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Latest travel advice for Vanuatu including safety and security, entry requirements, travel warnings and health

2017-01-05T11:47:47.791+00:00: Latest update: Summary and Health section - cases of dengue fever have been confirmed in the capital city Port Vila and the provinces of Shefa, Sanma, Tafea and Torba; you should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes

The Vanuatu government has confirmed an outbreak of dengue fever in the capital city Port Vila and the provinces of Shefa, Sanma, Tafea and Torba. You should follow the advice of local authorities and take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

The tropical cyclone season normally runs from November to May. You should monitor local and international weather updates and follow the advice of the local authorities. See Natural disasters

Vanuatu lies on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ and regularly experiences seismic and volcanic activity, with over 2,000 seismic events reported each year. See Earthquakes

The Vanuatu Geohazards Department has issued level 2 alerts for both the northern and southern volcanoes of Ambrym and Tanna. Local communities and tourists have been banned from visiting the rim of these craters. There is a (lower) level 1 alert for a volcano on Ambae island.

There is a low threat from terrorism. See Terrorism

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

There’s no British diplomatic mission in Vanuatu. The British High Commission in Honiara, Solomon Islands provides consular assistance for British nationals in Vanuatu. In an emergency the New Zealand High Commission in Port Vila or the French Embassy may also be able to help.

Safety and security

Crime

Crime rates are low, but increasing. Burglaries are often accompanied by violence. Make sure you lock doors and windows at night. Street crime is also increasing and you should avoid making yourself an easy target, especially at night. There have been a number of attacks on tourists at nightclubs and bars in Port Vila. Check with the Vanuatu Tourist Office or your hotel on places where extra caution is required.

There have been several serious attacks on foreigners, including lone women, in isolated locations. Avoid visiting remote tourist sites or beaches alone. Where possible, travel as part of a larger group. 

Road travel

You can drive in Vanuatu on your UK driving licence. General driving standards are below those of the UK.  Many vehicles, including public transport, are in a poor state of repair and may not be insured. Many roads are not properly surfaced, so extra care should be taken when driving on them, particularly in heavy rain or after a prolonged dry period.

Air travel

Inter-island travel by the domestic airline (Air Vanuatu) is very expensive and subject to delays. Vanuatu’s outer island routes are serviced by small aircrafts, and airports and airstrips have quite basic facilities. 

Sea travel

Boat services between the islands are infrequent and can be unreliable. Inter-island boats should  have a current sea-worthiness certificate, but many don’t.

Swimming

Seek local advice from the Provincial Council Office and elsewhere before swimming in the waters off Vanuatu, particularly around the islands of Malekula and Espiritu Santo. Sharks are known to be present in these waters and deaths have occurred.

Water sports

Many visitors to Vanuatu take part in water sports, including scuba diving and snorkelling without incident. However, deaths and serious accidents have occurred because basic safety measures weren’t taken. Safety precautions and emergency responses may be less than those expected in the UK.

Vanuatu has two hyperbaric recompression chambers to provide medical assistance for dive-related injuries, both located in Port Vila.

Make sure your travel insurance policy covers you for the activities you take part in.

Political situation

Party politics in Vanuatu is in a continuous state of flux with frequent splits and coalitions. Although slowly diminishing, the Anglo/French divide continues to be important in politics, with parties generally being either predominantly anglophone or francophone.

The President serves a five year term. The current State President, Baldwin Londale was elected in September 2014.

14 MPs have recently been convicted of offences relating to corruption.

You should take extra care around political gatherings and follow instructions from the local authorities

Mobile phone services

There is a GSM mobile phone service in Vanuatu and you should contact your service provider to establish whether your phone will work in Vanuatu. Alternatively, SIM cards may be purchased from the local telephone company (TVL).

Terrorism

There is a low threat from terrorism, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas, including those visited by foreigners.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

You should respect local customs, which are strictly observed, and religious sensitivities.  

Do not beachwear when away from beaches and hotels. 

Homosexuality is legal in Vanuatu but open displays of affection between same-sex partners will attract adverse attention and may offend some. 

Drinking kava is an ancient tradition in Vanuatu. Kava is widely available at traditional ceremonies, at nakamals (kava bars) and at some hotels. Be aware of the British Medicine Controls Agency advice on kava consumption. It is illegal for supermarkets to sell alcohol between noon on a Saturday and 7am on a Monday. However, clubs bars and hotels may serve alcohol during these times.

