Fire and rescue services
Call 115 or go to a hospital.
Call 111 or 22222, or go to the local police station.
Crime in Vanuatu is low. But it does increase in the lead-up to holidays such as Christmas and Independence Day (30 July). The risk is also higher at night or in isolated locations. Don't go out alone after dark or to isolated locations, especially on foot.
The cyclone season is November to May. But cyclones can happen at any time. Flooding and landslides can damage infrastructure and disrupt services. Know your accommodation's evacuation plan and where your local shelter is.
Earthquakes occur regularly. Tsunamis happen but are infrequent. Port Vila has a tsunami warning system. If there's a long and strong tremor or you hear the warning sirens, move to higher ground.
Vanuatu has several active volcanoes, including under-sea volcanoes. Contact the Vanuatu Meteorological and Geo-Hazards Department or the Vanuatu Tourism Office for advice before travelling to volcanic areas.
Full travel advice: Safety
Malaria occurs in some areas, especially in the north. Consider taking anti-malaria medication if you are travelling to affected areas.
Other insect-borne diseases include dengue and filariasis. Ensure your accommodation is insect-proof. Use insect repellent.
Vanuatu has had cases of Zika virus, rubella, mumps, measles and chickenpox. Check your vaccinations are up to date before you travel.
Waterborne, foodborne and other infectious diseases include hepatitis, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections. Avoid raw or undercooked food. Tap water in Port Vila and Luganville is generally safe to drink. Outside these areas, drink boiled or bottled water.
Reef fish contain the natural toxin ciguatera. Get urgent medical help if you suspect poisoning.
Medical facilities are limited. If you're ill or injured, you may need medical evacuation to Australia or New Zealand. Check your travel insurance covers this.
Full travel advice: Health
Don't use or carry illegal drugs. If you're convicted of a drug offence, you could face fines or jail time.
Know the local laws. There are strict rules regarding obscene material. Penalties include prison sentences.
Be aware of laws around alcohol. It's illegal for supermarkets to sell alcohol between midday Saturday and 7am Monday. You can still buy alcohol in hotels, bars and clubs during this time.
Vanuatu recognises dual nationality. Always travel on your Australian passport.
Vanuatu's standards of dress and behaviour are conservative. Take care not to offend.
Same-sex relationships are legal. However, local attitudes are conservative. Avoid public displays of affection.
Full travel advice: Local laws
If you're going to Vanuatu as a tourist, you can apply for a visitor visa on arrival. You must be visiting for 30 days or less and have an onward or return ticket. If you're staying longer or travelling for work or other reasons, get a visa before you travel.
Be aware of what you can and can't bring into the country. Customs officials strictly enforce rules regarding food, weapons and obscene material.
The local currency is the Vanuatu Vatu. Small shops and market stalls will only accept vatu. Some larger hotels, restaurants and shops in Port Vila also accept Australian dollars.
Not all beaches are public. Ask local landowners before going to non-public areas, including beaches. Some may charge an access fee.
There's no formal public transport system. In Port Vila, Luganville and some other areas, there's a network of private trucks, small buses and vans. But these may be poorly maintained.
Be very careful if travelling by boat or ferry. Many vessels don't have a current seaworthy certificate. Don't trust their safety.
Full travel advice: Travel
Crime against travellers in Vanuatu is rare.
Incidents in homes are becoming more common, even when people are there.
The risk of violent crime is higher:
in isolated places
when you're alone
Crime in Vanuatu increases on weekends and in the weeks leading up to holidays, such as Christmas and Independence Day (30 July).
To protect yourself from crime:
watch your belongings on buses and taxis, especially at night
don't go out alone after dark or to isolated places, especially on foot
always keep your vehicle and accommodation locked
be alert to suspicious behaviour
Civil unrest isn't common in Vanuatu. However, public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.
To protect yourself during periods of unrest:
avoid large crowds and big public gatherings
monitor local media for possible unrest, protest locations or road blocks
follow the advice of local authorities
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Tour operators don't always follow safety and maintenance standards.
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.
Get updates on weather conditions, forecasts, natural disaster watches and warnings before and during your stay.
Monitor local and regional weather and disaster sites, and then plan accordingly.
If a natural disaster occurs:
secure your passport in a safe, waterproof place
monitor local media and other sources
follow the advice of local authorities
keep in contact with your friends and family at home
Cyclones and other natural disasters may affect tourist services. Ask your tour operator about services at your destination.
The Vanuatu Natural Disaster Management Office has a colour-coded cyclone alert system. This includes safety procedures to follow during a cyclone threat. You can find this advice in the Vanuatu telephone directory.
The cyclone season is from November to May. Tropical storms and cyclones can also happen in other months.
Flooding and landslides can damage infrastructure and disrupt essential services.
The direction and strength of tropical cyclones can change suddenly.
If a cyclone or tropical storm occurs:
you may get stuck in the area
flights could be delayed or suspended
available flights may fill quickly
the storm may affect access to seaports
adequate shelter may not be available
To prepare for a cyclone or tropical storm:
know the evacuation plan for your hotel or cruise ship
identify your local shelter
Monitor advice from the Vanuatu Natural Disaster Management Office.
Earthquakes occur regularly in Vanuatu. Tsunamis happen but are infrequent.
A tsunami can arrive within minutes of a nearby tremor or earthquake.
