Miami, city, seat (1844) of Miami-Dade county, southeastern Florida, U.S. A major transportation and business hub, Miami is a leading resort and Atlantic Ocean port situated on Biscayne Bay at the mouth of the Miami River. The Everglades area is a short distance to the west. Greater Miami, the state’s largest urban concentration, comprises all of the county, which includes the cities of Miami Beach (across the bay), Coral Gables, Hialeah, North Miami, and many smaller municipalities and unincorporated areas; together, these make up the southern section of Florida’s “Gold Coast.” Area city, 35 square miles (91 square km). Pop. (2000) 362,323; Miami–Miami Beach–Kendall Metro Division, 2,253,362; (2010) 399,457; Miami–Miami Beach–Kendall Metro Division, 2,496,435.
The United States has strict laws regarding drinking alcoholic beverages. It is against the law for anyone under 21 years of age to drink beer, wine, or any type of alcohol, not even with an adult, or in the privacy of your home. There is no exception to this law, regardless of your nationality.
In the United States, free WiFi is available at most McDonald’s restaurants, Starbucks coffee shops, and public libraries. Each WiFi network will require you to use a different password.
The City of Miami Beach also offers a free WiFi network. The system was built so that at least 95% of the City will have outdoor WiFi coverage and at least 70% of the City will have indoor coverage up through the second floor of a building. To login to the network, look for the WiFi signals: City_of_Miami_Beach_WiFi & MBKIDS. These free connections are not secure. Do not transmit important information.
Where do I fly into?
MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (MIA)
Address: 2100 NW 42ndAve, Miami, Florida, 33126, USA
With January averaging 72 °F (22 °C), winter in Miami has mild to warm temperatures. Summer highs generally range between 76 and 89 °F (2532°C).
The rainy season begins in June and ends in mid-October. During this period, temperatures are 84 and 95 °F (2935 °C), with high humidity, though the heat is often relieved by afternoon thunderstorms and a sea breeze. Much of the year’s 56 inches (1,420 mm) rainfall occurs during this period, with the rainiest months being August and September.
The Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. The most likely time for Miami to be hit is mid-August through the end of September.
Passport and Visa Information
Miami Visa and Passport Requirements
|Passport required||Return ticket required||Visa required|
All travelers entering the USA under the Visa Waiver Program require an e-Passport with an embedded electronic chip. Any traveler not in possession of an e-passport will require a valid USA entry visa.
Visitors to the USA traveling under the Visa Waiver Program must obtain authorization from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), a fully automated, electronic system for screening passengers before they begin travel to the USA if arriving by air or sea. It is recommended that applications are made at least 72 hours prior to travel but you may apply at any time prior to travel. Airlines must deny check-in to passengers without a valid ESTA. Apply online (esta.cbp.dhs.gov). There is a US#14 fee.
An ESTA is valid for two years, so if you’ve applied for one previously, ensure it’s still valid.
When applying for ESTA-authorization and entering the passport number, the number 0 must not be replaced y letter O as this can lead to problems upon entering the USA. The granting of an ESTA does not guarantee entry to the USA.
Canadian citizens do not require an ESTA, but permanent residents of Canada who are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program must obtain one.
All persons, including US citizens, traveling by air, land, or sea between the USA and Canada, Central and South American, the Caribbean and Bermuda are required to present a valid passport, or other approved document, when entering or re-entering the USA.
Visas are not required by nationals referred to in the chart above for stays of up to 90 days, except:
- Nationals of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, and Romania, who do require a visa as they are not included in the Visa Waiver Program.
Nationals of Visa Waiver Program countries who have visited Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen on or after 1 March 2011 are not eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program and must apply for a US visa.
All passengers using US airports for transit purposes are required to obtain a transit visa. This does not affect qualified travelers traveling visa-free under the Visa Waiver Program.
To qualify for visa-free travel under the VWP, nationals must travel on a valid passport, for holiday, transit or business purposes only and for a stay not exceeding 90 days.
Holders of UK passports with the endorsement of British Subject, British Dependent Territories Citizen, British Protected Person, British Overseas Citizen or British National (Overseas) Citizen do not qualify for the Visa Waiver Program. A passport which states holder has right of abode or indefinite leave to remain in the UK does not qualify for visa-free travel.
A visa does not expire with the expiry of the holder’s passport. An unexpired, endorsed visa in an expired passport may be presented for entry into the USA< as long as the visa itself has not been canceled, is undamaged, is less than 10 years old and is presented with a valid non-expired passport, provided that both passports are for the same nationality.
