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St Maarten And St Martin Travel Information

The Basics

Time

GMT -4

Electricity

110/220 volts, 60Hz. Standard, flat, two- and three-pronged plugs, as found in the United States, are used.

Language

Dutch and French are the official languages, but English is widely spoken. Locals commonly use a language known as Papiamento, a mixture of Portuguese, African, Spanish, Dutch and English.

Travel Health

No vaccination certificates are required for entry into either St Maarten or St Martin, however a yellow fever certificate is required for travellers arriving within six days from infected areas. The Manchionneel tree that grows all over the island, mainly along the beaches, is extremely poisonous: the sap and fruit, which look like small green apples are caustic and burn the skin. The water in the Netherlands Antilles is safe to drink. Medical care on the island is good, but patients are likely to be transferred to the US for anything serious. Medical insurance is strongly advised.

Tipping

On the Dutch side of the island hotel bills include a tax of five percent, and often a service charge of 15 percent. Waiters and bar staff should be tipped 10-15 percent if a gratuity is not included in the bill. On French St Martin hotels usually add five percent occupancy tax per person, but a small gratuity is appreciated for good service. Restaurants and hotels usually add a service charge of 10-15 percent to the bill, and it is always best to check for this before adding a tip. Taxi drivers and porters expect to be tipped, particularly if they have handled luggage.

Safety Information

Most visits to the island are trouble-free, however crime has been increasing in recent years and visitors should refrain from leaving valuables unattended on beaches, in cars and hotel lobbies. Care should be taken to keep rooms and cars locked, and visitors should refrain from carrying large amounts of cash on them. Burglaries and break-ins occur sometimes at resorts, beach houses and hotels and there have been incidents of armed robbery. Precautions should also be taken against car theft and insurance cover is advisable.

Local Customs

Island culture on St Maarten and St Martin is very relaxed, and there are few dress codes aside from high-end restaurants and clubs. Dressing provocatively will attract unwanted attention, however, and wearing beachwear off the beach is considered disrespectful. Though many residents speak English, visitors should not assume this and a little effort to speak French is greatly appreciated.

Business

On St. Maarten/St. Martin things are fairly informal, but jackets and ties should be worn by men for meetings. English is spoken widely throughout both the French and Dutch parts of the island and is often the language used in meetings. Business hours are generally 9am-6pm Monday to Friday, with a break from 12pm-1:30pm.

Communications

The country code for St Maarten, as part of the Netherlands Antilles, is +599. The code for French St Martin is +590. To dial Dutch St Maarten dial 599-54 plus a five-digit number, and to dial French St Martin dial 590-590 plus a six-digit number. Phoning from one side of the island to the other is considered to be an international call. The outgoing code for both sectors is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). City/area codes are not in use. GSM 900 and 1800 mobile network coverage extends across both parts of the island. Internet access is available at internet cafes, and in most resorts.

Duty Free

Arrivals in St Maarten/St Martin will not have to pay customs duty on 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco, 2 litres of alcohol and gifts to the value of ANG100.

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