Bermuda Information for Travellers

Whether you are travelling to Bermuda as a tourist or an expatriate employee, there are useful bits of information that will enhance your stay there and ensure that you make a good impression of the people of Bermuda.



Climate

With humid subtropical weather, Bermuda enjoys the four seasons but it is important to know that Bermuda is generally humid. What this means in real terms is that you should keep yourself constantly hydrated while you are there, even though it may feel cool. It is always useful to keep an umbrella handy as well as Bermuda is known for its occasional showers at anytime of the year.

If you plan to visit Bermuda in the winter, which is from December to March each year, it can be pretty cool and if you chill easily, some sweaters will serve you well. Winter is not a great time to go swimming in Bermuda though as the Atlantic Ocean can be pretty cold! But for the rest of the year, the weather in Bermuda is ideal for diving, snorkeling and outdoor activities. Bermuda also has hurricane season which is normally from June to November however few hurricanes actually hit Bermuda. In the event that you are in Bermuda during this time and there is confirmation that a hurricane is approaching, it may be advisable to cut short your holiday and take the first flight home. This is to avoid anything untoward from happening.

Cruise Ships

Cruise ships in Bermuda primarily dock at Hamilton, King’s Wharf and Heritage Wharf while the latter two will see the most number of cruise ships. While there are other dockyards for cruise ships including St George’s, King’s Wharf and Hamilton are the most popular.

Population

It may surprise you to know that Bermuda is the most densely populated place on earth with a population of merely 64,209 people (as at 2008) bearing in mind that it has the privilege of being the fifth smallest country in the world! The lease densely populated locale in Bermuda is Tucker’s Town in St. George’s Parish, where the very affluent find their homes.

Language

The primary language of communication is English, although if you are from Europe it is not safe to assume that the locals do not understand what you are saying. Bearing in mind their colorful history, many Bermudians are also fluent in Spanish and Portuguese as well as French. So of you are from Europe, and trying to decide how to bargain for something with a friend, you may end up bargaining directly with the local in any of these languages for whatever item you want to purchase.

Time Zone

Bermuda Standard Time is four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-4) and Bermuda also observes daylight saving time in the summer (March to November). This normally begins on the second Sunday of March and reverts back on the first Sunday in November.

Currency

Known as the Bermuda dollar, this is pegged to the US dollar and while in Bermuda it is possible to trade with either of these currencies, and in fact is the currency of choice for the locals. It is useful to note that if you choose to change your currency into the Bermuda dollar, it is advisable to convert these back on Bermuda before you leave.

Electricity

Bermuda uses the same electrical current as the United States and Canada. Visitors from other countries are advised to bring an adapter, although these can be purchased in Bermuda. Do not assume that the hotel or accommodation that you are using will be able to provide an adapter as part of their service.

Banking Hours & ATM locations

Banking hours in Bermuda are on weekdays from 9.00 am to 4.30 pm although banks are closed on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. ATMs are easily available throughout the island and located within the banking structure. Selected ATMs operate 24 hours per day and it is likely that your withdrawals will be in Bermudian dollars.

Post Offices & Postal Rates

The Bermuda Post Office (BPO) has several post offices throughout the island and if you are planning to send mail, can you purchase stamps from hotel lobbies and there is actually no need to visit the BPO unless you are planning to send Surface Mail. These are items sent by airmail but at half the rate of airmail and these are held in Bermuda for the time equivalent to sending the airmail before they are released. So if you are in a rush, airmail rather than surface mail it! As a gauge, it costs about 70c to send a postcard to the United States or Canada.

Internet Access in Bermuda

While there is internet access throughout the island, this is commonly available at public places such as the library although more and more private entities such as hotels and restaurants are providing free WiFi for their customers.

Some Unique Laws in Bermuda

Bermuda has some rather unique legal rules that may be relevant if you are a tourist or even an expatriate living in Bermuda. While it is possible to marry a Bermudian, this does not entitle you to own or co-own more than one piece of property there. In addition, since 2008, non-Bermudians whether living in or visiting Bermuda, are not allowed to own cars and only locals drive in Bermuda.

