The infrastructure systems within the U.S.V.I are some of the best in the Caribbean. Roads are paved. Mail Service is provided by the federal postal system. Internet service and utilities are good. Banks are found throughout the islands. Police and fire fighting teams are available.
Government: The U.S. Virgin Islands has been a territory of the United States of America since 1917. Its status is an unincorporated organized territory of the United States. In a nut shell, unincorporated means we are controlled by the United States but are not quite part of the United States; and organized means we have an Organic Act. An Organic Act in U.S. law establishes a territory of the United States and says how it will be governed. The Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands functions like a constitution for the territory. The President of the United States is our head of state; and a locally elected governor, lieutenant governor, and legislature administer the islands.
- Phone Service (Landline): Landline telephone service is supplied by Viya, the sole provider of residential and business land line telephone. All landline calls within the U.S. Virgin Islands are toll free. Tolls are charged only when calling outside the USVI. There are several long-distance service providers.
- Phone Service (Cellular): Wireless phone service is widely available on all four islands; several providers exist. Please check with your current provider if you are relocating or vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands, as roaming charges may occur depending on your carrier.
Internet Service: Wireless Internet service is delivered by a small externally mounted antenna or a small inside wireless modem. You must have line of sight to use wireless broadband. Wireless Internet service typically restricts monthly data usage due to the type of network the service is delivered over. Need for wireless or wired service may be dependent on your location in the Territory. High-speed fiber Internet for businesses and residents is also available at a wide variety of speeds up to Gig-E.
Mail: The United States Postal System provides mail service in the USVI. There are several post office locations on St. Thomas and St. Croix, and there is one post office on St. John. Water Island is also covered by the USPS but does not have a post office. Additional courier services available in the USVI include Fed Ex, DHL and UPS; all three consider the USVI to be international regarding shipping charges. There are also several private mail centers that offer shipping and mail services.
Banks: There are several banks to choose from on St. Thomas and St. Croix including Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, Firstbank, Merchants Commercial Bank, Bank of St. Croix, ScotiaBank, and several credit unions. All have websites, you can therefore search for them and find the information they require for opening a new account. ATMs are available and credit cards widely accepted.
Electricity: The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) produce and distribute electricity for all four islands. Although the power utility is maintained well, sporadic power outages do occur. Since Hurricanes Irma & Maria in September 2018 power outages have been more frequent. It is a great idea to have flashlights and candles on hand. It is highly suggested you put all electronics on surge protectors and computer equipment on battery pack/surge protectors.
Gas: Many residents use gas powered stoves for cooking. Gas delivery companies are available on St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John for replacing empty tanks. Electric stoves are also available however gas is preferred since they still work when electricity is out. Gasoline for cars is available at gas stations on the three larger islands; and is generally self-service. A few stations offer full service.
Water: The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) solely provides city water in and around the main towns and commercial areas. Most residential areas are self-sufficient for water, using cisterns and rainwater catchment systems. A cistern is an artificial reservoir, usually underground used to store water. The water is collected on the roof of the home or in small gutters around the roof, which then runs through pipes into the cistern. Water conservation is an important topic in the USVI as rainfall averages only 38 inches a year. If your cistern becomes low or empty, you will buy a truck of water through a water delivery trucking service.
Waste Disposal: Some areas have garbage pick-up, but most do not. Residents are responsible for gathering their residential trash and taking it to bin sites located around the island. Large items, electronics, metals, etc. must be taken straight to the landfill and not to the neighborhood dumpsters. Recycling is not widely available, though programs pop up from time to time. Residences and businesses in or close to main towns and large commercial areas may be connected to sewers for liquid waste. Everyone else depends on individual septic systems.
Roads: Island roads are paved, and are often a topic of angst for residents, particularly post-hurricane season 2018, due to pot holes. The islands are mountainous; therefore, many steep roads and driveways exists. St. Thomas and St. Croix have highways. On St. Thomas there is the Waterfront Highway, Harwood Highway and Weymouth Rhymer Highway. On St. Croix there is the Queen Mary Highway and Melvin Evans Highway. Highways in the USVI are not the large multi lane roads you find in a large city like Houston or Miami. Imagine smaller highways. All public roads have familiar street signs like Stop, Yield, and speed limits. Stoplights can be found on St. Thomas and St. Croix. There are no stoplights on St. John or Water Island.
Transportation: The Cyril E. King International Airport (airport code STT) is located on St. Thomas. Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (airport code STX) is on St. Croix. Major and commuter airlines travel to and from these two islands. There is ferry service to/from St. Thomas to St. Croix, St. John and Water Island. On the three main islands there is a public bus system is called VITRAN, taxi service is widely available, and most residents have their own car. Water Island is the exception to all of that; there is no public transportation or taxis, and most residents get around with golf carts. Read more on Transportation.
Health Facilities: Schneider Regional Medical Center is the umbrella entity for three healthcare facilities that serve as one integrated health system for St. Thomas and St. John: the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital (St. Thomas), the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute (St. Thomas), and The Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center (St. John). Schneider Regional is one of the largest businesses in the territory, employing over 500 employees and 70 physicians on active staff with specialties ranging from cardiology, oncology, neurology, ophthalmology, and orthopedics. The organization is fully accredited by the Joint Commission on Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). For more information, visit them online at www.srmedicalcenter.org or call (340) 776-8311. When registering for services, be sure to bring your insurance card, picture ID, and proof of mailing address (utility or telephone bill).
On St. Croix there is the Juan Luis Hospital and Medical Center. Visit them online at www.jflusvi.org.
Hospital facilities suffered significant damage during Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2018. Please visit their websites for details on what services they are currently offering, and on ways you can help them rebuild so they can serve the community again!
Pets/Veterinarians: The islands are a great place for your pets to come live with you, or you can adopt a pet once on island! Island life does have some potential new concerns for your furbaby. The islands are warm and that equals more fleas, ticks, mites and parasites. Insects like bees and centipedes as well as frogs can make your pet sick. There are veterinarian offices available on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John for your pet’s health and safety.
Houses of Worship: There’s a church on every corner… almost! The USVI does have a lot of houses of worship, particularly on St. Croix and St. Thomas. Religious congregations include Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Moravian, Episcopal and Seventh Day Adventist. St. John also is home to a handful of churches, and Water Island will from time to time have a non-denomination service on Honeymoon Beach.
Libraries: St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix have public libraries, to learn about them visit http://www.virginislandspubliclibraries.org/. For St. Thomas public libraries you can also visit: http://fostpl.org. St. Croix and St. Thomas have a university library. All schools have libraries. St. Thomas and St. Croix also have unique USVI/Caribbean history and genealogy libraries.
Radio: There are numerous local FM Radio stations, and some AM stations. Broadcasts include music, news, talk shows and more. Music includes Caribbean genres like reggae, calypso, soca, zouk and latino music; plus popular U.S. tunes in pop, rap, country, and rock. There are several religious/gospel stations.