Welcome to Bermuda!

Click on graphic above to navigate the 165+ web files on this website, a regularly updated Gazetteer, an in-depth description of our island's internally self-governing British Overseas Territory 900 miles north of the Caribbean, 600 miles east of North Carolina, USA. With accommodation options, airlines, airport, actors, actresses, aviation, banks, beaches, Bermuda Dollar, Bermuda Government, Bermuda-incorporated businesses and companies including insurers and reinsurers, Bermudians, books and publications, bridges and causeway, charities, churches, citizenship by Status, City of Hamilton, commerce, communities, credit cards, cruise ships, cuisine, currency, disability accessibility, Devonshire Parish, districts, Dockyard, economy, education, employers, employment, environment, executorships, fauna, ferries, flora, former military bases, forts, gardens, geography, getting around, golf, guest houses, highways, history, historic properties, Hamilton, House of Assembly, housing, hotels, immigration, import duties, internet access, islands, laws, legal system and legislators, main roads, marriages, media, members of parliament, money, motor vehicles, municipalities, music and musicians, newcomers, newspaper, media, organizations, parks, parishes, Paget, Pembroke, performing artists, residents, pensions, political parties, postage stamps, public holidays, public transportation, railway trail, real estate, registries of aircraft and ships, religions, Royal Naval Dockyard, Sandys, senior citizens, Smith's, Somerset Village, Southampton, St. David's Island, St George's, Spanish Point, Spittal Pond, sports, taxes, telecommunications, time zone, traditions, tourism, Town of St. George, Tucker's Town, utilities, water sports, Warwick, weather, wildlife, work permits.

Bermuda flag flying

Bermuda Introduction: welcome to our Islands!

Insider's Guide, with many essential facts before you arrive

By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us).

Bermuda has reopened its airport to visitors who pass appropriate pre-arrival, post-arrival and thereafter periodic pandemic-free tests. Local cruise ports will not reopen until September or October. Social distancing and face masks are mandatory. Travelers must complete the travel authorization process online within 48 hours of departure. A BD$75 fee per traveler is required. Travelers must also take a certified RT-PCR Covid-19 test no more than five days before departure and obtain a negative result. These measures apply to all adults and children aged 10 years and up. Another test is required on arrival at the airport. Travelers who do not take and pass the test before departure must take one on arrival, will be required to self-isolate for three days at their place of accommodation and take and pass another test on the third day. 

Bermuda Flag

Left: Bermuda Flag with Coat of of Arms. Right: Coat of Arms. 

Bermuda outlineBermuda is an island country with its own distinct national identity, but not a sovereign state. It is the smallest in size but economically the most advanced, prosperous and populated per square mile as well as the oldest of all the British Overseas Territories. (The others are see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_overseas_territories).  A sovereign state is one neither dependent on nor subjected in any way to any other power or state or country. However, as a British Overseas Territory 3,076 miles from London it has a great deal of autonomy. It passes all its own internal laws, many but not all modeled on British-UK laws since discovery and colonization in 1612. No UK laws apply in Bermuda. However, the UK's Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is the British Government department responsible for Bermuda's foreign affairs, through its headquarters in London and its Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates. It is represented by the Deputy Governor's Office at Government House, 11 Langton Hill, Pembroke HM 13, Bermuda. Telephone: (441) 292-2587, Fax: (441) 295-3823)

The Government of Bermuda alone, not Britain, decides on all non-Bermudians who can enter, reside and if eligible and law-abiding, can get local citizenship, referred to as Bermuda Status, after 10 continuous years of marriage to and living with a Bermudian. People from Britain - Britons -  are just as much foreigners as are Americans, Canadians, Europeans, Asians and other citizens. This means that even people born and bred in the United Kingdom of  Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Bermuda's mother-country based on the nationality of its first colonists, are not free to come and go as they wish, if and when they come here  do not have citizenship, generally cannot vote, need work permits like any other nationality if they are qualified to come to work and are never guaranteed continued employment even with work permits if Bermudians becomes qualified and are deemed able to take over their jobs. The Bermuda Government alone has the right to control the admission and expulsion of people from both Britain and anywhere else in the world. However, under British-UK law, so long as Bermuda remains a British Overseas Territory, Bermudians can, on application, obtain automatic British-UK citizenship and passports and can come and go as they please between Bermuda and the United Kingdom.

Flag description and protocol. Red, with the Red Ensign flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant but with the addition of the Bermuda coat of arms. The Coat of Arms of Bermuda show a red lion holding a shield that has a depiction of a sinking ship upon it. The red lion is a symbol for the United Kingdom and alludes to Bermuda's relationship with that nation. The sinking ship is a depiction of the sinking of the Sea Venture off the coast of Bermuda in 1609 when under the command of Admiral Sir George Somers. He was en route to Virginia with a Supply Fleet of colonists and provisions but was shipwrecked on a Bermuda reef. This unintended disaster, with only a few lives lost and with the colonists having thrived in the sub-tropical climate of Bermuda, led to the official launch of Bermuda as a British colony. That ship was the first British ship to visit Bermuda. The Coat of Arms was awarded by Royal Warrant at the Court of St. James, London, on October 4, 1910. Commissioned by the Bermuda Government from London's College of Arms for Bermuda's tercentenary in 1909. It is a white and blue shield with a red lion holding a scrolled shield showing the sinking of Admiral Somer's flagship Sea Venture off Bermuda in 1609. Armorial Ensigns are Argent on a Mount Vert a lion sejant affrontee Gules supporting between the forepaws an Antique Shield Azure, thereon a representation of the wreck of the Ship 'The Sea Venture' (AD1609) all proper, together with the motto Quo Fata Ferunt.  This is from Virgil's Aeneid - one of the most famous items of all Latin poetry - and its translation from the Latin is Whither the Fates do Lead Us.

