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Travellers' Essentials > Practical Information

Practical Information Practical Information
Airport Departure Tax
Business Hours
Currency and Credit Cards
Climate and Time Zone
Communications
Drinking Water
Driving
Electricity
Illegal Drugs
Language
Insects
What to wear

Airport Departure Tax

All visitors over 12 years old, leaving St. Lucia through either of the island’s two airports, have to pay a departure tax of EC $68 (US $35). Caricom nationals are required to pay EC $35 (US $13). In general, it is required for visitors who spend more than 24 hours on the island. Automatic Banking facilities (ABM/ATM) are available at Hewanorra International Airport and George F.L. Charles Airport for your convenience. Credit cards are not accepted.

Business Hours

Business hours in St. Lucia are from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm during the weekdays. Bank hours are from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm Mondays to Thursdays; up to 5:00 pm on Fridays. Many shops are opened from 8:00 am to 12:00 noon on Saturdays however, most supermarkets and shopping centres stay open later.

Currency and Credit Cards

St. Lucia's currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD) commonly referred to as EC. Notes are issued in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. Coins come in denominations of $0.01, $0.02, $0.05, $0.10, $0.25 cents, and $1.00. (XCD is the currency reference code used at commercial banks). The bank exchange on US$1 (cash) is EC$2.67, and US travellers cheques is EC$2.68 (fixed exchange rate). The US dollar can be used outright at any commercial establishment including hotels, car rentals, duty free shops, etc. In most cases, prices from these establishments are quoted in US dollars. The Canadian dollar and U.K. sterling can also be changed however, rates are subject to market fluctuation and are not commonly accepted by businesses. Other currencies may pose some difficulty and may be subject to additional bank charges. Use this Currency Assistant as your guide.

Major credit cards are widely accepted in St. Lucia. You can get cash advances using VISA or Master Card or make withdrawals from your bank account using your Cirrus or Plus bank card from ATMs (ABMs) located throughout the island.

Climate and Time Zone

St. Lucia is within 14 degrees North of the Equator therefore, it is hot and humid. Throughout the year, the average daily temperature ranges from a low of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) to a high of 85 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius). December and January are the coolest months while June to August are the hottest. The rainiest months, June to December, are also designated as the Hurricane Season (Jun-Nov). St. Lucia is within the hurricane belt and is vulnerable to severe tropical systems. The island’s humidity ranges from 76 percent to 83 percent year round with the northeast trade winds acting as a cooling influence. Sunrise and sunset are around 5:30 am and 6:00 pm respectively, with very little variation. (See Map)

St. Lucia is on Atlantic Standard Time which is four (4) hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and one (1) hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST). Daylight saving time is not observed therefore, between October to April, St. Lucia is four (4) hours behind GMT while in April to October it is five (5) hours behind.

Communications

St. Lucia has a state-of-the-art digital telecommunications infrastructure system. Internet, land-based telephone, wireless phone, telex, telegraph and facsimile services are available island wide. There are phone-card telephone booths and sale of phone cards available throughout the island. International Direct Dialling (IDD) service is available to most destinations in the world and international calls can be made using your credit card (Master Card, VISA are acceptable) by dialling the operator. When calling St. Lucia, the international area code is 758 followed by the local seven-digit number.

Postal services are available island wide. Street addressing is limited to the capital and towns, however, most postal addresses are limited to post office boxes or general delivery. St. Lucia does not use a postal code addressing system.

Drinking Water

It is perfectly safe to drink water straight from the tap in St. Lucia. However, for those who prefer bottled mineral water, local supermarkets and grocers always have ample stocks.

Driving

Driving in St. Lucia is on the LEFT side of the road. All vehicles are right-hand configured (UK and Japanese standards). In order to drive a vehicle, you will need to purchase a temporary, 3-month, local licence (provided that you have a valid drivers licence from your home country) for EC $54 (US $20) from any immigration office, police station, or directly from a car rental company. A local licence is not required if you are a holder of a valid OECS or International Driving Permit.

Most roads are narrow and can be extremely steep and have sharp hairpin bends in mountainous areas. Visitors should be aware that driving standards differ from those of North America and Europe and that St. Lucians have a more relaxed approach to the rules of the road. You are encouraged to drive slowly and remain vigilant.

Electricity

St. Lucia has a reliable supply of electricity provided at 220-240 volts AC, 50 cycles per second. Appliances rated at 110-120 volts (US standard) normally work satisfactorily with a transformer. Most hotels have 110-120 volts shaver outlets and will provide transformers to visitors on request. The standard electrical plug has 3 rectangular pins so remember to pack an adapter. When shopping for electronics and electrical appliances, do remember to check the voltage of the item against the acceptable voltage in your home country.

Illegal Drugs

The use or sale of narcotic drugs is highly illegal in St. Lucia. Visitors need to be aware that there are severe penalties, including long jail terms for possession of illegal drugs like Cannabis (marijuana, weed or ganja) or crack cocaine. NO attempts should be made to import or export even small quantities for “personal use”. If you carry prescription drugs, keep them in their original container, clearly labelled with the doctor’s name, pharmacy, and contents.

Language

The official and dominant language of St. Lucia is English. However, French Creole or Patios is an unofficial language which is widely used among St. Lucians.

Insects

Mosquito and Sand fly bites:
Not a major problem but people with sensitive skin may be bothered. The dengue fever mosquito is found throughout the island therefore, you should take normal precautions against mosquito bites, such as using insect repellent during the day and in the evening. There are many repellents you can use to prevent bites from sand flies and mosquitos. Creams are available in local pharmacies to relieve itching and promote healing if required. For your own peace of mind, we recommend that you bring along repellents of your choice to use at bedtime and at the beach.

What to Wear

St. Lucia has a hot and humid climate throughout the year. Light summer clothing, made from natural fabrics like cotton is best for everyday wear. Casual dress is acceptable for most situations and occasions but some establishments may require a more semiformal dress code (elegantly casual attire). It is always advisable to check beforehand on dress regulations, if any. Bathing suits should not be worn in the streets or stores. For business meetings, see Tips for the Business Traveller.

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