is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Embassy in Port of Spain. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Trinidad &
Tobago. For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s T&T
country page for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact
information, some of which may be available only to private-sector
representatives with an OSAC password.
The current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Trinidad
& Tobago at Level 2, indicating travelers should exercise increased caution
due to crime, terrorism, and kidnapping. Do not travel to Laventille, Beetham,
Sea Lots, Cocorite, and the interior of Queen's Park Savannah in Port of Spain
due to crime. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the
Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and
U.S. Department of State has assessed Port of Spain as being a CRITICAL-threat location for crime
directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. The Government of
Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) continues to face numerous challenges in its
effort to reduce crime. These include an overburdened legal system,
bureaucratic resistance to change, unemployment in crime-affected areas,
disenfranchised youth, gangs, drugs, weapons, and low economic growth.
Although foreigners are not
specific targets, crime is the principal threat to visitors. U.S. citizens have
been victims of pickpocketing, assault, theft, robbery, fraud, and murder. Guests
at hotels have reported the theft of items from their rooms. While not common, murders,
robberies and petty theft can occur during daylight hours. Murders, robberies,
burglaries, vehicular break-ins, home invasions, and assaults, including sexual
assaults, occur in areas tourists frequent and in expatriate communities. Review
OSAC’s reports, All That You Should Leave Behind, Hotels: The Inns and Outs, and Considerations for Hotel Security.
Police Service (TTPS) 2019 crime statistics show a 4.2% decrease in overall
serious criminal activity compared to 2018. Violent crime remains a major
concern for local security services and the general population.
the seizure of 888 firearms in 2019, 80% of murders involved firearms,
highlighting the problem of imported, and often illegal, firearms. Drug trafficking
and gang-related activities continue to fuel the demand for illegal weapons.
reports 539 murders nationwide in 2019, after 517 in 2018, 495 in 2017, 462 in
2016, and 420 in 2015, in a population of approximately 1.4 million people. The
2019 numbers represent an increase of 4.3%. According to the Trinidad and
Tobago government, gang and drug-related activities continue to drive the
Northern Division of Trinidad, which includes Arima and Tunapuna, once again reported
the highest number of murders, at 141. The Port of Spain Division, which
includes Laventille and Beetham Gardens, reported 80 murders. The Western and North-Eastern
Divisions reported 75 and 63 murders.
Exercise caution at waterfalls and on isolated
beaches in Tobago due to muggings. U.S. government personnel and their families
may not travel to the following areas: Laventille, Sea
Lots, Cocorite, or Beetham. Additionally, the following locations are
prohibited after dark: the interior of Queen’s Park Savannah, downtown Port of Spain,
Ft. George, and all beaches.
related to sexual offenses continued to increase in 2019 to 791, from 757 in
2018, and 531 in 2017. There were 986 domestic violence reports in 2019.
one-third of violent crimes result in arrest and even less end in prosecution.
violent incidents in Trinidad in 2019 include:
- In July, gunmen with automatic
rifles stormed the home of an alleged drug dealer, killing him, his wife, and
two of his bodyguards.
- In July, within a 24-hour period, eight
people died at various locations throughout Trinidad during six unrelated
incidents. The homicides included a triple murder.
November, gunmen opened fire on one of the busiest streets in Port of Spain,
among shoppers doing their holiday shopping. Two people died, one of them a police
officer who happened to be between the gunmen and their intended target.
- In November, robbers shot a police
officer. The robbers stole his gun and jewelry as he lay on the ground bleeding.
He died a few days later at a hospital.
December, two gunmen ambushed a police officer outside of a supermarket, shooting
him at point-blank range in the head and upper body.
though most crimes occur in Trinidad, foreigners are at risk for the same types
of crimes in Tobago, to include murder, home invasion, petty theft, fraud, and
theft from hotel rooms. Several violent home invasions targeted homes and tourists
villas in Tobago, in particular in the Mt. Irvine, Buccoo Bay, and Bacolet
areas. Tobago reported ten murders in 2019, nine in 2018, and 13 in 2017.
