Fire and rescue services
We haven't changed our level of advice:
Exercise normal safety precautions in Samoa.
Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
Full travel advice: Travel
Crime occurs in Samoa but the crime rate is not high.
You're most at risk:
Petty crime is common, including theft from vehicles and accommodation.
Violent house break-ins can occur.
To protect yourself from crime:
Demonstrations and protests can happen. Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.
To protect yourself during periods of unrest:
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Beaches are not patrolled in Samoa. Swimmers have died because of strong tides and powerful lagoon currents.
Risks are even higher when:
Ask local residents and tour operators about safe areas for swimming.
Stray and poorly controlled dogs are common. Dog attacks on people in suburban areas and on beaches are common.
Don't approach or touch dogs.
Dive companies and tour operators don't always follow safety and maintenance standards. This includes:
If you plan to do a tour or adventure activity:
If proper safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.
Samoa experiences severe weather, including:
Monitor weather updates and warnings via:
If a natural disaster happens:
If your arrival in Samoa is after a natural disaster or during cyclone season, ask your tour operator if services have been affected.
Cyclone season is from November to April. However, tropical storms and cyclones can happen any time of year.
Storms and cyclones can cause flooding and gale-force winds and disrupt services.
The direction and strength of tropical cyclones can change with little warning.
If there's a cyclone or severe tropical storm:
Roads can be cut off. It may take time for services, such as electricity, to be restored.
If a cyclone or severe storm is approaching:
Earthquakes and aftershocks happen often in Samoa.
Ask your host or hotel about what to do if there's an earthquake.
If there's an earthquake:
After an earthquake:
Samoa has a Tsunami Warning System as Tsunamis can happen.
Move immediately to high ground if you:
Don't wait for official warnings.
Once on high ground, monitor local media.
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. 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. Most health care providers in Samoa expect cash payment before carrying out any treatment.
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
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 be considered illegal or controlled substances, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Samoa. Carry with you enough legal medication for your trip.
Local pharmacies have a limited range of medication.
Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:
There's a measles epidemic in Samoa. In response, the Government of Samoa declared a one‑month state of emergency on 15 November. This emergency is placing an unprecedented burden on the Samoan health system, with the hospital focussing on treating measles cases.
Make sure your vaccinations are up to date before you go and your travel insurance covers all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuations.
Outbreaks of insert-borne diseases can happen, mostly in the wet season. Diseases include:
If you're pregnant, the Australian Department of Health recommends you:
Find out about Zika virus-affected countries on the Department of Health website.
Mosquitoes are active during the day. To protect yourself from disease:
You could be at risk from waterborne, foodborne and other infectious diseases, including:
Serious outbreaks sometimes occur.
To protect yourself from illness:
Get medical advice if you have a fever or diarrhoea.
Hospital and medical facilities are limited, and are currently focused on treating measles cases. The measles epidemic is placing an unprecedented burden on the health system.
For medical emergencies you are likely to be medivaced out of Samoa. For non‑emergency medical help, visit a GP rather than a hospital.Make sure your travel insurance covers medical evacuations.
All foreigners are required to pay for health services in Samoa. Doctors and hospitals normally expect cash payment before carrying out any treatment.
There's no helicopter service.
Blood supplies are often limited.
You may need to bring your own bedding and towels to hospital.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to Australia or New Zealand. Medical evacuation can be very expensive. Evacuations may be delayed if you use commercial airlines. Flights are heavily booked in New Zealand and Australian school holiday periods.
There are no hyperbaric chambers on any of the islands. If you need treatment for decompression sickness, you'll be evacuated to the nearest treatment centre.
Registered dive companies carry basic treatment equipment to meet Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) standards.
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.
Penalties for carrying or using illegal drugs, including cannabis, may include a jail sentence.
By law, you must not own drug-related equipment in Samoa.
If police suspect a drug offence, they may detain you while they investigate.
The legal drinking age is 21 years.
Prostitution is illegal.
Same-sex relationships are not recognised in Samoa and consensual sex between men is illegal. Penalties include a jail sentence.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
Samoa recognises dual nationals.
Dress and behaviour standards are modest. Take care not to offend.
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.
You can apply for a 90 day Vistitor Permit on arrival using the passenger arrival card if you:
For other situations and for Business Visitor Permits, see the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet website.
Entry and exit conditions can change. Contact a high commission of Samoa for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.
If you've visited an Ebola-affected country within 21 days of arriving in Samoa, you may be stopped by officials. You may be quarantined or deported, even if don't have a fever or Ebola-like symptoms.
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 Samoan Tala (WST).
Declare amounts over WST 20,000 when you arrive and depart. This covers all forms of currency, not only cash.
You can change money and find ATMs in the major centres.
Credit cards can be used at most resorts and large shops. Not many small businesses accept credit cards.
You need a temporary Samoan driver's licence to drive.
Get a temporary licence from:
You'll need to show your valid Australian licence and pay a fee.
Driving in Samoa is hazardous, especially at night.
You're almost 3 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident in Samoa than in Australia.
Samoa switched to driving on the left-hand side of the road in 2009. However, many vehicles still have the driver's seat on the left.
If you plan to drive:
Check if your travel insurance policy covers you when riding a motorbike.
Always wear a helmet.
Use only registered taxis and limousines.
Book through your hotel or resort.
Samoa has a small and irregular bus network. Buses are usually crowded.
Bus schedules are limited on Sundays.
Petty crime can happen on buses. Take care of your belongings.
Samoa's inter-island ferries may not meet Australian safety standards. They may:
Emergency safety procedures may not work.
If you need to travel by ferry:
If you aren't given safety equipment, or it's not in usable condition, use another provider.
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Samoa's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
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.
Check the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
For consular help, contact the Australian High Commission in Apia.
Check the High Commission 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:
Be the first to know official government advice when travelling.