The Netherlands Antilles and Aruba are autonomous parts of The Kingdom of the Netherlands, and include the islands of Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius (also known as Statia) and Sint Maarten (Dutch side). While Sint Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius lie in the path of hurricanes, Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba have historically been out of the hurricane belt.
U.S. citizens must present either a U.S. passport or a certified U.S. birth certificate accompanied by a valid photo identification. While a U.S. passport is not mandatory, it is recommended since it is more readily recognized as a form of positive identification. Tourists may be asked to show onward or return tickets or proof of sufficient funds for their stay. Length of stay is granted for two weeks and may be extended for 90 days by the Head Office of Immigration. For further information travelers can contact The Royal Netherlands Embassy, 4200 Linnean Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 244-5300 or the Dutch consulate in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, or Houston. Internet: http://www.netherlands-embassy.org.
Petty street crime continues to rise. Valuables left unattended on beaches and in cars are easy targets for theft. Burglary and break-ins are increasingly common at resorts and beach houses. Armed robbery occasionally occurs.
Car theft, including that of rental vehicles for joyriding and stripping, occurs frequently. Vehicle leases or rentals may not be fully covered by local insurance when a vehicle is stolen. In general, jet skis and vehicles should be used with caution. Renters should note the insurance underwriter and the amount of deductible in case of accident or theft.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. A birth certificate and/or driverís license generally cannot be replaced outside the United States. U.S. citizens can refer to the Department of Stateís pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. This publication and others, such as Tips for Travelers to the Caribbean, are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
Medical care is generally good in Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maarten, but may be limited on the other three islands. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the U.S. can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services, and U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the U.S. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the U.S.
Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties. Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death. Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of Stateís Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the U.S. The information below concerning the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good
Major road hazards specific to the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba are hidden and poorly maintained street signs, disoriented drivers not familiar with where they are going, and goats wandering onto roadways. Carnival time (February) attracts many sudden celebrations which can congest main artery roadways around the islands. Alcohol consumption is also high during this time, and locals are not as aware of the affects of driving under the influence as people are in the United States. In the more rural sections of the island, some roads are not paved. Drivers should be aware of whether their cars are reliable on these bumpy, steep roads, (i.e. 4-wheel drive, spare tire). Goats and other animals can normally be found on these roads. Drivers should be alert at all times that an animal can unexpectedly jump into the path of the car. Night driving is neither good nor bad in the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba as long as drivers are familiar with the streets. Most main streets are properly lit, but smaller side streets may not be. Taxis are the easiest yet most expensive form of transportation on the islands. There are no meters, and passengers should be sure to negotiate the price before entering the taxi. Vans are inexpensive (less than $1) per trip, and they run nonstop during the daytime with no time schedule. Each van has a specific route that is displayed in the front windshield of the van. Buses run on the hour and have a limited amount of routes. Most buses came from Europe and have small windows with no air-conditioning.
For specific information concerning Netherlands Antilles and Aruba driverís permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba National Tourist Organization offices in New York via the Internet.
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that countryís laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the U.S. and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the U.S. for similar offenses. Persons violating Netherlands Antilles and Aruba laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
For information on international adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and international child support enforcement issues, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.
U.S. citizens living in or visiting the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba are encouraged to register at the U.S. Consulate General in Curacao and obtain updated information on travel and security in the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. The U.S. Consulate General is located at J.B. Gorsiraweg #1, Willemstad, Curacao; telephone (599-9) 461-3066; fax (599-9) 461-6489; e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.