COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Fiji is a South Pacific island nation with 333 islands and islets, 106 of which are inhabited. The capital of Fiji is Suva. Once a leader of Pacific democracies, Fiji has been under military rule since 2006. Since the government's abrogation of Fiji's Constitution in April 2009, the government has ruled by decree and limited basic freedoms. A new constitution promulgated on September 6, 2013 restores some freedoms while keeping decrees in place until the first seating of Parliament sometime after elections, which are expected in September 2014. Read the Department of State's Background Notes on Fiji for additional information.
Tourism is a major industry in Fiji, and a full range of services are available. The Fiji Visitors Bureau has a wide range of information for travelers that can be accessed by visiting the Fiji Visitors Bureau's website.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Fiji, please take the time to tell the U.S. Embassy about your trip. If you enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, 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.
Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: To enter Fiji, you will need a passport valid for at least three months after your scheduled departure date from Fiji. You will also need proof that you have enough money to travel and that you have an onward or return ticket. You do not need a visa if you are a tourist staying less than four months. If you are traveling to the Lau group of islands by yacht, you need special permission from your first port of entry into Fiji. For more information on entry/exit requirements, you can contact the Embassy of the Republic of Fiji at 2000 M Street NW, Suite 710, Washington DC 20036, by phone at (202) 466-8320 and fax at (202) 466-8325. You can also contact the Fiji Mission to the United Nations in New York by phone at 212-687-4130. If you are entering Fiji by boat, please pay special attention to the important requirements for access into Fiji. Visit the Embassy of Fiji website for the most current visa information.
HIV/AIDS restrictions. There are no restrictions to long-term or short-term visits, and no HIV tests are required for a visit shorter than 5 months. A medical clearance is required for those seeking a work permit in Fiji. Once medical clearance is obtained, the work permit committee will decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to approve the permit.
H1N1 Influenza Screening: Although international passengers are not currently being screened for influenza, Fiji has a standby process to screen for possible cases of the H1N1 influenza known as 'Swine Flu.' The Ministry of Health monitors H1N1 cases in Fiji. If the Ministry detects an H1N1 problem, international passengers arriving by air who show flu-like symptoms may be separated from the rest of the public and evaluated. Those infected with H1N1 influenza will receive treatment as required. Please verify this information with the Embassy of Fiji before you travel.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to exercise caution when traveling to or within Fiji. Since the Fijian government's abrogation of Fiji's Constitution in April 2009, the Fijian government has ruled by decree and limited somebasic freedoms. U.S. citizens in Fiji should remain cautious and alert in public places and near military activities in the greater Suva area. Although demonstrations are not common in Fiji, you should avoid demonstrations and large crowds, remembering that even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent unexpectedly.
Stay up to date by:
CRIME: Urban areas experience a higher incidence of crime than do rural areas. Most crime takes place in Suva and Nadi, away from resort areas. You should always protect your valuables and be aware that theft from hotel rooms, purse snatching, and pick pocketing are the most common crimes against tourists. Be attentive of your personal safety and be cautious about sharing too much personal information about where you are from and where you are staying while traveling. If you are not familiar with an area, ask hotel staff about areas to avoid. There has been an increase in incidents involving sexual assaults and harassment in Fiji. You should not walk alone after dark and always be sure to avoid isolated and deserted areas. You should lock your doors and windows when you are alone at home or in your hotel room. Since there is crime directed at taxi drivers, do not allow taxis to pick up other passengers while you are en route. Similarly, you should not enter a taxi already carrying other passengers.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
The local emergency line in Fiji is “911.”
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Fiji, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. You should carry photo identification with you at all times. If you are suspected of being involved in criminal activities, you will be taken in for questioning and asked for identification. Respect any cultural sites with security warnings posted against photography. Fiji enforces laws against driving under the influence of alcohol, and offenders may be taken to jail. If you are stopped and found to be driving under the influence of alcohol, you will be taken to the police station for further tests. If the second test is affirmative, you will be detained in a prison cell to sober up, typically overnight, and you will be charged the following morning. If you do not have a permanent address in Fiji, the local police will keep you in custody and will arrange for a special court hearing with a Magistrate. These hearings take place during regular work days, and on the weekends and holidays. If you have a permanent residence in Fiji, you will be charged and may be released, and then you will be asked to attend court on a set date.
Criminal penalties vary from country to country. There are some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. For example, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy 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 break local laws in Fiji, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not wherever you go.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Accessibility: While in Fiji, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what they find in the United States. Under the constitution abrogated in April 2009, all persons are considered equal under the law, and discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, provision of housing and land, or provision of other state services is illegal. Since the constitution's abrogation, no new decree has addressed specifically the rights of persons with disabilities; however, existing statutes provide for the right of access to places and all modes of transport generally open to the public. Public health regulations provide penalties for noncompliance; however, there is very little enabling legislation on accessibility for persons with disabilities, and there is little or no enforcement of laws protecting them.
