A quick list for first-time drivers in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Drive on the left except when overtaking
This, seriously. This is especially true on narrow rural roads that may not show a lane divider or median strip. (Montego Bay car rental exclusively stocks right-hand drive automobiles.)
Seek official parking when in built-up areas
Book a Timeless VACATION HOME right here in Montego Bay. Paid parking spots on Montego Bay’s Hip Strip and other areas inside the city are strictly monitored during the specified hours. We don’t know of any store on the Hip Strip that does not sell these hourly permits, so you won’t have to search. Leave yours on the dashboard of the rental car facing up.
The national emergency number is 119
Both 119 and 911 are supposed to reach emergency dispatch services, but a direct contact number for the local ambulance, police or fire station can save precious minutes. You’ll find the relevant Montego Bay numbers already saved in the contact list when you choose a mobile phone add-on with your car rental. Add relevant numbers for additional peace of mind if you’ll be in other regions.
Use local currency for small purchases
Gas, groceries and gift items are often cheaper if you convert foreign currency to $JMD in advance. Cambio operators and banks give more favorable rates than point of sale conversions.
Your cards will work (almost) everywhere
Most stores, almost all restaurants and every gas station we know of will accept major credit cards. We swipe cards on the spot while you’re getting a VIP Airport Pickup — allowing you to skip the rental car office entirely.
Banks close early
Many commercial banks and credit unions are closed by 2:30 pm from Monday to Thursday; and before 4pm on Friday. Only a handful of branches in the entire island will open on a Saturday. Call ahead just to be sure. And avoid end-of-month afternoon lines if you can.
A 2013 regulation outlawed cigarette smoking in specified public places throughout the island of Jamaica. As for marijuana: It was decriminalized in 2015 but an airport-issued permit may be needed before tourists can fill a prescription for it locally.
Validate your attorney
Dealing with real estate or need a pre-nup? The General Legal Council’s website contains an up-to-date list of attorneys who are “legally entitled to carry on a private practice in Jamaica”. It also maintains a list of all fines and other reprimands issued by the Disciplinary Committee since 1985 so you can do some due diligence of your own.
Market day means traffic
Assume the roads bordering Municipal markets (like the Charles Gordon market downtown Montego Bay) will be pedestrian-only pathways from Friday evening through Saturday night. Find a paid parking lot and set off on foot if you want a Saturday market experience. Otherwise, give those general areas a wide berth in that period if you don’t like sitting in traffic.
Bug spray is a must
Mosquito repellent is seldom optional. If you forgot it, go get some. And please pack a spare.
Pull over to use the phone
A 2016 Road Traffic Bill increases the fine to roughly USD$250 for driving while using a mobile phone.
General Consumption Tax (GCT) is 15%
Jamaica’s General Consumption Tax was reduced from 16.5% to 15% on April 1, 2020. Here are some other taxes that tourists and other travelers to Jamaica may face:
- Guest Accommodation Room Tax (GART) – A flat rate that ranges from USD$1 – $4 per night based on the number of rooms at the property.
- Departure tax – A flat rate of USD $35 per person.
Call to reserve a car rental today and experience the hospitality of an airport pickup.