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, only 21 square miles, it offers a wide variety of places to see, people to meet, and things to do.
Visit Hamilton, the capital, with its smart shops and busy traffic, or St. George’s, the only other municipality on the island and a World Heritage Site, with its Old World lanes and fortresses. You can sightsee from the North Shore, with its bizarre rock formations, to the South Shore with its pink and white beaches. From end to end, Bermuda is picturesque. Nature has endowed it with an abundance of verdant trees and colorful flowers. The landscape is dotted with pastel-hued, white-roofed houses, stately hotels, and cottage colonies. No factories, billboards, or neon signs blot the quaint scenery.
In addition to the pleasant and hospitable Bermudians, the island is home to more recent arrivals from around the world. 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, and 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 many things to do. For recreation, Bermuda offers a host of outdoor sports including golf, tennis, fishing, sailing, diving, and swimming, as well as frequent cultural events such as movies, lectures, concerts, and theater productions. Volunteer opportunities abound.
The island is small, but life – while confined – is varied. The island is interesting, yet peaceful, and busy, though rarely hectic.
All animals arriving in Bermuda are required to be accompanied by health documents as well as an import permit issued in advance by the Bermuda Department of Environmental Protection. Animals arriving without proper documentation will be refused entry and will be immediately returned to the country of origin or destroyed, at the owner’s expense, as there are no quarantine facilities in Bermuda.
The actual application for an import permit should be made no more than 10 days prior to arrival onto the Island. The animal’s health certificate should be no more than 10 days old when the animal arrives. Animal owners who bring their animal(s) for a short stay in Bermuda may be asked to place a refundable deposit on duty. This will be at the discretion of the Bermuda customs officer. For more information go to Importing Animals into Bermuda.
Banking and Currency
Bermuda does not have any American banks; however, the Bermuda dollar and the U.S. dollar are used interchangeably on the island. Local ATMs accept most major U.S. ATM cards, and credit and debit cards are widely accepted by retail, restaurant and service firms. There is one global bank, HSBC Bank of Bermuda, one regional bank, Butterfield Bank and one local bank, Clarien Bank. These banks should be able to assist you with any banking queries you may have. Please visit their websites at:
- Bank of Bermuda: www.hsbc.bm
- Butterfield Bank: http://www.bm.butterfieldgroup.com/Pages/default.aspx
- Clarien Bank: https://clarienbank.com/
Bermuda currency began with Hogge money, so named because of the island’s wild hogs, descended from pigs abandoned to swim ashore by Spanish and Portuguese ships in the 16th century. Bermuda’s penny still featured a pig, and is known as a Hog(ge) penny. One Bermuda dollar equals one U.S. dollar. American money can be used interchangeably at shops, restaurants, grocery stores, and across the board island-wide (although you will usually be given change in Bermuda dollars).
The 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season began on June 1 and extends through November 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calls for a near-normal hurricane season. There is a 70 percent likelihood of having 8-13 named storms, 4-8 which could become hurricanes, and 1-4 possibly becoming major hurricanes. The average season has 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, with three becoming major hurricanes.
Although the worst of these storms generally skirt Bermuda, an occasional storm inflicts significant damage. The most serious storms generally occur in the fall months. With approaching storms, cruise ships regularly alter their schedules and courses to and from the United States. Island hotels are equipped to assist their guests should a hurricane strike the island. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at:http://www.fema.gov/ or locally at www.weather.bm. In cases when a hurricane appears to be headed toward Bermuda, tune in to the Government Emergency Broadcast radio station (FM100.1 MHz) for continuous weather updates. News and alerts pertaining to U.S. citizens residing in or visiting Bermuda can be found on the Consulate’s website under Safety and Security Messages. Citizens registered with the Consulate through our Smart Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP) will receive email messages related to the latest updates. Register with STEP at https://step.state.gov/step/.
The Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) brings together the combined services of the Government of Bermuda, the utilities and private agencies to provide information to the public before, during and after a storm or a hurricane, and to coordinate rescue and recovery efforts. The EMO issues standing instructions yearly and sets up a command post when a hurricane is approaching. In the event of an emergency the EMO is enacted and will keep the public informed as information is available. Detailed updates can be found at www.emo.gov.bm.
With the advent of hurricane season, the American Consulate advises American citizens to prepare in advance for a worst case scenario. Make sure that your travel documents are up to date and in order for emergency travel.
The Consulate advises Americans to renew passports when there is six months of validity remaining. It takes two to three weeks to obtain or renew a passport, and five working days to obtain extra passport pages. Please follow this link to Passport Information.
