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 43,000.

Getting here

There are international airports on Grand Turk, Providenciales, and South Caicos, with domestic airports on all of the islands except East Caicos.

As of September 1, 2021, all visitors ages 16 and above must be fully vaccinated and provide a negative PCR or antigen COVID-19 test taken within three days of travel. (Children under the age of 10 are not required to be tested.) Additionally, travellers must have medical/travel insurance that covers medevac, a completed health screening questionnaire and certification that they have read and agreed to the privacy policy document. These requirements must be uploaded to the TCI Assured portal, which is available at www.turksandcaicostourism.com, in advance of their arrival.

The TCI has expanded COVID-19 testing capacity in response to testing requirements implemented for travellers entering the United States and Canada. Many resorts offer on-site testing, along with numerous local health practitioners.

Language

English.

Time zone

Eastern Standard Time (EST)/Daylight Savings Time observed.

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 consistent 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. 

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% customs processing fee and forms a major source of government revenue.

Transportation

A valid driver’s license from home is suitable when renting vehicles. A government tax of 12% 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 and community cabs are abundant throughout the Islands and many resorts offer shuttle service between popular visitor areas. Scooter, motorcycle and bicycle rentals are also available.

Telecommunications

FLOW 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 connections. Digicel operates mobile networks, with a full suite of LTE 4G service. FLOW 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

FortisTCI supplies electricity at a frequency of 60HZ, and either single phase or three phase at one of three standard voltages for residential or commercial service. FortisTCI continues to invest in a robust and resilient grid to ensure the highest level of reliability to customers. The company is integrating renewable energy into its grid and provides options for customers to participate in two solar energy programs.

Departure tax

US $60. It is typically included in your airline ticket cost.

Courier service

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

Postal service

The Post Office and Philatelic Bureau in Providenciales are located downtown on Airport Road. In Grand Turk, the Post Office and Philatelic Bureau are on Church Folly. The Islands are known for their colorful stamp issues.

Media

Multi-channel satellite television is received from the U.S. and Canada and transmitted via cable or over the air. Local station WIV-TV broadcasts on Channel 4 and Island EyeTV on Channel 5. People’s Television offers 75 digitally transmitted television stations, along with local news and talk shows on Channel 8. There are also a number of local radio stations, magazines and newspapers.

Medical services

There are no endemic tropical diseases in TCI. There are large, modern hospitals on Grand Turk and Providenciales. Both hospitals offer a full 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 practitioners 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 Nigel John Dakin. He presides over an executive council formed by the elected local government. Hon. Charles Washington Misick is the country’s premier, leading a majority Progressive National Party (PNP) 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 and fees, stamp duty, taxes on accommodations, restaurants, vehicle rentals, other services and gasoline, as well as business license fees 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. Practically all consumer goods and 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 in the salt ponds and cotton plantations. The country’s large expatriate population includes Canadians, Americans, Brits and Europeans, along with Haitians, Jamaicans, Dominicans, Bahamians, Indians and Filipinos.

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, Episcopal, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Methodist and Pentecostal. Visitors are always welcome.

Pets

Incoming pets must have an import permit, veterinary health certificate, vaccination certificate and lab test results to be submitted at the port of entry to obtain clearance from the TCI Department of Agriculture, Animal Health Services.

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, sashes and hat bands. The National Song is “This Land of Ours” by the late Rev. E.C. Howell. 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. Single-use plastic bags have been banned country-wide as of May 1, 2019. 

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—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, as well as guided tours of major historical sites. There is an excellent national museum on Grand Turk, with an auxillary branch on Providenciales. A scheduled ferry and a selection of 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 on Providenciales, along with many electronic gaming parlours. Stargazing is extraordinary!

Shoppers will find Caribbean paintings, T-shirts, sports and beachwear 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, along with Cuban cigars.

What's Inside The Latest Edition?

On the Cover

Marta Morton, owner/operator of Harbour Club Villas & Marina (www.harbourclubvillas.com) did a careful photographic study of a family of Bahama woodstar hummingbirds that made their home on the property. Here, the two chicks appear ready to burst out of their tiny nest. See article on page 46.

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