The U.S. State Department has issued a Level 3 travel advisory for Jamaica, advising Americans to reconsider their plans to visit the Caribbean nation due to a surge in crime and concerns about “unreliable medical services.”
This travel warning follows reports from the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica, indicating that “violent crimes, including home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides, are common,” even within all-inclusive resorts.
Jamaica’s homicide rate, reported as one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere, recorded 65 murders last month alone, according to the State Department.
The advisory also highlights challenges with law enforcement, citing that local police often respond inadequately to serious crimes, and even when arrests are made, cases are seldom prosecuted to a conclusive sentence. Families of U.S. citizens facing accidents or homicides in Jamaica typically experience prolonged waits of a year or more for the issuance of final death certificates.
Furthermore, the advisory expresses concerns about the reliability of medical services on the island, noting that some facilities may require payment in advance before providing care. Given that most hospitals and doctors abroad do not accept U.S. health insurance, Americans are strongly urged to secure traveler’s insurance that includes medical evacuation coverage.
Areas in Jamaica on State Department’s Do Not Travel list
St. Ann’s Parish, St. Catherine’s Parish, Clarendon Parish — except if passing through Clarendon Parish using the T1 and A2 highways — St. Elizabeth’s Parish, Hanover Parish, St. James Parish and Montego Bay, Kingston and St. Andrew Parish, Cassava Piece, Downtown Kingston, Manchester Parish, St. Thomas Parish, Trelawny Parish, Westmoreland Parish.
Safety Tips When Traveling to Jamaica
- Do not attempt to bring firearms or ammunition. This includes stray rounds, shells or empty casings. The penalties for carrying firearms and/or ammunition, even inadvertently, are severe, and can include lengthy prison sentences.
- Avoid walking or driving at night.
- Avoid public buses.
- Avoid secluded places or situations.
- Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
- Be aware of your surroundings and keep a low profile.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
- Review the Country Security Report for Jamaica.
- Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
- Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.
These travel warnings for Jamaica come shortly after the State Department issued a separate advisory for another popular Caribbean tourist destination. The U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas recently placed the island on a Level 2 “Exercise increased caution” warning, urging Americans to stay vigilant, maintain a low profile, and avoid resisting during a robbery attempt. The advisory pointed out a concerning surge in murders, with Nassau experiencing 18 homicides in the first four weeks of the year.