The official languages of St Maarten are Dutch and English. On the French side of St Martin, French is the official language, but English is widely spoken. School children on both sides of the island are now educated in Dutch, English, French, and Spanish, so the island is multilingual.
The official currency of St Maarten is the Netherlands Antilles guilder, also known as the florin, although in effect most businesses gladly accept US dollars and euro so there is no need to exchange these currencies for use in the country. The Netherlands Antilles guilder is due to be replaced by the Caribbean guilder in 2013, although it is expected that the practice of accepting US dollars and euro from tourists will continue.
The time zone in St Maarten is GMT -4.
Electricity in St Maarten runs at 110-120V/60Hz. You may need a transformer if your electrical appliance differs from this standard (most North American appliances run at 110-120V). European style, rounded two-pin electrical socket are in use here. You will need an adaptor if your plug does not meet these standards. In addition, if visiting the French side, take note that electricity runs at 250V/50Hz, so you will need a currency transformer to use items that are designed to be used on the Dutch side (or you may be able to borrow one from your hotel).
The international calling code for St Maarten is +721. You may see this code on old advertisements and notices displayed as +599, with the former code having expired in 2012. Cell phone communication is excellent in St Maarten and is available in most places across both sides of the island. If you have international roaming on your phone, you can connect to the local network, or you can enquire about renting a phone at the airport or your hotel. St Maarten also has good high-speed internet available in the majority of hotels and tourist spots.
Duty-free goods can be purchased at St Maarten. If you are traveling to the US, you are allowed to import one liter of alcohol and 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, or four pounds of tobacco. There is a mile-long duty-free shopping street in the capital, Philipsburg, with a good range of jewelry and perfumery.
St Maarten Tourism Bureau: www.en.vacationstmaarten.com/
Consulates in St Maarten
There is no diplomatic representation of the US in St Maarten. The closest consular section is in the nearby country of Curacao. The same applies for Britain, although Canada has its nearest consulate in Trinidad and Tobago:
US Embassy, Curacao: +11-599-9461-3066 British Consulate, Curacao: +11-599-9461-3900 Canadian Consulate, Trinidad and Tobago: +11-868-622-6232 British Honorary Consul, St Vincent and the Grenadines: +11-784-457-6860
Emergency services: 911