Location (Proximity) - 20 Minute flight Northwest of Antigua, 20 minute flight South of St. Maarten, 3 hours from Miami, 4 hours from New York.
Area - 68 sq. miles
Capital - Basseterre
Language - English but with a distinct accent and West Indian idioms.
Currency - Eastern Caribbean Dollar and US dollar ---> $1 US = $2.70 EC
Topography - Volcanic in origin
Highest Peak - Mt Liamigua, 3792 feet
Time - As there is no Daylight Savings Time here, we are on Atlantic Standard Time in the winter and Eastern Standard Time in the summer.
Dress Code - Casual everywhere but not beach attire. Must wear a shirt/wrap in town. You will be more comfortable in some of the fine dining restaurants a little more elegantly dressed but formal attire is not required anywhere that I know of.
Taxes - Hotels, restaurants and other service industries charge a 10% Government tax, 2% Island Enhancement Tax and 10% Service Charge. No sales taxes at stores and shops.
Tipping - Most hotels and restaurants automatically add in a 10% service charge. You may give additional tips if service warrants it.
ATMs - All four banks in St. Kitts have ATMs in Basseterre. The St Kitts Nevis Anguilla National Bank has a number of others at various places around the island. CIBC/First Caribbean has an ATM dispensing cash only in the lobby of the Sugar Bay Club in Frigate Bay. All the banks in downtown Basseterre are located around or on the Circus. The Republic Bank (formerly the Bank of Nova Scotia) also has a location in Birdrock. The ATM for Republic Bank inside the Basseterre branch (bank opening times will apply) and the Marriott Casino ATM give US currency but only works with Visa, M/C and debit cards on Cirrus network. Most ATMs will give funds in EC dollars.
Credit Cards - Most hotels, restaurants and businesses take all major credit cards. American Express is not accepted widely. Do not assume you can pay by credit card.
Entry Requirements - Visitors will require a passport. It is also very important to have an exit ticket to somewhere, most preferably your country of origin, regardless of the length of your stay.
Water - Local water is very drinkable and bottled water is readily available everywhere. As all of the water is sourced from the rainfall, please keep conservation in mind.
Electricity - Power is 220V but all large hotels have 110V US style plugs. If you have a 220 to 110 adapter, it would not hurt to throw it in your bag, just in case.
Telephones - It's no problem calling anywhere in the world directly, however, the costs are somewhat staggering compared to North American charges. Most 800 numbers in North America won't work without a charge on this end. Most cell phones should work with a partner service provider but you may incur roaming charges being substantial so check with your at home service provider. Alternatively you can purchase a local SIM on a package including data from the providers who have offices in Basseterre.
Television - Most hotels have cable and you can have access to many of the premium channels like CNN, kids stations, movie stations, US network stations, etc.
Driving - Rental vehicles are readily available (cars, vans, 4x4s, scooters). Driving is on the left hand side. You will be required to purchase a temporary license for about $25US. Drive slowly and always be ready to stop short as many drivers will stop with no warning to chat with someone on the sidewalk or to let out a passenger. Also be aware of the ditches built across the road in the country as they can be devastating if you do not slow down first.
Gasoline - Stations are located in Birdrock, just out of town by the hospital and a little further out the same way towards Ross University there is a 24 hour station. There is also a station just past Brimstone Hill Fortress and one in Cayon.
Taxis & Buses - Taxis are omnipresent in the Circus and at most of the hotels. The taxis all have a yellow license plate with a 'T' or a 'TA' in the front of the number. The buses that run around the island all day are passenger vans and they have an 'H' or 'HA' on the green license plate. They have designated routes (pretty much the main road around the island) but not to Frigate Bay and the SE peninsula, and the rates are fixed by the Government.
Bank Hours - Daily Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 2:00pm, except Friday when they are open till 4:00pm
Medical Facilities - The main hospital, JN France, is in Basseterre, and a smaller one is located in Sandy Point. Numerous health centers are located around the island. Recompression chambers are available by air ambulance in nearby Saba. There are numerous drug stores with full pharmaceutical services in town.
Emergency Numbers - Emergency calls are 911 service here. Police - 465-2241, Hospital - 465-2551, Fire - 465-2515
How to get to St. Kitts - St. Kitts, Antigua or St. Martin are convenient entry points, from the USA. Direct flights both in and out of season (November - April) operate from constantly updated cities including Dallas, Miami, Charlotte, Atlanta and New York to name a few. From Canada, direct flights from Toronto via Air Canada operate in season. From the UK, British Airways provide a 2 x weekly service from Gatwick on Wednesday and Saturdays.
Immigration - A 6 month valid passport is required for all non-nationals. Most EC countries, as well as the USA do not require visas. Departure tax of US $20 or EC $53 is included in your ticket price.
Real Estate-Related Information
All beaches are public and have at least one established access.
There is a good Government water supply below the 800' contour. Water costs approximately EC $10 (US $3.70) per 1,000 gallons.
Electrical charges for an average family in a 3 bedroom property heating water with electricity is roughly EC $800 (US $300) per month.
Cable TV (42 channels) costs EC $125 (US $40) per month.
Grounds maintenance for 0.5 acre costs approximately EC $320 (US $120) per month.
