September 21, 2019

This is what OSAC says about the Cayman Islands

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From Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security

Cayman Islands 2019 Crime & Safety Report
Crime
Western Hemisphere > Cayman Islands
2/25/2019


This is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, .

The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses the Cayman Islands at Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions.

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

The U.S. Embassy in Kingston and the U.S. Consular Agency in the Cayman Islands do not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit in Kingston cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

The Cayman Islands are considered a safe place with little criminal activity affecting tourists. Please review ’s Cayman Islands-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.

Crime Threats

As a major Caribbean tourist destination, the principal crimes of concern are of opportunity such as pickpocketing and purse snatchings. Do not physically resist any robbery attempt. While this is a personal decision, statistics show that victims who resist are more likely to be injured or killed. Travelers should ensure that one’s personal belongings, including passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times. If using hotel safes to store valuables, ensure the safe is bolted to the wall or the floor. Do not bring valuables to the beach. To mitigate victimization, avoid solo trips to deserted beaches or poorly lit areas after dark.

BURGLARY2017 Crimes2016 CrimesRate Of Change ‘16-‘17 
BurglaryRPRP+/- 
National Total60350499 
Residential42437648 
Non-Residential17912851 
Cayman Brac15141 
Bodden Town1566888 
East End1729-12 
George Town29027614 
Little Cayman202 
Northside36351 
West Bay87825 

Sexual assault and rape occurs and are some of the most reported crimes. Women traveling alone may be subject to certain forms of harassment and verbal abuse. There have been several incidents of sexual assault involving the use of “date rape” drugs, such as Rohypnol. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum, or cigarettes from new acquaintances. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.

The legal drinking age (18) is rigorously enforced. The Cayman government is strongly opposed to underage drinking, and responsible parties will ask for photo ID at bars, restaurants, and liquor stores. Merchants risk losing their liquor licenses if they sell alcohol to minors or allow residents or visitors younger than 18 to drink on their premises. Travelers 18 years of age or older can legally have an open container of in areas zoned for alcohol consumption (most beaches). Violations of this law will result in hefty fines. Travelers or residents patronizing bars or nightclubs should travel in pairs or groups to minimize their risk of victimization. For more information, please review OSAC’s Report Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad.

Transportation-Safety Situation

For more information, please review OSAC’s Report, Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.

Vehicles in the Cayman Islands travel on the left side of the road. In order to drive legally in the Caymans, travelers must obtain a temporary driver’s license at a car rental agency or police station by presenting a valid U.S. driver’s license and paying a small fee. Mopeds, scooters, and rental cars are widely available. For more information, please visit the website of the Cayman Islands National Roads Authority.

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Driving regulations are similar to those in the U.S. Local law requires drivers and passengers to wear seat belts and motorcyclists to wear helmets. Right turns at a red light are allowed and legal. The use of cellular telephones is prohibited while driving, unless used with a hands-free device. Police will fine drivers caught talking on a cellular telephone while driving (without a hands-free device). The speed limit varies between 25mph-50mph. New legislation mandates that people lose their driving license for 6 months or a year if caught going 30mph (or greater) in a 15mph school zone. The current traffic regulation sets a CI$200 minimum fine for speeding in a school zone.

Several complex intersections are routed through traffic circles, or “roundabouts.” These roundabouts range from one to three lanes and are often poorly marked. Vehicles in a roundabout travel clockwise and have the right of way over those yet to enter, unless otherwise marked. Motorists entering a roundabout must yield to those already in it.

Laws against driving while intoxicated are strictly enforced, with a legal maximum blood alcohol level set at 100 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood (equivalent to a .10 blood/alcohol level in the United States).

In the event of an accident involving injury to a person, animal or property/vehicle, both parties must exchange names, addresses, dates of birth, registration numbers, and insurance details. The accident must be reported to the police within 24 hours.

For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report Driving Overseas: Best Practices.

Public Transportation Conditions

Minibuses are inexpensive and run nonstop throughout the day with no fixed schedule. Numbers in a colored circle can identify the buses and their routes. There are some bus stops along major routes, but buses can be flagged down at any point along any route. Travelers should make the driver aware of their destination. Fares range from CI$2 for short trips to CI$5 for longer trips. Confirm that there will be a return bus before starting your journey. For a small fee, it is possible for the driver to deviate slightly from the bus route, and to arrange later pickups.

