COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Vanuatu is located east of Australia and consists of more than 80 islands in a Y-shaped archipelago. It is an independent parliamentary democracy and a member of the British Commonwealth. Tourist facilities are limited outside the capital, Port Vila. The National Tourism Office of Vanuatu can be contacted at PO Box 209, Port Vila, Vanuatu, telephone (678) 22515, 22685, 22813, fax (678) 23889. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Vanuatu for additional information about Vanuatu’s geography, history, economy, and government.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Vanuatu, please tell our Embassy in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, about your trip. If you check in, we can keep you up-to-date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
The following is contact information for the nearest U.S. Embassy, located in Papua New Guinea:
U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea
Douglas Street, Port Moresby
Express/courier mail service address: U.S. Embassy, Douglas St., Port Moresby, NCD 121.
Mailing address: PO Box 1492, Port Moresby, NCD 121, Papua New Guinea
Telephone: 675 321-1455
After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens: 675 7200-9439
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: U.S. citizens will need a valid passport, onward ticket, and proof of sufficient funds in order to enter Vanuatu. Visas are not required for stays up to 30 days. If you plan to stay longer than 30 days, you may apply for a standard residence permit or for an extension of stay for up to 120 days at the Immigration Office. Please contact the Principal Immigration Officer, Immigration Department, at PMG 9092, Port Vila, Telephone 678-22354.
For further information on entry requirements, particularly if you are planning to enter on a private sailing vessel, please visit the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Vanuatu to the United Nations website ,800 Second Avenue, Suite 400B, New York, NY 10017, Telephone: (212) 661-4303; fax: (212) 422-3427, (212) 661-5544. They may also be contacted via e-mail.
HIV/AIDS Restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Vanuatu.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For information about U.S. customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Civil disorder in Vanuatu is rare; however, it’s best to avoid public demonstrations and/or political rallies if they occur.
Stay up-to-date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains current Department of State Warnings and Alert s as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.
Obtain up-to-date safety and security information by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
Take time before you travel to improve your personal security. Here are some useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Although violent crime is rare in Vanuatu, there is a risk that you could be a victim of theft, burglary, sexual harassment, or sexual assault. Take reasonable precautions to avoid exposing yourself to undue risk, especially in tourist areas. Women should avoid going out alone at night or to isolated locations, especially on foot. Incidents of crime may increase in the weeks leading up to holidays such as Christmas and Vanuatu’s Independence Day (July 30).
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the illegal in the United States, you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you are a victim of crime, contact the local police emergency line 112 in Vanuatu and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates ). If your passport is stolen, we can help you replace it. For violent crimes such as assault and rape, we can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care and contact family members or friends. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime are solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: Local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by US standards, apply to you. If you violate Vanuatu’s laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Crimes related to illegal drugs in Vanuatu are severely penalized. Buying pirated goods, engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States.
If you are arrested in Vanuatu, request that the police, prison officials, or otherauthorities alert theU.S. Embassyin Papua New Guinea immediately of your arrest.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Vanuatu customs authorities may enforce strict regulations on importing or exporting items such as firearms, certain prescription drugs, wooden artifacts, exotic animals, food items, and sexually explicit material. Other products may be subject to quarantine. For specific information regarding customs requirements, contact the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Vanuatu to the United Nations, 800 Second Avenue, Suite 400B, New York, NY 10017, Telephone: (212) 661-4303; fax: (212) 422-3427, (212) 661-5544.
Carry a copy of your U.S. passport with you at all times as proof of both identity and U.S. citizenship.
Accessibility: Individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. There is no law specifically prohibiting discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental disabilities. There are no special programs to assist persons with disabilities and no legislation mandating access to buildings, information, and communications.
In practice, most buildings in Vanuatu are not accessible to persons with disabilities, and disabled persons often rely on assistance from friends and family.
Natural Disasters: Cyclones are serious and can occur suddenly in Vanuatu. Cyclone season usually lasts from November to April and severe flooding, landslides, and disruptions to services may occur. Local media and hotels will convey cyclone alerts issued by local authorities.
Volcanoes/Earthquakes: Vanuatu is subject to volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis. If you plan to visit volcanic areas, contact the Department of Geology and Mines at (677) 22423 or the Vanuatu Tourism Office prior to traveling to areas where volcanic activity may occur. Detailed information about earthquakes is available from the National Earthquake Information Center of the United States Geological Survey. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.
Natural disaster preparedness information is available for the U.S. Federal Management Agency (FEMA).
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Hospital and medical facilities in Vanuatu are limited. Costs for treatment, including for pharmaceuticals, can be expensive. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for their services. In the event of a serious illness or accident (including diving-related injuries), you would need a medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities, usually Australia. A medical evacuation can cost tens of thousands of US dollars. There is only one hyperbaric chamber for diving accidents in Vanuatu, located in Port Vila. Many of the popular dive sites are located on other islands, and it may take several hours to reach facilities in the event of an accident.
Pharmacies are located only in urban centers and at missionary clinics. They are small and may be inadequately stocked; bring adequate supplies of medications for your stay in Vanuatu.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: Don’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places in the world, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors’ and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: You may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
In general, traffic in Vanuatu moves on the right side of the road. Travel can be hazardous. Roads are generally narrow and in poor repair. Only the capital city of Port Vila and the town of Luganville have consistently paved roads, which have a maximumspeed limit of 50 kilometers per hour. On all roads, give way to traffic coming from the right, and to traffic coming from the left at round-abouts. To avoid trespassing, seek permission from local landowners before accessing non-public areas, including beaches. Some landowners may charge a fee for access. Always use your seatbelt.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. For specific information concerning Vanuatu driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the National Tourism Office of Vanuatu or the Vanuatu Mission to the United Nations.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Vanuatu, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Vanuatu’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA's safety assessment page.
* * *
This replaces the Country Specific Information for Vanuatu dated April 04, 2011,to update all sections.