Safety and security

Crime

Most visits are trouble-free, but there have been incidents of violent crime including armed robbery, sexual assaults and gang-related shootings.

2019 has seen an increase in the murder rate, primarily gang related and involving guns. Some incidents have taken place in populated and public areas. You should remain vigilant at all times and in all locations.

You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as you would in the UK and make sure your accommodation is secure. This also applies if you are staying on a yacht. Take care when walking alone off the busy main roads and when withdrawing money from ATMs. Avoid isolated areas, including beaches, particularly after dark.

Barbados’ annual Crop Over festival takes place in July and August. During the festival there will be large gatherings of people at events across the island. You should remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Incidents of petty theft and street crime do occur.

Only use licensed taxis and take particular care at late night street parties, especially during the festival season.

Don’t carry large amounts of cash or jewellery. If possible, leave valuables and travel documents in a safety deposit box or hotel safe. You should check that the hotel safe is securely fixed before using it to store your items.

The local police have advised residents and visitors against wearing visible gold jewellery due to a spate of robberies particularly in Bridgetown and other popular tourist areas.

Road travel

Driving is on the left. To drive on the island you must get a local temporary driving licence. The car hire companies will usually help with this. You must present a valid UK driving licence.

Take care when driving on the roads as there can be potholes and speed bumps. Observe the speed limits. You should take extra care on minor roads and in rural areas where there are narrow roads and blind corners. Pedestrians often walk on the roads and indicators are not always used.

Take extra care when driving at night as some roads are unlit. Road signs and hazards may not be easily visible.

Don’t stop if you’re flagged down by pedestrians. Keep car doors locked when driving. Don’t place personal belongings and valuables where they can be easily reached and consider putting everything in the boot of the car or on the floor of the back seat.

In the event of an accident, call the police and don’t move the vehicle.

Taxis aren’t metered. Standard taxi fares exist for most destinations. Agree the fare in local currency with the driver before you set off. You can often pay in US dollars as well as Barbados dollars.

Public transport is available and cheaper. Minibus drivers might drive above the speed limit.

Air travel

You can find a list of recent incidents and accidents on the website of the Aviation Safety network.

The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes lists of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices – IATA Operational Safety Audit and IATA Standard Safety Assessment. These lists aren’t exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s unsafe.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation has carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Barbados.

Swimming

Take great care at all times when swimming. Currents can be deceptively strong, including on some of the popular beaches on the south and west coasts. Some beaches don’t have lifeguards and/or warning flags and drownings have occurred.

Swimming isn’t recommended on many of the east coast beaches where currents are particularly strong. You should monitor all beaches carefully and obey any local warnings.