Info & Facts

Where we are

The Turks & Caicos Islands lie some 575 miles southeast of Miami – approximately 1 1/2 hours flying time – with the Bahamas about 30 miles to the northwest and the Dominican Republic some 100 miles to the southeast.

The country consists of two island groups separated by the 22 mile wide Columbus Passage. To the west are the Caicos Islands: West Caicos, Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, East Caicos and South Caicos. To the east are the Turks Islands:  Grand Turk and Salt Cay.

The Turks & Caicos total 166 square miles of land area on eight islands and 40 small cays. The country’s population is approximately 35,000.

Getting here

At this time, all of the major international carriers arrive and depart from Providenciales International Airport. During the busy winter season, American Airlines flies three times daily from Miami, daily from Charlotte, and from Boston, Dallas, New York/JFK on Saturday and from Philadelphia on Saturday and Sunday. JetBlue Airways offers daily service from Fort Lauderdale, two daily flights from New York/JFK and flights from Boston on Saturday and Sunday. Delta Airlines flies from Atlanta and New York/JFK daily. United Airlines flies from Newark daily and from Chicago and Washington DC on Saturday. West Jet travels from Toronto on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Air Canada offer daily flights from Toronto and flies from Montreal on Friday and Sunday. British Airways travels on Thursday and Sunday from London/Gatwick via Antigua.

Bahamasair flies to Nassau on Thursday and Sunday; Inter-caribbean Airways travels on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Inter-caribbean Airways and Caicos Express travel to Haiti daily, while Inter-caribbean Airways flies to the Dominican Republic daily (except Wednesday); to Jamaica on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, and to Puerto Rico on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.  Inter-caribbean Airways also travels to both Santiago and Havana, Cuba, several times a week. (Schedules are current as of February 2017 and subject to change.)

Inter-island service is provided by Inter-caribbean Airways, Caicos Express Airways, and Global Airways. Sea and air freight services operate from Florida.

Language

English.

Time zone

Eastern Standard Time/Daylight Savings Time observed year-round

Currency

The United States dollar. The Treasury also issues a Turks & Caicos crown and quarter. Travellers cheques in U.S. dollars are widely accepted and other currency can be changed at local banks. American Express, VISA and MasterCard are welcomed at many locations.

Climate

The average year-round temperature is 83ºF (28ºC). The hottest months are September and October, when the temperature can reach 90 to 95ºF (33 to 35ºC). However, the almost-constant easterly trade winds temper the heat and keep life comfortable.

Casual resort and leisure wear is accepted attire for daytime; light sweaters or jackets may be necessary on some breezy evenings. It’s wise to wear protective clothing and a sunhat and use waterproof sunscreen when out in the tropical sun.

Entry requirements

Passport. A valid onward or return ticket is also required. Check your airline for luggage restrictions.

Customs formalities

Visitors may bring in duty free for their own use one carton of cigarettes or cigars, one bottle of liquor or wine and some perfume. The importation of all firearms, including those charged with compressed air, without prior approval in writing from the Commissioner of Police, is strictly forbidden. Spear guns, Hawaiian slings, controlled drugs and pornography are also illegal.

Returning residents may bring in $400 worth of merchandise per person duty free. A duty of 10% to 60% is charged on most imported goods, along with a 7% custom processing fee, and forms the major source of government revenue.

Transportation

A valid driver’s license from home is suitable when renting vehicles. A government tax of US $15 is levied on all rental contracts. (Insurance is extra.) Driving is on the left-hand side of the road, with traffic flow controlled by round-abouts at major junctions. Please don’t drink and drive! Taxis are abundant throughout the Islands and many resorts offer shuttle service between popular visitor areas. Scooter, buggy, ATV and bicycle rentals are also available.

Telecommunications

LIME Ltd. provides land lines and superfast broadband Internet service. Mobile service is on a LTE 4G network, including pre and post-paid cellular phones. Most resorts and some stores and restaurants offer wireless Internet connection. Digicel operates mobile networks, with a full suite of LTE 4G service. LIME is the local carrier for CDMA roaming on US networks such as Verizon and Sprint. North American visitors with GSM cellular handsets and wireless accounts with AT&T or Cingular can arrange international roaming.

Electricity

120/240 volts, 60 Hz, suitable for all U.S. appliances.

Departure tax

US $60, for all persons two years and older, payable in cash or traveller’s cheques. It is typically built into the cost of your ticket.

Courier service

Delivery service is provided by FedEx, with offices on Providenciales and Grand Turk, DHL and UPS.

Postal service

The Post Office and Philatelic Bureau in Providenciales is located downtown at the corner of Airport Road. In Grand Turk, the Post Office and Philatelic Bureau are on Front Street. The Islands are known for their varied and colorful stamp issues.

Media

Multi-channel satellite television is received from the U.S. and Canada and transmitted via cable. Local station WIV-TV broadcasts news, talk shows and local events on Channel 4. People’s Television Channel 8 now offers country-wide 75 digitally transmitted television stations, along with local news and talk shows. There are also a number of  local radio stations, magazines and three newspapers.

Medical services

There are no endemic tropical diseases in TCI. In April 2010, large, modern hospitals opened on Grand Turk and Providenciales. In tandem, a National Health Insurance Plan has been instituted to cover citizens, residents and foreign workers. Both hospitals offer a range of services including: 24/7 emergency room, operating theaters, diagnostic imaging, maternity suites, dialysis suites, blood bank, physiotherapy and dentistry.

