Have you been saving up all those well-earned points for that dream escape to the Caribbean? I’ve got a bit of bad news for you. That “free” award ticket might be far from it depending on which island you wish to stick your feet in the sand. Caribbean airports are notorious for added fees on airfare tickets, and each island seems to have their own take on what to charge passengers.

What in the world is a special facility charge? How much are you on the hook for a territorial development fee? And why is there a charge for government health insurance tacked on to an airline ticket?

A Guide to Caribbean Airport Taxes and Fees

From $11.20 up to $219.53 for a last minute roundtrip award booking, (on top of the points you’ll need to shell out) fees on fares to the Caribbean are as diverse as the islands themselves. For the sake of this guide, I’ve taken the imposed charges each airport, government, and sometimes airline levy on a nonstop award ticket departing and returning from the U.S. mainland.

Here’s a ticket tax breakdown of over 30 Caribbean airports revealing which are the most budget-friendly for travelers and which ones turn plane tickets into a fee-for-all.

Airports with the Lowest Taxes (Roundtrip)

Topping the list of the cheapest airports are two regions with U.S. ties. As territories of the United States, Puerto Rican and U.S. Virgin Island airports don't administer any extra taxes other than the standard US Security Fee of $5.60 one-way. The reason USVI airports are slightly more is that they require an APHIS Fee (Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service) on flights departing the islands. Adding $3.96 to the ticket total.

A surprise at third, George Town, Bahamas (GGT) assesses minimal departure taxes, which is a stark difference from other Bahamian airports listed.

As of late, Port of Spain (POS) has some of the best bargain fares in the Caribbean partly due to its flyer-friendly low fees. Curaçao rounds out the top 5 slightly edging out neighboring Bonaire (BON) with only one $42 Facility Charge added on top of required US Arrival Fees*.

  1. San Juan (SJU), Aguadilla (BQN) & Ponce (PSE), Puerto Rico - $11.20

  2. St. Thomas (STT) & St. Croix (STX), U.S. Virgin Islands - $15.16

  3. George Town, Great Exhuma, Bahamas (GGT) - $59.13

  4. Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (POS) - $61.83

  5. Curaçao (CUR) - $64.33

 

* U.S. Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees totaling $16.73 apply to all tickets arriving from a non-U.S. territory. 

Airports with the Highest Taxes (Roundtrip)

Jamaican airports fare the worst in the region regarding added airport taxes. Hit on either end, KIN and MBJ apply hefty charges on both arriving and departing passengers. With an average of roughly $140 in taxes applied to tickets even before base fares get added, there's a reason why flights to Jamaica are some of the most expensive in all of the Caribbean.

Falling in line with airline award charts I'm lumping Bermuda within Caribbean airports, despite its North Atlantic location. Bermuda doesn’t charge any taxes on arriving flights and is why we regularly see $99 one-way fares to BDA from airports like JFK and EWR. Getting on the island is relatively cheap, it’s the getting off will cost you. At $121.96 per ticket, Bermuda ranks the highest if you are strictly looking at taxes charged on departing tickets.

Barbados shot up these rankings in a bad way when the government announced an increased airport departure tax of $70 on flights outside of the CARICOM area last year. Applied in an effort to improve the island’s deficit, the new fee is a wallop on fare prices and awards tickets to the popular holiday destination. Barbados might’ve taken a page out of St. Lucia's (UVF) tourism leaflet, where airport development and departure taxes were raised in 2017, making them the fifth most expensive island in the Caribbean regarding tacked on taxes.

  1. Kingston, Jamaica (KIN) - $144.52

  2. Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ) - $136.42

  3. Bermuda (BDA) - $127.56

  4. Bridgetown, Barbados (BGI) - $124.53

  5. Saint Lucia, St. Lucia (UVF) - $120.53


Related: Who Flies Where? A Guide to Caribbean Route Coverage


Why Award Tickets?

Award tickets are a good baseline for calculating Caribbean airport fees because they list all the taxes that you must pay on the ticket.

