Vanuatu - Formalities
For the latest requirements for small craft arrivals in Vanuatu and all the appropriate forms - consult the Customs website at http://customsinlandrevenue.gov.vu/index.php/travellers/yacht-clearance.
New 2014: Prior Notice of Arrival
24 hours prior notice of arrival is required by Customs. Notice must be provided by e-mail via the Customs website contact form, or by phoning (+678) 22082 (Port Vila) or (+678) 88058 (Lenakel, Tanna) or +(678) 33780 (Luganville, Santo) stating:-
(a) the name of the vessel; and
(b) the voyage; and
(c) the estimated date and time of arrival in Vanuatu; and
(d) the appointed port or other place where the craft will land or berth; and
(e) the name of the master or skipper of the vessel; and
(f) the name and contact details of the person providing the information.
(g) the names of passengers on board.
Upon arrival at the port, vessels can call “Customs” on VHF radio Channel 16 (only at Port Vila and Lenakel at the moment).
Ports of Entry into Vanuatu
Currently (June 2014) Sola on Vanua Lava, although an official Port of Arrival, is unmanned.
Vessels may not call at Mystery Island (Aneityum), Port Resolution (Tanna) or any other place in Vanuatu, prior to entering one of the ports nominated above for customs clearance, unless prior written permission is granted by the Director of Customs & Inland Revenue. The Master of vessels who visit these places prior to obtaining customs clearance, being issued with an “Inter-island Cruising Permit”, or obtaining written permission may be subject to fines and/or prosecution. (During August 2014 several yachts were fined for calling unannounced and without approval at non ports of entry.)
Vanuatu Customs now has a zero tolerance for yachts not following the correct clearance procedures.
To obtain written permission to arrive at an undeclared place such as Aneityum, Port Resolution etc. vessels should email Customs requesting approval to call into these places. After assessing the risks, Customs will respond with an approval. See Customs for contact details.
Cruisers report that this process is straightforward and permission is easy to obtain.
Inward Clearance Procedures
All yachts entering Vanuatu from a foreign port or place must first report to the Customs, Quarantine and Immigration authorities at the Port of Arrival.
Inward reporting forms and passenger arrival forms are available on the Customs website under Forms. To facilitate clearance, filled out forms can be emailed to the address provided on the form prior to arrival.
Port Vila and Luganville are the main ports of clearance and most yachts clear into Port Vila. Customs are available on VHF Channel 16 in Port Vila and Lenakel only. The Customs telephone number or e-mail should be used for Customs information at other ports.
Outward Clearance Procedures
All yachts leaving Vanuatu for a foreign port or place are required to obtain an outward clearance from Customs at the final port of departure (i.e.Lenakel, Port Vila, Luganville or Sola).
New August 2014:
Vessels can now depart from undeclared ports after obtaining a certificate of clearance from a declared port, if permission is obtained from the Director of Customs. For instance, a vessel can get clearance from Port Vila, but actually depart from Port Resolution (an unapproved place) for New Caledonia, similarly they can get clearance from Luganville, but actually depart from the Torres Islands for the Solomon Islands etc.
To obtain written permission to depart from an undeclared place, vessels should email Customs requesting approval to do so. After assessing the risks, Customs will respond. The clearance certificate will be issued at the last declared port, if the request is granted approval. The request can be done via email or just a note at least 24hrs (during working days) prior to departure from the declared port. See Customs for contact details.
Port dues will be calculated up to the ETD from Vanuatu while fuel exemptions will only be granted for the outward journey.
Having been granted a certificate of clearance, a vessel must depart for overseas within 24 hours of its issue (unless permission has been granted to visit other islands).
Outward Reporting forms are available on the Customs website under Forms. To facilitate clearance, filled out forms can be emailed to the address provided on the form prior to departure.
All attempts will be made to board vessels arriving from overseas as soon as possible after their actual arrival. Outwards clearance may be obtained within 24 hours prior to the actual departure. Customs normal operating hours are:
MONDAY TO FRIDAY
MORNING 07.30 Hours-12.00 Hours
AFTERNOON 13.00 Hours -16.30 Hours
Any attendances by customs outside these hours for either arriving or departing vessels will be subject to overtime attendance fees.
All the authorities have the option to visit the boat for an inspection. Quarantine Services / Bio-security are the most likely visit your vessel upon arrival to Vanuatu and will generally expect a dinghy ride to your vessel to complete the inspection, related paperwork, and collect a fee.
