U.S. and Canadian visitors are only required to bring proof
of citizenship (an original birth certificate) plus a standard
photo ID (such as a driver's license). Otherwise, a valid passport
or an expired passport no more than five years old will suffice.
Tourists are granted admission (upon arrival) as tourists for
14 days (maximum 3 months, upon request). A $20 tax is imposed
upon departure from the Juliana Airport. Those arriving on
the French side may stay up to three months, but a visa is
required for longer stays. A 3 euros departure tax is included
in the price of airfare for those leaving from Esperance Airport.
In St. Martin, Euro is the legal currency currency, and in
St. Maarten it is the Antillean florin or guilder, but U.S.
dollars are accepted everywhere. Banks are open Monday to Friday
8:00 am to 1:00 pm, with an additional hour on the French side
Monday to Thursday 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm and on the Dutch side,
Friday 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Hotels on the French side typically add 5% occupancy tax per
person, but a small gratuity is greatly appreciated for exceptionally
good service. Restaurants also add a service charge to the
bill. For taxi drivers it is customary to tip between 50 cents
and a dollar, while porters at the airport usually get $1 per
Choice of clothing should be casual and comfortable but neat.
Swimming attire is not appreciated in hotel lobbies or for
walking around town. At night dress remains somewhat informal,
but jackets and shawls are recommended since casinos and restaurants
can get a little chilly.
Officially, French is the language of St. Martin and Dutch
in St. Maarten, but almost everyone speaks English, and many
speak Spanish as well. French Creole and Papiamento, a Creole
language of the Netherlands Antilles, is spoken here locally,
especially in the southern parts of the island.
For getting around from place to place a car is virtually
indispensable although most hotels offer shuttle service to
the casinos on the Dutch side of the island. Rental agencies
are located at both airports and at the major hotels. Driving
is on the right side of the road, and most of the roads are
in fairly good repair. Motorcycles and mopeds are also available
Dialing from abroad, the country code for French St. Martin
is (590)590 fallowed by the local number witch is six digits
long. The country code for Dutch St. Maarten is (599)5 followed
by the five digits of the local number. Calls between the two
countries are also international. From St. Martin to St. Maarten,
remember to use the prefix 00599 54 then the number for fixed
phones or 00599 55 or 00599 5 the the number for cellular.
Calling the other way requires the prefix 00 (590) 590 then
the number for fixed phones or 00 (590) 690 the the number
for cellular. Phone cards, which must be used for all public
phones, must be prepaid and bought at the post office or at
some stores in downtown Marigot.
Electrical appliances run at 220 volts (50 Hz), following
the European standard, in St. Martin, and at 110 volts (60
Hz), after the American standard, in St. Maarten. Visitors
to the island should bring the appropriate converters, depending
on where they plan on staying.
The Manchionneel tree is extremely poisonous, and it grows
all over the island but mainly along the beaches. It can be
recognized by its deep green leaves and attractive green fruit
that look like little apples. Both the sap and the fruit are
caustic and will burn the skin. In case of contact or ingestion,
contact a physician or a pharmacist immediately.
Getting Married in St. Martin
The bride or groom must be residing
on the island for at least six months prior to the wedding
date. However, Ms. Lucie Davis
of "I Do Bridal Center" offers a wedding package
that requires a boat ride to nearby Anguilla, where a marriage
license can be obtained at the magistrate's office. The ceremony
and celebration can take place back in St. Martin. Ms. Davis
can also handle all wedding arrangements from rental of gowns
and tuxedos to pictures, video, etc.