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Overseas Security Advisory Council
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Turks & Caicos Country Security Report

Travel Advisory

The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses travelers should reconsider travel to Turks & Caicos due to COVID-19, and exercise increased caution due to crime. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the Consular Travel Advisory System.

Crime Environment

Although Turks & Caicos does not have official ratings for crime from the U.S. Department of State, travelers should consider it a moderate threat location for crime.

The U.S. Department of State has included a Crime “C” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Turks & Caicos, indicating that there may be widespread violent crime and/or organized crime present in the country, and/or that local law enforcement may have limited ability to respond to serious crimes.

The crime emergency line in Turks & Caicos is 911. Review the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.

Crime: General Threat

​Crime represents the primary security threat in Providenciales, where most crime occurs. The Government of Turks & Caicos highlights a 30% drop in overall crime over the past five years. However, in 2020 there were 23 murders in Turks & Caicos and an 14% increase in robberies. Per capita, this equates to approximately 50 murders per 100,000 residents. The small population means this nominal increase has placed Turks & Caicos among the countries with the highest murder rates, commensurate with many other Caribbean island nations. The Turks & Caicos Government has placed concern on the increase of firearms-related crimes, which more than doubled from 2018 to 2019.

Residential security remains a major concern. An increase in burglaries remains a threat facing Turks & Caicos, with local tourism authorities noting that “between zero and four” hotel room invasions occur each year. U.S. travelers have fallen victim to armed home invasions while in hotel rooms and private homes, as well as armed robbery while walking after dark.

U.S. travalers are not specific targets for crime. However, crimes of opportunity (e.g., petty larceny, burglary, automobile break-ins) as well as incidents of violent crime (e.g., murder, sexual assault, robbery, shootings) occur occasionally. Do not leave belongings unsecured outside your residence. Vehicles, bicycles, generators, and other property will attract criminals. If you cannot store items inside, visibly secure them with a chain and lock as a deterrent.

The holiday season historically serves as a potential catalyst for an increase in crime and violence in Turks & Caicos.

Instead of carrying large amounts of cash, use a debit/credit card for payments when possible. Avoid using ATMs located in isolated areas; only use machines that have security coverage. Be particularly aware of your surroundings when making withdrawals. Skimmers create duplicate cards with stolen information, and then withdraw money from the victim’s account. If you observe a skimming device on an ATM, take a picture of it (if it is safe to do so) and contact police immediately.

Crime: Areas of Concern

​Most crime occurs predominately on the major western island of Providenciales. Burglaries and armed invasions have occurred at private villas, and rarely occur at established resorts and hotels. 

Review OSAC’s reports, All That You Should Leave Behind, Hotels: The Inns and Outs, Considerations for Hotel Security, and Taking Credit.  

Kidnapping Threat

The U.S. Department of State has not included a Kidnapping “K” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Turks & Caicos. Review OSAC’s reports, Kidnapping: The Basics and Active Shooter and Kidnapping Response Tips.

​The U.S. Embassy is unaware of any recent cases of kidnappings.

Drug Crime

​The northeast Caribbean has a long history of being a route for smugglers of narcotics, illegal immigration, and weapons, but this activity has been trending down in recent years. Turks & Caicos is a transshipment point for South American narcotics destined for the U.S. and Europe. Drugs, including marijuana, are illegal. Arrested individuals can expect to serve prison time and/or pay a substantial fine. 

Consult with the CIA World Factbook’s section on Illicit Drugs for country-specific information.

Terrorism Environment

​There is minimal risk from terrorism in Turks & Caicos.

The U.S. Department of State has not included a Terrorism “T” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Turks & Caicos.

Terrorism: General Threat

​Terrorist groups native to the Western Hemisphere do not typically operate in the northeastern Caribbean, and there is no indication of international terrorist interest in the islands. Nevertheless, all travelers should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks. These could take place in public areas; terrorists tend to target sites expatriates and foreign travelers frequent.

Political Violence and Civil Unrest Environment

​There is minimal risk from political violence in Turks & Caicos. 

Elections/Political Stability

​Turks & Caicos is a British territory and maintains a locally elected Governor. The government shares principles with the United States, including personal freedoms and the rule of law.

Protest & Demonstration Activity

​There is minimal risk from civil unrest in Turks & Caicos. Limited law enforcement resources make rapid response to public disorder difficult, particularly on islands other than New Providence. 

Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.

Law Enforcement Concerns: Security Agencies

​The Royal Turks & Caicos Island Police is the primary agency that handles all law enforcement matters for Turks & Caicos (+649-338-5901). RTCIPF officers wear bright white dress coats, light blue or white short-sleeve shirts, a black patrol cap emblazoned with a red stripe, and black trousers with a red stripe. Officers also wear a more subdued navy-blue uniform with solid black pants when responding to crime scenes. Officers regularly walk foot patrols or ride bicycles in areas tourists frequent.

