Fire and rescue services
Call 15 or go to a hospital.
Call 17 or go to the nearest police station or gendarmerie station (outside of Papeete).
We haven't changed our level of advice:
Exercise normal safety precautions in French Polynesia.
Strikes and industrial disputes can lead to unrest and disrupt essential services including transport links. Protests can turn violent. Avoid large public gatherings.
The rate of serious crime is low. But petty crime, including theft and drink spiking, occurs. Keep your belongings close, especially in crowded places. Don't leave food or drink unattended.
French Polynesia has natural disasters, including cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis. Check with the High Commission of France in French Polynesia (French) for updates. They also run a phone hotline during major emergencies. Your tour operator or accommodation provider may also be able to provide timely advice.
Cyclone season is November to April. However, tropical storms and cyclones may occur at any time. Understand and follow French Polynesia's cyclone alert system.
A tsunami can arrive within minutes of a tremor or earthquake. Get updates from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Know the warning signs and move immediately to high ground.
Full travel advice: Safety
In April and July authorities declared a dengue type 2 epidemic on the island of Tahiti and Bora Bora. Other insect-borne diseases include chikungunya and filariasis. Ensure your accommodation is insect-proof. Use insect repellent.
There have been cases of Zika virus. If you're pregnant, discuss your travel plans with your doctor before you travel.
Leptospirosis occurs in French Polynesia. Wear closed-toed shoes when walking, and avoid contact with rivers or muddy water. Store food in sealed containers.
Other infectious diseases include scabies, influenza and conjunctivitis. Attend to symptoms such as fever, itchiness and skin wounds. Tap water in Papeete is usually safe to drink. Avoid raw and undercooked food. Outside Papeete, drink boiled or bottled water.
Medical facilities in Papeete are good, but those in outlying areas are basic. Ensure your travel insurance covers your condition and medical evacuation.
Full travel advice: Health
Understand the local laws. French Polynesia is an overseas territory of France. A mix of French and local laws apply.
Don't use or carry illegal drugs. You could face fines or imprisonment for having even small amounts.
By law you must always have photo identification with you.
Same-sex marriage is legal. However, outside the main tourist islands, you may encounter more conservative attitudes.
Outside of tourist areas, standards of dress and behaviour are conservative. Take care not to offend.
Full travel advice: Local laws
If you're visiting for tourism for less than three months, you likely won't need a visa. In other situations, you may need one. Contact your nearest embassy or consulate of France for details.
You can't bring certain goods into French Polynesia. Other goods require specific approvals or other formalities. Check local regulations before you travel.
The local currency is the Pacific Franc. You can exchange Australian dollars at most commercial banks, the international airport, licensed exchange bureaus, and hotels and resorts. You may not be able to use credit cards or find ATMs outside the main tourist areas.
You can drive in French Polynesia with a valid Australian driver's licence for up to one year after arrival.
Hail taxis on the street in Papeete, at Centre Vaima station and at Boulevard Pomare station. Many outer islands don't have taxis.
Major centres have a limited minibus network. Hail minibuses from the side of the road.
Full travel advice: Travel
The Consular Services Charter details what the Australian Government can and can’t do to help you overseas.
Australia has a consulate in Tahiti. It provides limited consular assistance. It can't issue passports or notarise documents.
For full consular assistance, contact the Australian Consulate-General in Noumea, New Caledonia.
Full travel advice: Local contacts
Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.
Strikes and industrial disputes can lead to social unrest. They may disrupt essential services, including:
Avoid demonstrations and crowds.
If there's a strike:
check on your flights before going to the airport
ask your tour operator if it affects tourist services
follow the instructions of local authorities
The rate of serious crime is low in French Polynesia.
Petty crime happens, including drink spiking.
To protect yourself from petty theft and assaults:
keep your belongings close, especially in crowded places
don't leave food or drink unattended
never accept drinks, food, gum or cigarettes from strangers or people you've just met
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Very few beaches in French Polynesia are patrolled.
Obey warning signs and follow lifeguards' and local authorities' advice. A red flag means don't swim.
Transport and tour operators don't always follow safety and maintenance standards. This includes adventure activities, such as scuba diving.
If you plan to do a tour or adventure activity:
check if your travel insurance policy covers it
ask about and insist on minimum safety requirements
always use available safety gear, such as life jackets or seatbelts
If proper safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.
French Polynesia experiences severe weather, including:
The High Commission of France in French Polynesia has procedures for natural disasters.
Check the High Commission of France in French Polynesia (French) for news and weather updates.
