The Turks and Caicos Islands is a British Overseas Territory, located in the Atlantic Ocean and considered a part of the Caribbean region. With more than 40 small islands and cays, the eight inhabited islands are separated into two island groups; to the east of the Turks Island Passage are the Turks Islands of Grand Turk and Salt Cay and the west are the Caicos Islands South Caicos, Middle Caicos, North Caicos, Providenciales, Pine Cay and Parrot Cay. The islands are located 575 miles southeast of Miami, Florida, south of the Bahamas and east of Cuba and the country of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti).
The islands are home to over 31,000 full time residents, and attract more than 1 million tourists annually. In 2016 the Turks and Caicos Islands welcomed 1,300,575 tourists to its shores, with 453,612 being stop-overs and the remaining 846,963 arriving via cruise.
Language – English
Currency – The US dollar is the official currency of Turks and Caicos. Most hotels, restaurants and taxi services accept traveler’s cheques, which can be cashed at local banks. Most credit cards are accepted and banks offer ATM’s as well as cash advances on credit cards.
Tipping is normally paid to waiters, taxi drivers, maids and porters at 15%.
Time Zone – Atlantic Standard Time (AST) is the year round time observed in Turks and Caicos.
Electricity – 110 volt/60 cycle, suitable for U.S. appliances.
Climate – The average temperature ranges between 85 and 90 degrees (29-32 degrees celsius) from June to October, sometimes reaching the mid 90’s (35 degrees celsius), especially in the late summer months. From November to May the average temperature is 80 to 84 degrees (27-29 degrees celsius). Water temperature in the summer is 82 to 84 degrees (28-29 degrees celsius) and in winter about 74 to 78 degrees (23-26 degrees celsius). A constant trade wind keeps the climate at a very comfortable level.
There is an annual rainfall of 21 inches on Grand Turk and South Caicos, but as you go further west the average rainfall could increase to 40 inches. In an average year the Turks and Caicos has 350 days of sunshine.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 each year.
People – Turks & Caicos Islanders are mostly descendants of Africans who were brought in to work the salt pans or the cotton plantations. The expatriate population consists of British, Canadians, Americans, French, Bahamians, people from Hispaniola and virtually everywhere in the world.
Economy – The economy of the TCI relies primarily on the tourism industry, but also real estate development and the exportation of seafood. A wide variety of financial services are available, including company formation, offshore insurance, banking, trusts, limited partnerships and limited life companies. The Financial Services Commission regulates, develops and promotes the industry in major world markets.
Government – The Turks & Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory, and Her Majesty the Queen appoints a Governor as her representative based in the islands. Having an internal self-government structure, the head of the Turk and Caicos Islands government is the politically elected Premier, formerly called Chief Minister. The Premier heads up the slate of elected officials serving as representatives of constituencies and Ministers of key sectors in the country. Elections are held every four years in the Turks and Caicos Islands. House of Assembly is located in the capital island, Grand Turk, and government offices and departments are found throughout the islands. The legal system is based on English Common Law.
Courier Service – Daily delivery service is provided by FedEx, with offices on Provo and Grand Turk. Service is also provided by DHL and UPS.
Cable Television – Satellite television service is provided throughout the islands, with most major American networks available.
Water – As on many Islands, fresh water is precious, and dependent upon rainfall or desalinated water produced by reverse osmosis for the supply. Please be conservative in using water.
Telephone Service – Local and international telephone, facsimile, internet and cellular services are available through local companies FLOW and Digicel. Country code is 649. If you have cell service in the USA you may enable International Roaming which would allow you to place and receive calls whilst in the Turks and Caicos. You are also able to rent or purchase a chip or a telephone from one of the local services providers.
Postal Service – Post Offices are located on all inhabited islands. All mail is transported by air. There are many different issues and denominations of stamps for enthusiasts to collect. Philatelic Bureaus are located on both Provo and Grand Turk.
Driving License Requirements – Visitors from the British Commonwealth Countries, The United States of America, Canada and holders of International drivers license are permitted to drive for 30 days on their respective license. Visitors from all other countries are required to possess a Visitors Permit, which can be obtained at the Road Safety Department.
Crime – These Islands boast one of the lowest crime rates and highest crime-solved rates in the Caribbean. We cannot, however, let down the guard against opportunist-type theft. Do not leave valuables unattended. Lock doors and windows. Use the hotel safe for storage of valuables. These simple precautions should prevent the loss of cash, jewelry and identification. Confrontation and violent crimes are extremely rare. Any problems should be reported immediately to the Royal Turks and Caicos Police or call 911.
Clothing – Shorts are worn in town as well as the beach during the day, it is advisable to also wear sunhats and sunscreen. In the evenings, light sweaters and jackets may be occasionally needed in the winter. Dinner is usually not a formal affair, most restaurants accept dress shorts while others require pants with a collared shirt for gentlemen and dress slacks or dresses for the ladies.
Public Nudity is illegal throughout the islands.
Customs and Immigration – Duty free goods that may be brought in to the Islands include: 50 cigars, 200 cigarettes, 1.136 liters of spirits or wine and perfume for personal use.
There are no restrictions for travelers on the import of cameras, film or sports equipment, except spear guns and Hawaiian slings.
To bring in firearms of any type (including spear guns and Hawaiian slings), you must have written approval from the Commissioner of Police. Controlled drugs and pornography are illegal.
All visitors traveling to the Turks & Caicos Islands must have a valid passport. Visas are necessary from some countries of the former Eastern Bloc. They are advised to contact the nearest British Consulate Office.
All visitors must hold a round trip ticket. Visitors are allowed to stay for 30 days; this is renewable one time only. For luggage restriction, individual airlines should be consulted.
Please see also our Traveling to Turks and Caicos with Plants and Animals page and Entry Requirements page.
Health Care –There is a modern hospital system comprising two state-of-the-art medical centres, managed by InterHealth Canada; Cheshire Hall Medical Centre on Providenciales and Cockburn Town Medical Centre on Grand Turk. Health services provided at the centres include: emergency care, dental, dialysis, internal medicine, surgical, orthopedic, obstetric and endoscopic procedures, physiotherapy and diagnostic imaging. Tele – medicine is also currently being introduced to improve inter island healthcare delivery. Providenciales also has a number of private general practitioners and all of the other islands have community clinics.
Here you will find some information that may prove useful to ensure that you are an exemplary environmental steward while visiting the Turks & Caicos Islands. Tourism Guide to Protect our Islands.