U.S. Airlines are required to display all taxes in the upfront price, meaning an airfare listed at $300 roundtrip might be made up of $135 in fees and taxes. Meanwhile, another $300 fare may only consist of $45 in taxes. So who cares? $300 is $300! True, and the airlines do fluctuate on base prices to reduce the sting of added taxes at some Caribbean airports. However, airlines can only offer base fares so low, and the airports that impose the heftiest taxes will also generally have the highest ticket prices.

Searching for an award ticket removes the tinkering of the base prices the airlines play by only displaying each Caribbean airport's exact set of added taxes and fees without them being masked by a low base fare.

U.S. Taxes and Carrier Fees

It is also worth noting that award tickets also remove several fees administered by the United States. Awards are exempt from paying U.S. International Transportation Taxes of $18.60 (one-way) and Passenger Facility Charges of $4.50. Both of which are already included in listed airfare prices if you were to purchase a fare outright. The U.S. Security Fee of $5.60 is not exempt and is administered to all itineraries including a domestic airport regardless if it's an award ticket or not.

If a return itinerary requires an additional connection like, say, Grand Cayman (GCM) to Charlotte (CLT) connecting onward to Chicago (ORD) an additional $5.60 would be added for the total for the US Security Fee mentioned above for the leg between domestic airports.

For customers that don't have elite frequent flyer statuses in an airline program, many carriers also levy an Award Processing Fee of $75 for tickets issued within 21 days of departure. Beware because that can significantly bump up the total on an island itinerary with an already pricy tax assessed.

Breakdown of Roundtrip Taxes from Major Caribbean Airports

Here is the full breakdown of how each Caribbean airport assesses taxes on its airfares. Airports are listed from highest taxes to lowest.

One-way tickets departing a Caribbean airport may be subject to additional transportation or sales taxes on top of the required fees. Those airports and percentages have been noted below. In instances where award tickets are tied to dynamic pricing like on JetBlue, added taxes may apply.

Kingston, Jamaica (KIN) - $144.53

To KIN - $49.60 / From KIN - $94.93

Travel Tax: $35
Passenger Service and Security Fee: $26.20
Airline Passenger Levy: $20 (only on arriving flights)
Tourism Enhancement Fee: $20 (only on arriving flights)
Airport Improvement Fee: $10
Passenger Aviation Service Charge: $8 ($4 each way)
Passenger Facility Charge $3
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60
  • Stamp Tax $3.20 – $4.80 on Paid Tickets

Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ) - $136.42

To MBJ - $49.60 / From MBJ - $86.82

Travel Tax: $35
Passenger Service and Security Fee: $23.09
Airline Passenger Levy: $20 (only on arriving flights)
Tourism Enhancement Fee: $20 (only on arriving flights)
Airport Improvement Fee: $5
Passenger Aviation Service Charge: $8 ($4 each way)
Passenger Facility Charge $3
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60
  • Stamp Tax $3.20 – $4.80 on Paid Tickets

Bermuda (BDA) - $127.56

To BDA - $5.60 / From BDA - $121.96

Government Passenger Tax: $53.40
Airport Terminal Improvement Fee: $31.83
Aviation Security Fee: $13.61
Passenger Facility Charge: $6.39
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS/Security Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60

Bridgetown, Barbados (BGI) - $124.53

To BGI - $7.10 / From BGI - $117.43

Airport Service Charge: $70
Passenger Service Charge: $27.50
Security Fee: $3.20
Airport Facilitation Fee: $1.50 (only on arriving flights)
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60
  • 17.5% VAT on Base Fare of Paid and Select Award Tickets Departing (BGI)

Saint Lucia, St. Lucia (UVF) - $120.53

To UVF - $11.00 / From UVF - $109.53

Airport Service Charge: $53
Airport Development Tax: $35
Security Fee: $4.80
Facilitation Charge: $.040 (only on arriving flights)
Passenger Facility Fee: $5.00 (only on arriving flights)
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60
  • 7.5% Travel Tax on Base Fare of Paid and Select Award Tickets

