Montserrat, also called the "Emerald Isle of the Caribbean" for its Irish heritage and green hills, Montserrat is slowly regaining its foothold as a vacation destination after the 1997 volcanic eruption of Castle Peak- Soufriere Hill that closed down the southern part of the island. Accessible by boat, helicopter or plane, people wanting to visit Montserrat can spend their holiday scuba diving over 30 sites, wandering the black sand and popular white sand Rendezvous beaches, enjoying the sense of tranquillity and ample elbowroom whether you are by yourself or with that special someone. Sampling the local eateries and taking geological tours of the volcano site.
Banks and Financial Institutions
There are two main commercial banks - the Bank of Montserrat and the Royal Bank of Canada, located in Brades. ATM Cash Machines are located at both Institutions. There is also the St. Patrick's Cooperative Credit Union and the Montserrat Building Society.
Government offices open from 8am to 4pm. Most shops open until 5pm while on Wednesdays and Saturdays they may close around midday, with grocery shops staying open much later and Sunday for a few hours.
Plymouth (abandoned in 1997 due to volcanic activity). Government Offices and major commercial activity are now centred in the areas of Brades, Carr's Bay, Little Bay and Sweeneys in the north-west end of Montserrat. New Developments have begun at Little Bay.
There are several car rental agencies many of which accept credit cards with addresses and phone numbers. Rental cars have red number plates and numbers beginning with R.
Climate & Rainfall
Winter and summer temperatures average between 24 and 32 Celsius (76 to 88 F) with constant breezes from the sea and mountains. The annual rainfall is about 1,250-2,000 mm or 50-80 inches, well distributed throughout the year, with a wetter season from July to November.
Light casual clothing, but bring along some long pants and sturdy shoes if you intend to hike. A sweater is also needed for the winter seasons
High speed internet access and cellular service are available. Two mobile access platforms available - TDMA (DAMPS on 800 Mhz) and GSM 850. Local SIM purchase is US$9 and a temporary phone rental is US$20 monthly. Contact Cable and Wireless at (664) 491 1000 or e-mail for more information. Free wireless service is also available at some public places.
DHL, Fedex and UPS/LIAT QuickPak all provide courier services from Montserrat.
Currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$), which exchanges at approximately 2.7 EC dollars to the US dollar and between 4.6 and 4.9 EC dollars to the pound sterling. Credit cards are not widely accepted, but there is no problem cashing traveller's cheques at the banks.
Montserrat has one of the purest supplies of drinking water in the world, and it is perfectly safe to drink from the tap. Bottled or mineral water is also available in grocery stores.
A local driver's license is necessary if you plan to drive in Montserrat. You can apply for this at your port of entry or at the Police Headquarters at Brades. The cost is EC$50 and you will need to produce your valid driver's license from your country of origin.
Even "soft" drugs like marijuana are illegal, and there are stiff penalties for those caught in possession.
Gift articles up to a value of US$185 (EC$500) including the allowances of wines, spirits, cigarettes, tobacco, cigars and perfume maybe imported free of duty, provided that they do not exceed what is permitted. The allowance in Montserrat is 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, and half a pound of tobacco, 40 ounces of alcoholic beverage and 6 ounces of perfume. Personal items are exempt from import duty.
Voltage of 220 volts. Some buildings are wired for both 220 and 110 volts to suit North American appliances. Otherwise transformers are easily available to reduce the voltage from 220 to 110 volts.
Operator Assistance 411
The eruption of Soufriere Hills volcano in the South of the island has led to the evacuation and relocation of residents beyond the Exclusion Zone. This part of Montserrat is dangerous and is also illegal to enter. The boundary for the Exclusion Zone is from Plymouth and southwards to St. Patrick's through Windy Hill and Harris and down to the east coast at the site of W. H. Bramble Airport.
Montserrat is a British Overseas Territory, with a British Governor and a locally elected government led by the Premier. There is an Executive Council and a Legislative Council with nine elected members including four ministers of government.