Bermuda has no natural resources - no oil or gas, other exports or heavy industry. Practically everything is imported, mostly directly or indirectly though the USA. 

Bermuda has never been geographically or economically part of the Caribbean islands. They are more than 900 miles to the south. There are no direct airline services between Bermuda and any Caribbean islands, only via the USA or Canada. 

Bermuda from the air

For Bermuda's latitude and longitude see http://www.findlatitudeandlongitude.com/?loc=bermuda+island

Bermuda topographical map

Bermuda, from the west (left) looking east

Bermuda aerial

Aircraft approaching Bermuda from the east

line drawing

Area Code

Main Map of Bermuda Islands

All our files on Bermuda

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Bermuda Islands

Bermuda on world mapThe isolated island chain of Bermuda - see a list of its islands - is located in the western North Atlantic, 600 miles 965 km) east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA. With a total land area of just 21 square miles ( 55 square km), one of the smallest places in the world in total land area compared to its nearest neighbor the USA's 9.629 million square kilometers, residents and visitors can travel from one end to the other in just over 60 minutes and from north to south in 10 to 15 minutes. Bermuda  comprises 123 limestone islands that sit on the largest of three volcanic seamounts formed about 110 million years ago. Influenced by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, Bermuda's shallow-water platform covers an area of about 1000 km  and supports the northernmost coral reef system in the world. Bermuda’s low-rolling hills are largely suburban in character, supporting a resident human population of over 65,000 concentrated on the seven largest islands now all joined to Bermuda's main island by bridges. Economic growth, based on tourism and international business, attracts 500,000 visitors each year. 

Bermuda is named after the man who first discovered it, Spanish navigator Juan de Bermudez.  Before he first discovered Bermuda via shipwreck on local reefs in 1503, Bermuda was uninhabited. Later Spanish, Portuguese, French and British mariners also came ashore, mostly involuntarily because of sharp uncharted reefs that damaged or sunk their ships. As soon as they built small vessels from local cedar, or made repairs, they left. Portugal and Spain claimed Bermuda but did not take possession or settle. Bermuda had no permanent residents until 1609 when the flagship "Sea Venture" of the British Third Supply Fleet was caught in a tempest with 150 British officials, colonists and crew, including Admiral Sir George Somers, Sir Thomas Gates as Virginia's first Governor-Designate, and John Rolfe. See Bermuda's Links with the USA.

Bermuda's other name - the Somers Isles - commemorate Bermuda's British founder father, discoverer in 1609 and colonizer, Admiral Sir George Somers, when it was unpopulated. In 1612 the Bermuda islands or Bermudas, then the Somers Islands, were in the third charter of the Virginia Company. As such, Bermuda was once referred to as Virgineola, in its 16th century brief period as a dependency of Virginia. More English colonists arrived specifically for Bermuda. The charter was revoked in 1684 when Bermuda became a British crown colony.

Bermuda landscape

Bermuda landscape

The Bermuda Rise juts up from the deep Atlantic Ocean floor in the form of three steep-sided mountains, the largest of which supports the Bermuda Islands we know today, on the southern margin of a shallow water platform, with Challenger and Argus (or Plantagenet) Banks to the southwest. Others say the Bermuda Rise is five mountains including the more distant Bowditch and Muir Seamounts (the furthest of which is about 150 miles to the northeast). The Bermuda Mountain is longer - 32 miles - than the land area width and much wider - 16 miles wide - than the maximum land width of 1.5 miles. At sea, the Argus and Challenger Banks are round and about 6 miles across. Harrington Sound is an inland lake with access to the sea under Flatt's Bridge and many subterranean caves. It marks the lowest point on the Bermuda sea platform. It is about 23 meters in depth at its deepest point (off Devil's Hole). Its geological formation is not yet fully explained. It is not the crater of an extinct volcano as often assumed. To the right of Harrington Sound is Castle Harbour, with the airport nearby. Below the level of limestone and 450 feet below sea level is volcanic rock; and below that, only black lava and other igneous volcanic rock. Only in one place in Bermuda - 60 feet below sea level at the southern end of Bermuda's international airport - is volcanic rock found so near to sea level.

About 250 of over 8,000 plant and animal species known from Bermuda are unique. Many of these are found in the extensive network of submerged caves (see more below) and, like the fabled cahow and Bermuda skink, are critically endangered. Others, such as the Bermuda cedar, nearly wiped out in the 1940s by an introduced scale insect, are more common, due to island-wide planting schemes. Bermuda is well known for its Cahow (Bermuda Petrel), a species thought to be extinct for 300 years until its rediscovery in 1951, and its Longtail frigate-bird, Bermuda has a magnificent limestone cave system – the 150 known caves, the leading ones of which are open to the public for an admittance fee - makes it one of the highest concentrations of caves in the world. Remaining caves hold a high proportion of Bermuda’s endemic species. The flattened top of an extinct volcano, the Bermuda Platform supports approximately 1,000 square kilometres of fringe reefs and shallow water habitat. A ring of protective reefs follows closely to the south shore of the Island and extends offshore approximately 15 km to the north, enclosing a shallow sandy lagoon. The Gulf Stream which passes to the West and North of the Island moderates Bermuda’s weather and brings warm tropical waters to the area thereby allowing Bermuda to support the northernmost coral reef system in the world. 

Bermuda is (an observer) member of CARICOM and member of the ICFTU and IOC.

Maritime claims and fishing zone. Bermuda has internationally recognized maritime claims to an exclusive fishing zone of 200 nautical miles and a territorial sea of 12 nautical miles. In 1996, the claims were embodied an exclusive economic zone.

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Bermuda Government

Bermuda Government

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Accommodation

Many options, beginning with large hotels then smaller facilities.