Before a hurricane strikes, island residents should establish a family emergency plan, check to see if your child’s school has an emergency plan, and prepare an emergency kit.
Preparing for a hurricane:
Store the following items in an easy-to-access place in your home:
- Blankets or sleeping bags;
- Books and games;
- Buckets and bleach;
- Cash, an emergency supply;
- Cell phone and charger; keep cell phones charged as storms approach;
- Change of clothing, rain wear, sturdy shoes, hat, gloves, thermal wear
- Dust masks, disposable
- Eyeglasses, extra pair
- First aid kit
- Flashlights and/or hurricane lamps and oil;
- Food for each person and pet in your household: ready-to-eat, non-perishable (with utensils, plates, cups, waterproof matches, non-electric can opener, pocket knife and aluminum foil);
- Gloves, leather;
- Hard hat;
- Important papers/documents/credit cards/passports/ (in waterproof container);
- Keys, extra set for house and car;
- Personal hygiene items;
- Plastic trash bags (large) and large, covered trash can;
- Prescription medicine and vitamins;
- Radio, battery powered/ fully charged;
- Some kind of camping stove or barbeque with an adequate supply of fuel for cooking and lightweight cooking pans;
- Toilet paper, antibacterial hand wipes, soap, chlorine bleach, disinfectant and paper towels;
- Water – one gallon per person per day (fill bathtubs wand large containers with water for washing);
Other helpful hints:
- Cut back on the amount of food you have stocked up in the freezer;
- Test your generator if you have one;
- Keep your car’s gas tank filled;
- Turn off an unplug unused electrical appliances;
- Secure all moveable objects from your garden or yard;
- Keep animals indoors as much as possible.
- Fill plastic jugs, bottles, etc. with water and freeze. If the power goes out they help to keep freezer contents frozen/cool.
During a hurricane
Do not go outside. Stay clear of windows and doors. If the eye of the storm passes directly over the island, the weather may temporarily become clear and calm. This can last for a few minutes or an hour (the eye of the storm); during this time remain in your house as the storm will resume from the opposite direction and may be stronger than before.
U.S. citizens should monitor weather forecasts issued by the National Hurricane Center (NHC), www.nhc.noaa.gov, and the Bermuda Weather Service, www.weather.bm. For emergencies involving U.S. citizens, please contact the U.S. Consulate, located at 16 Middle Road, Devonshire; telephone 441-295-1592; e-mail HamiltonConsulate@state.gov.
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 grammar schools. In addition to denominational (Roman Catholic and Seventh-Day Adventist) schools, there are one girls’ school, two co-educational English style grammar schools, and a Montessori style 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 and Warwick Academy offers International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. Somersfield Academy offers Montessori education in its lower levels and IB studies for older children.
There is pressure on private schools to make places available, especially for those entering kindergarten and high school.
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 U.S. colleges. The private Webster University and several other American universities operate cooperative programs with Bermuda College leading to associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs on the island.
Currently, United States citizens do not require a visa to enter Bermuda if their visit is for tourism; however, as of January 23, 2007, U.S. citizens are now required to present a valid U.S. passport for entry into Bermuda and re-entry into the U.S. The maximum amount of time one is usually permitted to stay in Bermuda is 21 days.
If you are coming to work in Bermuda, you will require a work permit, which must be secured before arrival in Bermuda. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in refusal of entry into the country. The responsibility for securing work permits rests with the prospective employer.
If you are planning a trip or are moving to Bermuda and need more information on Bermuda immigration or customs requirements, you may contact these offices:
Bermuda Immigration (441) 295-5151 or https://www.gov.bm/coming-bermuda/immigration
Bermuda Customs (441) 295-4816 or http://www.customs.gov.bm
Records to Bring if You Are Moving to Bermuda
While living overseas, it is generally a good idea to have important documents and/or records at hand in case of an emergency or evacuation. It is suggested that you keep the following items at hand for easy access and transport.
Signed and notarized power of attorney executed by each spouse on behalf of the other spouse.
Joint checking account.
Current copy of will(s).
List of family members’ Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, insurance policies, passport numbers along with the date of issuance.
Medical records, prescriptions needed by family members, immunization records, eyeglass prescriptions.
Up-to-date household inventory.
Prior tax year records and other records necessary for filing the current year.
List of credit card numbers.
Copies of birth and marriage certificates and passport biographical page, termination of previous marriages, child custody documentation.
Employment records, resumes, and letters of recommendation.
Children’s school record’s.
List of doctors, dentists, lawyers and other professional providers of services.
Mortgage records, deeds, bonds, etc.
Updated address books, both business and personal.
List of assets and liabilities.
