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Expat guide to relocating and working in Jamaica

Expat guide to relocating and working in Jamaica

Living in Jamaica

Known for its strong sense of self identity expressed through its music, food and rich cultural mix, Jamaica’s influence extends far beyond its shores. Jamaicans are proud of their cultural and religious heritage. As a commonwealth country, Jamaica is considered the third largest Anglophone country in the Americas after the US and Canada. Expatriates who move to Jamaica are often lured to the island by the chance to live in a tropical Caribbean paradise.


Expat Clubs

The Liguanea Club
The Liguaenea Club is a members’ sports and recreational club in the heart of New Kingstom, Jamaica. Membership is open to both local residents and expatriates.
Address: Knutsford Boulevard, New Kingston, Kingston 5, Jamaica W.I.
Tel: 1 876 968 3483
Email: liguaneaclub@theliguaneaclub.com          
Website: www.theliguaneaclub.com

Kingston Polo Club
The Kingston Polo Club was formed in 1886 at Knutsford Park. It then moved to the middle of the Caymanas Race Track and is now situated on the other side of the Mandela highway just below the Caymanas Golf Club.
Address: Caymanas, Saint Catherine, Jamaica
Email: info@kingstonpoloclub.com
Website: www.kingstonpoloclub.com

Jamaica Meetup Groups
A place where locals and expats can meet each other and find others alike.
Website: www.jamaica.meetup.com

Kingston Expats (Jamaica)
Kingston Expats groups is for anyone living in Kingston, Jamaica or interested in living here. All the members of the group can post information regarding events, post classifieds, sell items and share experiences regarding the life in Kingston.
Website: www.facebook.com/groups/309382639077150

International Schools 

The schooling system in Jamaica is primarily modelled on the British system, and thus has a strong educational structure in its local schools. Expats may feel inclined to enroll their children into one of these local schools. However, if you wish to find information about the international school in Jamaica, see the following:

American International School of Kingston
American International School of Kingston (AISK) is a Pre-School through Grade 12 non-profit school offering day school and boarding facilities. This school is a gem on the island and well renowned. AISK is the only international school in Jamaica and has grown to approximately 350 students representing over forty nationalities.
Curriculum: American standards-based curriculum
Address: 2 College Green Avenue, Kingston 6, Jamaica
Tel: +1876 702 2070
Email: sdavis@aisk.com
Website: www.aisk.com

Local News in English

Jamaica Observer: www.jamaicaobserver.com
The Gleaner: www.jamaica-gleaner.com
The Jamaica Online Star: www.jamaica-star.com

Country Information 

Full name: Jamaica
Location: Caribbean
Population: 2.751 million
Capital city: Kingston
Other important cities: Portmore, Spanish Town, Montego Bay
Currency: 1 Jamaican dollar = 100 cents
Language(s): English, English patois
Religion(s): Christanity
Calling code:  +1876
Internet TLD: .jm
Electricity: 110V 50Hz

Emergency Numbers: 110, 119

Jamaica is an island in the West Indies, near to surrounding countries Cuba and Haiti, and is made up of coastal lowlands, a limestone plateau and the Blue Moutains, a group of volcanic hills. Of course, all make for beautiful sceneries across the country.

The country is a Commonwealth realm, which means that Queen Elizabeth II is its monarch and head of state, but the nation has been economically and politically independent since the early sixties.
Kingston Harbour is the seventh-largest natural harbour in the world, which contributed to it being designated as the capital. Other significant cities include Portmore, Spanish Town, Mandeville, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, Negril and Montego Bay. Attractions include Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios.

The climate in Jamaica is tropical, with hot and humid weather, although higher grounds are more temperate. Christianity is the largest religion practised in Jamaica, however the Rastafari movement isn’t far behind.
The country is known for producing well known personalities such as Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey, Sanya Richards-Ross and Usain Bolt. 

Embassy Information


Residents Visa and Work Permit information

Visitors to Jamaica from countries belonging to the Commonwealth needn’t gain a visa prior to visiting the country. To check whether this is applicable to you, see here: www.jhcuk.org/visitors/visa-requirements/do-i-need-a-visa-to-enter-jamaica

Permanent Residence
Individuals who desire to relocate to Jamaica should make an application to the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency of Jamaica in Jamaica.
You will require:
  • Valid passport
  • Evidence of financial status and means of support e.g. bank account
  • Original birth certificate
  • Marital status/Marriage certificate (if relevant)
  • Medical certificate, proof of good health
  • Police certificate
  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • Letter stating reasons for permanent residence in Jamaica
  • Two letters from reputable references from Jamaica, must be addressed to the Chief Immigration Officer of the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency in Jamaica
  • Fee of J$ 30,000 payable to the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency in Jamaica
Citizenship through Marriage
The application should be made at the same time as your Registration Form. You will need:
  • Applicant’s birth certificate
  • Official marriage certificate
  • Husband’s/Wife’s original birth certificate
  • Husband’s/Wife’s current passport
  • Verification of income e.g. payslips, employment letter
  • Recent bank statement
  • Two passport-sized photographs certified by a Consular Officer at the High Commission or at the Jamaican Consulate
  • Tax compliance certificate
  • A police certificate from country of residence
  • Postal order of £155 payable to the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency of Jamaica
  • Additional fee of £10 required for postage of the completed document upon return from Jamaica
Work Visa
These are issued solely on the basis of evidence of a confirmed job offer. You need the following documentation on application:
  • Valid passport
  • Original letter from organisation affirming job offer
  • Original work permit approval signed by or on behalf of the Minister of Labour
  • Completed visa application
  • Passport-sized photograph
Visas for entry into Jamaica are issued by a Jamaican Embassy, High Commission, Consulate General or Consulate.

