Information & Facts
Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory although the resemblance is
closer to Latin America. English is understood by many on the
island, but Spanish may also be the language in which business is
conducted. Dress codes will vary according to different sectors,
but suits are favoured on very formal occasions. Shaking hands is
common for both men and women. Business hours are generally 9am to
5pm Monday to Friday with an hour taken at lunch.
Puerto Rico enjoys a warm, tropical climate with temperatures of
around 82ºF (27ºC) throughout the year. The temperature in the
south is usually a few degrees higher than the north and
temperatures in the central interior mountains are always cooler
than the rest of the island. The dry season is usually from
November to May but short showers can be expected throughout the
year. The hurricane season is between June and November, but
generally there is plenty of warning.
The international access code for Puerto Rico is +1 787 and +1
939. The outgoing code is 011 followed by the relevant country code
(e.g. 01144 for the United Kingdom). The outgoing code is not
needed for calling the US, Canada and most of the Caribbean. Mobile
phones work throughout the island and local operators use CDMA
networks that are not compatible with GSM phones, as used outside
North America. Internet cafes are available in most towns and
Social etiquette in Puerto Rico is typically Latin American,
with some North American influences (such as a stronger sense of
female independence, and a toning-down of the ideal of
machismo). Western visitors to the country should feel
comfortable, and 'at home', in most social situations. Hygiene,
cleanliness and personal appearance are viewed as matters of
self-respect, so travellers who've been 'on the road' for a little
while might consider neatening up their beards or trimming their
hair, especially if they want to make a good first impression. A
final, important aspect of Puerto Rican social life, is the concept
relajo. Generally shy of direct confrontation and open
relajorefers to the gentle, joking manner in which Puerto
Ricans will bring up uncomfortable issues around each another.
Visitors should be aware of this technique, as they may, on
occasion, be required to 'read between the lines' to discover what
reallytrying to express.
Puerto Rico's customs regulations are the same as those for the
United States. Visitors over 21 may bring in the following items
without paying duty: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 2kg of tobacco;
1 litre of alcohol; and gifts valued up to US$100. There is a long
list of restricted and prohibited items which may not be imported
or imported only under license, ranging from fireworks and matches
to pre-Columbian sculpture and Cuban cigars. If in doubt consult
your nearest US Embassy for advice. Any merchandise from embargoed
countries (Afghanistan, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Serbia and
Montenegro and the Sudan) may not be brought onto US soil.
Electrical current is 120 volts, 60Hz. Two-pin flat
attachment plugs are in use.
There are no vaccination certificates required for travel to
Puerto Rico, but travellers are advised to be up to date with
routine vaccinations. Cases of dengue fever occur annually and
mosquito protection measures are essential. Schistosomiasis is
endemic and swimming in lakes, rivers and streams should be
avoided. It is best to drink bottled water to avoid stomach upsets.
Thoroughly wash or peel produce you buy in markets before eating
it. Medical services are good but can be expensive; medical
insurance is advised.
Spanish and English are the official languages of Puerto
The United States Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency, which is
divided into 100 cents. It is often referred to as the 'peso' in
Puerto Rico. ATMs and bureaux de change are freely available and
all major credit cards and travellers cheques are generally
accepted. Banking hours are 9am to 3.30pm.
All passport holders must have an onward or return ticket and
documents necessary for further travel. Entry requirements for
Puerto Rico are the same as for the United States of America. When
arriving from mainland USA there is no immigration control. It is
highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity
remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel
destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to
those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Visits to Puerto Rico are usually trouble-free but travellers
should take sensible precautions to avoid petty theft.
Local time is GMT -4.
Some restaurants and hotels automatically add a 10 to 17%
service charge to the bill, if not a 15% tip is expected. Taxi
drivers and bar staff also expect tips.