Frequently Asked Questions

    On our Frequently Asked Questions page, find out what you need to know about our wildlife, seasons, and more.

    Florida offers sun-drenched beaches, like this one in Sandestin, plus attractions that range from theme parks to fishing and more.

    Florida offers sun-drenched beaches, like this one in Sandestin, plus attractions that range from theme parks to fishing and more.

    - Lauren Tjaden for VISIT FLORIDA

     

    Have a question about your trip to Florida? Before you go, check the answers to this list of frequently asked questions:
     

    GENERAL INFORMATION


    How can I obtain a Florida Highway Map, Visitor Guide or other printed VISIT FLORIDA publications?
    You can order a free map and other publications from VISIT FLORIDA. If you want a guide for a specific area, you can usually get one from its visitors’ services. For example, look for the Plan Your Trip information on the Visit Orlando website.

    How can I get a list of events in Florida
    Check out VISIT FLORIDA’s monthly calendar of events. Or, to plan longer range, see the month-by-month list of Florida events.

    What are the average monthly temperatures in Florida?
    Check out the average monthly temperatures, precipitation and more for 117 Florida cities from U.S. Climate Data.

    What are the average water temperatures of Florida’s beaches?
    To view a chart of average water temperatures at beaches near where you’re going, visit the National Oceanographic Data Center website for Gulf of Mexico temperatures and Atlantic Ocean temperatures. As a general rule, the water anywhere in Florida will be warm enough to swim between April and October. 

    When is the "season?" 
    The "season" refers to an area's busiest tourist season and varies by area. In general, the summer months will be season in the northern part of the state, while the winter months are the season for most of the central and southern areas. For information about a specific area's season, contact the local Visitor's Bureau. 

    Should I reserve my hotel rooms in advance or can I do so upon my arrival in Florida?
    You should always reserve a room for at least the first two or three nights. When entering the U.S., you must complete the I-94 form (Arrival-Departure Record). One of the questions on the form is the address where you will first stay. Another reason to book the first nights of your stay is that upon arrival you will most probably experience jet lag, or you may want to check into a reserved hotel room so you can rest and look for hotels for upcoming days in a leisurely manner. Please be aware that during high season, holiday weekends or during the convention season, hotels in certain cities may be fully booked. During the cooler months, the farther south you go, the warmer it will be. Fort Lauderdale, Miami, the Keys, Marco Island and Naples will have the warmest water during the winter.

    Which beaches are closest to Orlando? 
    Daytona Beach, Ponce Inlet, New Smyrna Beach and Cocoa Beach are all about an hour east of Orlando on the Atlantic, all with their own unique personalities. Clearwater Beach is the closest Gulf coast beach, about two hours west of Orlando. 

    When are school vacations in Florida?
    There are no set school vacation periods in the U.S. as in many European countries. Further, there is no school vacation for All Saints Day, nor for the winter. In the U.S., each school district has different periods for Christmas, spring (Easter) and summer school vacations. The state of Florida has 67 counties. For example, some summer school vacations begin in the middle of May and end in the middle of August; others begin in the middle of June and end at the beginning of September.

    When is Spring Break? What areas are most heavily visited for Spring Break? 
    Spring Break vacation times vary from school to school. Some start as early as late February; however, March through April are the months when most Spring Breaks occur. Students on Spring Break visit destinations all over the state, but the areas with the most Spring Break activities are Daytona Beach, Key West, Miami, and Panama City Beach. 

    What do I need to know about Florida’s wildlife?
    Florida is home to a wide variety of the most amazing wildlife in the world, which is a huge draw for many visitors, environmentalists and researchers. While alligators, crocodiles, sharks, snakes, bears and other wildlife are prevalent in our state, according to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), attacks by these creatures are “very rare” occurrences. Despite that rarity, it is wise for visitors to learn more about The Sunshine State’s fauna. For safety tips and other information, please go to MyFWC.com.

    When is hurricane season?
    The Atlantic hurricane season is officially June 1 to Nov. 30. The peak of the season is from mid-August to mid-October. Hurricanes develop over the tropical or subtropical waters around the world. In the Atlantic basin, the areas where hurricanes occur are the North Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Hurricanes can affect a wide range of areas, including Venezuela, Mexico, Texas, New Jersey, New York, Florida, etc. You can obtain real-time advisories for hurricanes/ tropical storms at the National Hurricane Center's website. Take into account how large Florida is. If a hurricane, for example, were to go near Pensacola, for example, then it usually safe to visit other areas of Florida such as Miami and Key West.

     

    TRANSPORTATION


    How can I travel within Florida?
    One of the most efficient ways to travel within Florida is by rental car. Another means of transportation is Amtrak, which offers service from Miami to Orlando with stops in between, from Tampa to Jacksonville via Orlando with stops in between, and from Jacksonville to Pensacola with stops in between. Amtrak’s Auto-Train, which can transport both you and your car, runs between Washington, D.C. and Sanford, Florida (north of Orlando). The frequency on Amtrak in Florida is much more limited than the train frequencies in Europe and the Northeastern United States, though some trains offer sleeping compartments and dining cars with waiters. Greyhound offers intercity bus service. Red Coach also offers bus service between major Florida cities.  

    How can I get information on driving safely in Florida? 
    The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) provides detailed driving and vehicle safety tips for operating a vehicle in the Sunshine State. 

    Does Florida require international travelers who wish to drive in the state to have an international driving permit? 
    You don't need an international driving permit to drive in Florida; you just need a valid driver's license, issued in your name, from your state or country of residence. While an International Driving Permit (IDP), while not required, is inexpensive and useful to have for identification purposes, even if you’re not planning to drive. It must be issued in your own country before you depart. Apply through the local or national branch of your automobile association. The application usually requires one or two photos, a current driver license, an additional form of identification and a fee. An IDP does not replace your regular driving licenses; carry both if you are planning to drive. An IDP is valid for one year.

    How can I travel from the Orlando International Airport to local area hotels?
    Transport available at Orlando International Airport includes car rentals, local bus service, shuttle service and taxis. For further information, go to orlandoairports.net.

    How can I travel from the international airports in Miami and Fort Lauderdale to local area hotels or to the cruise ports?
    Transport available at both of these international airports includes car rentals, local bus service, hotel shuttle service and taxis. For further information, go to miami-airport.com and broward.org/airport.

    What are the requirements for a car child seat?
    All children 5 years old or younger must use a restraint device when riding in a motor vehicle. This Florida law requires every driver to secure children five years of age or younger in child restraint devices riding in a passenger car, van, or pick-up truck, regardless of whether the vehicle is registered in this state. Infant carriers or children's car seats must be used for children three years old and younger. Children's car seats or safety belts may be used for four- and five-year-olds. All infant carriers and car seats must be crash-tested and approved by the U.S. Government. Children being carried or riding bicycles should wear properly fitted bicycle helmets. Please also check with your car rental company for further information and any updates as rules and safety standards change.
    Recommended Child Restraints
    Infant Carriers: Birth to 9 months or 20 pounds
    Children's Car Seats: Nine months to four years (20-50 pounds)
    Lap Belt: Four years and older (more than 40 pounds)
    Lap Belt and Shoulder Belt: 55 inches tall

    What should I do if my car breaks down?
    Turn on the car’s hazard lights, which will flash to alert other drivers and state or local police that you need help. Dial *FHP on Florida interstates and highways in an emergency to reach the Florida Highway Patrol. On motorways, there are emergency call boxes roughly every half-mile (1 kilometer). Florida has a Move Over Law. This means that if there is a car stopped on the side of the road with a police car behind it, drivers passing by must either slow down to 20 m.p.h. or get over a lane.

    What should I do if I’m stopped by the police?
    If you are pulled over by the police for a traffic violation, such as speeding or driving through a red light, you will be issued a ticket indicating you must pay a fine. Do not offer to pay the fine directly to the police officer – this could be construed as attempted bribery. Pay fines by mail, or directly to the clerk of the court; if you plan to contest the ticket, you must appear in court on the date shown on the ticket. If accused of a more serious crime, consult a lawyer. If arrested, call your Embassy or Consulate.
     

    EMERGENCIES
     

    What should I do in a medical emergency?
    Dial 9-1-1 for an ambulance. The call is free from any phone. This number is also used to contact the police or fire brigade in an emergency.

