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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 and flowers.

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 fulfilled.

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 Airport.

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 northwest.

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 picture.

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 Airport.

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 them Americans.

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 and socially.

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

Public Institutions

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 Britain's.

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 island.

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 of Assembly.

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 contract.

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 purchasers.

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 expensive.

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 accident free.

Gasoline sold at local service stations costs about $5.11/gallon, or $1.35/liter. Safety helmets must be worn when driving any two-wheeled vehicle.

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 days.

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 BX Bermuda

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 follows:

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 restrictions apply:

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 publication.

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 or 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 health insurance.

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 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 AM

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 decorative items.

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 meticulously maintained.

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 and, 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 limited.

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 per month.

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.


Dependent Education

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 price.

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 local shops.

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 the world.

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 tourist traffic.

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:

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:

Defontes Broadcasting Co. Ltd, tv and radio station:

The Royal Gazette, newspaper:

Government Departments, Agencies and Political Parties

Bermuda Department of Tourism: (copy and paste website address to a new browser window in order to view)

Bermuda Government:

Bermuda Progressive Labour Party:

Bermuda Weather Service:


United Bermuda Party:

Activities / Events

This Week In Bermuda, online publication by Bermuda Directories, Inc.:

African Diaspora Heritage Trail:

Bermuda Audubon Society:

Bermuda Biological Station for Research (BBSR):

Bermuda Festival (in January and February):

Bermuda International Film Festival (BIFF) (in the spring):

Bermuda Music Festival (in October):

Bermuda Railway Trail:

Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI):


Bermuda Classified, free online classified ad service:

Bermuda Mall Useful Bermuda Links:

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 Florida.

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 prosecuted.

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 abound.

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 bank.

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 PM

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 unofficial publications.

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 Travel Books.

Fodor's Bermuda. (Annual), Jacqui Russell, ed. New York: Fodor's Travel Publications.

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 Crossroads. 1993

LaBrucherie, Roger A., Bermuda: A World Apart. Geneva: Imagenes Press.

Raine, David, Insight Pocket Guides - Bermuda. APA Publications, 1994.

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 holidays.

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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