In addition, several general practictioners operate in the country, and there is a recompression chamber, along with a number of private pharmacies.

Immigration

A resident’s permit is required to live in the Islands. A work permit and business license are also required to work and/or establish a business. These are generally granted to those offering skills, experience and qualifications not widely available on the Islands. Priority is given to enterprises that will provide employment and training for T&C Islanders.

Government/Legal system

TCI is a British Crown colony. There is a Queen-appointed Governor, HE Dr. John Freeman. He presides over an executive council formed by the elected local government. Lady Hon. Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson is the country’s first woman premier, leading a majority People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) House of Assembly.

The legal system is based upon English Common Law and administered by a resident Chief Justice, Chief Magistrate, and Deputy Magistrates. Judges of the Court of Appeal visit the Islands twice a year and there is a final Right of Appeal to Her Majesty’s Privy Council in London.

Taxes

There are currently no direct taxes on either income or capital for individuals or companies. There are no exchange controls. Indirect taxation comprises customs duties, stamp duty on certain transactions and vehicle, gasoline, business license and departure taxes.

Economy

Historically, TCI’s economy relied on the export of salt. Currently, tourism, the offshore finance industry and fishing generate the most private sector income. The Islands’ main exports are lobster and conch, with the world’s first and only commercial conch farm operating on Providenciales. Practically all consumer goods and most foodstuffs are imported.

The Turks & Caicos Islands are recognised as an important offshore financial centre, offering services such as company formation, offshore insurance, banking, trusts, limited partnerships and limited life companies. The Financial Services Commission regulates the industry and spearheads the development of offshore legislation.

People

Citizens of the Turks & Caicos Islands are termed “Belongers” and are primarily descendants of African slaves who were brought to the Islands to work on the salt ponds and cotton plantations. The country’s large expatriate population includes Canadians, Americans, Brits and Europeans, along with Haitians, Jamaicans, Dominicans, Bahamians, and most recently, Chinese, Filipinos, Mexicans and South Americans.

Churches

Churches are the center of community life and there are many faiths represented in the Islands, including: Adventist, Anglican, Assembly of God, Baha’i, Baptist, Catholic, Church of God of Prophecy, Episcopal, Faith Tabernacle Church of God, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Methodist and Pentecostal. Visitors are always welcome.

Pets

There is no quarantine period for incoming pets. However, you will need to present an import permit, current signed veterinary certificate stating that the animal is in good health, free of infectious disease and vaccinated against rabies and distemper to the Public Health Inspector upon arrival.

National Symbols

The National Bird is the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis). The National Plant is Island Heather, (Limonium bahamense) found nowhere else in the world. The National Tree is the Caribbean Pine (Pinus caribaea var. bahamensis). The National Costume consists of white cotton dresses tied at the waist for women and simple shirts and loose pants for men, with straw hats. Colors representing the various islands are displayed on the sleeves and bases of the dresses. Scarfs, sashes and hat bands correspond to the color representing the wearer’s island home. The National Song is “This Land of Ours,” by the late Rev. E.C. Howell, PhD. Peas and Hominy (Grits) with Dry Conch is revered as symbolic island fare.

Going green

TCI Waste Disposal Services currently offers recycling services through weekly collection of recyclable aluminum, glass and plastic. Check your resort for drop-off locations. The TCI Environmental Club is spearheading a campaign to eliminate single-use plastic bags, which not only serve as roadside eyesores, but are damaging to marine life. Do your part by using a cloth bag whenever possible. Keep TCI “Beautiful by Nature” by not littering!

Recreation

Sporting activities are centered around the water. Visitors can choose from deep-sea, reef or bonefishing, sailing, glass-bottom boat and semi-sub excursions, windsurfing, waterskiing, parasailing, sea kayaking, snorkelling, scuba diving, kiteboarding, stand up paddleboarding and beachcombing. Pristine reefs, abundant marine life and excellent visibility make TCI a world-class diving destination.

Tennis and golf — there is an 18 hole championship course on Providenciales, as well as a miniature golf course — are also popular.

The Islands are an ecotourist’s paradise. Visitors can enjoy unspoilt wilderness and native flora and fauna in 33 national parks, nature reserves, sanctuaries and areas of historical interest. The National Trust provides trail guides to several hiking trails throughout the Islands, as well as guided tours of major historical sites. There is an excellent national museum on Grand Turk, with a future branch planned for Providenciales. A scheduled ferry and tour operators make it easy to take day trips to the outer islands.

Other land-based activities include bicycling, horseback riding and football (soccer). Personal trainers are available to motivate you, working out of several fitness centres. You will also find a variety of spa and body treatment services.

Nightlife includes local bands playing island music at bars and restaurants and some nightclubs. There are two casinos and many slot parlors on Providenciales. Stargazing is extraordinary!

Shoppers will find Caribbean paintings, T-shirts, sports and beachwear, shells and locally made handicrafts, including straw work and conch crafts. Duty free outlets sell liquor, jewellery, watches, perfume, leather goods, crystal, china, cameras, electronics, brand-name clothing and accessories and Cuban cigars.

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On the Cover

Marta Morton, owner of Harbour Club Villas, shot this photo on the magical island of Salt Cay. The foreground is filled with the endemic National Flower Turks & Caicos Heather in full bloom. St. John's Anglican Church, built in the early 1800s, is in the background. To see more of her work, visit www.myturksandcaicosblog.com

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