Electricity

Electrical current is 220-240 volts, 50Hz; plugs are flat three pins.

Language

The three official languages of Vanuatu are English, French and Bislama (a pidgin language). A further 113 indigenous languages are used by local people in the islands.

Money

The unit of currency in Vanuatu is the Vatu (VUV), although Australian Dollars are widely accepted in Port Vila. The Vatu has no subdivisions. Exchange facilities are readily available at banks and kiosks in Port Vila. Banking services are sophisticated and major credit and debit cards, as well as travellers cheques, are widely accepted in Port Vila and Luganville, but cash is required in the countryside away from tourist resorts. MasterCard and Visa are the most widely accepted. There are ATMs accepting most international cards in Port Vila. Banking hours are generally weekdays between 8am and 4pm.

Tipping

Tipping is not expected in Vanuatu as it is traditionally unacceptable. A smiling thank you is sufficient gratuity.

Health

There has been an increase in the number of dengue fever cases in Vanuatu. Malaria prophylaxis is highly recommended because malaria is also common in the region. It is vital to take precautions against mosquito bites because dengue fever is prevalent. Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended, as well as typhoid immunisation for those planning to consume food outside of the better hotels and restaurants. Urban tap water is safe to drink, but elsewhere drink only bottled or purified water, and ensure food is well-prepared and well-cooked, and served piping hot. Medical facilities on the islands are basic but adequate for routine treatment. More serious cases require evacuation to Australia or New Zealand. Scuba divers should be aware there is one decompression chamber on the islands, at Port Vila, and sea rescue services are not comprehensive. Comprehensive travel health insurance with evacuation cover is strongly recommended.

Safety

Most visits to Vanuatu are trouble-free; the greatest threat to a visitors' safety comes from nature in the form of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The islands have experienced more than 40 earthquakes in the past two years, some measuring over seven on the Richter scale. Tourists have been injured, even fatally, by volcanic activity on the islands, and visitors are advised to be cautious and heed the advice of local guides when making expeditions to view active volcanoes. The tropical cyclone season normally runs from November to April. The crime rate is low, but is increasing. Take precautions against burglary and street crime, especially at night. Foreigners, especially women, have been attacked in isolated locations and it is advisable not to visit remote areas or beaches alone.

Local customs

Local traditions and customs should be respected, and this includes not wearing very revealing clothing away from the beaches and hotels. Ask permission before taking photographs of local people. Be aware that land-ownership is a sensitive issue in Vanuatu, and those who venture onto someone's land may be asked to pay a 'visitor fee'. The Polynesian herbal 'feel-good' drink, kava, is widely drunk by the locals, particularly at cultural ceremonies.

Doing business

Vanuatu has no personal income tax, capital gains tax or company restrictions, so it is a popular haven for international offshore investment companies. Business attire is smart-casual, and meetings are usually held in French or Bislama (the local pidgin English). Office hours are generally 7.30am to 11.30am, and then 1.30pm to 5pm on weekdays.

Duty free

Travellers arriving in Vanuatu may bring in the following goods without paying customs duty: 250 cigarettes or 250g tobacco or 50 cigars or 100 cigarillos; 2.25 litres of spirits and 2.25 litres of wine; 250ml of eau de toilette and 100ml of perfume.

Communications

The international direct dialling code for Vanuatu is +678. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Area codes are in use. There are public telephones near the post office and near the Telecom office in Port Vila, with phone cards available at both these offices. There is GSM mobile phone coverage of the islands (contact your service provider to ascertain whether your phone is compatible) and local pay-as-you-go SIM cards are available from the local network provider, Telecom Vanuatu Limited (TVL). There are Internet cafes in Port Vila and Luganville, and most hotels and resorts have Internet access.

Passport & Visa

Travellers to Vanuatu must hold a passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of arrival. Sufficient funds, all documents for next destination and return or onward tickets are required. Visitors not holding return/onward tickets could be refused entry. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Entry requirements

United States citizens require a passport valid for six months beyond date of arrival, but do not require a visa to stay in Vanuatu for up to 30 days.

British citizens, regardless of their national status, do not require a visa to stay in Vanuatu for up to 30 days. They do require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date.

Canadians do not require a visa to stay in Vanuatu for up to 30 days. They do require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date.

Australians do not require a visa to stay in Vanuatu for up to 30 days. They do require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date.

South Africans do not require a visa to stay in Vanuatu for up to 30 days. They do require a passport valid for six months beyond date of arrival.

Irish citizens require a passport valid for six months beyond date of arrival, and do not require a visa to stay in Vanuatu for up to 30 days.

New Zealand citizens require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival date. They do not require a visa to stay in Vanuatu for up to 30 days.

Useful contacts

National Tourism Office, Port Vila: +678 22658/ 22515; or www.vanuatutravel.info

22222 (Police); 22333 (Fire)

Embassies / consulates in other countries

Vanuatu Honorary Consulate, Cape Town, South Africa: +27 (0)21 434 6570.

Vanuatu Consulate, Auckland, New Zealand: (+64) 9 918 6327 or (+64) 21 216 4722.

Embassies / consulates in Vanuatu

United States Embassy, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (also responsible for Vanuatu): +675 321 1455.

British High Commission, Suva, Fiji (also responsible for Vanuatu): +679 322 9100.

Canadian High Commission, Canberra, Australia (also responsible for Vanuatu): +61 (0)2 6270 4000.

Australian High Commission, Port Vila: +678 22777.

South African High Commission, Canberra, Australia (also responsible for Vanuatu): +61 (0)2 6272 7300.

New Zealand High Commission, Port Vila: +678 22933.

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