Nationals of countries not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements
VISA COST: 160$ USD (Tourist, Business, Transit, and Student Visas)
VALIDITY: Visas may be used for travel to the USA until the date of expiry as long as presented with a valid passport. Some visas are valid for multiple entries.
The length of stay in the USA is determined by US immigration officials at the time of entry.
TRANSIT: Travelers who are visa-free under the Visa Waiver Program do not require a transit visa, but must obtain ESTA-authorization prior to travel.
APPLICATION: Embassy or consulate. All visitors requiring a visa must attend an interview at the nearest US consulate/embassy
Schengen Visas: The USA does not participate in the Schengen visa scheme
FUNDS: US Customs and Border Protection requires that visitors from abroad substantiate they have sufficient funds to enter the USA. The amount is not a fixed number, however, and does not have to be solely in cash; credit cards, traveler’s cheques, and other currency equivalents are considered. For more information, check the USCBP’s website (www.cbp.gov)
Health and Safety:
Miami Airport has a bad reputation for baggage theft. Do not pack valuables in bags you plan to check at the airport. Your bags will pass through many unsupervised hands. Keep your camera, computer, jewelry, money, medications, and important documents in a carry-on bag.
Miami Beach, Brickell, Coral Gables, and Coconut Grove are safe neighborhoods. Nevertheless, bad things can happen anywhere. When you are on vacation stay alert and use caution with whom you give your trust. When exploring the city, don’t look vulnerable. Walk with a purpose and be aware of what is happening around you.
You should also avoid walking on the beach after dark. It’s not that it’s very dangerous, but why put yourself in a vulnerable situation. And if you need to walk late at night, choose to walk a busy street.
If you visit a nightclub, it’s easy to let your guard down when it’s late and you’ve had a few drinks. But be aware that crime and theft do take place. Also, if you pay for drinks with a credit card, read your bill and make sure they are not charging you for items you did not purchase.
In an emergency the following numbers can be called free of charge:
If you need serious medical attention, go to the nearest hospital emergency room, but be prepared to receive a bill for treatment. Hospitals in the United States are extremely expensive, compared to other countries. However, the law requires hospitals must provide care to anyone needing emergency treatment regardless of citizenship, or the ability to pay. In Miami Beach, the Mount Sinai emergency room is located at 4300 Alton Road. Their phone number is: (305) 674-2200. Emergencies requiring police, fire or medical aid can be reported by dialing 9-1-1 from any telephone. The use of this number is for emergencies only. If you do not speak English, ask the hotel front desk, or even a person on the street for assistance.
Helpful Tip: The emergency room is for people with life-threatening emergencies or anything that could have severe long-term effects on you. If you simply want something checked out, then you need to go to a community health clinic so the staff there can determine how bad your problem is and where you should be treated. Miami Beach Health Clinic is located at 710 Alton Road. Their phone number is 305-867-5805.
If it’s after hours and the health clinics are closed, but you have a problem that you’re concerned about, your other option is an urgent care facility. An urgent care facility is a great alternative to the emergency room. The cost is cheaper, and the facilities are usually open late. Miami Beach Urgent Care is located at 1355 Alton Road. Their phone number is (305) 672-0777.
Miami Currency Exchange:
The currency used in Miami is the US Dollar; code USD. It is divided into 100 smaller cent units. US coin comes in dominations of 1c, 5c, 10c, 25c. US bills come in dominations of 1$, 5$, 10$, 20$, 50$, 100$. 1000$.
In the United States, day-to-day spending is largely credit card-based. So when you’re in Miami, plan to rely mostly on credit cards. Credit cards from any country work throughout Miami (at hotels, shops, restaurants, car-rental agencies, tour companies and so on); Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are the most widely accepted.
Helpful Tip: Contact your credit card company and let them know when and where you will be using your credit card on vacation.
Although most places in the United States accept credit cards, there are places where cash is needed. If you rent a car, toll roads accept cash only. Many parking lots only accept cash. Although most taxis accept credit cards, cash is still the accepted method of payment. Beach chair rentals, farmers markets, and public transportation is cash only. Tips are also appreciated in cash.
You can either cash your traveler’s checks at a bank or you can use them at stores, hotels, restaurants, etc. When you want to use a traveler’s check, you need to show a photo ID. You may also need to show the proof of purchase at the time of using it.
Banks and taxes:
You won’t have trouble finding an ATM in Miami, but be aware, there are high fees to retrieve the money. There is an ATM usage fee, plus a currency exchange fee. Also note, the ATMs inside shops, bars, and gas stations charge the highest fees.