Live animals, reptiles, birds of any description, fresh meat, fruit or vegetables imported by yachts must not be taken ashore. Additionally, some restriction on whether such goods will be permitted to remain on board after the arrival at a Customs port may be enforced by officers of Bio-security. No foreign garbage may be landed in Vanuatu without permission from Bio-security.
For details on the temporary admission of visiting yachts without payment of import duty see the Customs section below.
Last updated August 2014.
Arriving without a Visa
On arrival Immigration will issue yacht crew an entry permit for one month. Extensions must be applied for to the Immigration Authorities 4 weeks in advance (i.e. on clearing-in), the maximum permitted stay being four months.
Immigration has additional requirements and charges for visitors staying more than 30 days; Visitors must complete a 12 page application form, supply 2 recent passport photos and have proof of funds in excess of 40,000 Vatu per month during their intended stay - plus pay visa charges (see Fees).
Charges have increased dramatically, yet immigration still use the same stamp that is issued for a month at a time. Therefore if staying longer, cruisers have to apply to an immigration office each month for a new updated stamp.
No visas are required for visits of up to 30 days for nationals of Commonwealth countries, EU countries, Cameroon, People's Republic of China, Cuba, French overseas territories and departments, Fiji, Japan, South Korea, Maldives, Marshalls, FSM, Niue, Norway, Palau, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand and the USA.
All others must obtain a visa in advance, valid up to three months, either from a British high commission or embassy, or direct from the Immigration Office in Vila. The fee is VT2500 which is approximately US$25.
Anyone who leaves the yacht must obtain an air ticket out of the country immediately. The captain is responsible for notifying immigration when a crew member wishes to leave a yacht, and he will be liable for their repatriation unless released from this obligation.
For skippers/crew arriving or returning to the island by air, there used to be considerable difficulties in arriving in Vanuatu on a one-way flight ticket, and in most cases entry was denied. However in 2014 cruisers who have done this have reported the process to be simple.
Skippers must provide a letter to Immigration in Port Vila stating that "Name of crew member" is joining your yacht, and will be arriving on flight <insert flight details>, etc... Along with a copy of the crew's passport. Take this to the immigration office in Port Vila and pay Vatu$6,000 ($60.00).
Last updated October 2014.
+(678) 22082 - Vila Wharf,
+(678) 88058 - Lenakel, Tanna
+(678) 33780 - Luganville, Santo.
VHF Channel 16 at Port Vila and Lenakel only.
E-mail: Via the Customs Contact Form on their website.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 0730-1200 & 1300-1630
Temporary admission of visiting yachts without payment of import duty
Private yachts may enter and remain temporarily in Vanuatu without payment of duty for a period not exceeding 18 months in any period of 24 months.
For administrative purposes, Customs will issue an initial 6 months tax-free period. If a vessel wishes to remain in Vanuatu for more than 6 months, it is important that the Owner/Skipper then sees Customs prior to the end of the initial 6 months period so that its tax-free stay can be extended.
See the Vanuatu Customs Website for more details and information also for super yachts.
Inter-Island Cruising Permit
Yachts wishing to visit more remote and isolated destinations in Vanuatu (i.e. more than just the port of entry) must apply for an “Inter-island Cruising Permit” which is valid for a period of up to six months. A copy of the cruising permit is held on board and absolves the skipper from having to report to customs until the port of departure for overseas, or for application to extend the permit.
On arrival all arms and ammunition must be declared and surrendered to the Customs Officer for safe keeping. If Customs is satisfied the firearms and ammunition can be safely secured under seal onboard this may be allowed. In cases where no suitable secured sealing arrangements exist, the goods will be held by Customs until departure. You must notify Customs 48 hours in advance of your intended departure from the final port of clearance. If you intend to depart from a port of clearance other than the one you arrived at, it is a good idea to provide at least a week's notice.
Automatic and semi automatic weapons are not to be brought into the country at all as these are strictly prohibited and severe penalties are in place for any breach of these prohibitions.
You may not have onboard obscene publications, or videos, narcotics (other than genuine medical emergency drugs).