If there's an emergency, the High Commission of France will open a hotline (French). Call (+689) 40 44 42 10 for information.
Check weather reports regularly during your stay. Be prepared to change your plans if you need to.
If there's a natural disaster:
secure your passport in a safe, waterproof place
monitor local media
monitor sources such as the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
follow the advice of local authorities
keep in touch with your friends and family
ask your tour operator if tourist services at your destination are affected
Cyclone season is November to April. However, tropical storms and cyclones may occur at any time of year.
Severe weather can bring:
disruptions to infrastructure
breaks in essential services
The direction and strength of tropical cyclones can change with little warning.
If there's a cyclone or severe tropical storm:
you may get stuck in the area
flights could be delayed or suspended
available flights may fill quickly
ports may close
adequate shelter may not be available
French Polynesia has a cyclone alert system with 6 levels:
Yellow: potential cyclone activity in the next 72 hours - follow weather forecasts and bulletins
Orange: potential cyclone activity in the next 48 hours - prepare for a cyclone
Red: the cyclone is imminent — in the next 12 to 18 hours - protect yourself and stay indoors
Red: during the cyclone - protect yourself and stay indoors
Purple: safeguard phase - damage and risks (electrical cables, etc.) are being assessed - remain alert
Green: end of cyclone alert
If a cyclone is approaching:
know how to evacuate from your hotel or cruise ship
find your local shelter
monitor alerts and advice, including on local radio
go to the Weather Bureau in French Polynesia (French) for weather update
Once the Safeguard Phase is announced:
take care leaving your shelter
look out for debris
avoid fallen electrical wires
Earthquakes sometimes happen.
Ask your host or hotel about local procedures and what to do during an earthquake.
If there's an earthquake:
consider tsunami risks
monitor the United States Geological Survey
After an earthquake:
be prepared for delays and changes to your travel plans
ask your travel agent and tour operators to confirm travel services and accommodation bookings
Tsunamis may occur, so stay alert for warnings.
A tsunami can arrive within minutes of a tremor or earthquake. Get updates from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
French Polynesia has 2 types of evacuation:
immediate — for a tsunami from Tonga which could arrive in 1 hour
staged — for a tsunami from South America or Alaska that could arrive in 8 hours
If you're near the coast, move immediately to high ground if advised by local authorities or if you:
feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand up
feel a weak, rolling earthquake that lasts a minute or more
see a sudden rise or fall in sea level
hear loud and unusual noises from the sea
Don't wait for official warnings such as alarms or sirens.
Once on high ground, monitor local media.
To prepare yourself for earthquakes and tsunamis you can:
subscribe to tsunami alerts from the Global Disaster Alert and Co-ordination system
get earthquake updates from the US Geological Service
get tsunami updates from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation and adequate coverage for any pre-existing conditions. The Australian Government won’t pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many 1000s of dollars up-front for medical care.
what activities and care your policy covers
that your insurance covers you for the whole time you’ll be away
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
have a basic health check-up
ask if your travel plans may affect your health
plan any vaccinations you need
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be illegal or controlled substances, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in French Polynesia. Take enough legal medicine for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:
what the medicine is
how much you'll take
that it's for personal use
A dengue type 2 epidemic was declared 10 April on the islands of Tahiti and 12 July for Bora Bora. Other islands including Moorea, Nuku Hiva and Fakarava are also at risk.
Outbreaks of other insect-borne diseases can also happen, mostly in warmer and wetter months.
If you're pregnant, the Australian Department of Health recommends you:
discuss travel plans with your doctor
consider deferring non-essential travel to Zika virus-affected areas
To protect yourself from illness:
make sure your accommodation is insect-proof
use insect repellent
wear long, loose, light-coloured clothing
Get medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pains, a rash or a bad headache.
To protect yourself against leptospirosis:
wear closed-toed shoes when walking
avoid contact with muddy water or local rivers
store food in sealed containers
use a straw if you drink from a can
remove rubbish from around your buildings
You're also at risk of waterborne, foodborne, parasitic and other infectious diseases, including:
Tap water in Papeete is usually safe to drink.
To protect yourself from illness:
attend to symptoms such as itchiness and skin wounds
avoid raw and undercooked food, such as salads
drink boiled water or bottled water with sealed lids in rural or remote areas
Get medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, a rash, diarrhoea or a severe headache.
If you travel outside of Papeete:
drink boiled water or bottled water with sealed lids
avoid ice cubes
The standard of facilities in Papeete is very high. However, facilities in outlying areas and remote islands are basic.
