Jamaica is known to be one of the best tourist spots. At the same time, with the highest crime rate in the western hemisphere, Jamaica had to come up with laws(including knives) that make people feel safe.
So, what are the knife laws in Jamaica? Jamaica knife laws are quite straight forward, where a constable can search you anytime. And the penalty can go out of your range as a tourist. You cannot even carry a knife for your own safety. Thus, knowing them in depth is quite important to own a common household knife here.
So, if you are thinking of going there, this article will certainly help. Overall, we will cover the knife laws for both tourists and citizens there so that everyone is aware of it. Now, without any further ado, let’s get started.
Let’s give you a grasp of what you will be learning in-depth from reading this article;
- Public places include and are not limited to; roads, parks, schools, courts, and parades are prohibited to carry any knife or weapon
- Cannot carry a dangerous knife for self-defense
- Pocket knives are fine to be owned and carried
- A constable can check any vehicle or person if he/she finds it suspicious
- Penalty ranges up to $4,000 and 4 months imprisonment
- Bringing a knife to Jamaica or taking a knife from Jamaica to other countries isn’t a good idea
- Hunting knives and swords are banned to be imported in Jamaica
In Jamaica, you are not allowed to carry any dangerous weapons in public spaces as per Art THE OFFENSIVE WEAPONS (PROHIBITION) ACT Section 3.
So do knives qualify as dangerous weapons? Well, some knives do qualify as dangerous weapons, and they are;
- Ballistic knives
- Butterfly knives
- Flick knives
- Knuckle knives
- Ratchet knives, or Rambo
The 1st paragraph of section 3 states that;
A person shall not, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, knowingly have with him in any public place any offensive weapon falling within paragraph (a) or (b) of the definition of “offensive weapon”.THE OFFENSIVE WEAPONS (PROHIBITION) ACT Section 3 [18th June, 2001.]
Thus if you don’t have a valid reason for carrying these dangerous knives in a public place, you will be charged. Yet, if your profession is required you to own one of these knives, you shall not fear anything. A craftsman would be a great example here.
A. Illegality in Certain Areas
As mentioned before, public places are prioritized for safety, and you are not allowed to carry a dangerous knife there. So what is considered a public place in Jamaica? Here’s what they tell us;
- Any passageway
- School premises
- Public Garden
- Any open area or sporting or recreation area
- Any additional location or facility to which, at the relevant moment, the public has access, whether or not for a fee
In short, we can conclude that any location with even one person is deemed a public space. As a result, you can’t carry a knife unless it’s your property and you’re alone or with close friends.
B. Table: Definitions Of The Dangerous Knives
The knife’s name can vary from country to country, but their definitions won’t. Thus, the knife laws in Jamaica did provide us with a definition of each dangerous knife to identify them easily.
Let’s look at what Art THE OFFENSIVE WEAPONS (PROHIBITION) ACT Section 2 says about it.
|Ballistic knife||A device or tool that may mechanically, percussively, or explosively discharge a knife, dagger, or other similar weapon|
|Butterfly knife||A blade that is longer than seven centimeters and has a two-piece handle that folds together to cover both edges of the blade|
|Dagger||Implies a sharp, pointed stabbing weapon that is typically transportable on the person|
|Flick Knife||A knife that is made or modified to have the blade hidden while folded or sunken into the handle and that opens when pressure is given to a button, spring, or other devices in the knife’s handle or attached to it|
|Knuckleduster||A tool or equipment created or modified to be worn across one or more finger, thumb, or hand knuckles|
|Knuckle knife||Open or exposed blade, a similar tool, or something similar affixed to a handle that is made to be grasped between the knuckles|
C. Is It Ok To Carry A Pocket Knife In Jamaica?
There’s nothing about pocket knives on the law page. However, as they are harmless and not on the dangerous knives list, we can assume it’s safe. A pocket knife can be used for multiple reasonable purposes, and the officers shouldn’t have a problem with it.
D. Open Carry and Concealed Carry
There is no particular discrimination between concealed and open carry. Since the knife carrying is prohibited, you can’t carry them openly, or in a concealed manner.
E. What Size of Knife Is Legal To Carry In Jamaica?
Knife length hasn’t been prioritized in Jamaica’s law. Thus, there’s no absolute authentic information that tells us about its limit. However, the Art THE OFFENSIVE WEAPONS (PROHIBITION) ACT Section 2 does say something about butterfly knives.
For a butterfly knife to be legal, the legal knife length is about 7 centimeters or less. On the other hand, there is no specific data for others.
While we couldn’t find anything regarding selling, manufacturing, or trading knives, we did find something for importing. From the official Facebook page of the Ministry of National Security Jamaica, you are not allowed to hunt knives and swords. You can’t bring those here without the required approval from the Ministry of National Security.
Not following Jamaican rules will lead to rough imprisonment and fine. Here’s what the OFFENSIVE WEAPONS (PROHIBITION) ACT Section 3, 3rd paragraph states;
A person who contravenes subsection (1) or (2) commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction before a Resident Magistrate to a fine not exceeding four thousand dollars and in default of payment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding four monthsTHE OFFENSIVE WEAPONS (PROHIBITION) ACT Section 3 [18th June, 2001.]
Any knife that is not on the illegal list is legal. Here are some examples of legal knives;
- Cane knives
- Belt knives
- Pan knives
- Throwing stars
- Bowie knives
There’s no official law found on the topic. However, from sources, we have found that you cannot bring a knife here in Jamaica.
Also, you cannot take a knife to your home country from here. When entering your country, anything bought in Jamaica will be subject to customs laws.
At this point, you might be wondering why the Jamaican knife laws are so rough. It’s so strict that a constable is even allowed to search you without any warrant.
Well, there’s certainly a reason behind it. Jamaica is on the top when it comes to murder. Moreover, Jamaica ranks 37th in the whole world when it comes to the stabbing death rate. Here are the statistics.
There are a few certain laws that you should also look into-
Did you know that any constable is allowed to check your car if he/she finds it suspicious? As per the law;
Any vehicle, its driver and any passenger if he has reasonable cause to suspect that an offensive weapon is to be found in any such vehicle or on such driver or passenger in contravention of section 3.THE OFFENSIVE WEAPONS (PROHIBITION) ACT Section 5 [18th June, 2001.]
Therefore, it’s best not to carry a dangerous knife in your vehicle or pocket. You may be caught, and if you can’t provide a good reason, you will be fined and imprisoned.
If the knife you are willing to carry for self-defense is on the list of dangerous weapons, you are not allowed to do that. The government has mentioned self-defense tools for us, and they are;
Paragraph (a) of the definition of “offensive weapon” in subsection (1) does not include any of the following substances that a person has with him for personal protection, namely-THE OFFENSIVE WEAPONS (PROHIBITION) ACT Section 2 Paragraph A [18th June, 2001.]
(a) mace or pepper spray;
(b) such other substance as the Minister may prescribe by order subject to affirmative resolution.
To summarize, you should avoid all the knives that are listed as dangerous weapons in Jamaica. The penalties for violating Jamaica knife laws are quite harsh and shouldn’t be neglected. Apart from the listed dangerous ones, you are free to carry whatever knife you want.
Yet, do keep in mind the length of the knives even if it’s not mentioned. There’s no point in carrying a 10 inch knife with you with a reason, and certainly raises suspiciousness.
So always stick to your common sense and have a reason why you are carrying one in the first place.