ANTILLES AND ARUBA

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Country Description: The Netherlands Antilles and Aruba are autonomous parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Netherlands Antilles include the islands of Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius (also known as Statia), and St. Maarten (Dutch side). Tourist facilities are widely available.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: Either a passport or proof of U.S. citizenship is required. While a U.S. passport is not required, it is strongly recommended, since it can expedite entry and is more readily recognized as a form of positive identification. Tourists may be asked to show onward/return tickets or proof of sufficient funds for their stay. For further information concerning entry requirements, travelers can contact the Royal Netherlands Embassy, 4200 Linnean Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel: (202) 244-5300 or the nearest Dutch consulate in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York or Houston.

Medical Facilities: Medical care is generally good, but may be limited in more remote areas. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate payment in cash or by a major credit card for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the U.S. Medicare/Medicaid do not provide payment outside the U.S. In some cases, medical insurance with specific overseas and medical evacuation coverage has proven useful. For additional health information, travelers may contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559 or via the Internet at http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Petty street crime occurs and has increased. Valuables left unattended on beaches and in cars are easy targets for theft. Burglary is commonplace. Armed robbery is on the rise and is sometimes accompanied by indiscriminate shooting of the victims. Car theft, including that of rental vehicles for joy-riding and stripping, occurs frequently. Vehicle leases or rentals may not be fully covered by local insurance when a vehicle is stolen.

In general, caution should be exercised when renting motorized aquatic and land transport. Renters should note who, if anyone, is the insurance underwriter and the amount of deductible that they would be responsible for in case of an accident. Some companies are self insured. When accidents do occur, the renter is often charged exorbitant charges against his or her credit card for repairs or actual replacement of the transport.

The loss or theft of a U.S. passport overseas should be reported to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. A birth certificate and/or driver's license generally cannot be replaced outside the U.S. U.S. citizens can refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad," which provides useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad. Both this pamphlet and "Tips for Travelers to The Caribbean" are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Criminal penalties for possession, use and dealing in illegal drugs are strict and convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences, possibly in a very overcrowded prison, and fines.

Other Information: The time share industry is one of the fastest growing tourist industries throughout the Antilles. Time share buyers are cautioned about contracts that do not have a "non-disturbance or perpetuity protective clause" incorporated into the purchase agreement. Such a clause gives the time share owner perpetuity of ownership should the facility be sold.

Potential investors should be aware that failed land development schemes involving time share investments can result in financial losses. Interested investors may wish to seek professional advice regarding investments involving land development projects.

Aviation Oversight - Netherlands Antilles: As a result of an assessment conducted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in June 1996, the FAA has found the government of the Netherlands Antilles Civil Aviation Authority to be in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Netherlands Antilles air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the U.S. Department of Transportation at 1 (800) 322-7873.

Aruba: As a result of an assessment conducted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in June 1996, the FAA has found the government of Aruba's Civil Aviation Authority to be in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Aruba's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the U.S. Department of Transportation at 1 (800) 322-7873.

Consulate Location/Registration: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate General serving the islands of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, located at J.B. Gorsiraweg No. 1, Wilemstad, Curacao, telephone (599-9) 613066; fax (599-9) 616489.

U.S. citizens may obtain from the Consulate General, updated information on travel security in the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.

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