It is May 2021, and we are happy to confirm that the island is now open, if you are already fully vaccinated. You can come in as long as you follow the steps explained below. Our island of Saint Barthélemy is moving towards a full official re-opening. Actually, if you are already vaccinated, you can come in but you have to follow the steps explained below. The island will re-open when enough locals have been vaccinated, and the 3-week long vaccination drive is coming to an end, so we’ll look into it too. We’ll finish this article with an overview of the official situation (whereby this island is closed to travelers) and share some current data about coronavirus infections on the island.
May 6, 2021 update on St Barts opening & gradual travel restrictions lifting
Since February 3, 2021, new travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and imposed by the French government in Paris have kicked in. They are making it harder for tourists to reach our shores. The local St Barths authorities are fighting it hard to relax these new restrictions applicable on all French territories.
So, officially, visitors cannot come in. Yet, in practice, the local authorities have created an entry process that you can follow to reach the island. The authorities are just anticipating the European Union’s decision to open borders wide to vaccinated travelers this June.
Technically, St Barths does not belong to the EU, but its borders are regulated by France, an EU country. France wants to protect its overseas territories from variants such as the Brazilian ones, while staying consistent with rules on welcoming visitors, especially from the US, on all of its territories.
This is what the EU said on May 3: “The Commission is proposing that Member States ease the current restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU to take into account the progress of vaccination campaigns and developments in the epidemiological situation worldwide.”
How to enter St Barths if you are fully vaccinated (and not from Brazil)
We’ve waited a bit before sharing the process, as we wanted to make sure that we had all the details, that it was operational, and that it was open to everyone staying on the island, even when booking directly with a St Barths owner like us.
You cannot just show up at the border with a proof of vaccination. You need to follow these steps:
What you need to qualify for entry to St Barths:
- You must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and be able to share a document proving it.
- You can come from any country (e.g US, Canada, UK), except Brazil because of concerns related to the Brazilian variant.
- You must have booked a stay of 7 nights minimum (7-night stay requirement). You will be asked for proof of your booking, which can be issued by a hotel, a villa agency, or an owner (more on how below).
The steps to follow before entry
- Get fully vaccinated with one of the coronavirus vaccines authorized by the European Medicines Agency, i.e. Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, or Johnson & Johnson. This must be done by everyone traveling with you, except children under 18. (Children between 10 and 18 must show proof of a negative COVID-19 rt-PCR test, see below).
- Book a 7-night stay (minimum) with a hotel, villa agency, or villa owner.
- It is now your accommodation provider’s task to handle the process. They will ask you to send them proofs of vaccination for everyone in your party. There are a few steps after that, but it is all online and everyone works swiftly to make sure guests will be able to come.
- Your accommodation provider with then fill in an online form with the St Barths Tourism bureau to get your names, arrival and departure dates, airline name or other transportation means, and vaccination status.
- The local authorities will do a few checks in the next 48 hours. Usually, this is it. Only if there is something wrong will the authorities get back to the accommodation provider. You will then get notified to provide more documentation. So, if there is no negative message from the local authorities in the next 48 hours, you are ok to come to St Barths.
- Your accommodation provider should come back to you in under 48 hours. If the authorities said nothing, you have the greenlight. Make sure to print the email from your accommodation provider which says it is ok. It not necessary but it is handy just in case.
- Even with this documentation in hand, you are still required to present a negative COVID-19 rt-PCR test (nasopharyngeal preferred, nasal also accepted) taken within 3 days prior to arrival in St Barths. Antigen tests are no longer accepted. It may seem redundant, but you will probably need a test result at one airport at some point anyway.
- Once in St Barths, border control will check whether your names are in the St Barths Tourism bureau file of people cleared for entry. And, voilà, bienvenue à Saint Barthélemy!
Official travel and testing requirements since February 2021 (if you do meet the entry criteria explained above)
Since February 3, 2021, new travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and imposed by the French government in Paris have kicked in. They are making it harder for tourists to reach our shores. The local St Barths authorities are fighting it hard to relax these new restrictions applicable on all French territories. Yet, the number of cases has risen after a very busy New Year’s Eve season.