Property management costs start from EC $405 (US $150) per month.
A 3 bedroom property with pool (not on the beach) rents short-term for US $2500 to US $3000 per week in high season, US $1500 - US $2000 per week in low season. Rental commissions vary from 15% to as high as 25%. Long-term rental (3 months plus) from US $1800 to US $3500 per month and normally attract a 10% commission.. All goods and services including realtor commission attract 17% VAT (value added tax)
Maid services start at EC $20 (US $7) per hour.
Property insurance (fire, hurricane, earthquake) costs 1% of the sum insured.
There is no personal Income Tax or Inheritance Tax at this time. House Tax is calculated as a percentage of the property's value and as a guide range from US $800 to US $3,000 per annum.
The EC dollar is tied to the US dollar at a fixed rate of $2.70EC to $1.00US.
St. Kitts & Nevis have an excellent reputation as an offshore financial center with up-to-date legislation covering the formation of IBC's and asset protection trusts.
Additional General Information About St. Kitts and Nevis
Saint Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis form an island federation located in the northern part of the Lesser Antilles chain of islands in the Eastern Caribbean. St. Kitts, with an area of 68 square miles (168 square kilometres) has a population of about 34000. It is located at 17°15′ North latitude and 62°45′ West longitude. This places St. Kitts approximately 1300 miles from Miami (3 hr. flight), 2000 miles from New York (4 hr. flight), and 4000 miles from London (8 hr. flight). Nevis, with an area of 36 square miles (93 square kilometres) has a population of about 9500. The two islands are separated by a channel which is two miles wide. St. Kitts and Nevis are four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT -4). Average air temperature is 79°F (26°C) and humidity 71.5% with extremes in temperature and humidity tempered by breezes from the north-east trade winds. The average sea water temperature is 80°F (27°C). Average annual rainfall is 55 inches (1397 mm).
St. Kitts and Nevis is a parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth of Nations. Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, is head of State and is represented on the islands by a Governor-General. Basseterre is the capital of St. Kitts and at the same time, the administrative capital of the Federation. The capital of Nevis is Charlestown.
The legal system is based upon English Common Law served by a High Court of Justice, a Court of Appeal, and Her Majesty's Privy Council in London. St. Kitts & Nevis have agreed to be included in the Caribbean Court of Appeals Circuit.
The spoken and official language of St. Kitts & Nevis is English. Interpreters are available for other major international languages. The education system has been rated very highly by the World Bank in its report on the Access, Quality and Efficiency in Caribbean Education. With 98%, St. Kitts & Nevis has the highest level of literacy in the region and its CXC and GCE results are among the highest in the English speaking Caribbean.
The Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport on St. Kitts (IATA: SKB, ICAO: TKPK) has a runway of 8000 feet and is equipped to handle large passenger jets. Vance Amory International Airport on Nevis can accommodate smaller aircraft. Direct flights are available from US, UK and Canadian cities and frequency changes with season. Port Zante in St Kitts can host ships and an additional pier is being built to accommodate additional ships. Port Zante also has a 61-berth marina for pleasure crafts and private yachts. The deep water port in St. Kitts has modern facilities which include roll-on and roll-off docks and easily accommodates large freight carriers. St. Kitts & Nevis has a state-of-the-art telecommunication system operated by Cable & Wireless and Digicel. Their modern network permits smooth and prompt telephone, telex, facsimile and Internet connections throughout the world. Cable & Wireless operates an online Telephone Directory and Yellow Pages web site. St. Kitts & Nevis enjoys a 59-channel cable TV service, which provides 24 hours daily entertainment, sport and news programs from North America and England via satellite. On average, airmail letters from North America take 10 to 12 days and 7 to 10 days from Europe. Major international courier services are represented by Brinks, D.H.L., Federal Express, United Parcel Services, and Worldwide Express.
St. Kitts & Nevis has a history of political stability based on the Westminster model of government and continuity of national policy. Since St. Kitts & Nevis attained independence from Britain in 1983, it has consistently been adjudged to be among the world's freest nations by Freedom House, an independent and highly respected research organisation in the United States of America.
Sugar, which used to be the backbone of the economy, has recently been dropped completely. In its place, the Government has begun aggressively promoting tourism, light manufacturing and international financial activities.
The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, The Eastern Caribbean Home Mortgage Bank, and The Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange have their headquarters in St. Kitts. Three international banks are represented in St. Kitts (Bank of Nova Scotia, CIBC/First Caribbean International Bank, and the Royal Bank of Canada) and two in Nevis (Bank of Nova Scotia and CIBC/First Caribbean International Bank). Banks maintain deposits in XCD, USD and can provide currency in a number for a number of other countries including CND and EURO.
The legal profession is represented in St. Kitts & Nevis by Barristers and Solicitors of the High Court. They alone have the right to practice before the Courts of St. Kitts & Nevis, and alone may give advice on local law within the Federation. PriceWaterhouseCoopers, one of the five major international auditing firms, is represented in St. Kitts.
The Confidential Relationships Act of 1985 prohibits the disclosure of any information obtained in the course of business; and applies to banks and professionals as well as to Government officials.
Certain businesses need licences and applicants should seek advice locally on each occasion.
The Federation and the United States of America have entered into an Investment Guarantee Agreement.