Country guides Australasia
The electrical current is 220 to 240 volts, 50Hz; plugs are flat three pins.
The three official languages of Vanuatu are English, French and Bislama (a pidgin language), and a further 113 indigenous languages are used by local people in the islands.
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; major credit and debit cards 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 that accept most international cards in Port Vila. Banking hours are generally weekdays between 8am and 4pm.
Tipping is not expected in Vanuatu as it is traditionally unacceptable. A smiling thank you is sufficient gratuity.
Visitors should take precautions against mosquito bites as malaria and dengue fever are prevalent. A hepatitis A vaccination is recommended, as is typhoid immunisation for those planning to consume food outside of the better hotels and restaurants. Urban tap water is safe to drink but, elsewhere, visitors should drink only bottled or purified water, and should 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 that sea rescue services are not comprehensive. Comprehensive travel health insurance with evacuation cover is strongly recommended.
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. Tourists have been injured, even fatally, by volcanic activity on the islands, and visitors should 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, and visitors are advised to take precautions against burglary and street crime, especially at night. Foreigners, especially women, have been attacked in isolated locations and it is unsafe to visit remote areas or beaches alone.
Local traditions and customs should be respected, and this includes not wearing very revealing clothing away from the beaches and hotels. It's important to note that land-ownership is a sensitive issue in Vanuatu, and that those who venture onto someone's land may be asked to pay a 'visitor fee'. Visitors should also ask permission before taking photographs of local people. The Polynesian herbal 'feel-good' drink, kava, is widely drunk by the locals, particularly at cultural ceremonies.
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.
Travellers arriving in Vanuatu may bring in the following goods without paying customs duty: 250 cigarettes or 250g tobacco or 25 cigars or 100 cigarillos; 2.25 litres of spirits and 2.25 litres of wine; 250ml of eau de toilette and 100ml of perfume.
The international direct dialling code for Vanuatu is +678, and the outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Pay-as-you-go SIM cards are available from the local network provider, Telecom Vanuatu Limited (TVL); most hotels and resorts offer WiFi.
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 or onward tickets could be refused entry. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
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.
National Tourism Office, Port Vila: +678 22658/ 22515; or www.vanuatutravel.info111 (Police); 113 (Fire); 115 (Medical emergencies)
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.