In a nutshell, here are the travel and testing requirements to enter St Barths:
- Travel to and from St. Barths and the French side of St. Martin is limited to travelers who can demonstrate “compelling reasons” for it:
- of a personal or family nature,
- emergency health care,
- or professional activity that cannot be postponed.
- A sworn statement and one or more documents to prove compelling reasons must be presented at the time of boarding.
- Travelers are also required to present a negative COVID-19 rt-PCR test (nasopharyngeal preferred, nasal also accepted) taken within 3 days prior to arrival in St Barths. Antigen tests are no longer accepted.
- Children age 10 or younger are exempt from this requirement.
Download the certificate of travel to St Barths and France for compelling reasons (“Attestation de déplacement et de voyage”)
The French government has issued a document that you must fill in. This attestation for entry to St Barths lists acceptable reasons for travel, the sworn statement that you must make, and the supporting documentation required.
The document’s official name is “Certificate of travel for compelling reasons to metropolitan France from a country outside the European area classified in an infection circulation area for citizens of third countries.
The French government has a list of documents you have to fill in, depending on your citizenship and destination on this official page.
To save you time, we have collected 3 forms from this site:
- Attestation form if you are an EU citizen
- Attestation form if you are not an EU citizen (e.g., from the US) and at least 11 years old
- Attestation form if you are not an EU citizen (e.g., from the US) and under 11 years old
Our advice with the current travel restrictions to St Barths
- Visitors who are on the island are free to either leave when they were supposed to or to extend their stay, as confirmed by the French authorities (“Préfet de Saint-Barthélemy et de Saint-Martin”)
- Visitors who have upcoming reservations for May and June should contact their accommodation provider (villa owner, villa agency, or hotel) to make sure their names and proofs of vaccinations have been recorded by the local authorities prior to arrival.
Key to all travel restrictions lifted: The success of the St Barths vaccination drive.
As usual, the local St Barths authorities are using the island’s small size and good logistics to get things done fast; just as they did after Hurricane Irma struck the island.
St Barths has negotiated with the central government in Paris that, if the vaccination rate is high enough on the island, the borders could re-open faster than in Mainland France. So, the local authorities have sped the vaccination campaign on the island, which had started in February.
We’re just finishing an intense 3-week vaccination drive (ending May 7), where any local or resident above 18 could get vaccinated for free with the Pfizer BioNtech at vaccination centre (a.k.a. “vaccinodrome”) at the St Jean stadium. As of May 1, 40% of the adult St Barths population had already received at least one vaccine shot.
So, the vaccination campaign looks to be a success and we hope that the local authorities will be able to open the doors more widely soon.
St Barts travel advisory
Is St Barths open for travel and tourism?
Can you travel to St Barths right now? Yes, you can, provided you are fully vaccinated. From June 22, 2020, to February 3, 2021, St Barths had been reopened to travelers and tourists. For the moment, travelers from the US, France, and any external territory cannot enter unless they have “compelling reasons” to do OR they have followed the steps explained above to show that they have been fully vaccinated (see above).
Due to COVID-19, you need to know about travel restrictions in St Barths, as well as from and back to your own country. We will focus here on the US, Canada, and France, where most of the island’s guests are from.
Americans and Canadians had been able to come back to St Barth’s since summer 2020. It stopped on February 3, 2021. While Europe was mostly closed to US travelers, St Barths had remained one of the few French territories to be open to North Americans. The local St Barths government had been very active in getting the right to welcome its loyal American tourists. As our island sits in the Americas and has close economic and human connections with the US, it made sense to make St Barths open for travel and tourism. As explained above, the island had started re-opening to people who can show a proof of vaccination and have registered with the local St Barths Tourism office through their accommodation provider.
Are people traveling to St Barth’s right now? Yes, some are, but there are restrictions and you need to follow key steps.
Over the year 2020, the number of airport arrivals managed to reach 118,813, a 35% drop compared with the record year of 2019. Overall, airport and port trafficked picked up again in summer 2020 and in October. The island was mostly closed off from April to May. Thanksgiving 2020 and Christmas / New Year’s Eve 2020 were pretty active, even if we had fewer tourists (airport arrivals were down by 17% for the last week of the year 2020, compared with 2019).
