Information & Facts
Vanuatu has no personal income tax, capital gains tax or company
restrictions, so it is a popular haven for international offshore
investment companies. Business attire is smart-casual, and meetings
are usually held in French or Bislama (the local pidgin English).
Office hours are generally 7.30am to 11.30am, and then 1.30pm to
5pm on weekdays.
Winter, between April and October, is a pleasant time to travel
to Vanuatu, when temperatures average around 73°F (23°C) and the
sea is a few degrees warmer. Summer is hot and humid, with tropical
cyclones probable between November and April with abundant
The international direct dialling code for Vanuatu is +678. The
outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g.
0044 for the United Kingdom). No city codes are required. There are
public telephones near the post office and near the Telecom office
in Port Vila, with phone cards available at both these offices.
There is GSM mobile phone coverage of the islands (contact your
service provider to ascertain whether your phone is compatible) and
local pay-as-you-go SIM cards are available from the local network
provider, Telecom Vanuatu Limited (TVL). There are Internet cafes
in Port Vila and Luganville, and most hotels and resorts have
Local traditions and customs should be respected, and this
includes not wearing very revealing clothing away from the beaches
and hotels. Ask permission before taking photographs of local
people. Be aware that land-ownership is a sensitive issue in
Vanuatu, and those who venture onto someone's land may be asked to
pay a 'visitor fee'. The Polynesian herbal 'feel-good' drink, kava,
is widely drunk by the locals, particularly at cultural
Travellers arriving in Vanuatu may bring in the following goods
without paying customs duty: 250 cigarettes or 250g tobacco or 50
cigars or 100 cigarillos; 1.5 litres of spirits and 2 litres of
wine; 250g of eau de toilette and 10g of perfume; new items up to a
value of Vt50,000; personal effects and sporting goods for personal
Electrical current is 220-240 volts, 50Hz; plugs are
flat three pins.
Buses are cheap and abundant in Port Vila and can be stopped
with a hand wave to pick you up. They also travel out of town and
drivers act as unofficial tour guides on day trips to beaches and
places of interest. The letter 'B' before the registration number
designates a licensed bus. Drivers are friendly and helpful. In the
city taxis are small cars dubbed 'ticos' with a 'T' on the number
plate, and can be hailed anywhere.
There has been an increase in the number of dengue fever cases
in Vanuatu. Malaria prophylaxis is highly recommended because
malaria is also common in the region. It is vital to take
precautions against mosquito bites because dengue fever is
prevalent. Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended, as well as
typhoid immunisation for those planning to consume food outside of
the better hotels and restaurants. Urban tap water is safe to
drink, but elsewhere drink only bottled or purified water, and
ensure food is well-prepared and well-cooked, and served piping
hot. Medical facilities on the islands are basic but adequate for
routine treatment. More serious cases require evacuation to
Australia or New Zealand. Scuba divers should be aware there is one
decompression chamber on the islands, at Port Vila, and sea rescue
services are not comprehensive. There have been fatal shark attacks
in the island waters and it is best to seek local advice before
swimming. Comprehensive travel health insurance with evacuation
cover is strongly recommended.
The three official languages of Vanuatu are English,
French and Bislama (a pidgin language). A further 113 indigenous
languages are used by local people in the islands.
The unit of currency in Vanuatu is the Vatu (VUV), although
Australian Dollars are widely accepted in Port Vila. The Vatu has
no subdivisions. Exchange facilities are readily available at banks
and kiosks in Port Vila. Banking services are sophisticated and
major credit and debit cards, as well as travellers cheques, are
widely accepted in Port Vila and Luganville, but cash is required
in the countryside away from tourist resorts. MasterCard and Visa
are the most widely accepted. There are ATMs accepting most
international cards in Port Vila. Banking hours are generally
weekdays between 8am and 4pm.
Travellers to Vanuatu must hold a passport valid for six months
beyond the date of arrival. Sufficient funds, all documents for
next destination and return or onward tickets are required. It is
highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity
remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel
destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to
those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Most visits to Vanuatu are trouble-free; the greatest threat to
a visitors' safety comes from nature in the form of earthquakes and
volcanic eruptions. The islands have experienced more than 40
earthquakes in the past two years, some measuring over seven on the
Richter scale. Tourists have been injured, even fatally, by
volcanic activity on the islands, and visitors are advised to be
cautious and heed the advice of local guides when making
expeditions to view active volcanoes. The tropical cyclone season
normally runs from November to April. The crime rate is low, but is
increasing. Take precautions against burglary and street crime,
especially at night. Foreigners, especially women, have been
attacked in isolated locations and it is advisable not to visit
remote areas or beaches alone.
Tipping is not expected in Vanuatu as it is traditionally
unacceptable. A smiling thank you is sufficient gratuity.