Travel Consideration: Martinique

Contributed By RealAdventures

The French West Indies consists of two French overseas departments, Martinique and Guadeloupe, and their dependencies. These islands are well developed. In the sub-prefects of St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, English is widely spoken and U.S. currency is accepted.

French Guiana, which is also an overseas department of France, is a sparsely populated tropical wilderness located on the northern coast of South America. Tourist facilities are available, especially in the larger cities such as Cayenne and Kourou, but in some instances are not highly developed. Kourou is home to the Guiana Space Center, from which Ariane rockets are launched.

Passports are required of U.S. citizens entering the French West Indies or French Guiana. Visitors who arrive on a commercial air carrier with a return ticket may enter for up to 90 days without a visa. For further information on French West Indies and French Guiana entry requirements, travelers can contact the Embassy of France at 4101 Reservoir Road, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007; telephone (202) 944-6000; or the nearest French consulate in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, New Orleans or San Francisco; or through the Internet at

Petty street crime occurs throughout the French West Indies. Valuables left on beaches or locked in rental cars are subject to theft. In St. Martin, police personnel have increased, resulting in decreased street crime and fewer assaults.

Medical care is available in the French West Indies. Martinique has the best medical care in the eastern Caribbean, with 13 hospitals. Guadeloupe also has good medical care.

In French Guiana, medical care is limited. Hospital facilities are limited to the major urban areas. Patients’ rooms frequently incorporate open air facilities.

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. Supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including provision for medical evacuation, has proven useful in many emergencies.

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 French West Indies and French Guiana is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

French West Indies:

Safety of Public Transportation: fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: fair

The roads in the French West Indies are the best in the Eastern Caribbean. Both Martinique and Guadeloupe have some 4-lane highways. Roads are well paved and well maintained. Traffic safety is enforced by the police. In Martinique there are 140,000 cars and Guadeloupe has a similar high volume of traffic. Night driving can be dangerous, especially in the mountains and on winding rural roads. Public transportation in the form of taxis and vans is relatively safe.

French Guiana:

Safety of Public Transportation: fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: fair

Primary roads in French Guiana are well paved and well maintained. Emergency call boxes are available at regular intervals on the main highways. Roads in rural areas are less developed. Roads leading to remote regions in the interior are often improved dirt roads. French Guiana has a relatively moderate to high volume of traffic and police enforce traffic safety. However, night driving can be dangerous, especially in the remote interior regions or on less-developed rural roads. Public transportation in the form of taxis and vans is relatively safe.

For specific information concerning the French West Indies and French Guiana driver’s permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the French National Tourist Organization office in New York via their web site.

There is no U.S. embassy or consulate in the French West Indies or French Guiana. For assistance in the French West Indies, U.S. citizens may contact the U.S. Consular Agency at P.O. Box 975, CEDEX 97246, Fort de France, Martinique; telephone 011 (596) 71-96-90 (mornings) or 011 (596) 71-96-74 (afternoons and evenings); or fax (596) 71-96-89. The office is located at 9 Rue Des Alpinias, Dedier, Fort de France, Martinique. U.S. citizens may also contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados, which is located in the American Life Insurance Company (ALICO) Building, Cheapside, telephone (246) 431-0225. Hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday-Friday except local and U.S. holidays. Internet:

For assistance in French Guiana, U.S. citizens may contact the U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo, Suriname, located at Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 129, Paramaribo; telephone 011 (597) 477-881 or 472-900. The Consular Section is open for American citizen services 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, except local and U.S. holidays, or by appointment.

Aviation safety oversight in French overseas departments is the responsibility of the central government of France. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of France’s Civil Aviation Authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of France’s air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1 (800) 322-7873, or visit the FAA’s Internet web site at The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at 618-229-4801.

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