Vanuatu - Formalities
The ports of entry into Vanuatu are:
Port Vila on the island of Efate,
Luganville on Santo, Analgawat on Aneityum,
Sola on Vanua Lava, and
Lenakel on Tanna.
Yachts may not stop at any other island or anchorage in Vanuatu until first clearing in at one of these ports.
A new cruising permit is required each time you visit a clearance port. The cruising permits are completed by the Customs officials and will list all of the islands you will be visiting prior to the next clearance port.
Port Vila and Luganville are the main ports of clearance and most yachts clear into Port Vila. Obtain instructions on VHF Channel 16 for inward clearance procedures in Lenakel, Luganville or Sola.
The international and inter-island outward clearance will be granted only on Monday to Friday from 07:30 to 11:00 hours and 13:30 to 16:00 hours. The offices are closed on public holidays and weekends and on Wednesday afternoons, which are sports days.
If visiting any other islands, ensure it is listed on your cruising permit before leaving the clearance port.
All the authorities have the option to visit the boat for an inspection. Quarantine Services are the most likely visit your vessel upon arrival to Vanuatu and will generally expect a dingy ride to your vessel, (except at Anatom Island) to complete his inspection, related paperwork, and collect his fee.
The Vanuatu Customs and Inland Revenue Website has information related to permits, length of stay and local regulations.
Last updated November 2012.
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 are considerable difficulties in arriving in Vanuatu on a one-way flight ticket, and it is likely that entry will be denied. For new crew arriving who are planning to depart with the yacht, the Immigration office require a letter of request, a letter from the skipper for each crew member to present at departure, a payment to immigration on arrival at Vila airport, plus, payment of a bond to cover one way airfares out for each crew member, payable to a bank.
The easiest solution is to buy a full price return ticket and then cancel the unused half.
Last updated November 2012.
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).
Private yachts are considered to be temporarily imported into Vanuatu and do not have to pay duty provided the yacht is owned by the importer and a stay of 18 months in a two-year period is not exceeded. Yachts must not be used commercially if temporarily imported, or they will become liable for duty.
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.
Quarantine: Strict quarantine regulations are in force in Vanuatu and no animals, birds, reptiles, fresh meat, fruit or vegetables may be taken ashore. Also some of these goods may not be allowed to remain on board; the agricultural officer will decide this at the port of entry.
On arrival, the agriculture quarantine service's permission must be obtained to land garbage.
Last Updated November 2012.
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.
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 November 2012.
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.
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.