Police Response

​In general, police respond to reports of crime and take crimes against visitors seriously. The current police command structure is proactive about deterring crime, but a lack of resources or physical constraints, such as geography, infrastructure, and traffic, can hinder response. Unmarked streets and houses can impede first responders from locating affected residences or victims quickly. To ensure a faster response, victims may need to go to the local police station. Reporting crime can be a cumbersome and time-consuming process.

Law Enforcement Concerns: Emergency Contact/Information

​The emergency lines in Turks & Caicos are 911 and 999.

Transportation Security

Road Safety

​Traffic drives on the left in Turks & Caicos. Primary roads are generally in good condition, while secondary roads are often unpaved. Hazards such as blind intersections, construction, unmarked changes in road conditions, and a lack of familiarity with roundabouts may cause problems while driving. Due to a rising trend in traffic deaths, police have enhanced their presence on roadways, specifically targeting drivers who do not wear seatbelts, those impaired by drugs or alcohol, careless and dangerous driving, and speeding. Enforcement of traffic laws remains below U.S. standards. Pedestrians, cyclists, and runners should exercise extreme caution on roads.

At a roundabout, drivers must yield to those on their immediate right, and to those already in the roundabout. Animals often wander on the roads, presenting a hazard to drivers, especially at night.

Vehicles are available for rent, and normally are left-side drive. Right-side drive vehicles imported from the United States may be available, posing a safety challenge for travelers unfamiliar with driving on the left. You need a valid U.S. driver’s license or International Driving Permit to drive for any period up to a month; after that, you must obtain a Turks & Caicos license from the Road Safety Department. Speed limits are 20 mph in town and on side roads, and 40 mph on the highway. Despite the low speed limits, traffic accidents are on the rise and are often fatal. The use of seatbelts is mandatory. Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal.

For detailed, country-specific road and vehicle safety information, read the World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Road Safety.

Review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad, Driving Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive Driving Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving and road safety abroad.  

Public Transportation Safety

​There is no public transportation, but taxi-buses are readily available. Only use marked taxis and wear a seatbelt. Car and scooter rentals are available, but renters must have a valid driver’s license and be at least 21 years of age.

Review OSAC’s Report, Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights; and consider the European Union Air Safety List.

Aviation Concerns

​The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Turks & Caicos Civil Aviation Authority as compliant with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of TCI’s air carrier operations.

Providenciales International Airport (PLS) is the major airport in Turks & Caicos, with most flights coming from Nassau in the Bahamas. There are no major aviation security concerns in Turks & Caicos.

Maritime Security

​Persons who operate their own watercraft or boats should be alert to the possibility of encountering vessels operated by armed smugglers engaged in illicit activities.

Activities involving commercial recreational watercraft, including water tours, are not consistently regulated. Watercrafts are often not maintained, and many companies do not have proper safety certifications

Personal Identity & Human Rights Concerns

​The Embassy has not received recent reports of persecution or hate crimes motivated by race, religion, or citizenship. Same-sex sexual activity is legal.

Safety Concerns for Women Travelers

​There are no specific safety concerns for women traveling to Turks & Caicos.

Consider composite scores given to Turks & Caicos by the UN Development Program (UNDP) in its Gender Development Index, measuring the difference between average achievement in three basic dimensions of human development, and Gender Inequality Index, measuring inequality in achievement in reproductive health, empowerment, and the labor market. For more information on gender statistics in Turks & Caicos, see the World Bank's Gender Data Portal.

Review the State Department’s webpage for female travelers.

Safety Concerns for LGBTI+ Travelers

​There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI+ events in Turks & Caicos.

Review OSAC’s report, Supporting LGBT+ Employee Security Abroad, and the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI travelers.

Safety Concerns for Travelers with Disabilities

​There are very few buildings with special facilities for people with physical challenges and disabilities. The government does not mandate accessibility of buildings, and communications and information for persons with disabilities. There are no special accommodations for persons with disabilities.

Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers with disabilities.

Safety Concerns for Travelers Based on Race, Religion, & Ethnicity

​There are no safety concerns for travelers based on race, religion, or ethnicity.

Review the latest U.S Department of State Report on International Religious Freedom for country-specific information.

Review OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice, and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based travelers.  

Anti-U.S./Anti-Western Sentiment

​There are no concerns about anti-U.S. sentiment.

Concerns involving the Rule of Law, Arbitrary Detention, Official Harassment, Corruption &/or Transparency

​There are minimal concerns for arbitrary detention. Attempting to bribe a police officer is a serious offense; strictly avoid doing so.

Communication Issues

​Turks & Caicos encourages a free press. There are minimal competing press organizations and recent local legislation is being considered to further solidify freedom of press.

​There is no censorship of the internet in Turks & Caicos.

​Turks & Caicos has established laws protecting freedom of expression.