Although infrequent, incidents of piracy in
the waters between T&T and Venezuela occurred in 2019. In one instance, assailants
fired upon a yacht, which sustained damage. In another case, kidnappers held anglers
for ransom. As a result, T&T Coast Guard (TTCG) increased patrols. Yacht
owners traveling in and out of T&T should submit their float plans and
coordinates to TTCG. In emergencies, contact TTCG headquarters at 1-868-634-8824.
locations accept only cash or debit card for payment. Use caution with U.S.
credit cards. If using a credit card, ensure that the card stays in sight.
Do not withdraw large amounts of cash from banks or ATMs. Instead of withdrawing
a large sum of money, consider cashing a check or conducting an electronic
transfer. Review OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s
Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking Credit.
is no current reporting related to cybersecurity issues specifically impacting
Trinidad and Tobago. Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics,
Best Practices for Maximizing
Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling with Mobile
Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite Phones:
Critical or Contraband?
Road Safety and Road Conditions
has modern six-lane highways and one controlled-access highway. The speed limit on major
highways is 100 kilometers per hour. Road quality decreases quickly on
secondary roads. Avoid nighttime travel if possible. Rural roads are narrow, in
poor repair, and often have deep drainage ditches on either side of the road. Roadside
assistance exists but is extremely limited and may be subject to lengthy
delays. Carry water and a charged cellular telephone.
is a right-side drive country, but there is no prohibition on importing left-side
drive vehicles. Local law requires the driver and all passengers to wear seat
belts and motorcyclists to wear helmets. The use of cellular phones while
driving is illegal unless used with a hands-free device. Drivers caught talking
on a cellular telephone, without a hands-free device, are subject to fines.
alert for the use of hand signals by other drivers to indicate turning,
slowing, or stopping; these do not necessarily correspond to hand signals used
in other countries. Drivers are generally courteous, but can be flexible with
the rules of the road. Do not stop if a stranger flags down your vehicle along
the road. Do not pick up hitchhikers.
travel is generally safe; however, road fatalities increased to 121 in 2019, up
from 118 in 2018. The fine for driving under the influence is $12,000 TT
(approx. US$1,900) for a first conviction. Traffic wardens help monitor and
enforce traffic safety, but they have no powers of arrest, and often request TTPS
assistance. Unannounced road checks are not uncommon, and may occur at any
increased patrols on the Beetham Highway, a main thoroughfare for Port of Spain
and a primary route to and from the airport, due to a number of robberies
occurring while drivers were stopped in heavy traffic; it continues to be a
dangerous road for stopped vehicles. Drivers may encounter persons running out
into the road or throwing debris (e.g. bricks, chairs, trash) to cause
accidents and force vehicles to stop. Once this occurs, accomplices descend
upon the accident victims, robbing them of valuables, and often assaulting them
violently, even if they are compliant. If this type of situation occurs and the
vehicle is still operable, continue to a safer area before seeking help.
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 Conditions
Traditional, non-shared, marked taxis do not
exist in T&T. Uber is no longer active in T&T, but there are similar riding-hailing
applications in operation. Private taxis are available at the airports and
major hotels, but they are unmetered and unmarked. You can hire them to travel
door-to-door, but negotiate the fare in advance. Private taxis and route taxis
have plate numbers beginning with the letter “H.” Use only private taxis for
transportation around Port of Spain, and only private taxis or full-sized
inter-city buses for travel between cities. Crimes (e.g. rapes, assaults,
robberies, thefts) have taken place in taxis. Route taxis will pick up additional
passengers and have caused serious traffic accidents swerving across several
lanes to pick up or discharge passengers. Avoid small buses and vans (referred
to as Maxi Taxis) for the same reasons. Review OSAC’s report, Security In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government’s Civil
Aviation Authority as compliant with International Civil Aviation Organization
(ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of T&T’s air carrier
Piarco International Airport (POS) is a hub for Caribbean flights. Airport
services may be slow, but there are no concerns for safety or scams. T&T
police and Airport Authority officers appear throughout the airport; private
security in the parking lot areas may assist in an emergency.
Piarco Airport Taxi Cooperative Society (1-868-669-0282) provides service
to/from the airport. Taxis are located outside the arrival area; drivers wear a
white shirt, black/blue trousers, and sport a yellow photo identification pass.
You must have local currency for taxi fare; negotiate fares in advance with the
There have been reported incidents of criminals
following travelers from the airport and robbing them either while en route or
at their destination.
