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Banks and Exchange Services
The Barbados dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar at the rate of Bds$1.98 to $1. The U.S. dollar is widely accepted. Barbados National Bank has a branch at Grantley Adams International Airport open daily from 8 am until the last plane lands or departs. ATMs are available 24 hours a day throughout the island.
The electric current throughout Barbados is 110 volts, 50 cycles, U.S. standard.
Divers' Alert Network (246/684-8111 or 246/684-2948.)
Hyperbaric Chamber in Barbados (246/436-5483 to treat decompression illness in divers; 246/436-6185 for nonemergencies.)
Police (211 emergencies; 246/430-7100 nonemergencies.)
You'll find Internet cafés in and around Bridgetown, at the malls in Holetown, and at St. Lawrence Gap on the south coast. Rates range from $2 for 15 minutes to $8 or $9 per hour.
An airmail letter from Barbados to the United States or Canada costs Bds$1.15 per half ounce; an airmail postcard, Bds45¢. When sending mail to Barbados, be sure to include the parish name in the address.
All visitors must have a valid passport and a return or ongoing ticket to enter Barbados.
The area code for Barbados is 246. Local calls from private phones are free; some hotels charge a small fee. For directory assistance, dial 411. U.S. visitors can dial 1-800 CALL USA (225-5872) to call home from any phone; it's less expensive than using a calling card, a credit card, or calling collect. Calls from pay phones cost Bds25¢ for five minutes. Prepaid phone cards, which can be used throughout Barbados and other Caribbean islands, are sold at shops, attractions, transportation centers, and other convenient outlets.
Most U.S. cell phones will work in Barbados, though roaming charges can be expensive. Renting a cell phone or buying a local SIM card for your own unlocked phone may be a less expensive alternative if you're planning an extended stay or expect to make a lot of local calls. A cell phone can be rented for as little as $5 a day (minimum one-week rental); prepaid cards in varying denominations and top-off services are available at several locations throughout the island.
Taxes and Service Charges
A departure tax ($31.50) is automatically added into the price of your airfare. An 8.75% government tax is added to all hotel bills. A 10% service charge is often added to hotel bills and restaurant checks. A 17.5% V.A.T. is imposed on restaurant meals, admissions to attractions, and merchandise sales (other than those that are duty-free). Prices are often tax-inclusive; if not, the V.A.T. will be added to your bill.
If no service charge is added to your bill, tip waiters 10% to 15% and maids $2 per room per day. Tip bellhops and airport porters $1 per bag. Taxi drivers and tour guides appreciate a 10% tip.
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