To receive tsunami alerts, register with:
If there's a tsunami warning or you hear tsunami warning sirens in Port Vila or you feel a long and strong tremor:
move to high ground if you're near the coast or a low-lying area
follow advice of local authorities
Vanuatu has several active volcanoes, including several under-sea volcanoes.
Volcanoes are active on the islands of:
Visiting an active volcano is risky.
Pay attention to alerts. Alert levels go from 0 (normal, low-level activity) to 5 (very large eruption, island-wide danger).
A Level 3 alert triggers warnings to avoid the volcano summit and nearby areas. Even at lower levels, explosions and injuries from volcanic debris are possible.
If there's a volcanic eruption:
take official warnings seriously
follow the advice of local authorities
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.
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 considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
You'll find pharmacies in urban centres or at local clinics. They normally only open during business hours. A few urban pharmacies may open on Sunday or public holidays.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Vanuatu. Take enough legal medication for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:
what the medication is
how much you'll take
that it's for personal use
Malaria occurs in some areas, particularly the north.
Outbreaks of other insect-borne diseases also occur. These include:
To protect yourself from disease:
make sure your accommodation is insect-proof
use insect repellent
wear long, loose, light-coloured clothing
Consider taking medication to prevent malaria if you plan to travel to affected areas. Discuss options with your doctor.
See a doctor if you have a fever, muscle pain, a rash or a bad headache.
Infectious diseases in Vanuatu include:
Discuss options with your doctor if:
your vaccinations aren't up to date
you're travelling with children or babies who haven't finished their recommended vaccinations
Waterborne, foodborne, parasitic and other infectious diseases occur in Vanuatu. These include:
Serious outbreaks can occur.
Tap water in the major urban centres of Port Vila and Luganville is generally safe to drink.
To protect yourself from illness:
avoid raw or undercooked food, such as salads
outside of Port Vila and Luganville, drink boiled water or bottled water with sealed lids
avoid ice cubes
See a doctor if you develop a fever or diarrhoea.
Eating reef fish can result in ciguatera poisoning. Ciguatera is a naturally occurring seafood toxin.
Get urgent medical help if you suspect poisoning.
Hospital and medical facilities in Vanuatu are limited.
Costs for treatment, including medication, can be high. Doctors and hospitals often require immediate cash payment.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to a place with better facilities, such as Australia. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
The only hyperbaric chamber in Vanuatu is in Port Vila. Many popular dive sites are located on other islands.
If you're in a diving accident, it may take hours or days to reach the necessary medical facilities. The standard of rescue and emergency services is not as high as in Australia.
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.
If you commit a drug offence, penalties can include fines and jail sentences.
It's illegal to import, possess, distribute, display or produce obscene publications. The rules about what is obscene are stricter than in Australia. Penalties include prison sentences.
Selling alcohol in supermarkets and similar outlets between midday Saturday and 7am Monday is illegal.
During these times, alcohol may still be served at clubs, bars and hotels.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
Vanuatu has modest standards of dress and behaviour. Take care not to offend.
Same-sex relationships are legal, but attitudes are conservative. Avoid public displays of affection.
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 visa when you arrive if:
you're visiting Vanuatu for up to 30 days
you have a return or onward ticket
Otherwise, you'll need to get a visa before you travel.
Entry and exit conditions can change. Contact an embassy or consulate of Vanuatu for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.
Customs authorities enforce strict rules on importing items, such as:
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, let the Australian Government know as soon as possible:
In Australia, contact the Australian Passport Information Service.
If you're overseas, contact the nearest Australian embassy or consulate.
The local currency is the Vanuatu Vatu (VUV). Small shops and local market stalls only accept Vatu.
In Port Vila, you can use Australian dollars at some:
You can use credit cards in Port Vila, but they're less widely accepted elsewhere.
Ask your bank if your ATM card will work in Vanuatu.
To avoid trespassing, ask local landowners before going to non-public areas, including beaches.
Some landowners may charge a fee for access.
You can drive in Vanuatu on an Australian driver's licence for up to 3 months.
After that, you'll need a local licence.
Road travel in Vanuatu is dangerous. Roads are often:
Pedestrians often walk on roads and can be hard to see, especially at night.
Vehicles in Vanuatu drive on the right-hand side of the road.
If you plan to drive in Vanuatu:
check your travel insurance covers you
learn local traffic laws and practices before driving
follow the instructions of local authorities
Check if your travel insurance covers you for riding a motorbike, quad bike or similar vehicle.
Always wear a helmet.
Only use registered taxis. Try to arrange these through your hotel or resort.
There's no formal public transport system in Vanuatu.
In some areas, transport is available through privately owned:
Public transport vehicles are often poorly maintained. Many don't have insurance.
By law, inter-island boats and ferries must have a current seaworthy certificate. However, many don't. Don't trust their safety.
Several international cruises stop over in Vanuatu.
Small local aircraft travel to outer islands. Airports only have basic facilities.
Airstrips are generally short. Runways are mostly unsealed.
Operations can be limited by:
ash clouds from volcanic activity
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check Vanuatu's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
family and friends
Call 115 or go to a hospital.
Call 111 or 22222, or go to the 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 for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
For consular help, contact the Australian High Commission in Port Vila.
Winston Churchill Avenue
Port Vila, Vanuatu
Phone: (+678) 22 777
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:
+61 2 6261 3305 from overseas
1300 555 135 in Australia
Be the first to know official government advice when travelling.