Immigration authorities turn over
incoming passengers not granted entry into T&T to the airline for return to
the originating country. If a flight is not available, the airline uses a
subcontractor to escort the passenger to a private hotel, often located several
miles away from the airport. Immigration maintains control of the passenger’s
passport and the passenger remains at the hotel until a flight to originating
country is available.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Port of Spain as being a MEDIUM-threat location for terrorism
directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. The threat from
ISIS sympathizers in T&T and the possible return of persons who traveled,
or attempted to travel, to Syria and Iraq to fight with ISIS is the primary
terrorism threat in the country.
T&T government continues preparation of an operational plan to implement a
national counterterrorism strategy adopted in 2018. An interagency government
task force created in 2018 to develop policies related to the possible return
and reintegration of foreign terrorist fighters and other persons that traveled
to the Middle East to join ISIS continued its work in 2019. Notable terror-related
- In 2018 the government disrupted a
terror plot against T&T carnival. The government eventually released detained
suspects from custody.
- In 2017, the U.S.
government designated Trinidadian ISIS fighter Shane
Crawford, also known by his nom de guerre, Abu Sa’ad al-Trinidadi, as a terrorist.
- In 2015, the T&T High Court declared Trinidadian
national Kareem Ibrahim a terrorist, allowing the state to proceed with
freezing his local assets in accordance with the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2005.
The judgment was the first under the law and played an important role in
setting legal precedent on terrorism rulings. Ibrahim died in 2016.
2015, an ISIS propaganda video featured several young men claiming to be
Trinidadian nationals fighting in Syria.
weaknesses in border control, there remains a continued concern that potential
terrorists or terrorist organizations could use T&T as a transit point.
Religious, and Ethnic Violence
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Port
of Spain as being a LOW-threat
location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S.
government interests. There are periodic labor union demonstrations over salary
negotiations, tax structures, and other issues involving public resources or
government operations. The disruption of utility services occasionally occurs
in relation to industrial action group protests organized by labor
organizations. General elections will take place in 2020, which may increase frequency
and fervor of demonstrations.
demonstrations require police approval in advance and police typically provide
appropriate coverage. They usually take place in or near the Parliament
building downtown or outside the Prime Minister’s offices in St. Clair. Visitors
should avoid political rallies and demonstrations. Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.
to the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center, there are on
average 280 earthquakes in T&T annually, with an average of 50 seismic
events above 3.5 on the Richter scale. The Central Range fault runs through the
center of Trinidad, leaving T&T vulnerable to catastrophic seismic activity.
country is located below the Atlantic hurricane belt, though some storms have
occurred nearby, impacting T&T with heavy rainfall. Inadequate
infrastructure and drainage cause flooding in some areas, resulting in landslides/mudslides
that can block or erode roads. Drivers should use extreme caution during
not enter the water at unmarked, unpatrolled beaches. Tides and undercurrents
can be dangerous, and waves can exceed five feet in height.
country is slowly emerging from a recession that began in 2015 and was caused
by a drop in gas production and lower energy prices. Economic growth and
productivity remain low, despite rising global commodity prices and various
energy projects that increased natural gas production. Major issues
affecting companies are an ongoing foreign exchange shortage, inefficient
government bureaucracy, crime, poor work ethic in the labor force, and
corruption. Some foreign investors have seen the decision-making process for
tenders and the subsequent awarding of contracts turn opaque without warning,
especially when their company’s interests compete with those of well-connected
local firms. For more information related to economic concerns visit the Country
Personal Identity Concerns
Previously, T&T law criminalized same sex-sexual activity,
with penalties of up to 25 years in prison. Authorities rarely enforced this
provision, except in conjunction with serious offenses such as rape. A court
ruling has now deemed the law unconstitutional. The government’s appeal of the
ruling is pending with the intention to make the ruling settled law. The law
does not specifically prohibit discrimination against LGBTI+ persons. There
were reports of harassment and threats against LGBTI+ persons, but victims
tended to avoid media attention, and discrimination did not appear to be
serious or widespread. Immigration law also bars the entry of homosexuals, but
this is also rarely enforced. Review the State Department’s webpage on security
for LGBTI+ travelers.
