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Banks -- Banks are usually open Monday to Thursday 8am to 2pm and on Friday 8am to 4pm. Try RBC Royal Bank of Canada (tel. 268/480-1150; www.rbcroyalbank.com) and Scotiabank (tel. 268/480-1514; www.scotiabank.com), across the street from one another at the corner of High and Market streets in St. John's. You'll find several ATMs here, each of them dispensing EC dollars but not U.S. dollars.

Currency -- These islands use the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$). Nearly all hotels bill in U.S. dollars, however, and only certain tiny restaurants present their prices in EC dollars. When you inquire about a price, make sure you know the type of dollars quoted. The EC dollar is worth about 37¢ in U.S. currency (EC$2.70 = US$1). Prices in this chapter are quoted in U.S. dollars ($).

Customs -- Arriving visitors are allowed to bring in 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, 1 liter of wine or spirits, and 6 ounces of perfume.

Documents -- A valid passport is required from U.S., British, and Canadian nationals. All arriving visitors must have a departing ticket.

Electricity -- Most of the island's electricity is 220-volt AC (60 cycles), which means that U.S. appliances require transformers. The Hodges Bay area and some hotels, however, are supplied with 110-volt AC (60 cycles).

Emergencies -- In an emergency, contact the police (tel. 268/462-0125), the fire department (tel. 268/462-0044), or an ambulance (tel. 268/462-0251). You can also call tel. 911 or tel. 999 for any type of emergency.

Hospital -- The principal medical facility on Antigua is Holberton Hospital, on Queen Elizabeth Highway, St. John's (tel. 268/462-0251). A respected private hospital is Adelin Medical Centre, Fort Road, St. John's (tel. 268/462-0866).

Language -- The official language is English.

Liquor Laws -- Beer and liquor are sold in many stores 7 days a week. It's legal to have an open container on the beach.

Safety -- Antigua is generally safe, but that doesn't mean you should wander alone at night on St. John's near-deserted streets. Don't leave valuables unguarded on the beach, either.

Taxes & Service Charges -- Visitors must pay a departure tax of $20 and an 8.5% government tax on hotel bills. Most hotels also add a service charge of between 10% and 15%. Most goods sold on island come with a "built-in" sales tax of around 15%, but since prices quoted on island invariably include the sales tax, it's likely you'll never even know you're paying it.

Telephone -- Telephone calls can be made from hotels or the office of LIME, at the corner of Long and Thames streets in St. John's (tel. 268/480-4206; www.time4lime.com). Whereas LIME is responsible for international calls to and from Antigua, local on-island telephone service is provided by a local, quasi-governmental entity known as APUA, which competes with several on-island cellphone carriers. To call Antigua from the United States, dial 1268 and then the number. To call the United States from Antigua, dial 1, the area code, and then the number. You might want to purchase a phone card, which you can use to connect with an American long-distance company. You can reach MCI at tel. 800/888-8000 and Sprint at tel. 800/829-0965.

Time -- Antigua is on Atlantic Standard Time year-round, so it's 1 hour ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time (EST). When daylight saving time takes over in the U.S., then Antigua's time is the same as the eastern United States.

Water -- Tap water is generally safe to drink here, but many visitors prefer to drink only bottled water.

Weather -- The average year-round temperature ranges from 75°F to 85°F (24°C-29°C).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.