Helpful information for first-time arrivals

 

Visas

Visitors from most countries do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days on holiday or 30 days on business. Immigration officers carry out interviews of travellers at all ports on arrival, and visitors are highly recommended to travel with a printed return ticket, along with the address for their stay, be it a hotel or a residence. Visitors on 90- or 30-day visas can apply for an extension of up to six months, although this is only granted under special circumstances.

Transport

Ride-sourcing app Uber recently commenced operation in Port of Spain, and offers attractive rates and service, though the legality of the service is still in question. Authorised taxis are available at Piarco International Airport and at all major hotels. They can be recognised by their licence plates, which begin with the letter “H”. It is advisable to get the contact number of either a taxi driver or reception at the hotel, as authorised taxis are not easily available. Pick-up times need to be agreed upon with taxi drivers whenever possible. Taxis are not equipped with meters, and the fares will vary based on a predetermined arrangement involving waiting time and the destination. Maxi taxis and shared taxis are also used with no defined time schedules. Local and international car rental companies are available on both islands; drive is on the left. A water taxi service from Port of Spain to San Fernando and Chaguaramas is available, and is used by some daily commuters. The islands of Trinidad and Tobago are connected by a ferry and by frequent short flights. With the exception of weekends and public holidays, flight tickets can generally be booked on short notice.

Currency

The local currency is the T&T dollar, although the US dollar is accepted and welcomed, especially by taxi drivers. The TT$ comes in 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 banknote denominations and in 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 cents and 1 dollar coin denominations. As of May 2017 the exchange rate was approximately $1:TT$6.58 and €1:TT$7.39. International credit cards are generally accepted, and ATMs are widely available on both islands.

Electricity

Electric sockets are designed for 220-V/50-Hz two-pin round plugs. Adapters are needed for other plugs, and these can be provided by most hotels and easily found in local shops.

Business Hours

The working week runs from Monday to Friday. Most private companies will operate from 8:00am to 5:00pm, although the public sector traditionally only operates from 8:00am to 4:00pm. Supermarkets and pharmacies are generally open from 8:00am to 8:00pm. On Sundays supermarkets close at 1pm, and most restaurants are closed.

Dress

Business attire in T&T largely conforms to traditional western styles. For office wear, men should wear long- or short-sleeved shirts with a tie. Jackets are reserved for more formal occasions. Women are advised to wear conventional business suits, or skirts/ trousers and blouses. Outside of business hours, lightweight casual clothing is the norm.

Communications

There are currently two mobile network operators: bmobile and Digicel. SIM cards can be purchased at the airport after passing through immigration controls for TT$100 ($15). Data plans can be activated directly from the device, following the operator’s instructions. These provide a good level of service in most parts of both islands. Wi-Fi connections are widely available in hotels and restaurants. The local dialling code for T&T is +1 (868), followed by a seven-digit telephone number.

Health

As of early 2017 T&T had reported several cases of Zika virus. The Ministry of Health continues to advise citizens to take the necessary precautions, which includes the regular use of mosquito repellents and avoiding certain areas. There are several modern private hospitals and a network of public hospitals, health centres and clinics. Treatment is free to non-residents at all public health facilities. Walk-ins are welcome, but priority is given to emergency cases. Pharmacies are widespread and offer commonly used generic drugs, but certain medicines can be more difficult to find.

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Cover of The Report: Trinidad & Tobago 2017

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