Do you or someone you know need help?
If you are in Australia
Call 1300 555 135
If you are overseas
Call +61 2 6261 3305
text +61 421 269 080
A volcano erupted on White Island, New Zealand on 9 December 2019. Follow the instructions of local authorities. Updates are available from the New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.
Call 1300 555 135
Call +61 2 6261 3305
text +61 421 269 080
We haven't changed our level of advice:
Exercise normal safety precautions in Tonga.
Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
Full travel advice: Travel
Tonga has a rate of violent crime similar to Australia, but petty crime is common. Crime that might affect you in Tonga includes:
House break-ins and property theft also happen.
Security risks increase at night. Thieves target electronic equipment, especially:
To protect yourself from violent crime:
Civil unrest is rare in Tonga, but any public protest or event that draws a large group of people can turn violent.
To protect yourself during periods of unrest:
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Tour operators don't always follow safety and maintenance standards. This applies to:
If you plan to do an adventure activity:
If proper safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.
Take care when swimming at beaches, especially those with outlying coral reefs.
Strong rips can occur where there's a break in the reef. This makes it dangerous for swimmers and surfers. People have drowned.
Ask locals about danger spots before swimming.
During an emergency, the Tongan National Emergency Management Office provides updates on Radio 1 at frequency 1017AM.
If a natural disaster occurs:
If you're due to arrive after a natural disaster or during cyclone season, ask your tour operator or airline if it affects your travel plans.
The cyclone season is November to April. However, tropical storms and cyclones can happen throughout the year, bringing:
The direction and strength of cyclones can change suddenly.
If there's a cyclone or tropical storm:
If a cyclone or tropical storm is approaching:
Monitor alerts and advice from:
Tonga experiences earthquakes.
Get to know the earthquake safety measures for each place you stay and visit. Ask your hotel or host for advice.
If there's an earthquake:
Tsunamis can happen in Tonga. A tsunami can arrive within minutes of a nearby tremor or earthquake.
Being close to the Tonga Trench, strong earthquakes in the region could cause a destructive tsunami to hit within 20 minutes.
To receive tsunami alerts, register with the:
If you're near the coast, move to high ground straight away. Do this if local authorities advise so, or if you:
Don't wait for official warnings, such as alarms or sirens.
Once on high ground, monitor local media and the Tonga Meteorological Service.
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.
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 even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Tonga. Take enough legal medication for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:
There's an outbreak of measles in Tonga. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date before you go.
Insect-borne disease outbreaks occur in Tonga, especially during the wet season. Diseases include:
Mosquitos that carry these diseases are active during the day.
The Australian Department of Health's bulletin explains how to minimise the risk of Zika virus. There's no vaccination for it.
If you're pregnant, the Australian Department of Health recommends you:
To protect yourself from disease:
Get medical advice if you develop a fever, muscle pain, a rash or a bad headache.
Waterborne, foodborne and other infectious diseases are common. These include:
outbreaks sometimes occur.
To protect yourself from illness:
Get medical advice if you suspect food poisoning or have a fever or diarrhoea.
Eating reef fish can result in ciguatera poisoning. Ciguatera is a naturally occurring seafood toxin.
Other risks include:
Get urgent medical help if you suspect poisoning.
Hospital and medical facilities are limited, especially in remote island groups.
If you become ill or injured, you may need to be evacuated to Australia or New Zealand, even for minor medical issues. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
Evacuations on a Sunday are difficult to arrange because airports don't operate.
There are no decompression chambers in Tonga. People with serious cases of decompression sickness are evacuated to the nearest treatment centre in New Zealand.
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.
Sabbath laws strictly limit Sunday activities. Business activities are not allowed.
Unless you're at a resort, activities such as playing sport, dancing, listening to loud music, and fishing are illegal on Sundays.
The blood alcohol limit for driving in Tonga is 0.015%.
There are 2 breath tests for blood alcohol readings. The first is a roadside test to see if you have alcohol in your system.
If you test positive for alcohol, you'll be taken to a police station for a second test.
If police catch you outside business hours, they'll likely hold you in a police cell until they can charge you.
Sodomy is a criminal offence. Punishment is a maximum of 10 years in jail.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
Tonga recognises dual nationals.
Tonga is a mostly Christian country with a high level of religious observance.
Tonga is a conservative country. Take care not to offend.
Dress modestly to avoid unwanted attention. You can wear a bikini at a resort, but wear more modest swimwear at public beaches away from resorts. Topless bathing is not accepted.
If you're a man, you're not allowed to go shirtless in public areas unless you're at a resort.
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 get a tourist visa when you arrive for stays of up to 31 days. However, you must have an onward ticket.
Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. Contact a high commission of Tonga for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.
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.
If you want to stay longer or work, you'll need to apply for a visa.
If you arrive in Tonga with less than 6 months remaining on your passport you may:
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 Tongan Pa'anga (TOP).
Change Australian dollars for TOP at local banks. These include ANZ and Bank South Pacific.
Remote island groups have limited banking services.
The main island of Tongatapu has ATMs, but they don't accept all Australian cards. Ask your bank if your card will work in Tonga.
Credit card fraud and card skimming occurs. Don't expose your PIN when using ATMs. Check your bank statements often.
Local boats can be dangerous because they:
Operators may not provide life jackets on boats, rafts or kayaks.
Some cruise ships stop in Tonga.
Australian driver's licences and international driving permits aren't recognised. To get a licence, contact the Ministry of Infrastructure.
You must have a temporary Tongan licence to hire a motor scooter or car.
Driving in Tonga can be dangerous, especially at night due to:
Speeding, alcohol and drug-driving cause many road deaths.
Some road rules differ from those in Australia. Be aware that:
Always wear a helmet. This applies to a motorbike or motor scooter. Hire companies don't always provide helmets.
If you plan to hire a motorcycle, check your travel insurance covers you.
Only use registered taxis and authorised limousines. Arrange these through your hotel.
Limited bus services operate on Tongatapu.
Bus services finish at 5pm. Buses don't run on Sundays.
Petty crime happens on buses. Take care of your belongings.
Domestic aircraft safety and maintenance practices in Tonga may not meet international standards. Take this into account when booking your air travel.
Tonga's domestic airline, Real Tonga, operates scheduled flights to all island groups.
Limited domestic services can result in:
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Tonga's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
Call 911 or go to a hospital.
Call 911, or go to a local police station.
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 to find out what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
For consular help, contact the Australian High Commission in Nuku'alofa.
Check the Australian 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.