are extremely strict with regard to firearms and
ammunition. No private firearms may be brought into Bermuda. There
are no exceptions to this regulation.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
6/8/2004 12:27 AM
Bermuda's currency is on the decimal system; notes come in $100,
$50, $20, $10, $5, $2 denominations, with coins valued at $1, 25
cents, 10 cents, 5 cents, and 1 cent. US money, while not legal
tender in Bermuda, is freely accepted by all trading establishments
on a one-for-one basis, although the official exchange rate makes
the Bermuda dollar worth slightly more then the US dollar. Most
local concerns accept US credit cards and many vendors take checks
drawn on US banks. No restrictions are placed on the importation of
US dollars, other currency or traveler checks; the export of
Bermudian currency requires a foreign exchange permit (usually
granted) from the Bermuda Monetary Authority.
Three banks offer consumer services in Bermuda - Bank of Bermuda
(member HSBC), Butterfield Bank, and Capital G. Their head offices
are located in Hamilton. These banks exchange US and Bermuda dollars
at the official rate and honor checks and money orders, including
those drawn on American banks. Consulate General staff members may
open a savings account and/or a personal checking account at any
The official standard weights and measures is the metric system,
although many Bermudians habitually use American terms of
measurement. Road signs and local gas pumps are metric.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 6/4/2004 3:03
Resale of personal property imported duty-free is discussed above
(refer to sections Customs & Duties and Automobiles), as are
restrictions on the importation and resale of cars.
There are no sales or income taxes in Bermuda. US
Government-owned and some government-leased properties are exempt
from land taxes, and personnel are exempt from Stamp duties, vehicle
registration taxes and fees (they do have to pay manufacture costs
for license plates).
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 6/4/2004 3:13 PM
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material
published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse
Bermudian Business Directory 2003, Bermudian Publishing Company.
Who's Who in Bermuda Business 2004, Bermuda Media.
Bermuda Maritime Museum Association, Bermuda Yachting Guide.
Bermuda: Bermuda Maritime Museum Press, 1994
Caswell, Tracey. Tea with Tracey. Bermuda Press Limited, 1994.
Cox, John, Mac Musson and Joan Skinner. Bermuda's Favorite
Haunts. Volume I, 1995. Volume II, 1996. Ontario: Ghost Writers.
Craven, Wesley Frank, Introduction to the History of Bermuda,
Bermuda: Bermuda Maritime Press, 1990.
Fielding's Bermuda and the Bahamas. (Annual) New York: Fielding
Fodor's Bermuda. (Annual), Jacqui Russell, ed. New York: Fodor's
Hallett, A.C. Hollis, Bermuda in Print: A Guide to the Printed
Literature of Bermuda. Juniperhill Press, 1995.
Hanna, Hans W., The Bermuda Isles. MacMillan Press Ltd., 1994.
Hunter, Barbara Harries, The People of Bermuda - Beyond the
LaBrucherie, Roger A., Bermuda: A World Apart. Geneva: Imagenes
Raine, David, Insight Pocket Guides - Bermuda. APA Publications,
Roban, Walter (ed), Voice of Change: Selected Speeches of
Jennifer M. Smith, Premier of Bermuda. Great Britain, Hansib
Publications Ltd., 2003.
Rushe, George, Your Bermuda. 1995.
Stewart, Robert, A Guide to the Economy of Bermuda. Hong Kong,
Book Art Inc., 2003.
Local Holidays Last Updated: 6/4/2004 2:00 PM
New Year’s Day January 1 Good Friday Friday before Easter Bermuda
Day May 24 Queen’s Official Birthday Monday following June 11 Cup
Match and Somers Day Thursday & Friday closest to August 1 Labor Day
first Monday in September Remembrance Day November 11 Christmas Day
December 25 Boxing Day December 26
In addition, the Consulate General observes U.S. federal