We might be a tropical island in the Caribbean, but we’re also a U.S. Commonwealth. That not only means you can travel overseas and not have to carry a passport if you’re a U.S. Citizen, it means your flight is considered domestic. Here are some other interesting and note-worthy facts:
It can be really boring for a meteorologist here. The average year-round temperature is a balmy 82º F (28º C), with mild easterly trade winds. Most days are sunny and stunning, although there tends to be a bit more rain between August and October.
In Puerto Rico you willl find just about every type of ethnic cuisine here that satisfies every palate, including our local “cocina criolla" which you must try as soon as you arrive. There are also plenty of major American fast-food and casual dining chains island-wide.
Puerto Rico is a U.S. Commonwealth so the U.S. dollar it is. No need to exchange currency. ATMs are generally easy to find. Most businesses accept major credit cards, as well as traveler’s checks.
CUSTOMS AND DOCUMENTS
Passports aren’t needed for U.S. citizens who travel between Puerto Rico and the U.S. (Perk of being a U.S. Commonwealth.) Foreign nationals should have valid passports and visas as required. Travelers flying from Puerto Rico to the U.S. are subject to check-in baggage inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the airport, since taking certain fruits and plants into the U.S. mainland is prohibited. For more information, call 787-253-4505 or U.S. Customs at 787-253-4533.
Most banks and government offices are open Monday through Friday, and several are open on Saturday and Sunday. Shopping malls are open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., with Sunday hours from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Some retail stores outside malls are closed on Sundays, but those in tourist areas are open every day.
If you do need to drive anywhere just keep in mind that gas is sold by the liter and distance is measured in kilometers. Speed, however, is measured in miles per hour. Many national and local car rental companies operate at the airport and at key locations in the tourist districts.
Yes, you can gamble. And a good thing about gambling in Puerto Rico is that you will find one in almost every hotel lobby around the Island.
Puerto Rico has two official languages: Spanish and English.
The legal drinking age is 18. Alcohol consumption in the streets and while driving is forbidden by law.
The phone system is the same as in the U.S. and most major U.S. wireless carriers have good service here. The Island‘s area codes are 787 and 939. You need to dial the area code before placing a call anywhere within Puerto Rico and the U.S. For international calls, international codes apply. Calling cards used in the U.S. can be used in Puerto Rico as well.
POSTAL AND MAIL SERVICES
In Puerto Rico, the U.S. Postal Service provides the same reliable service as in the U.S., and so do all major couriers such as FedEx, DHL, Eagle, and UPS, among others.
SIZE AND POPULATION
Puerto Rico is approximately 100 by 35 miles (160 by 56 km), which is roughly the size of Connecticut. The Island‘s population is 3.6 million.
Puerto Rico has a 11.5% sales and use tax. There is an 11% tax on room charges in hotels with casinos, 9% tax on hotels without casinos and 7% on small inns.
Cable and satellite TV service are available island-wide, with local television stations and all major English-language stations from the U.S.
Puerto Rico is on Atlantic Standard Time (AST), which is one hour later than U.S. Eastern Standard Time (EST) from October through March and the same as Eastern Daylight Saving Time from April through October.
As in the U.S. mainland, a 15% to 20% tip is customary. Some hotels and restaurants add a 10% to 17% service charge to the total bill.