Work Permit
The employment of non-Jamaicans in the country is governed by the Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens (Employment) Act 1964, which aims to ensure that qualified Jamaicans are given first consideration in employment opportunities. However at the same time, it recognises that certain expertises may not be readily available but needed for the economic development.
If you desire to work in Jamaica, you require a work permit. These are issued solely by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in Jamaica, and their contact details are as follows:
            Ministry of Labour and Social Security
            1F North Street, Kingston, Jamaica W.I.
            Tel: +1876 922 9500 12
            Website: www.mlss.gov.jm

Registration of Minors
Two references are required to sponsor the application. These persons should be Jamaican by birth, and should not be a civil servant, lawyer or agent of the applicant. You will need:
  • Minor’s birth certificate
  • Minor’s passport
  • Parents’ marriage certificate
  • Parents’ passport
  • Evidence of parent(s) Jamaican Nationality, if citizen
  • Work permit of parent(s)
  • Tax compliance certificate of parent(s)
  • Two passport-sized photographs of minor
  • £70 fee in cash or postal order.
Applications must be done in person at the High Commission or Jamaican Consulate. 


It’s important to be where you feel safe and where you are close to what is important when moving to Jamaica, like the amenities, beaches, friends, other expats.

There are many contemporary designs in terms of housing across the country, but most Jamaican homes do suggest little about the nation’s history. Types and varieties are many, and mostly depict the African and European influences, especially with older models of accommodation. Today, houses are primarily built with cement, sand, concrete and steel. But there is still a large part of the population that use lumber and zinc roofs.

Recommended areas include Mandeville, Ocho Rios, Run Away Bay, Discovery Bay, Duncans. For countryside lovers, Lower Trelawney (Falmouth) is popular. Expats are advised to live a little out of the main cities, for instance Trelawyney and Hanover outside Negril and Montegobay, where the rent is a little cheaper, but you are still close enough to get to the main parts within ten or fifteen minutes. 

Driving License

Driving in Jamaica is on the left hand side of the road. Seat belts when driving are mandatory, and drivers must carry at all times while driving, a valid driver’s licence, registration documents and insurance documents.
The driving licence requirements in Jamaica state that you must be at least 18 years old and have a full driving licence valid in your country of residence. To obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP), you must visit a tax office, taking along your current driver’s licence and a passport-sized photograph. But remember... An IDP is valid for one year, or until your existing licence expires.
Expats from the UK can use their UK driving licence for up to 6 months in Jamaica. Other expats that have lived on the island for more than 3 months require a Jamaican license.

Getting a licence
Here are the requirements you need to gain a Jamaican driving license:
  • Exam fee
  • Application form, signed by a doctor
  • Three passport-sized photographs
  • Provisional driver’s license
  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • A licensed instruction to accompany you
  • Tax Payer Registration Number (TRN)
  • Type of car and size to be licensed to drive
Once you have all of the relevant documentation, complete your examination and if you pass – well done! You will have to visit the Collectorate of Tazes and Motor Vehicle and License Department and hand over your certificate of competence and fee. Within a few hours you will receive your license.

Convert your existing licence
It’s hard to find an accurate guide to transferring your foreign license to a Jamaican one, but the process involves having to take an examination test. If you do not have a Jamaican drivers licence, you may do the following:
  • Pick up an application for a driver’s license from a Tax Office
  • Pay the test fee
  • Get three passport-sized photographs
  • Visit the Examination Depot on the day and time appointed to you when booking


In keeping with the World Health Organisation philosophy of health as a fundamental right of every citizen, the Government is keen on providing universal access to quality care. Thus, Jamaica’s outlay of health facilities includes over 330 health centres, 20+ public hospitals, 10+ public hospitals and over 500 pharmacies.

Insurance Companies

Hope Institute
Address: 7 Golding Avenue, Kingston
Tel: 927 2111
Website: www.jis.gov.jm/agencies/hope-institute

Kingston Public Hospital
Address: North Street, Kingston
Tel: 922 0210
Website: www.serha.gov.jm/KingstonPublic.aspx

Linstead Hospital
Address: Rodney Hall Road, Linstead, West Indies, Jamaica
Tel: 985 2359 985 2241
Website: www.serha.gov.jm/Linstead.aspx

Princes Margaret Hospital
Address: 54 Lyssons Road, Morant Bay, St. Thomas, West Indies, Jamaica
Tel: 982 2304
Website: www.friendsofpmhosp.com/aboutpmh.htm

Cornwall Regional Hospital
Address: Mt Salem, Montego Bay, St. James, West Indies, Jamaica
Tel: 952 5100 9
Website: www.cornwallregionalhospital.com

Falmouth Hospital
Address: Rodney St. Falmouth, West Indies, Jamaica
Tel: 954 3250

Royale Medical Hospital and Clinic
Address: 10 Lewis St., Savanna-lar-mar, Westmoreland
Tel: 955 3154
Website: www.royalmedicalja.com

Port Antonio Hospital
Address: Naylor’s Hill, Port Antonio, Portland, Jamaica
Tel: 715 5778

Annotto Bay Hospital
Address: Annotto Bay, St. Mary, Jamaica
Tel: 996 2222 3
Website: www.facebook.com/pages/Annotto-Bay-Hospital/183635385026841

St. Ann’s Bay Hospital
Address: Seville Road, St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica
Tel: 972 2272 3

May Pen Hospital
Address: Muirhead Avenue, May Pen, South Central Clarendon, Jamaica
Tel: 986 6307


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