Drug offences are punishable by fines, imprisonment or both. While there are no mandatory sentences for drug offences in Vanuatu, it is rare for a convicted person not to be fined or receive a jail sentence, even for ‘soft’ drug offences.

Most ni-Vanuatu will allow you to take their photograph but you should always seek their permission first.

Land ownership in Vanuatu is an important and often sensitive issue. If you are travelling off the beaten track, be aware that you may be trespassing and required to pay a “visiting fee” to  the landowner.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

British passport holders visiting Vanuatu do not require a visa and are normally given permission to enter and remain in the country for up to 30 days on arrival, provided that they are in possession of an onward or return ticket. 

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry from Vanuatu.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Vanuatu.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

The Vanuatu government has confirmed an outbreak of dengue fever in the capital city Port Vila and the provinces of Shefa, Sanma, Tafea and Torba. You should follow the advice of local authorities and take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Medical facilities in Vanuatu are basic but adequate for routine treatment. More serious cases will require evacuation to Australia or New Zealand. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Natural disasters

Vanuatu sits along a volatile seismic strip called the ‘Ring of Fire’ in the Pacific. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis are possible.

Tropical cyclones

The tropical cyclone season in Vanuatu normally runs from November to April. Throughout this period there is a high risk of strong winds and heavy rains with associated flooding, landslides and road closures.

Monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation, the Vanuatu Meteorological Service, local newspapers and local radio.

Vanuatu continues to recover from the impact of a direct hit from category 5 cyclone Pam in March 2015.

See our tropical cyclones page for advice about what to do if you’re caught up in a storm.

Earthquakes

Vanuatu is prone to significant year round seismic and volcanic activity, with over 2,000 seismic events reported each year. Most events are small scale, although larger tremors and quakes of over 5 on the Richter scale do occur on a regular basis. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

Volcanoes

Take care when visiting active volcanoes. The Vanuatu government’s Mines and Geology Department issues notices to the Vanuatu Tourism Office and provincial councils using an activity alert scale with five levels from 0-4. Levels 3 and 4 indicate more dangerous activity. Contact the Vanuatu Toursim Office before travelling to the areas where volcanic activity may occure. Information on volcanic activity can also be round at the Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory.

Money

There are currently 3 “High Street” banks in Vanuatu – The National Bank of Vanuatu, ANZ and BSP. Many offer ATM facilities covering most UK bankcards. The use of credit cards is commonplace in Port Vila and Luganville but less so in the rest of Vanuatu, particularly away from tourist resorts.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

See also

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  • British High Commission Honiara

    Title:British High Commission Honiara
    Email:bhc@solomon.com.sb
    Address:

    British High Commission, Honiara
    Gallery 3 & 4
    First Floor
    Heritage Park Hotel Ltd
    Mendana Avenue
    Honiara
    P.O. 676
    Solomon Islands

    Contact: Telephone: (+677) 21705
    Fax: (+677) 21549
    Visiting:Opening hours:
    Monday to Thursday: 8.00am to 12.00pm / 1.00pm to 4.00pm
    Friday: 8.00am to 12.00pm / 1.00pm to 3.00pm
    Services:Citizenship Ceremony service (Documentary Services)
    Emergency Travel Documents service (Assistance Services)
    Transferring funds for prisoners / for financial assistance service (Assistance Services)
    Registrations of Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Documentary Services)
    Births and Deaths registration service (Documentary Services)
    Service of Process (Documentary Services)
    Notarial services (Documentary Services)
    Issue certificate of no impediment (Documentary Services)
    Legalisation Service (Other Services)
    Overseas Passports Service (Other Services)
  • British High Commission Vanuatu

    Title:British High Commission Honiara
    Email:bhc@solomon .com.sb
    Address:

    British High Commission Honiara
    Residence of the British High Commissioner
    Tanuli Ridge
    676
    Solomon Islands

    Contact: Telephone: (+677) 21705
    Fax: (+677) 21549
    Visiting:Office hours (Local time):
    Monday to Thursday - 7:45am - 4:00pm
    Friday: 07:45 - 12:45

    Office hours (GMT):
    Monday to Thursday: 12:45am - 9:00am
    Friday: 12:45am - 5:45am
    Services:

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The latest news, travel advice, and information for Vanuatu, updated regularly for all British travellers by the UK Foreign Office. Including British consulate and embassy addresses in Vanuatu (Port-Vila).

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