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Advance information on travel documents required

Bermuda requires valid passports from:

Plus:

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Airlines serving Bermuda

Flights to and from Bermuda from these airports

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Airport

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Animals, birds, sea creatures and fish

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Architecture and water supply

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Arrival, hotel occupancy and departure taxes

A summary

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Automobile, moped and scooter restrictions

Bermuda Transportation for Visitors Bermuda Transportation for Residents

2016. November 26. Bermuda's Parliamentarians approved legislation that allowed tiny electric rental minicars introduced in Bermuda for the first time. The Motor Car Amendment (No 2) passed in the House of Assembly, over the objections of some Members of Parliament and taxi drivers and owners. It applies only to small covered electric-only vehicles capable of carrying a maximum of two passengers. Larger rental vehicles are still banned although common in the rest of the world. Visitors to Bermuda must bring a valid driving licence from their home state or country, stay at a place that has appropriate electric charging facilities, and are prepared to pay over $150 a day to rent and insure the vehicle.

Before then, the Bermuda Government did not permit visitors to rent any kind of automobiles or drive those owned by residents. Visitors were (and still are) restricted to a low powered rented moped or scooter, or taxi or public transport. There are no chauffeured limousines. Bermuda properties are not allowed to have limousines to collect or deliver guests to the Bermuda International Airport. Public buses are not equipped to accept passengers with luggage. Only one automobile is allowed for each Bermuda family or household.

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Average life expectancy (longevity)

Bermuda's is 77 compares to 77.1 in the US; 78.1 in the UK; 76.9 in Portugal; 79.6 in Canada; 79.2 in France; 79.5 in Spain; and 72.3 in Hungary.

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Banking in Bermuda

Most American, Canadian & other visitors will find that if they need cash in Bermuda, local ATMs from either of the two largest local banks will service them. But thje dollar notes they dispense will be non-exportable Bermuda dollars only (which cannot be cashed overseas). It is an odd anomaly in a country where the US$ is otherwise fully accepted as a legally permitted currency for visitors and is officially at par with the Bermuda dollar. It is recommended that departing visitors go to the airport bank before they check in and exchange their Bermuda dollars for US dollars. There may be a small premium.

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Banned imports

Including, but not confined to, non-prescription drugs (narcotics) and weapons.

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Beaches

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Bermuda Accents or dialect

The way Bermudians speak. The Island’s dialect and unique vocabulary keep changing — but even as our speech evolves, it remains Bermudian. The history of Bermuda’s dialect is not well documented (except for the book Bermudian English. Harry Morgan Ayres. 1933). But it is believed to have emerged from a crossroads of African, Caribbean, British, Portuguese, and New England influences  Scholars of the dialect believe the nasal quality of many distinctly Bermudian sounds — such as the affirmative “aungh” noise — may have originated with Portuguese and Angolan imports. However, the United States influence had markedly shifted the accent away from its stronger British intonation in recent years, and globalization will likely bring further variance. It is claimed that even Bermudian dogs understand the special features of local speech, with one owner of a vicious-looking dog eying an apprehensive bystander hungrily, but  with the owner calmly telling both the latter and the dog “Don’ even worry wif it.” There is often a shift between the V and W sounds. There is no consensus on whether the Island’s colloquial form of address to a male resident or visitor is spelled “bie” or “bye" - which means much more than just "boy" or "guy" and no standard way to write the Bermudian dialect. Some Bermudians will drop their accent in a business setting, believing it to be more appropriate. It can be hilarious at times. For example, when units of the British Army of the United Kingdom's Sherwood Foresters were posted to Bermuda from 1935 to 1939, a certain Sergeant-Major of the one of the Bermudian local part-time military units was asked to tell them to "Stand Easy" after a parade at Prospect Garrison, Devonshire. But never having addressed such a large parade of professional soldiers before, he was nervously prefaced his barked command with the very Bermudian question: "Is you happy at your verk?" It made all the soldiers crack up, before order was restored.

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Bermuda National Symbols

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Bermuda Police Service

Bermuda Police car

Bermuda Police badgePolice Headquarters, 10 Headquarters Hill, Devonshire DV 02, Bermuda. P. O. Box HM 530, Hamilton HM CX. (441) 295-0011. Fax (441) 299-4459. Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva. Government House has direct responsibility for the operational side of Policing with the Police Commissioner reporting directly to the Governor, while budgeting and manpower is Government’s responsibility. The service is paid for by Bermuda taxpayers, not the United Kingdom. 

Bermuda Police have British-style uniforms and United Kingdom-style police cars. They wear Bermuda Police Bermuda Shorts for part of the year. In October 2015 117 AXON body cameras were bought for widespread police use. The presence of a camera has provided additional evidence towards solving a crime or has validated an officer’s account of an incident. The cameras are worn on the front of body armor and are designed to capture a wide image of what the officer sees.

Bermuda is the heavily Policed country in the world with about 465 police officers in Bermuda's 21 square miles for its 65,000 residents. There are also several hundred part time, all Bermudian, Bermuda Police Reserves (telephone (441) 299-2442), with a capacity of up to 180 men and women. In the USA, there is an average of 2.5 (two point five) Police Officers for every 1,000 permanent inhabitants. Sutherland, Scotland, has 29 policemen in 2,300 square miles. In Bermuda, the police are supported by 136 civilian staff, making a total of 613 people. Crime is the biggest fear among Bermuda's residents. Much is drugs related, with more than half of Westgate's (Bermuda's main prison) inmates having used drugs prior to incarceration. The rate of recidivism remains stubbornly high at around 80 percent.

