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Overseas Security Advisory Council
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
U.S. Department of State

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Bermuda 2019 Crime & Safety Report

The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Bermuda at Level 1, indicating that travelers should exercise normal precautions.

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

The U.S. Consulate General in Hamilton does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

Review OSAC’s Bermuda-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.

Crime Threats

There is minimal risk from crime in Bermuda. For the second straight year, overall incidents of crime decreased. From 2016 to 2017 (the most recent year of available statistics at the time of publishing), there were 10% fewer criminal incidents than in the year before. The 2017 tally was the lowest number of recorded crimes (3,202) since comparable records began in 2000. While crime against property (e.g. burglary, theft, fraud) and crime against the person (e.g. murder, assault, robbery, indecency) decreased, community crime (e.g. weapons offences, anti-social behavior, etc.) remained static. There were five murders in 2017 compared to seven in 2016. Three murders were the result of firearms, and two were by stabbing. Six non-fatal shootings also occurred in 2017. The most serious crimes involve gang and drug activity. 

Compared to the United States, Bermuda’s crime rate is low. Petty crime is most common. Valuables left unattended in public areas, in unsecured hotel rooms, or on rental motorbikes may be vulnerable to theft. Criminals target visitors on motorbikes and at popular tourist attractions, and purse snatchings (generally involving thieves on motorbikes) and muggings occur occasionally. Avoid the back streets in Hamilton and out-of-the-way areas due to greater risk of nighttime assault, particularly after bars close, and because narrow and dark roadways can contribute to traffic accidents. A good security mindset and common sense should be sufficient to prevent visitors from becoming victims of crime or violence.

Gang activity plagued Bermuda between 2009 and 2012. After a period of calm, it has shown some evidence of returning in the last two years. Gang activity is generally insular; there have been no reports of gang violence targeting visitors. Despite evidence of increasing gang tensions, overall records of firearms incidents – predominately associated to gang activity (confirmed and unconfirmed) – fell from 82 in 2016 to 47 in 2017. 

The Department of State warns United States citizens against taking any type of firearm, ammunition, or component of a firearm into Bermuda. The Bermuda government strictly enforces its laws restricting the entry of weapons and ammunition. Entering Bermuda with a firearm, some bladed instruments, an ammunition magazine, or even a single round of ammunition is illegal, even if you bring the weapon or ammunition into the country unintentionally. You must seek permission to import or own a gun in Bermuda in advance from the Bermuda Police Service. You must secure any privately owned firearms at Bermuda Police Headquarters. Violations may result in arrest, convictions, and potentially long prison sentences. Bermuda considers pepper sprays and stun guns as dangerous weapons and classifies them as illegal.

Cybersecurity Issues

Cybercrime (e.g. identity theft, credit card fraud, and phishing) is rare in Bermuda. Be prudent and protect all personally identifiable information. Do not leave personal items unattended. For more information, review OSAC’s report, Cybersecurity Basics.

Transportation-Safety Situation

For more information, review OSAC’s report, Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Bermuda’s road conditions differ significantly from those in the United States. Vehicles drive on the left side. Roads are very narrow, often with no defined shoulder. The maximum speed in the city of Hamilton is 25 kph (15 mph), and 35 kph (21 mph) on the rest of the island. However, traffic typically moves much faster, with average speeds being closer to 50kph (31mph) or more, occasionally resulting in collisions. Under Bermudian law, non-residents may not own, rent, or drive traditional four-wheeled vehicles. Non-residents must rely on taxis, the local bus system, rented motorbikes, or micro-sized 4-wheel electric vehicles. Traffic volume is moderate, and there are backups during rush hour in Hamilton. Bermuda has enjoyed an overall decrease in traffic incidents over the last five years, due largely to greater policing emphasis. Road collisions – particularly involving motorbikes – are common, and can result in serious injuries or death. On average, there is one traffic fatality per month.  

Rental motorbikes are readily available, with the required helmet provided. However, carefully consider the significant risks of riding a motorbike. Most traffic accidents involve motorbikes, and local operators tend to exceed the speed limit and ignore other regulations, increasing the risk to themselves and other drivers. Main roads, while generally in good condition, are extremely narrow, and tend bordered heavy vegetation or stone walls.

There were 1,244 total road traffic collisions (of all sorts) in 2017, a five-year low and a notable decline compared to 1,400 in 2016.

Public Transportation

Taxis are readily available. The local bus system serves the length of the island and stops close to most beaches, hotels, the downtown shopping area, and other points of interest. A frequent commuter ferry service connects the central and western parts of the island, with a less frequent service to the east end.

Bermuda’s L.F. Wade International Airport (BDA) offers direct flights to and from New York, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Toronto, and London, with other U.S. destinations such as Washington, Philadelphia, and Newark available on a seasonal basis. The airport is compliant with international standards, and serves military and private jets via a privately operated Fixed Base Office at a separate apron within the terminal complex. The government is building a new terminal on the existing airport site, scheduled to open in 2020.

Other Travel Conditions

The high season for cruise ships from the U.S. Eastern seaboard is between April and November, but ships dock occasionally throughout the year. Typically, Bermuda is a single-stop destination for cruise lines, with ships remaining in port for approximately 3 days. Bermuda is also a popular destination for private sailboats, sailing typically from the Caribbean.