No vaccination is required unless transiting or coming from infected areas within six months of arrival. Persons known to have come from any country that has suffered cholera, yellow fever or small pox epidemics must have vaccination certificates.
The official language is English, often flavored with a strong Montserratian accent, and sometimes spoken very fast.
Montserrat is located at 16 45 N, 62 12 W, and 27 miles southwest of Antigua.
For visiting non-nationals a minimum stay of 3 working days in Montserrat is required before application can be made to obtain a special or Governor's Marriage License. Application for the license is made through the Human Resources Management Unit. The following documents are required:
* Marriage Application Form (issued by the Human Resources Management Unit)
* Passports of both parties
* Original absolute Divorce Decree (if divorced)
* Original Death Certificates of deceased spouse (if widowed)
* Non-Marriage Certificate (if applicable).
Human Resources Management Unit (HRMU):
P.O. Box 292
Government Headquarters, Brades
Tel: (664) 491 2365
Mon - Fri 8am - 4pm
Proof of citizenship is required. A valid passport is recommended for all visitors; however, US, Canadian and British citizens may present a driver's license or official ID card as proof of citizenship. Entry visas may be required of visitors from other countries such as Cuba and Eastern Bloc Countries, and can be obtained from British Consulate offices. For Visa Requirements Information and Application visit https://www.immigration.ms/guide An onward or return ticket is required. CARICOM citizens can travel on an official ID card, which must bear a photograph of the individual. There shall be proof of accommodation and one must possess sufficient funds to sustain one’s self for the length of the visit.
The population is currently estimated at 5,028. This is reduced from a former 12,000, as many residents went to live overseas at the height of the volcanic activity.
General Post Office, Government Headquarters, Brades, Montserrat
Counter service from 8:15 am to 4pm, while parcel post is from 9am - 12 noon and again from 1pm to 3pm.
Real Estate in Montserrat
A holiday home can be purchased at relatively low prices so you can experience a little Irish culture without the hassle of the Irish weather! This is partly because the island is home to an active volcano. Real estate in the northern safe zone represents a good investment opportunity, with holiday lets a viable income generator. The government welcomes expatriate investment in the island, so buying or building property is a straight-forward process for a non-national. All real estate transactions are conducted in US dollars and purchasers receive a freehold Land Certificate or title for the property upon closing. A local lawyer represents the purchaser, applying for the alien landholder licence and drawing up the necessary contracts. The total cost of the landholder licence, land transfer, stamp duty, tax and legal fees is approximately 10% of the net property price. This fee is borne by the purchaser.
For more information contact:
Montserrat Tourist Board
Upstairs Public Market, Little BayTel: (664) 491 2230/8730
Fax: (664) 491 7430
The predominant religion is Christianity and there are many denominations and churches.
Montserrat Christian Council
c/o the Methodist church office
Tel: (664) 491-2139 (weekdays between 9am and 3pm).
Montserrat prides itself on being one of the safest islands in the Caribbean, but we still advise that you take sensible precautions.
There are a number of shipping agents available in Montserrat.
They tend to stay open later than other shops, and open also on Sundays for varying times. For full list of supermarkets see the Food & Fun section of this site.
Taxes - Departure & Airport Security
Departure and airport security tax from Montserrat is EC$35 (US$13) for CARICOM nationals and EC$55 (US$21) for other nationals.
Accommodation Tax: 10% for hotels and 7% for Guesthouses, B&Bs and Villas.
Tipping: 10% service charge added at most restaurants, otherwise at your discretion.
Yachting Charges: There is an EC$45 (about US$14) charge for all yacht arrivals at the port levied by the Port Authority. Customs makes no charge for attendance from Monday-Friday between the hours of 8am-4 pm. There is however a charge levied outside of those hours and on Public Holidays to cover staff overtime; this is set presently at 55 EC$ per hour with a minimum of EC$110 per call out.
Same as Eastern Standard Time in summer, and one hour ahead in winter (we don't change but they do). We're 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (5 hours behind Britain during British summer time).