More police officers are trained to carry firearms. With guns, gangs, drugs and violence continuing as the force's four key priorities, greater CCTV surveillance and an enhanced partnership with gang-fighting agencies are among the force's plans. This is part of the Strategic Plan for 2012 to 2015.  Producing the three-year plan was one the recommendations made in 2012 by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC). And, in its Annual Policing Plan, Bermuda Police further vowed to employ intelligence and tip-offs against gun, drug and gang crime, and to target perpetrators of serious crimes with DNA profiling. Short-term, police patrols will be used to “deny criminals use of the Island's roads”, while over the next three years, surveillance upgrades could include number plate recognition and the ShotSpotter system to speed up gun crime deterrence. An information and intelligence-based Covert Policing Strategy is also among long-term goals. A Collision Policy is in effect to avoid police attending certain non-injury road accidents. There is a single emergency centre for 911 calls, with a  Records Management System automated and compatible with Public Access to Information (PATI) legislation. 

Bermuda Police with weapon

Facilities and services include a fleet of boats. Police officers provide the primary search and rescue facility in local waters (there are no police helicopters). There is also a Financial Investigation Unit (FIU) of the Bermuda Police Service, for Internet-related crimes and anti-money laundering procedures, following implementation of the Proceeds of Crime (money laundering) Regulations 1998. All members of the Association of Bermuda Compliance Officers in regulated institutions - such as banks - are required by law to appoint a reporting or compliance officer. He or she is responsible for passing reports of suspicious transactions to the FIU.  The Police Support Unit has a wide variety of tasks. The attractions of the service include a starting salary from $45,900 excluding overtime, a retirement pension plan and vacation of 24 working days annually. Some officers undergo special training in Britain. Ranks follow the British tradition. In ascending order of seniority, they are constables, sergeants, inspectors, chief inspectors, superintendents, assistant commissioners, deputy commissioner and Commissioner.  Periodic visits are made by Britain's senior advisor for Dependent Territory Police Forces. He makes periodic recommendations to increase efficiency and effectiveness. There is also a Bermuda Reserve Police, embodied in the event of emergencies, formerly the Bermuda Reserve Constabulary. 

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Bermuda Population

Bermuda's resident population is about 65,000. This averages 3, 097 people per square mile. Broken down by parishes, St George’s (18 percent), Paget (12 percent) and Hamilton (11 percent) were reported to have the highest population growth since 2000. Just two parishes, Smith's and Pembroke, which recorded declines of five and six percent respectively showed negative growth. Pembroke and Warwick maintained their positions as the most populous parishes with 10,602 and 8,606 persons respectively. The City of Hamilton increased its residential population by six percent from 969 persons during the preceding Census, to 1,030. The change reflects condominium developments in the City during the intervening period, according to the Statistics Department. The Town of St. George also saw a population increase of three percent from 1,752 persons to 1,802 in 2010.

Bermuda Census 2010

Bermuda Population Basics

Bermuda size & population 20.75 (Twenty point seven five) square miles in total. 64,268 residents
Resident population density per square mile 3,097 (Three thousand, zero nine seven). Third highest in the world
Government Code of Conduct for legislators None. There is a voluntary code, with no legislative teeth. It is ignored by some. No equivalent of the UK's Ethical Standards in Public Life Act.
Number in Cabinet 13. Same number as USA, equivalent in Bermuda to 0.63 (Point six three) per square mile. They have "The Honorable" before their name. 
Number of elected legislators in House of Assembly and their salaries 36. Equivalent to 1.93 (One point nine three) per square mile. They have "MP" for Member of Parliament after their name. If they are also Cabinet Ministers, they earn well in excess of $100,000 a year, plus unlimited expenses. 
Number of appointed politicians in Senate 11. Also salaried. Equivalent to 0.53 (Point five three) per square mile. They have "Senator" before their name. If they are also Cabinet Ministers, they earn this plus what is shown above under "Number of elected legislators." 
Number of registered voters per Member of Parliament 1,297. On date of last General Election. Contrast this with no fewer than 72,810 and no more than 80,433 per member of parliament in the UK in 2018 and approximately the same in the USA per congressperson and Canada.
Number of Government Boards About 117. All require the approval of the Premier who controls all Public Information. See Bermuda Government Boards separate website shown at the end of this file.
Number of Police About 465, over 20 per square mile. Plus, there are Reserve officers. Bermuda has more police per square mile and per population than anywhere else in the world
Number in Bermuda Regiment 600 members, mostly Bermudian men, mostly part time. Some non-Bermudian men and women from British Commonwealth countries and female Bermudians are serving but on a volunteer basis as conscription regulations do not require enrolment by Bermudian females and non-Bermudian males. Only male Bermudians under a certain age resident in Bermuda are liable to be conscripted, on a selective basis. 
Registered voters who can participate in a General Election About 46,750. Total number of registered voters in the last General Election, about 60% of the entire resident population. Varies from year to year.
The Bermuda Society  

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Bermuda Postal Service and Post Offices

Airmail & surface mail & packages

Airmail stampAir mail, in normal conditions, from North America or Europe can take more than a week to arrive and is sometimes delayed for longer. Most of the incoming mail comes from the USA. Residents without their own Post Office mailboxes should note that incoming mail will not always be delivered every weekday, never on Saturdays, Sundays or Public Holidays; and not if the postal carrier is sick or away.

All mail leaving Bermuda for the USA, Caribbean and South America is x-rayed in Bermuda. Always use first class air mail or courier service or secure electronic mail. There are several courier services operating to and from Bermuda. Only car ships - no freight ships or scheduled aircraft - go between the Caribbean and Bermuda. Surface mail can take many months, especially when misdirected to places with no passenger shipping or airline connections to Bermuda.  Mail problems usually occur more frequently from November to March when, in more normal circumstances, air services from the USA to Bermuda are fewer in number and with smaller aircraft.  Because of this, regular air mail from the USA for Bermuda has been sent to London first, then redirected to Bermuda on British Airways on the three days a week winter service. To help avoid such problems, all Christmas parcels from Bermuda should be sent by an early or mid October deadline and for Bermuda residents and visitors, letters should be sent no later - and ideally much earlier than - December 8. If with questions, call the Post Office at 297-7893.