Walkways are not compliant for persons with disabilities. Most
sidewalks are narrow and uneven, with utility poles situated in the middle of
the walkway, making it impassible for wheelchairs, due to the deep gutters that
run alongside most roads. Cars parked on sidewalks, uncovered manholes, and
other obstacles may force persons with mobility issues onto the main roadways. Review
the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers with disabilities.
the State Department’s webpage on security for female
OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice,
and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based
is a trans-shipment point for illicit drugs heading to Europe and Northern
America; drug-related incidents are a significant contributor to crime.
brands of pharmaceuticals are subject to counterfeits and parallel imports,
which smugglers import from a third country and re-sell without the permission
of the rights-holder.
to TTPS crime statistics, there were 147 kidnappings in 2019, 133 in 2018, and 102
in 2017. There were 15 kidnappings for ransom in 2019, one of which authorities
solved. The motivation behind kidnappings is typically drug and gang related. T&T
Kidnapping Hotline: 1-868-623-6793. Review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.
OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and
Don’ts for Photography.
is illegal to carry ammunition when arriving, departing, or transiting through T&T.
Authorities have detained, charged, and fined individuals found with one
bullet, a previously discharged bullet casing, or spent ammunition used in
items such as jewelry or keyrings. You may not import any camouflage-pattern
material without approval from the Ministry of National Security. You may not wear
camouflage clothing in public unless you are in the country on official
military business. Read the State Department’s webpage on customs
and import restrictions for information on what you
cannot take into or out of other countries.
law prohibits the use of obscene language to the annoyance of other persons on
the street. Using obscene language in public may result in a fine or detention if
a police officer is in proximity.
local emergency line is 999. Call the anti-crime hotline at 555 or 1-868-800-TIPS.
The TTPS falls under the Ministry of National Security, with almost 8,000
police officers and Special Reserve Police. The TTPS is organized into multiple
Divisions, Branches, Squads, and Units. Report suspicious activity to the TTPS so
they can dispatch or redirect appropriate patrol units to the location of need.
Foreign crime victims can expect treatment and assistance with the same level
of cooperation and fairness as that given to a local citizen. In recent years,
in response to citizen concerns, the government has bought additional police
cruisers, constructed and renovated police stations, recruited new officers,
and made efforts to improve police customer service to earn the trust of
members of the public.
or arrested U.S. citizens should notify the U.S. Embassy in Port of Spain
immediately by email
or by telephone at 868-622-6371. U.S. citizens may also wish to contact their family
and an attorney. During the initial interview, the police may defer a request
to contact family, but local law provides for both consular notification and an
attorney upon request. Harassment is uncommon with foreigners; however, U.S.
citizens should report any incident to the U.S. Embassy. Download
the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
The emergency line for major
trauma only is 811.
Medical care is below U.S. standards for treatment of serious injuries and
illness, with limited access to supplies and medications. Private medical care
available in Port of Spain is adequate but still below U.S. standards; it is
substandard in the rest of the country. Patients requiring blood transfusions must
arrange for others to donate at least the same amount on their behalf.
Physicians and nurses have gone on strike, straining public and private medical
medical assistance, refer to the Embassy’s Medical Assistance page.
Ambulance service is often
extremely limited in response time due to low availability and high demand.
Ambulances provide basic life support services, with some moving toward
advanced life support capabilities.
A recompression chamber is located
in Roxborough, Tobago. Before diving, check if the chamber is operational.
Adequate evacuation insurance coverage
(medevac) for all travelers should be a high priority. Highly specialized cases
or complex emergencies may require evacuation to Miami. While care at some
private facilities is better than at most public health facilities, facilities may
expect patients to prove their ability to pay before they give assistance, even
in emergencies. The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing
international health insurance before traveling internationally. Review the
State Department’s webpage on insurance overseas.
The following diseases are present: Zika; Chikungunya; ; Dengue;
and Yellow Fever. The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health
guidance for Trinidad
OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way,
Medication, I’m Drinking What in My
Water?, Shaken: The Don’ts of
Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.
OSAC Country Council
The Port-of-Spain Country Council launched in 2017.
Interested private-sector security managers should contact OSAC’s Western
Hemisphere team with
U.S. Embassy Contact
15 Queens Park West, Port of
Business hours: Monday-Friday, 0730
Switchboard: +868 622-6371
Security Office: +868 822-5927
Marine Guard (24 Hours): +868
you travel,consider the following resources: