Florida Frequently Asked Questions
By VISIT FLORIDA staff
Have a question about your pending trip to Florida? Check this list of frequently asked questions.
When are the school vacations in Florida?
There are no set school vacation periods in the U.S. as in many European countries. Furthermore, 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 and others begin in the middle of June and end at the beginning of September.
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 traveling 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?
British Consulates are located in Miami and Orlando. To contact the Miami Consulate, visit www.britainusa.com/miami or call 305-374-1522. To contact the Orlando Consulate, visit www.britainusa.com/orlando or call 407-581-1540.
Will I need an International Driving Permit?
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 driving license, an additional form of identification and a fee. An IDP does not replace your regular driving license; carry both if you are planning to drive. An IDP is valid for one year.
What should I do if I run out of money?
If you run out of money while traveling, the simplest and least expensive solution is to have someone back home make a deposit to your credit card or bank account for which you have an ATM card. If that is not an option, you can arrange to have money wired to a Florida bank. Visit Western Union at www.westernunion.com or call 800-325-6000. To wire money within the United States using Visa, MasterCard or Discover, call 800-225-5227. Money transfer services are also available through American Express and Thomas Cook offices. Check the local Yellow Pages phone directory for the nearest locations.
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 my car breaks down?
Turn on the car’s hazard lights (this button usually is indicated by an orange triangle), 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 (state police). On motorways, there are emergency call boxes roughly every half-mile (1 kilometre). 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 am 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.
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 to get married for non-Florida residents. The license is valid for 60 days.
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 www.myFWC.com.
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 (over 40 pounds).
Lap Belt and Shoulder Belt - 55 inches tall.
When is the hurricane season?
The Atlantic hurricane season is officially June 1 to November 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 areas from Venezuela, Mexico to Texas, New Jersey, New York, etc. That is why it is called the Atlantic hurricane season. You can obtain real-time advisories for hurricanes/ tropical storms at the website of the National Hurricane Center, www.nhc.noaa.gov. Do not forget how large Florida is. If a hurricane, for example, were to go near Pensacola, then it is safe to visit other areas of Florida such as Miami and Key West.
Should I reserve my hotel rooms in advance or can I do so upon my arrival in Florida?
Yes, 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 and may want to check into a reserved hotel room so you can rest and look for hotels for the 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.
Where can I find bed and breakfasts in Florida?
The website www.florida-inns.com lists locations; our website also lists Bed and Breakfast locations.
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 in a visitor status. Upon arrival in Florida, please go to a Driver’s License Tag office www.flhsmv.gov/offices/index.html 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 International Driver’s License along with the driver’s license issued by the country of your residence.
- The fee is $15 which can be paid in cash or by credit card.
When is the Daytona 500?
The world-famous Daytona 500 takes place in February/March of each year in Daytona Beach. For further information go to www.daytona500.com.
When is BikeWeek?
The “World's Largest Motorcycle Event" takes place in February/March of each year in Daytona Beach. For further information go to www.officialbikeweek.com.
When is Spring Break?
There are no exact dates for the world-famous “Spring Break”. Each American university has a different spring vacation period. Most of these spring vacation periods center on the date of the Easter weekend for about 10 to 15 days prior to 10 to 15 days afterwards.
I would like to see a launch from Kennedy Space Center. How can I find out what the schedule is?
Go to www.kennedyspacecenter.com and click on “Launches” to view the schedule of upcoming launches.
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 an anti-rabies vacation of more than one month 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 www.usembassy.gov to find the U.S. Embassy or nearest U.S. Consulate in your home country.
How can I travel within Florida?
The best and most efficient way to travel within Florida is by rental car. Other means of transportation are Amtrak, www.amtrak.com, 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 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, though some trains offer sleeping compartments and dining cars with waiters. The train stations may or many not always be located in the city center; check Amtrak’s online map. Greyhound, at www.greyhound.com, offers intercity bus service.
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 www.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 www.miami-airport.com/ and www.broward.org/airport.