Packages sent to recipients from Bermuda by courier are treated in a different way to regular airmail. Recipients must always give their full physical postal addresses, postal codes and telephone numbers. Costs will include:

The overall effect is that a US$39 pair of trousers from a good US retail store like Land's End could end up costing the recipient over US$90.

There is a Post Office in every Parish (county). They are owned by the Bermuda Government, sell postage stamps, commemorative First Day Covers, pre-stamped air letter forms without enclosures, have and rent Post Office boxes for those who prefer to receive their mail this way instead of being delivered. They are open 5 days a week, from 8 am to 11:45 am then from about 1:30 pm to about 4:45 pm. Most are closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays. When this happens, unlike in Europe, North America and United Kingdom where there are machines selling postage stamps, there are no other ways in Bermuda to buy postage stamps. Post offices do not sell postcards. There is one mail delivery a day, 5 days a week (Mondays-Fridays except Public Holidays) to homes without Post Office boxes, less when a postal worker is sick or if there is a dangerous dog on the premises. Tourists and business visitors expecting any mail during their Bermuda visit should allow at least a week for receipt and should ask at where they stay for mail as there are no mail deliveries directly to their cottages or rooms or apartments or rented houses.

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Bermuda References

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Bermuda Regiment

Bermuda's own military unit, in emergency a Territorial Unit of the British Army. Also has a Coastguard division.

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Bermuda shopping - what to bring

Primarily because of a very high Bermuda Government import duty, prices of all liquor (including wine and beer) bought in Bermuda are high - sometimes twice or more than in the USA. As visitors, you may import one liter per person. Soft carbonated drinks are also expensive by North American standards, US $3.24 for a 2 liter bottle of the Bermuda-made product, or $1.99 for a same size imported house brand soda.

Shops/stores selling in the Bermuda marketplace are required by local laws to be at least 60% Bermudian directed, owned and managed. Because of this there are no large discount stores like in the USA

To avoid paying much more in Bermuda, before you arrive, stock up on:

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Bermuda Society & Secretariat

London-based. Five Trees, Wood Lane, Stanmore, HA7 4JZ, England. Phone 020 8954 0652. Formed in London in 1987 to look after Bermuda's interests on a number of fronts, particularly in the areas of finance and commerce. Its membership includes Bermudians living in London and rest of UK, plus former Governors of Bermuda. It promotes Bermuda's image; fosters closer links between Bermuda, the UK and Europe. 

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Bermuda Triangle

Bermuda is not the only area but one of three areas of the North Western Atlantic Ocean involved. The others are Florida and Puerto Rico. See the following books:

Bermuda Triangle

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Betting

Permitted but taxed. Also see under Gambling.

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Books

See our extensive list. Many have been written about Bermuda, brief mentions are included. Because Bermuda has changed so much over the years, all older guide books are no longer accurate.

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Bridges

They connect the major islands. Most visitors assume Bermuda is only one island, not 148. Many are connected by bridges.

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Business hours

Most offices normally open from 9 am to 5 pm five days a week. Many shops and restaurants (except those in hotels) are also open on Saturday but not on Sunday. See the Bermuda Cuisine list of restaurants. At this time, all retailers including restaurants who wish to open on Sundays must apply to the Minister of Finance for a special permit and pay for it. Only a few are open on Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm. Gas stations are usually open on Sundays until 5 pm. A handful of hotel branch store and other pharmacies and some non hotel restaurants are also open on Sundays for dinner. On a public holiday, all local restaurants and shops close and only hotel restaurants are open.

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Camp sites

Available but ONLY to Bermudians and other residents - not tourists - for very short periods usually around late string and summer public holidays, in park lands or near public beaches. There is a limited season and campers must bring their own tents, sleeping bags, clothing and more. In the year 2000 there was a $50 deposit and $5 per night charge. They are administered by the Bermuda Government. 

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Census

Under the Bermuda 2002 Statistics Act, there is a census every 5 years, with the next one due in 2020. 

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Churches and places of worship

Most of the 65 to 70 percent of the black population of Bermuda prefer the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Most of the white Europeans or North Americans (about 30 percent of the community) are Anglican or Episcopalian. Roman Catholics are the third in numbers attending. Weekend times of church services are in the Saturday print editions of the daily and twice a week newspapers.

Churches include:

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Citizenship

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City and town

There is one city, Hamilton (not to be confused with Hamilton Parish some 8 miles away). There is one Town, St. George's (the only town in St. George's Parish. Both the City and town have elected Mayors and Councilors. The town was Bermuda's original settlement in 1609 and capital from 1612 until superseded by the city in 1815.

Bermuda map 02

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Climate & Weather

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Coastal erosion

Bermuda is widely susceptible to this at times but has not yet suffered any permanent damage. Hurricanes and winter storm surges have debilitating effects on shorelines. 

Community associations, clubs, groups

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Consulates

There are no embassies as Bermuda is a British Overseas Overseas Territory, not a politically independent country.

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Cost of Living

Bermuda is the most expensive place in the world to live, work and retire in and to visit as a tourist. Bermuda's retail prices are high mostly because of the Bermuda Government duty rates on imports, the Government's single biggest source of revenue - and the Government law requiring all local companies except hotels to be at least 60 percent Bermudian owned. So non-Bermudian companies with substantial bulk purchasing power cannot enter the local market as investors and part owners to give much needed economies of scale in local costs of goods to businesses, residents and visitors in the same unrestricted way they can do so elsewhere. Despite these drawbacks, Bermuda's overall economy remains good, even if it is artificially so. Except that export earnings from international company businesses based in Bermuda now greatly exceed tourism earnings from people who visit Bermuda on vacation.

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Credit cards

American Express or Master Card or Visa are usable in most gift shops, hotels and restaurants in Bermuda. But be sure to check ahead.