Terrorism Threat

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

There is minimal risk from terrorism in Bermuda. There are no local, regional, or international terrorism threats or concerns known to the Bermudian government aside from the general global threat posed by extremist groups.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

Civil Unrest

There is moderate risk from political violence in Bermuda. Bermuda is a dependency of the UK, but has an independent bicameral legislature with a mature constitution that permits near independent self-rule. Bermuda enjoys a reputation for personal wealth and success, promoted by tourism and an international business-friendly environment. The Bermudian economy is recovering after eight years of recession that exasperated tensions between social and political groups, occasionally resulting in protests. Protests are generally peaceful with short-term work stoppages the most common consequence.

Religious and Ethnic Violence

Bermuda has among the highest ratios of churches per capita in the world, and welcomes numerous religious denominations. Though some churches are politically and socially active, there is no evidence of associated risk or violence.

The racial composition of the island is 52% black, 31% white, 9% mixed race, with an increasing percentage of Asian (currently 4%) residents. There is some public criticism that foreign workers take local jobs, but there is no evidence of racial or ethnic based violence.   

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Hurricane season runs from June through November. Hurricanes often hit Bermuda. However, thanks to its robust infrastructure and competent emergency response capabilities, the storms’ impacts are usually less significant when compared to similar jurisdictions.

Kidnappings

There are no instances of kidnapping. However, the large numbers of very wealthy visitors may present a high profile a target of opportunity. 

Personal Identity Concerns

Same-sex marriage is legal in Bermuda. There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBT events. Bermuda law has LGBT anti-discrimination protections; immigration and adoption rights for same-sex partners; and other spousal benefits in line with heterosexual marriage rights. The U.S. Consulate has not received reports of anti-LGBT harassment or behavior directed at U.S. citizens in Bermuda.

Individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what is available in the United States. Bermuda does not currently have legislation on access to transportation, communication, and public buildings for persons with disabilities. Very few hotels would be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) were it applicable. Outside of Hamilton, sidewalks are generally unavailable or not suitable for wheelchairs. Public ferries are handicap accessible, as are some of the public buses, but most bus stops are not. Handicap accessible taxis are available for hire in Bermuda.

Drug-related Crimes

Drug crime accounts for a significant proportion of overall crime in Bermuda. Almost all drugs are imported and have a high street value, making Bermuda a sought-after market for overseas suppliers. Marijuana, cocaine, and heroin (and their derivatives) are commonly available at street level and elsewhere. There is no evidence to support the presence or use of methamphetamines. 

Economic Concerns

Law enforcement agencies in Bermuda have neither received nor investigated any complaints of economic espionage or intellectual property theft. Bermuda has a robust legal community with a significant capacity to deal with either issue should such incidents arise.

Police Response

The Bermuda Police is a modern and competent organization, operating under UK legal standards and internationally recognized best practices. 

As in the United States, the emergency line in Bermuda is 911. The Police Dispatch center monitors this line, and will contact the emergency appropriate service.

The Bermuda Police Service provides a number of policing resources, including routine patrol, criminal investigation, narcotic investigation, traffic enforcement, marine patrol, community engagement, intelligence, financial crime investigation, forensic support, and family liaison.

Her Majesty’s Customs Service has primacy to police all ports of entry with a view to interdicting contraband and collecting customs import revenue. 

The Bermuda Immigration Department monitors the presence on island of visitors and foreign residents, and issues passports for Bermudians. 

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

Authorities may detain individuals subject to arrest on suspicion of or commission of an offence in accordance with the Bermuda Police and Criminal Evidence Act, which details the rights of those detained. If the police subject a U.S. citizen traveler to any perceived unfair treatment, immediately contact the U.S. Consulate in Hamilton.

Crime Victim Assistance

Although Bermuda does not have a formalized program for victims of crime, you can contact the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board at: The Supreme Court, 113 Front Street, Hamilton HM 12, Tel: + (441) 292-1350

Medical Emergencies

Although very expensive, adequate medical care is available for routine procedures. Bermuda’s lone hospital performs general surgery and has an emergency room and intensive care unit. Serious or complex medical issues typically require medical evacuation to the United States. Most Bermudian health care providers, including the local hospital, do not accept overseas insurance and will expect payment at the time of service.

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

King Edward VII Memorial Hospital: Point Finger Road, Paget DV 04, Tel: + (441) 236-2345

Available Air Ambulance Services

There is no local air ambulance in Bermuda. In the event air evacuation is necessary, you must contact an overseas-based service provider.

Insurance

Bermuda has an existing agreement with the Lahey Hospital in Burlington, MA, to provide medical services for Bermudians and other residents that may not be available on the island. Visitors should ensure they have either travel insurance or a clause in their general insurance to cover international medical evacuation (medevac) in the event it is required. For more information, refer to OSAC’s report, Medical Evacuation: A Primer.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Bermuda.

OSAC Country Council Information

There is no active Country Council in Bermuda.

U.S. Consulate Location and Contact Information

Consulate Address and Hours of Operation

U.S. Consulate General: 16 Middle Road, Devonshire DV 03, Bermuda

Business Hours: Monday through Friday 0800-1630

HamiltonConsulate@state.gov

Consulate Contact Numbers

Telephone:  + (441) 295-1342

Emergency After-Hours Telephone:  + (441) 335-3828

Fax:  + (441) 295- 1592

Consulate Guidance

U.S. citizens traveling to Bermuda should register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to ensure they receive pertinent security updates and notices.

Additional Resource: Bermuda Country Information Sheet

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