Santo Domingo, DR (SDQ) - $120.43

To SDQ - $49.65 / From SDQ - $70.78

Airport Infrastructure Fee $32.60 ($16.30 each way)
Airport Authority Fee: $30
Airport Departure Tax: $20
Airport Authority Fee: $15.50
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60
  • 18% Transportation Tax on Base Fare of Paid and Select Award Tickets Departing (SDQ)

Puerto Plata, DR (POP) - $120.43

To POP - $49.65 / From POP - $70.78

Airport Infrastructure Fee $32.60 ($16.30 each way)
Airport Authority Fee: $30
Airport Departure Tax: $20
Airport Authority Fee: $15.50
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60
  • 18% Transportation Tax on Base Fare of Paid and Select Award Tickets Departing (POP)

Santiago, DR (STI) - $114.93

To STI - $46.90 / From STI - $68.03

Airport Infrastructure Fee $32.60 ($16.30 each way)
Airport Authority Fee: $30
Airport Departure Tax: $20
Airport Authority Fee: $10
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60
  • 18% Transportation Tax on Base Fare of Paid and Select Award Tickets Departing (STI)

Punta Cana, DR (PUJ) - $114.93

To PUJ - $46.90 / From PUJ - $68.03

Airport Infrastructure Fee $32.60 ($16.30 each way)
Airport Authority Fee: $30
Airport Departure Tax: $20
Airport Authority Fee: $10
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60
  • 18% Transportation Tax on Base Fare of Paid and Select Award Tickets Departing (PUJ)

La Romana, DR (LRM) - $114.93

To LRM - $46.90 / From LRM- $68.03

Airport Infrastructure Fee $32.60 ($16.30 each way)
Airport Authority Fee: $30
Airport Departure Tax: $20
Airport Authority Fee: $10
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60
  • 18% Transportation Tax on Base Fare of Paid and Select Award Tickets Departing (LRM)

Nassau, Bahamas (NAS) - $112.93

To NAS - $5.60 / From NAS - $107.33

Airport Facility Fee: $38
Passenger Departure Tax: $29
Passenger Processing Fee: 10
Security Fee: $7
Value Added Tax (VAT): $6.60
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60

Freeport, Bahamas (FPO) - $111.33

To FPO - $24.40 / From FPO - $86.93

Airport Facility Fee: $38.60 ($21.80 departures/ $16.80 arrivals)
Passenger Departure Tax: $29
Security Fee: $15
Value Added Tax (VAT): $6.40 ($4.40 departures/ $2arrivals)
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (PAP) - $100.63

To PAP - $18.10 / From PAP - $82.53

Departure Tax: $55
Immigration Processing Fee: $7
Passenger Facility Charge: 11 ($5.50 each way)
Security Control Fee: $5
Territorial Development Tax: $0.30
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60
  • 10% Transportation Tax on Base Fare of Paid and Select Award Tickets Departing (PAP)

Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda (ANU) - $97.33

To ANU - $43.10 / From ANU - $54.23

Airport Administration Charge: $75 ($37.50 each way)
Ticket Tax of 10% on Base Fare
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60
  • 10% Ticket Tax on Base Fare of Paid and Select Award Tickets Departing (ANU)

Providenciales, Turks and Caicos (PLS) - $92.33

To PLS - $5.60 / From PLS - $86.73

Government Aerodromes Use Fee: $40
Airport Development Charge: $20
Extended Airline System Environment (EASE) Charge: $5
Security Facility Maintenance Charge: $5
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (GCM) - $90.11

To GCM - $5.60 / From GCM - $84.51

Passenger Facility Charge: $15.90
Departure Tax: $37.50
Security Tax: $13.13
Terminal Fee $1.25
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60

