A new online form simplifies entry to this popular Caribbean island

Have you ever forgotten to complete an immigration form before flying to a new country? If so, especially during the pandemic, you know what it’s like to be barred from boarding your flight until the paperwork is completed. When your fellow travelers are in the same boat, flights are delayed and connections are missed. Worry no more, however, when you’re heading to Jamaica!

Jamaica, a major tourist destination in the Caribbean, will soon adopt a Digital travel declaration (DTD) allowing travelers to submit all entry documents via a simple online platform. The DTD, developed by SITA, will assist the Jamaica Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) to clear passengers for travel prior to departure. The key phrase here is “pre-departure”. This means a smooth and surprise-free entry procedure as the DTD form is completed online before departure – you’ll know you’ve qualified for entry!

Other improvements include the installation of SITA’s automated security kiosks at Montego Bay and Kingston airports. This is all part of Jamaica’s efforts to refine its border processes using new technologies.

Is the DTD required now?

Currently, Americans can visit Jamaica with no requirements other than a valid passport. The DTD system is not yet operational; it’s part of the country’s new technology plan. At this stage, it is unclear whether the DTD constitutes a travel authorization form modeling the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), or that of the United States Electronic Travel Authorization System (ESTA).

The pandemic has heavily affected Jamaica’s tourism business

Visitor numbers have more than halved in 2021 due to COVID. However, tourism in Jamaica is on track for a full recovery as passenger numbers increase across the world.

With COVID gone, so are health forms. Due to the international trend to reduce paperwork, many countries that required health forms before 2020 have abandoned the form altogether. Other destinations like Jamaica, where forms were not routinely required, are bringing some forms to improve border security.

What about medical screening?

The country currently has no health-related entry requirements. Earlier this year, Jamaica reversed a pandemic-era decision, ceasing its demand for vaccinations or testing before incoming tourists depart. But, if it were necessary to reinstate this requirement, the DTD will easily adapt to the change.

It should be noted that Jamaica requires Americans to have sufficient means of subsistence while on vacation, as well as a return ticket. Proof of these is required for entry into the country.

Will Jamaica charge an entrance fee?

The Jamaican government has not declared the DTD form to be an entry fee or an e-Visa; it is only a “validation” process to verify identities and confirm the purpose of travel. PICA will be able to easily adapt and reconfigure the DTD if/when input requirements change. It doesn’t look like the country will be tightening the rules anytime soon, but tourists should check Jamaica tourist site for any development.

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