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Crime

Bermuda has a medium-high crime rate - as duly noted by both Britain and the United States of America in their travel advisories. But In the 1970s, a Governor, his aide and the Chief of Police were assassinated. in 1996, there was a notorious rape, torture, sodomy and murder of a 17 year old innocent Canadian tourist. (See under "Rebecca Middleton" in Bermuda Laws). Most crimes locally are by locals seeking illegal narcotics or the money to pay for them. They trespass by night or day at premises used by visitors and locals. Some may have illegal guns. These thieves go after valuables like cash and credit cards not locked in safes.  The crime rate is such that all visitors should not, under any circumstances, leave your room or suite or cottage sliding glass doors or apartment windows or doors unlocked by day or night. If you merely lock a nylon screen from the inside by night or by day if you are out, you risk being robbed by thugs who will cut the screen and enter. Always use a secure safe in your room - and inform the local police promptly if you are robbed or assaulted. Also, be wary of venturing out at night and do not carry a handbag on you or when you are on a moped or scooter, in a place where it can be easily snatched by a thief.

A Tourist Crime Unit has been established, using 2 members of the 469-strong Bermuda Police. 

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Cruise ship visits

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Cuisine

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Currency

See Money.

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Customs Exemptions for incoming residents and visitors

For Bermuda Customs (Import Duty) purposes, residents - not visitors - can claim a $200 per person duty free allowance (it was $400 per person a few years ago) each time they travel for over 3 days, or can lump all such allowances together if returning to Bermuda as a family. But residents should retain in their possession and produce if necessary the receipts for clothes, personal effects and goods they purchase abroad, in case their value declared by the resident is challenged by a Bermuda Customs officer. Duty is payable at 30% of the value of purchase cost abroad of imported goods less the $100 per person duty free travel allowance. Some goods are duty free, such as books and computer business software (not games). The mere $200 per person duty free allowance for residents allowed by the Bermuda Government does not compare well with the present £145 per person duty free allowance applicable in the United Kingdom for purchases outside the European Union (EU); the much more generous rate for travelers within the EU; $300 for Canadians returning to Canada from abroad; and $800 in the USA for US residents visiting Bermuda

Also - unlike US citizens or registered aliens returning home to the USA after a vacation or business trip who qualify routinely for a further US Customs exemption of up to $100 per day of bone fide goods shipped from abroad, for their own personal use - Bermudians or residents do not get the same consideration from the Bermuda Government. Visitors are not entitled to the US$200 duty-free allowance of returning residents. Instead, they may bring in gifts up to the total value of $25 (compared to $100 or so in most other countries) after which they pay duty at prevailing rates.

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Daylight Savings Time

Bermuda follows the USA, on the same day, a week later than in the UK and Europe. 

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Departure tax for all visitors and residents

$75 per person in 2019. Bermuda has by far and away the highest Departure Tax in the world per square mile, - of US$1.66 per square mile.

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Disabled or special needs residents and visitors

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Divorces

About the same number per capita as in USA.

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Drug Stores

See under Pharmacies

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Economy

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Fauna

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Flora

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Gambling and Gaming

Since 2015 when the-then Bermuda Government announced the first three members of the Casino Gaming Commission following legislation enacted in late 2014, there has been much discussion and millions of dollars spent, but no concrete action.  The commission was tasked with regulating the casino gaming industry on the Island, which has not yet been introduced when it is finally introduced and is the only entity which will determine who receives a casino licence. Present legislation allows only three casino licenses to be in effect at any given time. The transfer of a casino licence without a fresh application to the commission will be prohibited, and licence-holders will be required to report any material changes in their circumstances. The commission will also have the power to approve the layout of a casino, gaming equipment and hand out licenses for key casino employees. 

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Gasoline and oil costs

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Getting Around

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Golf

Golf is a superb but expensive pastime in Bermuda, with some magnificent ocean-view courses, with the second-highest ratio of number of golf courses per total acreage in the world (after Northern Scotland).

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Gratuities (tips)

They are expected from visitors at the rate of 17 percent of a restaurant bill instead of tipping, 10 percent or more of where you stay in most cases, a discretionary amount when using a gas (petrol) station, usually US $2 for two bags if you use a packer in a grocery store, and whenever you use a taxi, at about 15 percent of your fare.

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Gross National Income

As calculated by the World Bank, Washington DC. One of the highest in the world, higher than in the USA, see http://data.worldbank.org/country/bermuda

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Guns - all types - are forbidden

See under Illegal in Bermuda.

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Healthcare and hospitals

Before they arrive, all visitors - including those from the UK - are advised to get medical and travel insurance for the duration of their Bermuda stay. British National Health Service (NHS) provisions don't apply. Bermuda is not one of the countries or islands that has a reciprocal NHS plan. There is no reciprocal health insurance arrangement with Britain or USA or Canada or Europe or any other country. The European Health Insurance Card is not recognized. For other locals, healthcare costs are also more expensive than in the USA, with medical services not as extensive. 

Bermuda has one Accident and Emergency hospital - see www.bermuda-online.org/kemh.htm - which charges prices similar to those in the USA. There are also a number of locally-registered private medical doctors (general practitioners, or GPs) several clinics and pharmacies. If you as a visitor are vulnerable to any health problem, ask at where you say if they can contact an on-call doctor if needed and bring a plentiful supply of your own medically-prescribed non-narcotic prescriptions. Bermuda's medical facilities are good for a 21-square mile island but not equipped for very serious conditions. If you require extensive and/or intensive treatment you will likely be air-lifted elsewhere, at your expense. It is strongly recommended that before you arrive in Bermuda by air or cruise ship you take out appropriate travel and healthcare insurance. 