Sales tax is 6%
Miami is generally a casual city. Shorts and light shirts are fine, but bring at least one heavier shirt or a light jacket, as the air conditioning can get cold indoors. Make sure you have comfortable shoes, you will do a lot of walking. And do not forget a swimsuit and beach towel, if you intend to go to the beach. You should also bring sunglasses and a small umbrella, especially if you are visiting during the rainy season.
If you are planning to go to the trendy nightclubs, you’ll want to dress in your most stylish attire (think designer clothes and sexy dresses) or you won’t get in.
Topless sunbathing in the United States is forbidden. However, Miami Beach is the exception, where women are allowed to sunbathe topless on the beach between of 1st Street and 16th Street.
There is also a clothing optional beach at the north end of Haulover Beach Park. The beach is located between Sunny Isles and Bal Harbour, and the nude beach section is clearly marked. There are three sections of the nude beach: the gay section to the north, the swingers area in the middle, and the nudists on the south end.
In the United States of America, the power sockets are of type A and B. The standard voltage is 120 V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz.
If you bring any electrical appliance to the USA, you may need an adaptor to fit the US electrical receptacles. You may also need a converter to change the voltage from 110 volts to 220 volts.
Most common appliances will function with either 50 or 60 cycle current. Electrical frequency can affect electric clocks, audio equipment, and some other electronic gear. You should check your electrical equipment for compatibility with the 60-cycle current before you bring it to the USA.
The United States has a social institution called “tipping.” Basically, the price on the menu at any place which serves food is not the real price. The real price is 15% higher. However, Miami Beach is the exception, where some restaurants and bars include the tip, so make sure to check your bill to avoid double tipping.
The standard tip is 15%. If you are dissatisfied with the service you may leave less, or even nothing at all, but if you were well served 20% is appreciated. Taxis work the same way. It is considered very rude not to pay the gratuity.
Cabs/Taxis: 15% of ride
There are also flat rates that apply for fares in a number of regions. For example:
- The rate from Miami Airport to Port of Miami is $21
- The rate from Miami Airport to Miami Beach is $32
- The rate from Miami Airport to Key Biscayne is $36
- The rate from Miami Airport to Aventura is $46
Airport/Hotel Shuttle: No tip is needed
Limo: 15% of the ride
Hotels: No tip is needed
Bellman:5$ per bag
Chambermaid:5$ per night
Room Service:15% each delivery
Parking Valet:10$ at pick up
Concierge: No tip is needed unless a special request
Miami tap water is safe to drink according to EPA and international standards. It comes from the Biscayne Aquifer – a shallow layer of highly permeable limestone stretching about 4,000 square miles under Miami-Dade County and other portions of South Florida. Water from the Aquifer is rich in natural organic material including tannins, resulting in a somewhat bitter brackish water. Water is treated with chlorine, which adds an extra kick of flavor to the mix, as well as a yellowish tint when tannins get mixed with chlorine.
Groundwater has the potential risk of being contaminated by numerous sources. Power plants, landfills, hazardous waste locations, and agricultural farms all have the potential of emitting impurities into the ground, which can eventually end up in the water supply.
Language & Time
English is the spoken language, but this city is a melting pot – you will be comfortable speaking Spanish and French here.
All major cities in Florida fall in the Eastern Time Zone (GMT-5). The time difference between Miami and Paris, Brussels, Geneva, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, Prague, or Copenhagen is 6 hours. This means, when it is 1800 hours in France, it is 1200 hours in Miami.
Miami Metrobus travel planning assistance can be reached at 305-891-3131. Be aware, Miami’s public transportation system is not as developed as it is in many cities. For example, it is difficult to travel between Miami and Fort Lauderdale using public transportation. There are also no underground trains in Miami, due to the high water line. That being said, the Airport Flyer Route 150 is an express bus between Miami Airport and Miami Beach that cost $2.35. There is also a free electric shuttle that will take you anywhere you need to go to Miami Beach. To arrange a pick-up call (305) 409-6636.
What to pack for a trip to Miami:
- Comfortable Walking Shoes
- Dress & Skirts, Heels (Ladies)
- Jeans & Suit Jacket (men)
- Shorts & Sandals
- Dress Shirts & Blouses
- Bathing Suits & Sunglasses
- Hats & Bag
- Sun protection
- Some medicines are delivered only with a medical prescription. Bring your own medicine.
- Bring electrical outlet adapter and Voltage Converters
Things to carry on with you:
- A copy of your passport and driver’s license.
- Money If you are going to make a purchase or go out to dinner, take more and take a credit card as well. Use the card only if you don’t have enough cash.
- Your emergency telephone list of phone numbers from back home.
- A business card showing the phone and address of your hotel.
- Credit cards only if you plan to go to the bank.