Departure tax at the International Airport is VUV 2,500 per person over the age of 12 years and VUV 400 for domestic Vanair Service tax. Both these passenger service charges are included in airfares.
A separate domestic departure fee has also recently been launched which charges visitors and locals 200vt from any Shefa and Sanma Province domestic airport. This is applied to every leg where a passenger departs from the following domestic airports: Bauerfield – Port Vila, Siwo Airport – Emae, Pele Airport – Tongoa, Valesdir Airport – Epi, Laman Bay Airport – Epi, Pekoa Airport – Espiritu Santo. The 200vt is paid seperately as it is not included in passenger tickets.
Banking and Currency
The currency used is the Vatu. Although Australian dollars are accepted by many shops, restaurants and hotels in Vila, and a few in Luganville (Santo), they are NOT readily accepted outside of town or throughout the islands. Daily fluctuations occur, however you should work on the following approximations; 100 vatu = AU$1.29 and US$0.80.
The main banks are Westpac (with a branch at the international airport), ANZ and Bank of Hawaii. They are open 8.00 am till 3.00 pm Monday to Friday, and Wespac opens from 8.30am to 4pm Monday to Friday. There are several ANZ ATM machines in Port Vila and Luganville, Santo only. You can also get cash advances on Visa and Mastercards during bank hours. “Goodies” money changer in town is open 8 am until 5.30-6.00 pm Monday to Friday and 8.30 am to 4.00 pm weekends and public holidays. For Australian and New Zealander’s please note only ANZ Bankcard is accepted, and Visa, Mastercard and to a lesser extent Amex and Diner’s.
The best time of year is April/May to October when temperatures range from 18 to 28 degrees Celsius. Light weight casual clothing plus a sweater is usually sufficient. November & December are warm but not generally unpleasantly so. January to March is hot (26-34 degrees Celsius), often wet and prone to cyclones, but being low season it’s also a good time of year to take advantage of travel deals.
Duty Free Allowance
Standard Allowances” Shall mean the following goods: [a] 250 Cigarettes, or 100 Cigarillors or 50 Cigars or 250 Grammes of Tabbaco. [b] 1.50 Litres of Spirits/ Liqueurs; and [c] 2.250 Litres of Wine; and [d] 25 Centerlitres of Toilet Water; and [e] 10 Cenerliters of Perfume Spirit; and [f] Any other new new or unused items includind gifts [ but excluding prohibited or restricted goods] up to a value of 50,000 Vatu per person. [g] 1 Carton Beer
Children less than 15 years of age are not entitle to the above allowances.
The Following Goods must be declared: 1. Any Phrobited or rsstricted goods such as Arms, Ammunitions, dangerous Drugs, Animals, Plants. 2. Any goods of a commerical value. 3. Any goods in excess of the allowance which have been obtained Duty Free in Vanuatu, or during the voyage or abroad [whether Duty and Tax Free or not] including gifts, or goods carried on behalf of other persons.
Visas are not required from most countries: (All commonwealth countries, Belgium, Denmark, Eire, Fiji, France and its dominions, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, U.S.A.) However you must have a valid, ongoing or return airline ticket and your Passport must be valid for six months beyond your intended stay.
Vanuatu Public Holidays
* January 1st – New Year’s Day
* February 21st – Father Lini Day
* March 5th – Custom Chief’s Day
* May 1st – Labour Day
* May 24th – Ascension Day
* July 24th – Children’s Day
* July 30th – Independence Day
* August 15th – Assumption Day
* October 5th – Constitution Day
* November 29th – Unity Day
* December 25th – Christmas
* December 26th – Family Day
See calendar for more of whats happening in Vanuatu.
There are no public transport systems in Vanuatu. Privately owned mini buses are common and run unspecified routes through the municipal areas. You need only board one heading in approximately the right direction and tell the driver where you wish to stop and you will get there, albeit by a circuitous route! Taxis are also plentiful and relatively inexpensive. To get to other parts of Efate, utilities are licensed to carry passengers and can be found at the Markets. Vanair is the only domestic airline to offer regular services between islands, though there are a limited number of charter aircraft (see Tours). Inter Island trading vessels also depart for the islands on a semi-regular basis.
Malaria is endemic and travel agents will recommend you take preventative medication. CAUTION: Most such medication increases your risk of sunburn profoundly! Bring a jug of 15+ sun cream, even in Winter. Hepatitis B and tuberculosis exists throughout the islands but should be of no concern to travellers if normal precautions are taken.
There is one hospital in Vila, one in Luganville, both with limited resources. There are small clinics and dispensaries throughout the islands. There are numerous English and French MD’s in Vila: J. Bador ph. 23065, Dentist : H. Collard ph. 22306, and Chiropractor / Physiotherapist : G. Sariani ph. 25777.
Serious injuries and medical conditions will require medical evacuation to more modern facilities in Australia, New Zealand or New Caledonia, so travel insurance is strongly recommended. Although we are very fortunate that AIDs has yet to get a toehold, please ensure safe sexual practices at all times.
Although Vanuatu is a safe destination, many tours, especially to outer islands, are in the adventurous category. This means that from time to time, volcanoes are closed, domestic flights delayed, planes cannot land due to muddy airstrips, SCUBA dives cancelled due to cyclones etc. Therefore we strongly recommend travel insurance be purchased prior to your departure.
There are over 120 distinct languages and many more dialects. The lingua franca and national language is Bislama (pidgin English). The official languages are Bislama, English and French.
All food, fruits, animal products and plants must be declared upon entry into Vanuatu. Many such items are allowed though, some require a valid quarantine certificate from the country of origin.
Most ‘clean’ (smooth) wooden artifacts, shells, even some grass skirts can be taken into Australia and New Zealand (who have the most stringent systems in the world, so for others, it gives you a good idea). Some artifacts require a Quarantine certificate which is readily issued in Vanuatu and accepted in most foreign countries. When in doubt, check with the proprietor when purchasing and declare it upon entry. It will not be confiscated, at worst you may need to have it sprayed.
Some items such as turtle, giant clam and trumpet shells can be purchased in the markets. They have been harvested as a food source by individual ni-Vanuatu, but most countries who are signatories to the CITES agreement have banned their import, so caveat emptor.
Neither tipping nor bargaining is considered civilised behaviour. If you would like to express your gratitude for service, you might like to send a postcard or perhaps give a ‘t’ shirt as a gift from your country. It is neither necessary, nor expected, but such small items are received with much appreciation.
Vanuatu is one hour ahead of AST (Australian Standard Time) and 11 hours ahead of GST (Greenwich Standard Time or UT). There is no daylight saving in summer.
The National Tourism Office is open from 7.30 – 11.30am and 1.30-4.30pm 5 days each week, our Information Office is open from 7.30 – 4.30pm and on Saturday mornings from 7.30 – 2.00pm and all cruise ship days. Tour companies and many shops are open at 7.30 until 4.30-5 pm. Larger supermarkets are open until 7.00 pm. Business houses are generally open 8.00 am until 11.30 am then siesta until 1.30 pm and close again at 5.00 pm. Most shops are open on Saturday mornings and some open on Sunday mornings.
With little industry or agriculture and no unusual water borne bugs, the town water supply is very safe to drink. In the outer islands, water is collected from streams whose catchments are untouched jungle, or as rainwater from roofs. Bore water is less common but safe to drink throughout. However some people react to water in different places simply because it’s different. If you fall into that category, bottled water can be readily purchased from Vila and Luganville. Supplies in the outer islands are very limited.
For more on Vanuatu at ITKT