United States

Travel advice and general information about the United States.

This is not official advice. If you need help, contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.

Table of Contents

About the United States

The United States, officially the United States of America, is a sovereign country located in North America, which is constituted of fifty states. Each state has a local legislature which is independent of, and separate to, the U.S. Congress. Laws can therefore vary across the United States.

Population: 333 million

Language: English

Currency: US dollar (USD)

Religion: Christianity (63%)

Government: Federal presidential constitutional republic

Political Rights and Civil Liberties: 83/100 (Free country)

Head of State: Joe Biden

Head of Government: Joe Biden

U.S. States: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming

U.S. Territories: American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam and Virgin Islands of the United States

Associated States: Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands and Republic of Palau

Information for Barbadians

Entry requirements

This information pertains to the United States only. The entry requirements for the U.S. territories and associated states may be different and are not covered by this article.

If you have only a Barbadian passport

Barbadians need a B-2 visitor visa to enter the United States for tourism purposes, or to visit friends / family. To be considered for this visa, you are required to have an interview with the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown (a non-refundable application fee of USD $185 applies).

During the interview, you are required to prove that you intend to visit the United States for a legitimate purpose and that you will depart the United States after your trip. You may be able to satisfy this requirement by providing evidence of your employment and/or ongoing commitments in Barbados. You may also be asked to prove that you have the means to pay for all the costs of your proposed visit to the United States. If your application for a B-2 visa is approved, it is usually valid for multiple visits.

Persons with a B-2 visa can usually stay in the United States as a visitor for up to six months, but this is at the discretion of the U.S. border authorities. Having a B-2 visa does not mean that you are guaranteed entry into the United States. You will still be assessed by an officer of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on arrival to determine your suitability for admission.

To apply for a B-2 visa, you must first complete Form DS-160 via the Consular Electronic Application Center. Afterwards, schedule an interview with the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown via the U.S. Visa Service. Please note the service for scheduling intervews is operated by a third party company, General Dynamics Information Technology, on behalf of the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown.

If you also have a British or Canadian passport

Barbadians who are also British or Canadian citizens do not need to apply for a B-2 visa if they enter the United States using their British or Canadian passport, but must apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver at least 72 hours prior to travel. Persons who are eligible to enter the United States under the ESTA visa waiver programme can stay in the country for up to 90 days.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, if you have visited the Republic of Cuba on or after January 12, 2021, you will not be eligible to enter the United States under the ESTA visa waiver programme and must apply for a B-2 visa.

If you are a British-Barbadian dual national, follow the advice of the British government if you will be entering the United States using your British passport.

If you are a Canadian-Barbadian dual national, follow the advice of the Canadian government if you will be entering the United States using your Canadian passport.

Currency and payments

The currency in the United States is called the US dollar (USD). $1 is equivalent to 100 cents. Foreign currencies, including currencies which are pegged to the US dollar, are not accepted by local businesses as a means of payment.

Colloquial phrases

The informal term dime has the same meaning as ten cents, and buck has the same meaning as dollar. For example, "two bucks" means $2.

Local laws and customs

There is zero tolerance to the possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs in the United States. Persons convicted of drugs-related offences can expect long prison sentences and heavy fines.

Driving a vehicle

Road traffic laws can vary between states. Familiarise yourself with the laws of the state you will be driving in.

You must drive on the right-side. When driving on a multi-lane highway, you must keep in the right lane unless you are overtaking. You may be stopped by police if you remain in the left-hand lane when there is no nearby traffic in the right-lane.

Many highways in the United States prohibit pedestrian access. You may be arrested by police if you walk or cycle on any controlled-access highway (also known as a freeway).

Roundabouts are less common in the United States but you may still come across them. You must always indicate at a roundabout, whether you are turning left or right. If you are going straight ahead at a roundabout, you must indicate right just before you reach the exit. You may be stopped by the police if you do not use your indicators correctly. In the United States, indicators are usually called blinkers.

Drivers in the United States only use their car horns to warn others of a danger. Avoid using your car horn to express gratitude to other drivers for giving way, as using your car horn like this will confuse local drivers or cause a misunderstanding.

There are many speed cameras (also known as speed traps) in the United States. Speed limits are typically expressed in miles per hour. Always observe the speed limit. Road traffic laws are strictly enforced in the United States.

You can use your Barbadian driving licence to drive any type of small vehicle listed on your licence (for example cars, motorcycles or vans) for a temporary period while you are a visitor in the United States. No visitor driving permit is required and you do not need an International Driving Permit.

Make sure you have appropriate car insurance. If you are planning to rent a car, make sure you are hiring a vehicle from a registered business as they are responsible for arranging car insurance on your behalf.

Car rental companies often require customers to have a credit card. They may place a temporary hold on your credit card during the term of your rental in case you have an accident or cause damage to the vehicle. If you have an accident, you may be required to pay a substantial excess regardless of who is at fault. It may be more cost effective to purchase car hire excess insurance as an alternative to the Collision Damage Waiver offered by rental companies if you have the financial means to pay the excess before submitting a claim.

If you are stopped by the police, roll down your window and keep both of your hands clearly visible at the top of the steering wheel. Whenever a police officer asks you to provide any documentation (e.g. your driving licence or insurance papers), make sure you explain to the officer what you will be doing before you do it. For example, if you need to reach for the glove compartment, your pocket or bag, let the police officer know this before you move your hands off the steering wheel and make sure the police officer is happy for you to proceed before you do so.

If you have a firearm on your person or anywhere in the vehicle, you must disclose this to the police officer at the earliest opportunity. Always look at the police officer when you are disclosing the existence of a firearm and do not gesture towards it or move your hands off the steering wheel.

Communication style

Don't try to mimic the American accent.

Avoid speaking in Bajan creole or using Bajan terms or idioms as the locals will not understand you.

Be mindful how you respond to closed questions. Avoid responding with "no, please" in all situations as this phrase sounds unusual to persons outside Barbados and may cause confusion. If you are asked a question in which you are being offered something, you should respond with "yes, please" or "no, thank you". For all other yes/no questions, you should simply respond with "yes" or "no" and avoid using the verb "please" as this will confuse a local person or cause a misunderstanding.

Avoid saying "good night" as a greeting as this will cause a misunderstanding. In the United States, the expression "good night" is only ever used when departing. To greet someone in the late evening, even if the time is one minute before midnight, it is customary to say "good evening". If it's after 12 PM but before 5 PM, you should say "good afternoon".

If you are arrested or detained in the United States

In most cases, the Consular Section of the Embassy of Barbados in Washington will be automatically notified of your arrest due to a Mandatory Notification agreement between the United States and Barbados.

If you are not sure whether the Barbados government has been notified of your arrest, you have the right to ask the police to notify the Consular Section of the Embassy of Barbados in Washington and they must comply with your request without delay.

Any person charged with a criminal offence has the right to receive a timely, fair and public hearing by an independent, impartial court and to be tried by jury. You have the right to be present at your trial and to consult with an attorney at law of your choice. You cannot be compelled to testify or confess guilt. These rights are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

You may be entitled to free legal aid if you are charged with a criminal offence and do not have the means to pay for your defence. To apply for legal aid, you should submit a request for a 'public defender' when you first appear in court.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, if you are travelling overseas you should also take your Barbadian passport with you, as you will need it to re-enter Barbados without being subject to immigration control.

No, the ESTA visa waiver programme is only relevant to visitors who are entitled to enter the United States without a visa. However, the visa waiver programme is not open to Barbadian passport holders. Therefore, a B-2 visa is required to enter the United States for tourism purposes, or to see friends / family.