Taxis are well regulated and generally safe, but are expensive. Taxis are unmetered; the government sets fares, with the initial fare based on 1–3 passengers. For each additional passenger over three years of age, one-third of the fare is added. Between the hours of midnight and 0600, there is an additional 25% fee. During inclement weather, taxis may add an additional 25%. The minimum fare, for any journey under 2.2km, is CI$8. However, travelers should confirm the fare before entering the taxi.

Aviation/Airport Conditions

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Cayman Islands’ Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the Cayman Islands’ air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Other Travel Conditions

Yacht owners wishing to anchor in littoral waters or marinas should educate themselves on required registration procedures and permits prior to visiting the Cayman Islands. The government collects a “departure tax” for all persons leaving the country and an “environment tax/resort tax” at certain locations. These taxes are often included in airfare and in hotel prices, but travelers should be aware that there may be additional fees associated with their stay.

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

Although there is no recent history of terrorism in the Cayman Islands, attacks cannot be ruled out. There is currently no indication of any terrorist attacks being planned or executed in the Cayman Islands.

All travelers should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks. These could take place in public areas, and terrorists have targeted sites frequented by expatriates and foreign travelers. Review the U.S. Department of State’s Worldwide Caution for more information.

The Cayman Islands Terrorism Law criminalizes terrorism and terrorist financing. Financial Services Providers operating in the Cayman Islands must comply with various orders imposing financial sanctions in an effort to combat terrorist financing. The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority publishes these orders on its Sanctions webpage for informational purposes. Obtain further details from the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority.

For additional information focusing on terrorist financing, please refer to the Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism.

Anti-U.S. Sentiment

There have been no noteworthy reports of anti-U.S. sentiment in the Cayman Islands.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

Civil Unrest

Demonstrations can occur. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the instructions of local authorities, and monitor local media.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

The hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from mid-May through November. During this period, even small tropical storms can quickly develop into major hurricanes. The significant rainfall hurricanes bring can cause serious flooding in low-lying areas. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that persons living in areas prone to hurricanes make preparations outlined in the hurricane and tropical storm preparation section. These severe storms can put you at risk and hamper the provision of essential services. Monitor local and international weather updates from the Cayman Islands National Weather Service and the U.S. National Hurricane Center, and follow the advice of the local authorities including any evacuation orders.

The Cayman Islands are located in an active seismic area, but many seismic incidents go unnoticed. A number of significant earthquakes have struck the Cayman Islands in recent years. The largest, with a magnitude 6.8 and with an epicenter 20 miles south-southeast of the capital, Georgetown, struck the Islands in December 2004, but caused no serious damage or injuries. In January 2010, an earthquake of magnitude 5.8 caused no damage or injuries.

Economic Concerns

The Cayman Islands is home to a well-developed offshore financial center that provides a wide range of services, including banking, structured finance, investment funds, various types of trusts, and company formation and management. As of 2013, the banking sector held $1.63 trillion in assets. There were approximately 222 banks, 150 active trust licenses, 730 captive insurance companies, nine money service businesses, and more than 92,000 companies licensed or registered in the Cayman Islands.

Most money laundering that occurs in the Cayman Islands is primarily related to fraud and drug trafficking. Due to its status as a zero-tax regime, the Cayman Islands is also attractive to those seeking to evade taxes in their home jurisdictions.

Gambling is illegal. The Cayman Islands do not permit the registration of offshore gaming entities. There are no free trade zones. Authorities assess that there are no risks from bulk cash smuggling, despite the large number of cruise ships calling at the port.

For additional information about banking and business in the Cayman Islands, see the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs’ report on Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Drug-Related Crimes

Drug offenses accounted for 4% of all crimes recorded in the Cayman Islands in 2017. Possession of marijuana remains one of the most common prosecutable crimes in the Cayman Islands. Overall, there was an 11% (21) decrease in drug crimes in comparison with 2016. However, possession of ganja with intent to supply increased by 79% (11). Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Do not carry parcels, gifts, or luggage for other people across a border or through customs under any circumstances.