Restaurants, hotels, villa rental agencies, beaches, supermarkets are all open. Only famous cabaret Le Ti St Barth is closed for varied reasons. Yet, the new travel ban has temporarily made it impossible for visitors to reach the island.
What the official U.S. travel advisory for St Barths?
As of early April 2021, this is what the CDC was showing for St Barths:
- Level 4: Very High Level of COVID-19 in Saint Barthelemy
- Travelers should avoid all travel to Saint Barthelemy.
- Because of the current situation in Saint Barthelemy even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to Saint Barthelemy.
- If you must travel to Saint Barthelemy, get fully vaccinated before travel. All travelers should wear a mask, stay 6 feet from others, avoid crowds, and wash their hands.
Is St Barts on the quarantine list?
- US travelers: No, St Barths is not on the quarantine list. Although Saint Barthélemy (St Barths) is a French territory, it is not part of the European Schengen Area whose travelers are prohibited from entry to the United States. The CDC simply advises travelers to get tested with a viral test 1–3 days before travel. Also, get tested 3–5 days after travel AND stay home for 7 days after travel. This is advised but not a mandatory quarantine.
- UK travelers: Yes, St Barths is on the quarantine list, as all travel corridors to and from the UK were shut down on January 18, 2021. The United Kingdom has removed St Barths from its travel corridor list: You need to self-isolate if you’re traveling to England from Saint Barthélemy.
St Barts COVID test entry requirements, rules, and restrictions
The local St Barths authorities have invested early and heavily into testing and vaccinating the population.
St Barths coronavirus COVID-19 testing rules
- Visitors (age 10+) are required to show a negative Covid-19 test on arrival. Some airlines or transiting airports (e.g., Sint Maarten and Puerto Rico) may ask you to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test before boarding your flight to St Barths.
- Since January 18, 2021, local authorities require an rt-PCR test (within 72 hours prior to arrival). Please note that Antigen tests are NO LONGER ACCEPTED.
- COVID rt-PCR test for St Barths entry:
- Visitors must take the COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours (3 days) of their arrival. The date shown on your test is crucial; make sure to plan ahead.
- PCR is the abbreviation for “polymerase chain reaction.” A COVID-19 PCR test checks whether there is genetic material (RNA) from the COVID-19 virus in the nose or pharynx. A swab is taken from the nose and throat with a cotton swab. This is sent to the laboratory, where it is examined for the presence of the virus.
- COVID rt-PCR test for St Barths entry:
- Note these entry requirements also apply if you are disembarking from a ferry or a private boat.
St Barts COVID testing centers
COVID-19 testing centers located on the island of St Barths:
- Free rapid test (Antigen), run by the local authorities, the Red Cross, and the French health authorities: The COVID-19 drive-through testing facility is located in the Saint-Jean parking lot in front of the cemetery. The site is open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 3 pm, and Saturday from 8 am to 12 pm. It is closed on public holidays. Results in 30 to 40 minutes. The free service is open to both locals and visitors:
- Travelers to Mainland France transiting through the Juliana Airport (SXM)
- French or foreign travelers needing an antigenic (Antigen) test to travel to a foreign country (back to the United States, for instance)
- Visitors to Saint-Barthélemy in possession, by mistake, of a test of more than 72 hours upon arrival on the island.
- Travelers who have been on the island for 7 days want to be tested to secure their stay.
- PCR test: Symptomatic persons or contact cases are invited to be tested by PCR at the Bio Pôle Antilles laboratory in Gustavia, open from 12 to 1 pm from Monday to Friday and from 9 to 10 am on Saturday.
A few resources you need to get checked in the US prior to coming to St Barths
- Rapid test for travel – Find testing sites
- US Dept. of Health & Human Services – Find testing sites
- Vault Health
- The Covid Consultants
What if you are connecting to St Barths (SBH) via Sint Maarten / Saint Martin (SXM)?