Duty-free goods may be taken on board after clearance or when about to clear out in Port Vila, but not Luganville. One can take on duty-free in Port Vila, have it sealed until clearance outwards in Luganville. Customs may check it before clearance and the penalty for breaking the seal is a fine. One can order duty-free diesel fuel on clearing out both in Luganville and Vila.
Last updated January 2015.
Malaria prophylaxis is essential as malaria is endemic in Vanuatu. Conjunctivitis and the rapid infection of small cuts are a problem.
The usual documents, including a zarpe from the previous foreign port, are required.
Vessels wishing to visit more remote and isolated destinations in Vanuatu may apply for an “Inter-island Cruising Permit” which is issued to genuine cruising small craft and is valid for a period up to six months. See full details in the Customs section above.
All forms for inward and outward clearance can be found at the Customs website under Forms. To facilitate clearance, filled out forms can be emailed to the address provided on the form prior to arrival and departure.
Last updated July 2014
All fees are payable in cash in Vatu.
Customs 4,800 Vatu
Quarantine 3,000 Vatu (or upto 8,000 depending on the amount of garbage needing to be disposed of.)
Immigration: none for first 30 days per vessel.
Visas charge for over 30 days up to 4 months stay 6,000 Vatu per person.
Departure fees (Port Dues):
Payable to Customs in cash when clearing out of the country.
7,000 Vatu for 30 days (min. length of stay) or part thereof + GST = 7,875 Vatu (approx. US$85).
Each additional day is 100 Vatu plus GST = 112.50 and will be rounded up.
GST is 12.5%
An example; for a 4 months stay the departure charge will be 18,338 Vatu.
Crew change fee:
2000 Vatu per change, plus 5000 Vatu for new crew arriving by aeroplane.
It is also reported that in some villages cruising boats are asked to pay $5 or $10 for the right to anchor. This appears to be the case especially nearer Port Vila, and not so much in more remote places. However, visiting yachts should always check with the local chief for permission.
Last updated June 2014.
When visiting the islands, the village chief must be asked for permission to anchor, fish and other activities such as snorkelling.
Sharks are a serious danger in some islands, such as at Port Sandwich on Malekula, where visitors are warned not to swim. Swimming off black sand beaches should be avoided. Elsewhere it is advisable to consult the locals before swimming in the vicinity of villages. In some places, a red float close to the shore is baited with meat to catch sharks.
A taboo exists in Malekula which forbids a male to swim under a boat or canoe with women or girls on board. Those who break this strict taboo will have to pay a substantial fine to the village chief.
Port Vila Regulations:
An overhead electric cable extends from the eastern side of Iriki island and Vila. No vessel with a mast exceeding 25 metres height from the waterline may attempt to pass under the cable. The maximum clearance is 28 metres close to the Vila side of the channel. Violation of this restriction is subject to penalties plus costs of any damages. Yachts with taller masts can tie stern to the quay or anchor in the quarantine buoy area.
All vessels in Vila Harbour must show a riding light if at anchor, between the hours of sunset and sunrise.
Anchoring near Efila Island is prohibited due to a land dispute between the islanders and the authorities, so this area should be avoided.
It is not possible to make collect calls from anywhere in Vanuatu.
Forbidden Anchorages in Vanuatu
Anchoring or landing is strictly forbidden in the Reef Islands, just to the north of Vanua Lava in the Banks group.
The entire area surrounding Bokissa Island is a marine sanctuary and yachts are forbidden to drop an anchor anywhere on the reef shelf within the 60-metre depth line.
There is no safe anchorage at Avokh vilage, Maskelyne Islands, Malekula.
Last updated August 2010.
Animals onboard yachts are not permitted to land, but can be kept onboard the yacht while in Vanuatu waters.
There are very strict quarantine regulations and an Import Permit is required from:-
The Vanuatu Livestock and Quarantine Department (VLQD),
PMB 095, Port Vila, Vanuatu.
If animals are landed, the owner will have to pay a substantial fine and the animal will be destroyed. (It has been reported that animals may be allowed to land, at the discretion of the VLQD Veterinary Officer).
A useful contact if clearing into Vanuatu with your pet, is Roger Phillips (see contact details below). It is probably better to telephone Roger as he does not appear to answer his emails.
Roger Phillips BVSc.
Senior Veterinary Officer (South)
Department of Livestock & Quarantine
Port Vila, VANUATU
Tel: +678 23519, +678 7751353
Fax: +678 23185
Last updated November 2012.