Medical treatment is expensive.
The standard of rescue and emergency services is high. However, the travel time between Papeete and the outer islands may delay emergency responses.
You may need to be evacuated if you become seriously ill or injured. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
There is a decompression facility at the Central Hospital of French Polynesia in Papeete. It can take hours to reach from popular dive sites on other islands.
Make sure your insurance covers medical evacuation and your planned activities.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
French Polynesia is an overseas territory of France. A mix of French and local laws apply.
Penalties for drug offences, even small amounts, include fines and imprisonment.
By law, you must always carry photo ID.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you’re overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
French Polynesia recognises dual nationals.
Dress and behaviour standards are conservative outside of Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora and other tourist areas.
Take care not to offend, especially outside tourist resorts.
Visits to certain sacred sites (marae) may require prior authorisation. Check with local authorities before visiting any natural or historical site.
Under French law, same-sex marriage is legal. However, outside of the main tourist islands of Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora, you may encounter more conservative attitudes.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders.
Make sure you meet all entry and exit conditions. If you don't, the Australian Government can’t help you.
Visa-free travel for short stays.
You likely won't need a visa for a tourist visit of up to 3 months. However, you may need to show proof of:
sufficient money for your stay
return or onward travel ticket
adequate travel or health insurance
the purpose of your visit
In other situations, you may need a visa.
French Polynesia is an overseas territory of France.
Some goods aren't allowed in French Polynesia. Other goods require specific approvals or other formalities.
Some countries won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you’re just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport’s expiry date before you travel. If you’re not sure it’ll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
The local currency is the Pacific Franc (XPF — Franc Pacifique).
You can change Australian dollars at:
most commercial banks
the international airport
licensed exchange bureaus
hotels and resorts
You may not be able to use credit cards or find ATMs:
at smaller shops
on remote islands and atolls
Industrial and political disputes as well as strikes can cause disruptions to essential services including transport. Monitor developments and plan as required.
To learn more about strikes and civil disputes. See Safety
You can drive in French Polynesia on a valid Australian driver's licence for up to one year after arrival.
Take care driving, particularly at night. Many roads are narrow and unpaved.
If you plan to drive:
check your insurance cover
learn local traffic laws and practices
keep your car windows up and doors locked
don't drink and drive
follow the advice of local authorities
Make sure your insurance policy covers you before riding a motorbike, quad bike or similar vehicle.
Always wear a helmet.
You can hail a taxi on the street in Papeete.
You can also find a taxi at the Faa'a international airport and in Papeete at the:
Station de Vaima
Station du Marché (Market)
Station de Vaiete
Drivers may charge for luggage.
Many outer islands don't have taxis.
Major centres have a limited network of minibuses (Le Truck).
can be hailed from the side of the road
operate weekdays until 6pm
have a limited weekend service
Ferries (navettes) run between Tahiti and smaller islands.
Some international cruise liners visit French Polynesia.
Medical facilities on cruise ships may not meet Australian standards.
Treatment may also cost more.
Many insurance companies have refused to pay for medical evacuations to hospitals in French Polynesia. These have been mostly claims by cruise passengers with existing conditions.
If you plan to go on a cruise:
check the on-board medical facilities meet your needs
ask about the costs of medical treatment onboard
get the right cover for your medical conditions
buy cover that includes medical evacuation
be aware Medicare benefits may not apply during your journey
DFAT doesn’t provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check French Polynesia's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
family and friends
Call 15 or go to a hospital.
Call 17 or go to the nearest police station or gendarmerie station (outside of Papeete).
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Contact your provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can’t do to help you overseas.
Limited consular help is available from the Australian Consulate in Tahiti. It can't issue Australian passports or notarise documents.
C/- Petropol Central Office
Papeava Port Zone
Tahiti, French Polynesia
Phone: (+689) 40 468 806
For full consular help, contact the Australian Consulate-General in Noumea, New Caledonia.
The Consulate-General provides passport and notarial services during official visits to French Polynesia. For notarial services at other times, consider checking with the relevant Australian authority whether there are local options such as a foreign citizen who holds a particular professional title or occupation (e.g. notary public, lawyer, police officers, etc.) who may be accepted as a witness.
11 rue Georges Baudoux
Artillerie, Noumea, New Caledonia
Phone: +687 272 414
Check the Consulate-General website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
+61 2 6261 3305 from overseas
1300 555 135 in Australia
Be the first to know official government advice when travelling.