The tap water in Bermuda is generally considered safe to drink. Bermuda relies almost entirely on its annual rainfall to provide the country’s entire source of water, although some desalination of seawater is taking place. Houses usually rely on their own rainwater collection system or have a combination of rainwater (for cooking and drinking) and piped or delivered water (for showers, toilets, and laundry).
Electricity in Bermuda is 110 volts, 60 cycles (Hz). Local sockets fit American plugs (two flat prongs with a round ground). Converters to change European plugs to fit U.S.-style sockets can be purchased locally but are hard to find and very expensive.
Bermuda is considered to be a low threat for both crime and terrorism by the U.S. Government. There have been several incidences of tourists staying at guesthouses who have had their rooms broken into and their wallets, cash and other items being stolen. The Consulate recommends that visitors safeguard their belongings and not leave anything of value in hotel rooms. Further information can be found under the Country Specific Information for Bermuda.
Bermuda is on Atlantic Standard Time (AST). The time difference between New York City and Bermuda is one (1) hour. Therefore, when it is 12:00 noon in New York City, it is 1:00 pm in Bermuda. London is four (4) hours ahead; therefore, when it is 12:00 noon in Bermuda, it is 4:00 pm in London.
Bermuda has a mild climate, thanks to the nearby Gulf Stream. During the hottest months (June-September), temperatures range in the high 80’s — although it can feel much hotter, because of the high humidity. In the coldest months (December-February), temperatures hover in the 60’s and high 50’s. Humidity is very high year round. Rain falls year round, and sudden showers are common so be sure to carry your umbrella with you at all times. Hurricane season runs from June through November, although the most serious storms usually occur in the fall months.
Driving on the island is on the left, British-style, and the maximum speed limit is 15 mph in Hamilton and 21 mph on the rest of the island. Under Bermudian law, non-residents are not allowed to own, rent, or drive four-wheeled vehicles. Non-residents must rely on taxis, buses or rental scooters.
There is a regular, island-wide public bus and ferry service, and daily and weekly passes are available at the central bus terminal, or Visitors’ Service Bureau or ferry terminal in Hamilton. Schedules can be found in the phone book or by going to: www.marineandports.bm/ferries_about.aspx
Rental motor scooter are readily available, and the required helmet is provided. However, visitors should carefully consider whether or not it is worth the risk to ride a scooter. Motor scooters provide the greatest road peril in Bermuda; local operators tend to abuse the speed limit more than other drivers, and they will often pass on the left or right with no warning. Those unfamiliar with driving on the left are likely to find the roundabouts and regulations for yielding at junctions confusing and dangerous. In addition, vehicles often stop on the side of the road, blocking one lane of traffic. Main roads, while generally in good condition, are extremely narrow and tend to be bordered by heavy vegetation or low stone walls. Travelers who rent scooters should be aware that scooter accidents involving visitors are relatively common, and they can sometimes be fatal or involve serious injuries.
Taxis are readily available for use across the island, although local rates are somewhat pricey by US standards.
Bermuda Media Links
Selected Bermuda media links are provided below. The American Consulate General – Hamilton, Bermuda is not responsible for the material found in these websites. For more information regarding this matter please view our privacy section.
The following is a list of commonly-used Bermuda links. The U.S. Consulate General – Hamilton, Bermuda is not responsible for the material found in these websites. For more information regarding this matter please view our privacy section.
Bermuda.com – general information about Bermuda, activities, attractions, accomodation etc.
Bermuda Airport – information about the Bermuda International Airport, including flight information and weather.
Bermuda Business Development Agency – the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) encourages foreign direct investment and helps companies set up operations in Bermuda. An independent, public-private partnership, we connect business to industry professionals, regulatory officials, and key contacts in the Bermuda Government to facilitate jurisdictional decision-making. The agency also assists existing business to grow and flourish on the Island. To learn more about Bermuda as a world-class financial centre or connect with a BDA representative, go to our website, www.bda.bm.
Bermuda Chamber of Commerce – information about Bermuda Chamber of Commerce membership and organization, general Chamber news, upcoming events and services for visitors.
The Government of Bermuda – the official website for the Government of Bermuda providing information on government ministries and non-ministries.
Bermuda Laws Online – a database of Bermuda law.
Bermuda Monetary Authority – information about the supervision and regulation of the financial services industry in Bermuda and other related matters.
Bermuda On-line – general information website on Bermuda.
The official Bermuda tourism website – visiting Bermuda: what to do, where to stay, where to eat, getting married in Bermuda and honeymooning, etc.
Bermuda Weather – up-to-date weather information for Bermuda.