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Clearing into French Polynesia: Dealing with the Bond & Duty Free Fuel

By SV Storm Bay of Hobart — last modified Jul 15, 2016 09:30 AM
We are an Australian couple. Prior to arriving in French Polynesia I tried to research the whole process re. whether I had to pay the bond, or use an agent, and found nothing quite covered it all. So I have written this in the hope it will be useful to others arriving, keeping in mind that things change all the time!

Published: 2016-06-29 23:00:00
Countries: French Polynesia

Clearing into French Polynesia: Dealing with the Bond & Duty Free Fuel

SV Storm Bay of Holbart

Submitted by Margaret Beasley, SV "Storm Bay of Hobart" (Tasmania, Australia)

We arrived into Atuona port on Hiva Oa, Marquesas in April 2016. My husband Chris is a dual passport holder, British and Australian, hence he did not have to do anything re paying a bond, for now he is considered part of the EU. I hold only an Australian passport.

Using an Agent for Bond Exemption

We had heard that paying for an agent would save you the cost of the bond and also give you duty free fuel as soon as you arrive into the Marquesas. This turned out to be true - but only to a point. In order to use an agent to do a bond exemption for you (which costs somewhere around $200-$300US), you must have insurance which covers the cost of you flying out in case of medical emergency. I had a brief dalliance with DAN insurance and found the website really related only to US citizens. I read that this is not the case in other cruisers’ information, but could not find it on the site. From what I could find, this insurance which we normally do not carry, would have cost another $100-$200, then there is the agent’s fees on top of this.

Purchasing a One-Way Refundable Air Ticket

I was fortunate to speak to another cruiser who bought a one-way fully refundable airfare from Papeete to Auckland, and had the Atuona gendarmerie accept this with ease (everything the Atuona gendarmes do, they do with ease, such a pleasure!).

So, I did the same.

I bought a phone card at the post office, called the Air NZ Papeete number (40 540 747 from Atuona) and booked the fare. The lovely AIR NZ consultant assured me I could do this via internet, but… it was good to talk to a person! (AND internet is not at all reliable in Atuona). If you book your air ticket through a person you pay a service charge that is not refundable, around $25 US. Worth it to me! I then bought a Mana spot internet card and sat in the post office with our portable printer, and printed out my e-ticket. I then took it over to the Gendarmes, who accepted this with no requirement to pay a bond!

It is likely other airlines do refundable tickets, but I know for sure AIR NZ does.

About 10 days later I called from Fatu Hiva, where there is a phone and also good Vinispot internet (Mana and Vini are interchangeable), and started the process of refunding my ticket. I had to fill in a form, and email it. Then.. they wrote to say I needed a letter from the skipper of the boat to say I would be leaving French Polynesia on a boat. All done. So it took about 2-3 weeks to get the refund. All in all I would prefer to trust AIR NZ to refund my $ than the French Polynesian banks. Also it was a lot less money!

Duty-Free Fuel

Now to the issue of duty free fuel: it is half price, so worth getting!

When we were in Papeete, we walked to Customs, over the bridge to the commercial port area, and were able to easily get our own duty-free fuel certificate for free. Another adventure, with yet again terrific officials. You are entitled to buy duty free fuel at any time while you are in French Polynesia, not just when you leave (as one cruiser we met thought).

Margaret Beasley
SV “Storm Bay of Hobart”

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