Weapons-Related Crimes

The possession or importation of weapons (including air pistols and catapults) or ammunition (including empty magazines) is illegal. Those caught will be subject to severe penalties. Even a single bullet inadvertently loose in a carry-on bag can lead to arrest. Authorities strictly forbid importing or possessing firearms. A Conceal Carry Permit, employment by a police agency, or service in U.S. Armed Forces does NOT allow you to bring a firearm or ammunition into the Cayman Islands. If you travel with firearms, firearm components and parts, and/or ammunition to the Cayman Islands, you will be arrested and referred to the local courts for prosecution, which will result in a substantial fine, and/or incarceration for an unspecified amount of time.

LGBTQ+ Travelers

While there are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTQ+ events in the Cayman Islands, discrimination based on sexual orientation remains an issue in the Caymans.

Police Response

Police support is generally adequate for victims of crime. The U.S. Embassy in Kingston is unaware of any confirmed cases of police corruption, bribery, or harassment. Victims of Crime should report crimes to the local police at 911 (the local equivalent of “911” in the U.S.) and contact the U.S. Embassy at +1-876-702-6000. Do not rely on hotel/restaurant/tour staff to report any crime for you.

The telephone contact for emergency services (police and fire) is 911. Victims of any type of crime should call emergency services to report the crime to the police, or visit a police station. Each station is responsible for handling the crimes that occur within its district.

Police/Security Agencies

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) is a national police service with a unified command structure.  It is an unarmed service, with an armed response capability, mandated by statute to deliver the full range of police services across the Cayman Islands and its territorial waters.  In 2017, RCIPS officers answered 80% of all emergency calls dispatched by the 911 Communication Centre, and 31,865 calls for service in total.

The RCIPS operate in a variety of roles, including emergency response, road and marine safety and enforcement, child protection, criminal investigation, intelligence, drug and firearm interdiction, border security, community outreach, finance and administration. In addition to regular policing, the RCIPS covers border control, marine search-and-rescue, and criminal interdictions in territorial waters. 

Medical Emergencies

The quality of medical care in the Cayman Islands is generally comparable to that available in the United States, but some procedures and cases requiring critical care may require medical evacuation to the United States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate payment for services. Make sure your insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. 

Emergency medical response services are available by dialing 911. The response time is generally similar to that in the United States.

Each year, U.S. citizens drown or suffer cardiac arrest while snorkeling or SCUBA diving in the Cayman Islands. Be honest with your instructor or the dive shop if you have a pre-existing medical condition that could be exacerbated when snorkeling or diving. Check that a hyperbaric chamber is available for treatment of decompression illness.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

The CDC recommends that travelers ensure they have the following up-to-date vaccinations at least four weeks before traveling: measles/mumps/rubella (MMR); diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT); polio; hepatitis A and B; typhoid; and rabies (only for travelers whose activities that will bring them into direct contact with bats).

The CDC notes that Zika VirusChikungunya, and Dengue Fever are prevalent in the Cayman Islands. Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that can be spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby, as well as through sexual contact. The CDC has concluded that the Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects in some fetuses and babies born to infected mothers. For additional information about Zika, including travel advisories, visit the CDC website. Chikunguya and Dengue are mosquito-borne illnesses that are becoming more frequent in tropical and equatorial climates around the world. Preventing mosquito bites is the most important way to prevent these illnesses. Travelers should carry and use CDC recommended insect repellents.

OSAC Country Council Information

There is a functioning Country Council in the Cayman Islands. Interested private-sector security managers should contact OSAC’s Americas team with any questions.

U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information

There is a part-time Consular Agent in the Cayman Islands. For routine assistance, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica.

U.S. Consular Agency – Cayman Islands
202B Smith Road Center
150 Smith Road
George Town, Cayman Islands
Telephone: +(345) 945-8173
Fax: +(345) 945-8192
CaymanACS@state.gov

U.S. Embassy Kingston

142 Old Hope Road
Kingston 6, Jamaica
Telephone: +(876) 702-6000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(876) 702-6000
Fax: +(876) 702-6018
KingstonACS@state.gov

Additional Resources

Cayman Islands Country Information Sheet

SOURCE: https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=25633

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