Copies should be made of key documents, including passports, birth certificates, work permits and drivers’ licenses, and stored in a safe place, separate from the originals. The original documents should be kept with you in waterproof bags or containers during any emergency situation, particularly in the event of an approaching hurricane or tropical storm.
If you already have a family and business disaster plan and supply kit, now is the time to review, recycle and restock for 2013. If you are creating your first disaster plan and supply kit, further information can be obtained from the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) and their Community Disaster Preparedness Guide.
For those people who may wish to travel to the United States (US) either before, or immediately after a hurricane, it is essential that your documents are in order. It is extremely unlikely that anyone without appropriate documentation will be allowed to enter the US in any circumstances.
British nationals renewing their passports during hurricane season will not need to send their expiring British passports with the renewal application to Washington. They will however need to provide a photocopy and a covering letter explaining why the current passport is not included. The old passport must only be used for evacuation or identity purposes. This is because the passport issuing system will electronically cancel the old passport when the new one is being processed and applicants risk travelling on an invalid travel document.
In a genuine emergency, British nationals can obtain Emergency Travel Documents from the British High Commission in Barbados. They cannot be used to enter the United States of America without a valid visa.
The Governor’s Office would like to remind all other foreign nationals in the British Virgin Islands that the advice above also applies to them. If you have not already done so, you should consider registering with your nearest Consular mission. Further details can be found on your own government web pages.
Notes for Editors:
Those who do plan to travel to the US should also be aware that the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) only operates for commercial flights and vessels and they should therefore also obtain a US visa if travelling on charter or private flights including medievac. Those nationals looking to travel under the VWP should also apply online for Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).
British passport holders should note that British passports cannot be renewed or replaced in the BVI. Applications must be sent to the UK Passport Service Centre in Washington, DC. This is the passport production centre for the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the region. Passports will be dispatched from the UK. The current production time for straightforward British passport renewals is running at 4 weeks; more complex cases slightly longer, especially if the applications are incomplete. If it is a first time application or a lost or stolen replacement, you should allow longer. With effect from 15 November 2012, payment is by credit or debit card (Visa or Mastercard) only. Applicants should not make any firm travel plans until they have received their passports. Persons are kindly asked not to call to check on the progress of applications before this time. The Governor’s Office is not able to answer general passport questions or give information on passport applications in progress as they are no longer involved in this process. Further information for applying from overseas, including forms and fees, can be found at www.gov.uk/overseas-passports.
British passport holders should note that they are able to renew their passports at a Passport Office in the UK providing the holder is in the UK at the time. Details of this service can be found at www.gov.uk/apply-renew-passport.
British Overseas Territories Citizen (BOTC) passports continue to be processed by the Civil Registry and Passport Office as before. If persons were naturalised or registered as a British Overseas Territories Citizen after 20 May 2002, they will only be eligible for Passport facilities as a British Citizen once they have been registered as such a Citizen by the Home Office in the United Kingdom.