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Puerto Rico Travel Information

The Basics

Time

Local time is GMT -4.

Electricity

Electrical current is 120 volts, 60Hz. Two-pin flat attachment plugs are in use.

Language

Spanish and English are the official languages of Puerto Rico.

Travel Health

There are no vaccination certificates required for travel to Puerto Rico, but travellers are advised to be up to date with routine vaccinations. Cases of dengue fever occur annually and mosquito protection measures are essential. Schistosomiasis is endemic and swimming in lakes, rivers and streams should be avoided. It is best to drink bottled water to avoid stomach upsets. Thoroughly wash or peel produce you buy in markets before eating it. Medical services are good but can be expensive; medical insurance is advised.

Tipping

Some restaurants and hotels automatically add a 10 to 17% service charge to the bill, if not a 15% tip is expected. Taxi drivers and bar staff also expect tips.

Safety Information

Visits to Puerto Rico are usually trouble-free but travellers should take sensible precautions to avoid petty theft.

Local Customs

Social etiquette in Puerto Rico is typically Latin American, with some North American influences (such as a stronger sense of female independence, and a toning-down of the ideal of machismo). Western visitors to the country should feel comfortable, and 'at home', in most social situations. Hygiene, cleanliness and personal appearance are viewed as matters of self-respect, so travellers who've been 'on the road' for a little while might consider neatening up their beards or trimming their hair, especially if they want to make a good first impression. A final, important aspect of Puerto Rican social life, is the concept of relajo. Generally shy of direct confrontation and open criticism, relajo refers to the gentle, joking manner in which Puerto Ricans will bring up uncomfortable issues around each another. Visitors should be aware of this technique, as they may, on occasion, be required to 'read between the lines' to discover what locals are really trying to express.

Business

Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory although the resemblance is closer to Latin America. English is understood by many on the island, but Spanish may also be the language in which business is conducted. Dress codes will vary according to different sectors, but suits are favoured on very formal occasions. Shaking hands is common for both men and women. Business hours are generally 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday with an hour taken at lunch.

Communications

The international access code for Puerto Rico is +1 787 and +1 939. The outgoing code is 011 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 01144 for the United Kingdom). The outgoing code is not needed for calling the US, Canada and most of the Caribbean. Mobile phones work throughout the island and local operators use CDMA networks that are not compatible with GSM phones, as used outside North America. Internet cafes are available in most towns and resorts.

Duty Free

Puerto Rico's customs regulations are the same as those for the United States. Visitors over 21 may bring in the following items without paying duty: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 2kg of tobacco; 1 litre of alcohol; and gifts valued up to US$100. There is a long list of restricted and prohibited items which may not be imported or imported only under license, ranging from fireworks and matches to pre-Columbian sculpture and Cuban cigars. If in doubt consult your nearest US Embassy for advice. Any merchandise from embargoed countries (Afghanistan, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Serbia and Montenegro and the Sudan) may not be brought onto US soil.

Become our Puerto Rico Travel Expert

We are looking for contributors for our Puerto Rico travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Puerto Rico or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.