​Health Concerns

Emergency Health Services      

​The emergency lines in Turks & Caicos are 911 and 999. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major tourism zones. First responders may be unable to access areas outside of major tourism zones. Two hospital facilities on Providenciales and Grand Turk are able to handle non-life-threatening medical needs.

Turks & Caicos physicians and hospitals do not usually accept U.S. medical insurance policies, and typically expect immediate cash or credit card payment/deposits for professional services. Due to the surgical limitations of hospitals in Turks & Caicos, emergency care in even the best hospitals frequently requires medical evacuation (medevac) to the United States. Serious health problems requiring hospitalization/medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

The repatriation of the remains of those who die in Turks & Caicos can take weeks because Turks & Caicos does not always have a pathologist available to perform autopsies. Periodically scheduled nonresident foreign pathologists often travel to Turks & Caicos to perform this public service.

Find contact information for available medical services and available air ambulance services on the U.S. Embassy website. The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Department’s webpage on health insurance overseas.

The U.S. Department of State has included a Health “H” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Turks & Caicos, indicating that Health risks, including current disease outbreaks or a crisis that temporarily disrupts a country’s medical infrastructure, are present. Review the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) country-specific Travel Health Notices for current health issues that impact traveler health, like disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, and natural disasters.

See OSAC’s Guide to U.S. Government-Assisted Evacuations; review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad; and visit the State Department’s webpage on Your Health Abroad for more information.

Vaccinations

​All visitors aged 16 and over must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter Turks & Caicos.  

Review the CDC Travelers’ Health site for country-specific vaccine recommendations.

Issues Traveling with Medications

​No major issues traveling with prescription medication. If traveling with controlled medications, bring a copy of the prescription. If controlled medications are required locally, a visit to a local physician is required. 

Review OSAC’s report, Traveling with Medication.  

Water Quality

​Water is potable. There are reports that the water has an off taste.

Review OSAC’s report, I’m Drinking What in My Water?

Environmental Hazards

​Turks & Caicos is a low-lying area subject to natural disasters during the hurricane season that runs from June 1 through November 30. Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Turks & Caicos in 2017, resulting in severe damage; damaged infrastructure has been restored. Although Turks & Caicos is located at the far eastern end of the string of islands that includes the Bahamas, it was unaffected by Hurricane Dorian in 2019. Hurricane activity frequently causes flooding along the coastline, often creating potholes and causing disruption to the infrastructure and essential services. Public services (e.g., water, electricity, transportation) are likely to be unavailable for a significant period following a powerful hurricane.

Consider devoting resources and time to emergency planning for the possibility of inclement weather, particularly during hurricane season. Pay close attention to the weather forecast during hurricane season. Hurricane season generally runs from June through November, although hurricanes can occur outside that period. Monitor local weather reports closely. Airports and seaports cease operations well before a predicted storm arrives, and seats on most commercial transportation may sell out far in advance. 

Cybersecurity Concerns

​Cybersecurity is a major challenge for computer network operators across the Caribbean. There is limited technical capacity, outdated legislation, and the absence of compliance and disclosure polices. There has been an increase in data breaches, network attacks, and computer viruses in the region. Turks & Caicos has signaled its intent to bolster its cybersecurity framework; there is no indication of implementation. Take normal security precautions when using electronic devices.

Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics, Best Practices for Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling Abroad with Mobile Devices, and Guide for Overseas Satellite Phone Usage.

Counterintelligence Issues

​There are no counterintelligence issues specific to private-sector operations in Turks & Caicos.

Other Security Concerns

Landmines

​This country has no known issues with landmines.

Import/Export Restrictions

​There are restrictions on importing unpackaged food, plant, and animal products. These include restrictions on home-processed meat products, any consumable products not commercially packaged, or consumable items containing derivatives of controlled substances.

Firearms, ammunition, and Hawaiian slings are considered weapons and are banned. Additionally, controlled substances such as marijuana are not allowed to be imported. 

A country-specific listing of items goods prohibited from being exported to the country or that are otherwise restricted is available from the U.S. International Trade Agency website.

Photography

​Generally, photography of public places is allowed, to include drones. It is illegal to fly drones near airports, above crowds, and on private property without express permission.

Review OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.

ID Requirements

​There are no specific ID requirements beyond typical travel documents.

Critical Infrastructure Concerns

​Many buildings in Turks & Caicos do not have fire alarms or fire suppression equipment nearby. Fire alarms at tourist hotels are sporadic, with some evacuation plans in place.

OSAC Country Chapters

​There is no OSAC Country Chapter in Turks & Caicos.

Contact OSAC’s Americas team with any questions.

Embassy Contact Information

​There is no U.S. diplomatic representation in Turks & Caicos. U.S. Embassy Nassau oversees security for U.S. interests. P.O. Box N-8197, 42 Queen Street, Nassau, The Bahamas. Tel: +1-242-322-1181

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