Building regulations require new public buildings to be accessible to persons with disabilities, but only a few existing buildings meet this requirement. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, all new office spaces must be accessible to persons with disabilities. T he number of disabled-accessible vehicles in the country is small.
There are some special schools for persons with physical, cognitive, and sensory disabilities, but cost and location limit access. Opportunities for a secondary school education for those with disabilities are very limited.
Water Sports: Many visitors to Fiji participate in water sports, including surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and operating jet-skis. Surfing on Fiji's numerous reef breaks can be highly dangerous. If you scuba dive or snorkel while in Fiji, please be sure to check the references, licenses, and equipment of tour operators before agreeing to or paying for a tour. Rent equipment only from trustworthy operators and be sure to receive training before using the equipment. Some rental diving equipment may not be properly maintained or inspected. Local dive masters may not consider your skill level when they organize a trip. Deaths and serious accidents have occurred in the past because basic safety measures were not taken during diving and snorkeling trips. Remember that safety precautions and emergency responses may not meet U.S. standards. Fiji has only one decompression chamber to provide medical assistance for dive-related injuries. The chamber is located in Suva, which is far from most resorts. Please note that the chamber is not always fully functioning. Some travel insurance doesn’t cover “risky” outdoor activities. If planning on diving, it is recommended you look at the DAN website: www.diversalertnetwork.org for diver’s insurance).
Trekking: Terrain in the Fiji islands can be hazardous. You should speak with local guides and/or hotel staff before starting a trek. It is best to hike with a companion and stay on trails that are clearly marked.
Customs: There may be strict regulations and customs enforcement for importing and exporting items such as alcohol and tobacco products in Fiji. You should contact the Embassy of Fiji in Washington, DC, at (202) 466-8320 for specific information regarding customs requirements. Bringing animals into Fiji is strictly controlled. Pets may be imported only from certain designated, rabies-free areas. If you want to bring a pet into Fiji, contact the Ministry of Agriculture in Suva approximately six months in advance to find out the details. Also, please see the Customs Information sheet for additional information.
Purchase of Real Estate: Purchasing real estate in Fiji can be risky. Be cautious before you enter into commitments to invest in property. You should gather reliable information and hire experienced Fijian legal counsel regarding any real estate investment. Fijian law and practices about real estate differ substantially from those in the United States.
Notification of Arrest: You should carry a copy of your U.S. passport at all times. If questioned by local authorities, you will need to show proof of identity and U.S. citizenship. According to Fijian law, a person detained for criminal actions may be held for a maximum of 48 hours before being charged. Police authorities should contact the U.S. Embassy within 24 hours of the detention or arrest of a U.S. citizen. Nevertheless, if you are detained, you should request that a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy in Suva be notified.
Natural Disasters: Fiji is located in an area of high seismic activity. Although the probability of a major earthquake occurring during your trip is rare, please remember that earthquakes can and do occur. Undersea earthquakes in the South Pacific can generate destructive tsunamis. Fiji does not have a siren warning system in place; instead, tsunami warnings are transmitted through local radio and television stations. Most coastal resorts and hotels have tsunami evacuation plans in place, and guests should carefully follow staff instructions in the event of a tsunami warning.
Cyclones: The cyclone season is November through April. The Fiji Meteorological Service maintains a Tropical Cyclone Warning Center in Nadi serving the Southwest Pacific Region. General information regarding disaster preparedness is available by visiting the Bureau of Consular Affairs web site and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) home page.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Health-care facilities in Fiji's urban areas are adequate for routine medical problems. In the rural areas, staff training is limited and there are often shortages of supplies and medications. Travelers should carry adequate supplies of any needed prescription medicines, along with copies of their prescriptions, the generic name of the drugs, and a supply of preferred over-the-counter medications. Emergency response is extremely limited. Ambulance availability is minimal, and ambulances are often poorly equipped and staffed. Two major hospitals, the Lautoka Hospital in the western city of Lautoka and the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva, provide limited emergency and outpatient services. A recompression chamber at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva can treat decompression sickness (See also Special Circumstances, Water Sports). A private hospital in Suva provides Western-style medical care, and other hospitals and clinics provide a limited range of health services. Medical emergencies may be evacuated to Australia, New Zealand, or the United States. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States or elsewhere can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for health services. Medevac to Australia or NZ will only be considered if patient has adequate insurance or upfront payment which can be expected to run into tens of thousands of dollars. In some cases, medevac to Australia or NZ can require a medical visa.
Dengue fever, carried by infected mosquitoes, occurs throughout the country of Fiji, especially during the rainy season.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor 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 additional insurance for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Fiji, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Traffic moves on the left in Fiji. While most roads in urban areas are paved, they are poorly maintained. Roads outside the city are usually not paved. In the city, be especially attentive when driving after dark. Outside of the city, it is best to avoid driving after dark except in emergency or exceptional circumstances. Insufficient lighting, stray animals, unwary pedestrians, and potholes make driving dangerous and particularly hazardous at night.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Fiji’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Fiji’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
* * *
This replaces the Country Specific Information for Fiji dated March, 2013 without substantive changes.