Even though Bermuda is a part of the United Kingdom’s overseas territories, United Kingdom nationals are still required to produce their passport and if employed in Bermuda, their work permits, at immigration.

There are also no specific laws in Bermuda that protect the aged or the infirm and if you are wheelchair bound, you may find moving around Bermuda to be inconvenient.

What Is Illegal in Bermuda

Clearly the import or use of any types of narcotics is illegal in Bermuda. The country has a zero tolerance policy towards this and the police in Bermuda are very strict in ensuring the compliance of these laws. No amount of pleading or negotiating will get you anywhere if you are arrested for drug possession or use in Bermuda.

Also illegal in Bermuda is the possession of offensive or defensive weapons of any kind. If you attempt to carry a weapon into Bermuda, it will be seized and you risk conviction to the fullest extent of the law.

Consequently when you enter Bermuda always expect the customs and immigration lines to be long, for the officers to question you diligently and in detail and there is no green lane to walk through at the airport. You will be questioned and you may feel uncomfortable but keep in mind that these officers are just doing their job. If you are carrying prescription medication, always declare it and if possible, provide supporting medical documentation, just in case. It may also be useful to point out at this time that visitors are not allowed any duty free allowances when coming into Bermuda except if it for personal use and even this is limited so do not go overboard in the duty free shops before arriving!

The Bermudian customs is also particular about food stuff that is being brought in therefore if you are carrying any food stuff on you, declare it and allow them to decide whether it is acceptable or not. When you are exiting Bermuda, also note that the laws are very specific about purchasing, possessing or taking anything from Bermudian waters therefore before you collect a jar full of seashells or dried starfish, and take this out of Bermuda with you, think again.

Tourist Information

There are several visitor centers available in Bermuda that can assist you plan you itinerary for your stay there. Apart from free maps and brochures, the travel centers also provide transportation passes.

There are visitor centers next to the Ferry Terminal on Front Street in the City of Hamilton, another at Dockyard, which is located inside the Gazebo Gift Shop at the end of King’s Wharf in Sandys Parish as well. These places provide very useful information about what to see and do while in Bermuda and are a good place to stop by at the start of your holiday there.

Tipping in Bermuda

The bills in restaurants and hotels automatically add tips to the bill. This is calculated based on 15 percent for food and beverage bills and 10 percent for the hotel that will cover its service charges. Therefore as a general rule, there is no need to tip here.

However if you find that your taxi service is exemplary, a 20 percent tip of the fare is recommended. Porter services normally receive $1 per bag and if you are using services such as barber or hairdressing or manicurist services, then a ten percent tip is common. As is common anywhere else in the world, giving tips is at your discretion and your degree of generosity should be a reflection of your views about the quality of service that you have received. Tipping well will give you more warmth and this may be important if you are planning to revisit the same location!

Emergencies in Bermuda

There are any number of emergencies that can arise in any situation and it is always advisable to be able to have access to emergency contacts. As part of the documents that you will take to Bermuda with you, it maybe useful to print the following information and store it for easy access while you are there :

Ambulance, Fire, Police & Marine 911
King Edward Memorial Hospital Switchboard 236-2345
KEMH Emergency Department 239-2009
Emergency 24-hour Counselling 236-3770
Central Police Station 295-0011
Somerset Police Station 295-0011
St. George's Police Station 297-1122 / 297-1123
Fire Services Headquarters 292-5555



OTHER IMPORTANT NUMBERS

Animal Emergencies (S.P.C.A.) 236-7333
Crime Stoppers 1-800-623-8477
Emergency Measures Organization 295-0011
Government Emergency Broadcast Radio FM 100.1 MHz
Medical Air Services 295-6272
Northeastern Aviation Air Ambulance 295-1180
Physical Abuse Centre 24-hour Hotline 297-8278
Rescue Co-ordination Centre 297-1010
Weather Forecast 977
Women's Resource Hotline 295-7273




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