Healthcare in Bermuda is very expensive, roughly the same cost as in the USA. There is no government funded UK-like or Canada-like National Health Service. All visitors from those and all other countries should note that if while in Bermuda they need any hospital or medical attention or services they must be paid for in cash or by credit card (no personal checks or cheques) in accordance with the scale of charges in effect from King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and local medical practitioners. If you have health insurance in your own country but it does not cover you for medical expenses abroad, consider supplemental insurance. Find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures.

King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH) Emergency Department physicians see and treat patients based on the seriousness of their conditions, not in order of arrival. Emergency Department staff will tell patients their level and expected wait time when they arrive. Below are the approximate wait times for each level of severity:

Persons wanting to contact the KEMH Emergency Department, call 239-2009.

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Hotel occupancy and gratuity taxes

Hotels, cottage colonies, guest houses, etc. are required to add the Bermuda Government's Hotel Occupancy Tax to your room rate. Most will also ask you for a further 10% or more of your total bill, as gratuities for their staff. There is also a Resort Levy tax for people staying at resort hotels.

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Illegal in Bermuda

Residents and visitors are NOT allowed to import or own unlicensed (under Bermuda laws) guns or weapons of any kind, not even BB or pellet guns or slingshots. Penalties for doing so are severe. Also banned are catapults (slingshots); BB guns; cutlasses; crossbows; mace in canisters; pornographic material; throwing knives; flick knives; martial arts weaponry; nightsticks; all non-prescription drugs and narcotics (even those legal in some other countries are illegal in Bermuda), nunchakus; spiked wristbands; swords; spear guns, all pistols, all rifles, all ammunition for them, signal guns, all other weapons and all live marine animals (including lobsters) by any private individuals.

Residents, visitors, and businesspeople who ignore the above will have their weapons seized permanently by the Bermuda Police Service and those convicted will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. They will get a minimum ten year jail sentence for illegally importing the weapons into Bermuda and will be publicized and reported to Federal or provincial or state and other international authorities. It is not an acceptable excuse to say you were not asked by airport staff if you packed your bags yourself, because you were. Nor is it acceptable to say that you forgot an illegal item was in your luggage, or was put there by mistake. 

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Imports

Almost everything is imported including rum distillate which is not made in Bermuda (there is no sugar cane and no rum distillery). Some citrus and vegetables are gown locally. Carrots must be local, 98 per cent of all of Bermuda’s goods are imported mostly from the USA, by container ships. 

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Internet Access

Bermuda does not follow the USA, Canadian, UK and European methodology of free Internet access at libraries, Tourist Board offices and Visitor Service Centers. However, some hotels and some other places to stay now routinely offer either WIFI or wired access to their paying guests. Bermuda's three cruise ship ports are not among those that offer free WIFI. 

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Laws

Bermuda has its own legal system, UK laws are not in force despite Bermuda being a British Overseas Territory. However, Bermuda has largely followed UK laws. Britons and other foreigners are not Bermudians unless granted Bermuda Status by marriage to a Bermudian spouse 10 years after that marriage. 

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Language

English is the only official language but a few people, mostly expatriates, may speak others. Some locals speak Portuguese, going back to when Bermuda imported many Portuguese men from Madeira, later the Azores, for agricultural purposes from the 1840s. Later, they were allowed to bring their families. Now many are prominent Bermudians.

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Life Expectancy

81, according to latest World Bank figures.

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Literacy

98% of all males and 99% of all females age 15 and over can read and write.

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Local and overseas newspapers and magazines

The Royal Gazette (on the Internet daily, Monday to Saturday except for public holidays in print editions) national and international newspaper - the only daily - is better than many newspapers up to 10 times the population and size of Bermuda. Overseas newspapers, sometimes a day old, are weekday and Sunday editions from Boston, London, New York, Washington DC and elsewhere. There are also leading British and North American business magazines. But the latter two categories are very expensive locally. The Sunday edition of the Boston Globe is over US $5.00. Some English Saturday or Sunday newspapers now cost $10-$12 in Bermuda.

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Marriages

Bermuda is a popular place for marriages and many couples of the opposite sex get married on Bermuda-registered cruise ships. 

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Money

Bermuda Dollars and US Dollars

Bermuda $50 note

Because the Bermuda Dollar - see above - is based not on the UK Pound Sterling but on a par with the US Dollar and is strictly local, not an exportable currency or money, the US dollar is the recommended currency for all visitors. Unlike all other foreign currencies, the US$ accepted everywhere in Bermuda. But US Money Orders issued by the US Post Office cannot be cashed in non-American Bermuda. Unless for sentimental reasons or as souvenirs of their visit they particularly with to keep (but not sell ) any Bermudian notes and coins they may receive in change,  American, Canadian and other visitors should always ask for American dollars and coins in change.

Bermuda's banks offer the Euro to all visitors and business executives or representatives heading for  Europe. However,  incoming visitors from Europe should note that the Euro is not accepted in Bermuda. They should use US dollars.

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Newcomers

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Population

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Private Vessel/Yacht arrival taxes 

$35 per person in 2019 for each arriving person on any yacht. Higher from April 2020.

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Public Holidays

Many, compared to the USA. Note both their celebrations and how services are restricted on the days concerned.

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Religions

See "Churches."

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Restaurants

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Roads

Bermuda has the busiest and noisiest roads, with more road traffic and illegally noisy vehicles by far per square mile, than any other place in the world. In Bermuda's 21 square miles in total land area, the Bermuda roads - the biggest being one lane each way usually - total about 155 miles (250 km) in statute miles total length of all of them combined. Only the main roads - North Shore Road, South Road and Middle Road, for their positions on the North Shore, South Shore and Middle respectively - are wide enough for traffic to go on either side. Many residential roads are too narrow for fire trucks and ambulances to enter. All roads have names, British style. All are listed alphabetically, with local postal codes. Most road signs and direction markers are in both miles and European-style kilometers. 