    What should I do if I lose my passport?
    If you lose your passport, immediately notify the police and the nearest Embassy or Consulate of your home government. You will need to show ID and proof of citizenship as well as pay a fee and file a police report. Replacements can take up to two weeks, but some consulates offer a three-day rush service for an additional fee. In an emergency, some consulates provide temporary travelling papers that will allow you to re-enter your home country. It is a good idea to make two photocopies of your passport and any other travel documents before leaving home. Take one set of copies with you, packed separately from the originals, and leave the other set with someone at home. Having copies available will expedite passport replacement should it become necessary.

    Where can I find my Embassy or Consulate?
    Check out this U.S. Embassy.gov for a listing U.S. embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions in foreign countries


    LICENSES
     

    Where can I get a fishing license?
    Licenses are required for both fresh and saltwater fishing in Florida and are available at many marinas, bait and tackle shops, and the local county tax collector’s office. For detailed information and regulations on hunting, freshwater fishing and saltwater fishing, as well as wildlife viewing, hiking trails and boating safety, visit myFWC.com.

    Where can I apply for a marriage license?
    You can apply for a marriage license at the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court in any Florida county. Both of you must have a valid passport and a translator, if necessary, who has a valid U.S. driving license. No blood tests are required and there is no waiting period for non-Florida residents to get married. The license is valid for 60 days.


    SPECIAL NEEDS
     

    How can I find information about services for the handicapped in an area? 
    Florida has extensive resources for travelers with special needs. Check out this article for more information. You can contact the local Visitors Bureau for information on services in the area you'll be visiting. 

    Can I use the Blue Badge disabled parking car permit from the U.K. while I am driving in Florida?
    Florida does not recognize European disabled parking car permits to park in spaces designated for disabled persons. A temporary disabled parking permit may be issued to a citizen of another country who is here as a visitor. Upon arrival in Florida, please go to a Driver’s License Tag office (find the one closest to you at flhsmv.gov/offices and bring the following items.
    * your out-of-country disabled parking permit or a copy of both sides of your permit.
    * your passport to verify ownership of the out-of-country parking permit.
    * your driver’s license issued by the country of your residence.
    * The fee is $15, which can be paid in cash or by credit card.
     

    PETS
     

    What are the requirements for bringing my dog or cat on vacation with me to the U.S.?
    To bring a dog or cat into the U.S. you should have a health certificate from a veterinarian. There is no special form for this certificate. Such a certificate is usually required by the airlines, so you must check with the airlines shipping your pet for any time limitations or other details such a size limitations, type of animal cage, etc. Your dog or cat will need a rabies certificate indicating receipt of an anti-rabies vaccination more than one month before your visit but less than one year. The customs agents will verify that the animal has a clear identification indicating that the animal is the one mentioned on the certificates. But check before you go, as laws sometimes change. Visit usembassy.gov to find the U.S. Embassy or nearest U.S. Consulate in your home country.

    How can I find out which beaches and state parks allow pets?
    Domestic pets are permitted in designated day-use areas at all Florida state parks. They must be kept on a hand-held leash that is six feet or shorter and be well-behaved at all times. Pet owners are required to pick up after their pets and properly dispose of their droppings. Pets are not permitted on beaches or playgrounds, or in bathing areas, cabins, park buildings or concession facilities. Individual parks may have specific areas prohibiting pets. Here’s more information on Florida State Parks Pet Policies. To find out which Florida beaches allow dogs, visit BringFido.com. The site lists the top ten Florida dog beaches as well as listings for numerous cities.
     

    VISIT FLORIDA PARTNERSHIPS AND ADVERTISING
     

    Why do some areas show no listings for restaurants, attractions, or other categories on your website? 
    Businesses listed on VISITFLORIDA.com are participants in the VISIT FLORIDA Partnership program. If there are no members in a particular destination, a page will return no results. For more information on businesses in the area, contact the local Chamber of Commerce or Visitors Bureau. 

    How do I find out if a business is legitimate and/or how do I file a complaint? 
    Contact the Florida Division of Consumer Services or call 1-800-HELPFLA.   
     

    OTHER
     

    How can I get information about relocating to Florida?
    Contact the local Chambers of Commerce for relocation information.Where can I find information about Florida for a school project?For school report information and fun facts about Florida, visit Florida fun facts. For other facts and information about Florida visit the official government site, myFlorida.com.

     

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