With its award-winning beaches, turquoise bays and year-round sunshine, Jamaica has an authentic Caribbean feel, but the island’s vibrant cultural heritage makes it a place quite unlike any other. Jamaica’s unique personality derives from a melting-pot of influences from all corners of the globe, expressed as one through its infectious people and their laidback lifestyle.
Whether it’s the delicious aroma of jerk chicken barbecuing on the beach or the sound of reggae rhythms floating through the streets, Jamaica never fails to impress, enthral and surprise visitors in equal measures.
A host of attractions and activities abound, watching a spectacular sunset at the cliff-top Rick’s Cafe in Negril to taking a refreshing dip in a lagoon at Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios. Jamaica enjoys a longstanding association with the stars. Once a magnet for Hollywood icons such as Errol Flynn in the 1950s and 1960s, Port Antonio’s recent high-end tourism developments have seen a return to its glamorous heyday; a time when the world’s attention was first brought to the charm and character of this beautiful island.
Author Ian Fleming penned all the James Bond novels in Jamaica, while more recent famous visitors to the island include Prince Harry, Grace Jones and Kate Moss. Jamaica is also the birthplace of Island Records, created by Chris Blackwell, who signed several major artists including island-legend Bob Marley and U2.
Size: 4,411 square miles
Population: 2.7 million
Language: English and Patois
Currency: Jamaican dollars (J$) plus US dollars (US$) widely accepted
Main City: Kingston
Main Airport(s): Donald Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay and Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.
Local Beer: Red Stripe
National Dish: Ackee & Salt Fish
Ackee is a pear sized fruit, when prepared it resembles scrambled eggs, salt fish is boiled to extract most of the saltiness. Seasoned well and served mainly as a breakfast meal.
Entry Visa: All visitors to Jamaica must arrive with a valid passport. For stays of six months or less, no visas are required for citizens of the European Union, the United States, Commonwealth countries, Mexico, Japan and Israel. Nationals of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Greece and Japan don’t need a visa for stays of up to 30 days.
When To Go: Jamaica has a pleasant tropical climate year round but there are definite dry and wet seasons. From December to April, you can expect sun and clear skies. From June to September, there are frequent short bursts of heavy rain, but far fewer crowds. The exceptions are the northeast, like Port Antonio where it’s rainy rear-round; and the southwest coast, where it’s almost always dry. Peaks times for tourists in Jamaica is during Christmas and the weeks surrounding it, as well as during US Spring Break (late March to early April).
Marriage Requirements: Only a Marriage Officer licensed in Jamaica can legally marry a couple. An officiate of your choice may conduct the ceremony, but a local Marriage Officer must be present to sign the marriage form and make the official marriage pronouncement. Marriage Officers can also provide witnesses for the ceremony. In advance of the wedding, you will need to apply for a marriage licence through the Ministry of Justice.
Residency Requirement: Visitors can be married 24 hours after arriving in Jamaica, providing prior application has been made for a marriage license.
Documents Required: In addition to your application for marriage licence, you will need:
• your passport/identification;
• your fiancé/fiancée passport/identification;
• your divorce papers i.e. decree absolute and/or death certificate of spouse if applicable;
• your FULL birth certificate (i.e. the one showing your parents’ names) and adoption certificates (if applicable);
• proof of parental consent if under 18, stamped and signed by a solicitor.
• proof of name change by Deed Poll, stamped and signed by a solicitor.
All documentation must be original or certified copies. Also note:
• Italian nationals celebrating their wedding in Jamaica must notify their embassy and have a certified copy of their marriage certificate forwarded to their embassy to be legalized and translated.
• French Canadians need a notarised translated copy of all documents and a photocopy of the original French documents.
Marriage Procedure: The required documents will need to be taken to the Ministry of Justice to obtain the marriage licence.
Fees: Marriage Licence: JM$4000 [approximately $60US - $65US]
Witnesses: Two witnesses that are not immediate family members must be present at marriage ceremony.