The surface of all Bermuda roads is asphalt with granite aggregate chips. They provide a durable, reasonably non-skid surface. The asphalt is flexible enough to absorb the weight of heavy vehicles without cracking. It is impervious and sheds water. But their narrow width is another matter. They are often congested, very narrow, hilly, noisy, sharp-cornered and twisting compared to most other places. In many parts of Bermuda, there are either no sidewalks or pavements or on one side of the road only. They are not suitable for people in wheelchairs or who have difficulty walking or who are on roller blades or scooters. Health and safety-conscious visitors are advised not to run or jog on them because of the illegally high speed of many local motorists but instead to go to one of the national parks. 

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Smoking and smokers

Smoking in public places is banned in Bermuda. Local legislation makes it an offence to light up in bars, restaurants hospitals, hotels, offices and schools across the Island. It also sees cigarette vending machines banned along with tobacco advertising at sporting events and it is illegal to sell cigarettes to under 18s. There is a $1,000 fine for those who break the law. Flavored tobacco products are no longer sold locally, electronic cigarettes are available in pharmacies and there are restrictions on where people can smoke.  Descriptions such as “mild”, “light” and “ultralight” are banned. Tobacco advertising at point of sale is banned. Nicotine is regarded as a drug, so all forms of it are heavily restricted and expensive. Smoking is no longer permitted in most public and private places. Cartons of 200 cigarettes now cost well over BD/US$ 100. 

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Supermarkets 

Budget in advance for Bermuda prices. Most visitors have no prior idea food shopping is so expensive. What a couple can buy in the USA for a week will be less expensive than buying food in Bermuda for two days. Only locally owned stores are allowed. So they do not have bulk purchasing power or other economies of scale. Also, they have very high import duty rates imposed by the Bermuda Government which average 30 per cent at wholesale costs. Only a few stores can offer prices comparable to those in the USA. The good news is that the larger, full service premises with an extensive range of meats, seafood, vegetables and products are now open from 8 am to 10 pm daily except Sundays and from 1 pm to 5 pm on Sundays and are not as expensive as convenience stores.

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Taxes - direct and indirect

Bermuda has both direct taxes - in Employment Taxes paid by both employers and employees - and many indirect taxes including import duties averaging 32 percent at wholesale value that all locals and visitors pay a premium in costs of all imported goods and services. The biggest cost is to pay for the 51 paid legislators - 17 times the international average of the ratio of legislators to voters in a total of only 20 square miles - and army of civil servants amounting to 20 percent of the entire work force. Mostly because of this, the overall cost of living in Bermuda is about 2.64 (two point six four) times the cost of living in the USA and about 1.8 (one point eight) times the cost of living in Canada or the United Kingdom. This is one reason why the Internal Revenue Service of the USA allows Americans living and working in Bermuda a $ 76,000+ exemption before they pay USA federal taxes.

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Telephones (wired or line) and cell (mobile)

The Bermuda Government levies a tax on all private land phones and cell phones (mobiles). Bermuda's telephone system is part of the North American Numbering Plan -- calls between Bermuda, the USA, Canada and most of the Caribbean (900 miles to the south) requires the caller dialing "1", then the 3-digit area code, then the 7-digit number.

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Time Zone

Bermuda is in the Atlantic Time zone, like Nova Scotia to the north and Caribbean 1,000 miles south. Atlantic Time is one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST). Bermuda is normally four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time and British Summer Time in the United Kingdom. But as the latter occurs one week before Bermuda observes the beginning of US Daylight Savings Time on the same night as the USA, for one week only, Bermuda is five hours ahead of the UK.

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Transportation island-wide

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Travel Insurance

It is often assumed - wrongly - that because Bermuda portrays a British image and is not yet politically independent of Britain, that British National Health laws apply and visitors don't need insurance. British National Health don't apply (in fact they don't even apply when traveling in UK if you are not a resident of UK),  there is no reciprocal health insurance arrangement with Britain or any other country - and nationals of all countries including the USA, UK, Canada, are advised to cover themselves for adequate travel insurance, or be prepared to accept any liability financially.  Bermuda is more expensive than even the USA for health related costs which are not insured.

Tiny Bermuda - with only 20.75 (twenty point seven five) square miles and with the third highest population in the world per square mile - has some of the highest costs of accommodation in the world and the huge cost of living expenses to go with them. Bermuda organizations trying to help visitors in distress cannot be expected to continue to bear any costs for cruise ship or other visitors who do not take sensible contingency precautions.

For your own peace of mind, ensure your plans to Bermuda include taking spare money, travel insurance and health insurance to cope with possible unexpected accommodation in an emergency medical situation for any reason or a death. It seems many visitors do not do this, yet have no hesitation in renting motor scooters or mopeds in Bermuda, which can be very dangerous to those not familiar with them; drive them on the wrong side of the road compared to Europe, USA and Canada; and end up having accidents, with their vacation ruined. Thus, they become clients of the Overseas Family Help Committee of the Hospital Auxiliary organization in Bermuda - which will not cover any of their hospital or medical or related expenses.

Every week, visitors suffer such emergencies when in Bermuda but do not make contingency plans. Some claim they have no money and no health and travel insurance for unexpected problems. They are not being exempted from any health or hospital costs incurred in Bermuda, in the same way that visitors to the USA or Canada are not being exempted if they fail to insure themselves adequately.

Visitors from the UK and European countries who take out travel insurance should note that Bermuda is not in the UK or Europe but in the (most expensive) "worldwide" category of countries. Visitors from the USA, Canada and elsewhere who do so should remember that Bermuda is not part of the UK but a "foreign country."

Pre-existing health conditions will apply to all insurances.

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Work Permits

Required for all non-nationals including those born in Bermuda without a Bermudian parent.

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Authored, researched, compiled and website-managed by Keith A. Forbes. Last Updated: July 30, 2020
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