Fort-de-France, Martinique (FDF) - $88.23

To FDF - $5.60 / From FDF - $82.63

Passenger Service Charge: $29.50
Airport Tax: $26.20
Embarkation Tax: $5.10
Air Passenger Solidarity Tax: $5.10
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60

Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe (PTP) - $86.83

To PTP - $5.60 / From PTP - $81.23

Passenger Service Charge: $28.00
Airport Tax: $26.20
Departure Tax: $5.20
Air Passenger Solidarity Tax: $5.10
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60

Oranjestad, Aruba (AUA) - $84.83

To AUA - $15.60 / From AUA - $69.23

Passenger Facility and Security Charge: $47.25
Travel Promotion Levy: $10 (only on arriving flights)
Special Facility Charge: $5.25
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60

St. Maarten, Sint Maarten (SXM) - $78.65

To SXM - $5.60 / From SXM - $73.05

Airport Departure Tax: $33
Passenger Screening Fee $11.82
Airport Improvement Fee: $5.50
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60

Grenada, Grenada (GND) - $76.63

To GND - $20.50 / From GND - $56.13

Airport service and Security Charge: $22.20
Airport Capital Improvement Surcharge: $15 ($7.50 each way)
Facilitation Charge: $7.40 (only on arriving flights)
Concourse Fee: $6
Baggage Screening Charge: $3.70
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60

Havana, Cuba (HAV) - $72.33

To HAV - $30.60 / From HAV - $41.73

Government Heath Insurance Charge: $25
Passenger Services Airport Tax: $25
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60

Varadero, Cuba (VRA) - $72.33

To VRA - $30.60 / From VRA - $41.73

Government Heath Insurance Charge: $25
Passenger Services Airport Tax: $25
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60

Holguin, Cuba (HOG) - $72.33

To HOG - $30.60 / From HOG - $41.73

Government Heath Insurance Charge: $25
Passenger Services Airport Tax: $25
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60

Saint Kitts, St. Kitts and Nevis (SKB) - $69.33

To SKB - $15.60 / From SKB - $53.73

Airport Service Charge: $22
Airport Improvement Fee: $12
Passenger Facility Charge: $10 (only on arriving flights)
Environmental Levy: $3
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60
  • 10% VAT on Base Fare of Paid and Select Award Tickets Departing (SKB)

Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands (BON) - $66.72

To BON - $5.60 / From BON - $61.12

Passenger Facility Charge: $39.39
Airport Improvement Fee: $5
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60

Curaçao (CUR) - $64.33

To CUR - $5.60 / From CUR - $58.73

Airport Facility Charge: $42
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60 

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (POS) - $61.83

To POS - $5.60 / From POS - $56.23

Passenger Service Charge: $29.50
Concourse Fee: $10
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60
  • 17.5% VAT on Base Fare of Paid and Select Award Tickets Departing (POS)

George Town, Great Exuma, Bahamas (GGT) - $59.13

To GGT - $5.60 / From GGT - $53.53

Passenger Departure Tax: $29
Security Fee: $7
Value Added Tax (VAT): $0.80
US Immigration/Customs/APHIS Fees: $16.73
US Security Fee: $5.60

St. Thomas, USVI (STT) - $15.16

To STT - $5.60 / From STT - $9.56

US Security Fee: $11.20 ($5.60 each way)
US APHIS User Fee: $3.96

St. Croix, USVI (STX) - $15.16

To STX - $5.60 / From STX - $9.56

US Security Fee: $11.20 ($5.60 each way)
US APHIS User Fee: $3.96

San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU) - $11.20

To SJU - $5.60 / From SJU - $5.60

US Security Fee: $11.20 ($5.60 each way) 

Aguadilla, Puerto Rico (BQN) - $11.20

To BQN - $5.60 / From BQN - $5.60

US Security Fee: $11.20 ($5.60 each way)

Ponce, Puerto Rico (PSE) - $11.20

To PSE - $5.60 / From PSE - $5.60

US Security Fee: $11.20 ($5.60 each way)

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Featured image by Just dance / shutterstock.com

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