Leaving for... Vanuatu
Some essential information in terms of health, Customs, transport, good to know before leaving for the land of Bislama, vatu, volcanoes and lap-lap
The three official languages are English, French and Bislama, the lingua franca spoken throughout the archipelago, as the first two are not commonly used by people in the
rural areas (about 75% of the population).
But Vanuatu also has more than 110 vernacular languages or dialects which are still commonly spoken, the highest linguistic density in the world. Some of these languages are spoken by a mere handful of people and are likely to disappear when they die out.
Do you talk Bislama?
Yu save toktok bislama?
- Good morning: gudmoning
- Please: plis
- Thank you very much: tank
- My name is Marco : nem
blong mi Marco (name of
- How much ? : hamas ?
- Money: mane (pronounced
- Eat: kakae
- Speak: toktok
- I want: mi wantem
- Where are you going ? : yu
go wea ?
- I don’t know: mi no save
- From one to ten: wan, tu, tri,
fo, faef, sikis, seven, eit, naen,
- (at the hospital) I have
broken my leg: mi brekem
leg blong mi
- Goodbye: Lukim yu
bagkegen (see you again)
On arrival in Vanuatu, your passeport must be valid for a further six months and you have to show that you have a return ticket. You will not need a visa if you are a citizen of a Commonwealth or European Union country, or of the following countries: Norway, Switzerland, Fiji, Japan, Philippines, South Korea, United States. For all other nationalities and for stays in excess of 30 days visitors have to go and see the Department of Immigration:
Pierre Lamy Street, Port-Vila, Ph: (678) 22354.
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Open Monday to Friday 07.30am to 12.00am and 1.30pm to 4.30pm.
- by road: in Vanuatu, we drive on the right. The speed is limited to 50 km/h in town and 80 km/h in the country. There is everything you need to travel by road, at least in Port-Vila. Cars and vans for rent (beware, there are very few filling stations outside the urban areas), taxis, fitted with meters, and hundreds of private minibuses offering basic comfort but a regular well organized service. You simply flag the driver down and tell him where you want to go. A bus fare costs from 150 vatu.
- by sea: passenger-carrying coastal traders do not provide a regular service between the islands. For the schedules, please contact MV Big Sista 7714978 / 5683622 or MV Vanuatu Ferry 26999 / 7762064 or MV Brisk & MV Tina1 36517.
- by plane: from Port-Vila, Air Vanuatu flies to Espiritu Santo on average two to three times per day (50 mn flight), and to Tanna, Malekula and Pentecost several times a week. The airline also operates regular flights to Epi, Ambrym, Erromango, Emae and Ambae. From Espiritu Santo you can fly to the northern islands of the archipelago.
More information at Air Vanuatu : rue de Paris, (678) 23878 / 20200,
On arrival: every passenger over 18 years of age can bring in:
- - 250 cigarettes or 250 g of tobacco or 50 cigars or 100 cigarillos ;
- - 1,5 l of alcohol or 2,25 ltr of wine or 9 ltr of beer ;
- - 25 cl of eau de toilette or 10 cl of parfume ;
- - the equivalent of 50 000 vatus (about 50 000 FCFP or $500 AUD) worth of new items.
On departure: the transport out of the country of coral, shells or black palm items may be subject to an export permit issued by the Environment Department, tel. (678) 25302, and a Quarantine certificate
from Vanuatu Quarantine & Inspection Services, on the road to the airport, tel. (678) 23519 / 23130. The Customs authorities in your country may well require a fumigation certificate for items such
as mats, grass skirts or wood carvings, failing which they may be confiscated. To obtain this certificate or for further information, please contact Quarantine, Department of Agriculture, on the road to the airport. Tel: (678) 23130
– E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
• Vanuatu Tourism Office,
• Post Office, 22000
• ANZ Bank Ltd, Port-Vila, 26355
• Bank South Pacific, Port-Vila, 22084
• Ambassade de France,
Port Vila, 28700
• Australian High Commission,
Port Vila, 22777
• Embassy of the Peoples
Republic of China,
• European Union – Delegation
of EC to Vanuatu, Port
• New Zealand High Commission,
Port Vila, 22933
• Alliance Francaise, Port Vila,
The local currency is the vatu. At present, you can change 1 AUD for about 90 Vatu and 1 NZ for 80 Vatu. Automatic teller machines can be found in the arrival area at Bauerfield airport, in the town centre in Port Vila, at the entrance of some supermarkets, as well as in Santo. You will also find several foreign exchange bureaus (for notes and travellers cheques) in Port-Vila: ANZ Bank, Bred Bank, Goodies Money Exchange, Global & Exchange, N°1 Currency. But most hotels, restaurants (by the way, there is no tipping in Vanuatu) and shops in the capital do accept foreign currencies and major international credit cards (Amex, Diners, JCB, MasterCard and Visa).
The climate is of the tropical kind. From May to October, the most pleasant season, the weather is dry and cool, with temperatures averaging 23ºC and lovely sunny days. November to April is the rainy season, also known as « the cyclone season », with temperatures around 30°C – the weather is hot and humid, with a fair bit of rain. The temperature of the sea varies between 22 and 28°C so you can go swimming all the year round.
Vanuatu is located at GMT +11. There is no summer or winter time and no time difference with New Caledonia. Thus Port Vila time is the same as Noumea all year round. However, there may be a time difference with Australia and New Zealand, between one and two hours depending on season and location.
Vanuatu runs on 220-280 volts, 50 hertz. Plugs are the three-pin Australian model. But not to worry,
if you do not have a travel adapter, you can find one in most shops selling electrical appliances.
Public institutions are open Monday to Friday from 7.30am to 11.30am and from 1.30pm to 4.30pm.
Same working hours or virtually the same in the private sector, except that banks, supermarkets and the Post Office are open throughout lunch and the larger shops close at 7pm. Some of them are also open
on Sunday morning.