You were wondering about…….
The US Virgin Islands “have completely comfortable conditions at least 11% more often than other major destinations in the area,” according to a US Government study. In fact, we have one of the most favorable climates in the world with an average mean temperature of 77 degrees F in the winter, and 82 degrees F in the summer. Visibility is often fifty miles, and trade winds blow steadily at 10 to 15 knots, generally from the southeast in the summer and from the northeast in the winter.
Water temperature: That too is considered most favorable and has been the driving motivation for productions requiring underwater work to shoot here. In the winter, imagine average water temps of 77 degrees F!
Atlantic Standard Time (AST): The USVI remain on Atlantic Standard Time year round, meaning that we are one hour ahead of the East Coast, four hours of the West. During Daylight Savings Time, New York has the same time as the USVI, and Los Angeles goes from four hours to three behind.
Warning: Driving is not usual here. We drive on the left hand side of the road with conventional right-hand drive cars meaning the steering wheel is on the left. US driver’s licenses are valid for 90 days. The main roads are paved in all three districts. Most roads are narrow and wind through hills and around buildings.
The Film Office recommends strongly that you leave all driving to local crew and drivers.
The USVI are connected by one major local phone company. There are no fees to make local calls within the USVI (island to island). Long distance is the same as state-to-state rates. You may want to check with your long distance provider.
We advise you consult your existing wireless provider prior to traveling the production. AT&T Wireless and Sprint are the predominant cellular service providers with networks and offices in the USVI. In addition, there are two locally-based mobile phone brands: Innovative and Choice. Many other cellular companies may have roaming agreements with these companies.NOTE: Verizon, T-Mobile and other mobile services may roam here but are not as reliable as the aforementioned. Reasonably priced no-contract cell phones and service are available locally. ANOTHER NOTE: Given the geographic proximity to the BVI, certain areas on St. Thomas and St. John may cause you to in advertently roam internationally. It is safe to say that your cell phone will likely work fine as you step off the plane.
Two-way radios/Walkie Talkies
Island-wide two-way radios remain the most reliable means of communication, on and off set. There are location production services who can provide repeater-based radios with 100-mile plus range. These radios are licensed exclusively to the entertainment industry and are available for any size – even to keep production crews connected.
There are several experienced firms that offer IT support, networking and equipment rental for your production office. Your production services provider can procure necessary services.
Equipment and accessories to be used for limited term production purposes may enter the US Virgin Islands free of excise tax, duty, bonds or carnets. Ask your location production coordinator or the Film Office for critical help in filing a Temporary Important Bond (TIB). A list itemizing equipment and country of manufacture must accompany the shipment. (Bring extra copies of this list.) The equipment must be registered with the US Customs prior to shipment (this indicates that the equipment is entering the Territory from an overseas destination rather than being purchased in the USI). Unaccompanied shipments by air and sea freight must have a Shipper’s Export Declaration and the above documentation to clear Customs on both arrival and departure. Note: Non-compliance will subject all imported materials to a 6% duty and excise tax.
Equipment and accessories to be used for limited term production purposes may enter the US Virgin Islands free of excise tax, duty, bonds or carnets. Ask your location production coordinator or the Film Office for critical help in filing a Temporary Important (TI). A list itemizing equipment and country of manufacture must accompany the shipment. (Bring extra copies of this list.) The equipment must be registered with the US Customs prior to shipment (this indicates that the equipment is entering the Territory from an overseas destination rather than being purchased in the USVI). Unaccompanied shipments by air and sea freight must have a Shipper’s Export Declaration and the above documentation to clear Customs on both arrival and departure. Note: Non-compliance will subject all imported materials to a duty and excise tax.
US Customs for passengers not traveling with equipment: No customs clearance is required for passengers and baggage traveling to the USVI. However, in returning to the US mainland, you must pre-clear US Customs and Border Protection in St. Thomas or St. Croix airport.
Border Protection/Immigration Travel Identification: As a US Territory under a separate Customs zone, the USVI is subject to US immigration laws. Unlike the rest of the Caribbean (except Puerto Rico) no passport is required for US citizens, BUT it is always a good idea to carry one when traveling. You should have an accepted form of proof of citizenship such as such as a raised-seal birth certificate and government-issued photo ID. For more information contact the U.S Customs & Border Protection agency at www.cbp.gov
NOTE: Given our unique status within US Customs, shipping to and from the USVI may require Customs declaration and clearance. Your production service provider is best suited to handle such shipping. There are production services who specialize in this area of the business.
US Postal Service Mail
As a US territory we enjoy the convenience of the US Postal Service including Express and Priority Mail at the same rates as those on mainland. Outbound packages other than documents may require simple US Customs Declaration Forms.
All overnight couriers provide service to and from the USVI. Fedex, UPS and DHL operate facilities here and are very reliable with the exception that delivery may take a day longer with varying times and days often associated with international delivery.
Air and Ocean Freight
Major airlines offer both counter-to-counter and air freight service. There are also film-friendly experienced independent and charter air cargo services with local representatives that provide expedient, reliable means of shipping.
Ocean freight companies operate direct routes out of Florida to the USVI. Tropical and Crowley Marine are the most reliable and frequent. You may also arrange shipping from points across the country to these carriers. NOTE: Avoid trans-shipping via San Juan.