- For updated travel requirements to St Maarten (Dutch side), visit the official site: stmaartenentry.com
- As of January 27, 2021, and until further notice, a travel ban is in place for persons who have been the past 14 days in these countries:
- An rt-PCR test for the SARS-COV-2 virus obtained from a nasopharyngeal swab performed within 120 hours (72 hours starting Feb 12) prior to departure to Sint Maarten (last leg in case of connecting flights) is required for all travelers originating from a country that is categorized as high risk. Antibody tests and tests performed outside of the 120 / 72 hours period will not be accepted.
- If you are traveling to St Barts via St Martin, you will also be required to complete an application form for entry to St Martin and submit it before your departure, along with information on your COVID-19 test results.
- Sint Maarten requires that everyone completing an application form purchase a $30 medical insurance policy, but this is NOT necessary if you are not spending the night in St. Maarten. You can find the form online at https://stmaartenehas.com/application-form/ .
- Please note that you will also need to apply for entry to Sint Maarten on your return flight, although no additional testing is required.
- Before boarding, you will have to show proof that you respect St Barths’s entry requirements (i.e., a negative rt-PCR test within 72 hours + compelling reason to be traveling). See above our paragraph about St Barths requirements for more details.
What if you are connecting to St Barths (SBH) via San Juan / Puerto Rico (SJU)?
- If you are traveling to St. Barts via the San Juan airport (SJU), you do not need to fill out the online travel request form required to travel to Puerto Rico.
- You need to show your negative Covid-19 test result and connect it to your flight to St. Barts. Again
- The same applies when you travel through San Juan on your way home.
What if you are staying in St Barths for more than 7 days?
If you are staying in St Barths for more than 7 days, it is recommended that you be tested on the island on the 7th or 8th day using a rapid Antigen test.
Mask-wearing and social distancing rules in St Barths
Locals and visitors are required to wear masks indoors (e.g., boutiques, supermarkets). In some restaurants, you may be required to wear a mask when you are going to or leaving your table.
People are invited to practice social distancing. For instance, restaurants have reduced their capacity to provide more space between tables.
St Barts COVID numbers (May 2021 update): Coronavirus cases, COVID rate of infection, and risk level
These are the official coronavirus data SINCE THE START of the pandemic in March 2020. As of early May 2021, the number of new infections has decreased from its February-March peak, which could have been caused by a very busy New Year’s Eve season.
With more than 40+ of the adult population already vaccinated, the health situation seem under control.
Since the first case of COVID-19 has been recorded in St Barths in March 2020 (Source: COVID-19 Data Repository by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University):
- Since March 2020: 974 COVID-19 cases
- Since March 2020: 1 death attributed to COVID-19 (in December 2020)
The St Barths COVID numbers are low. Note that the local population has access to free COVID testing, which helps track cases earlier. It also results in higher figures than on nearby islands with less access to labs. The island’s authorities are very reactive and organized. They can also count on a resourceful and resilient population, as proven by the fast recovery after hurricane Irma.
When looking at the data, you see several trends:
- The first wave of coronavirus COVID-19 hit the island in April 2019, right at the end of the high season. A strict local lockdown in May and the absence of inbound tourists stopped the virus from spreading.
- In fall 2020, as the season was about to re-start, more hospitality workers and visitors started arriving.
- Despite a very busy 2020 Thanksgiving in St Barths, the number of cases remained under control.
- A busy New Year’s Eve led to a stark increase in the number of cases (+100 cases in 2 weeks), but things are stabilizing again.
- The French authorities in Paris were nervous as another French Caribbean island, Guadeloupe, has seen a rise in cases. In early March, a curfew was imposed in Guadeloupe, but not in St Barths where things remain open.
- Since mid-April 2021, some travelers are welcome to the island again, provided they follow the entry steps detailed at the beginning of this article.
Sadly, 1 death has been officially linked to COVID-19, in early December 2020. No death has been recorded in 2021, as of April 9, 2021.
Here are some data from the local Préfecture for the week of April 19 to April 25, 2021:
- Number of weekly tests: 750
- New coronavirus cases: 10 (against 15 the week before)