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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Samoa. Use common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for information on local travelling conditions.
  • Take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes. Epidemics of mosquito borne-diseases, including dengue fever, zika virus and chikungunya, occur in Samoa. On 1 November 2017, Samoan Ministry of Health confirmed an outbreak of dengue fever in the country. Zika virus was reported in Samoa in 2016, but the outbreak is now considered to be over. See Health.
  • Cyclone season in Samoa is from November to April. But, tropical storms and cyclones may occur in other months. For information on cyclones, including links to local meteorological services and advice on what to do in the event of a cyclone, see Additional information.
  • Violent assaults and robberies occur in Samoa. Sexual assaults against foreigners, including Australians, have occurred.
  • Exercise caution when driving and choosing local transport providers. Driving in Samoa can be dangerous, particularly at night, due to insufficient street lighting and poor road conditions. Many motor vehicles are not well maintained and the general standard of driving is poor. Visitors must obtain a temporary driver's licence before driving in Samoa.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Tourists to Samoa are not required to obtain an entry permit for stays under 60 days. Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia, and that you have a return or onward ticket. 

Travellers who have been to an Ebola-affected country within 21 days of travelling to Samoa may be placed in quarantine on arrival or deported, regardless of whether or not they display fever or Ebola-like symptoms. 

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest High Commission of Samoa or visit the Samoa Immigration website for up-to-date information.

Safety and security

Crime

There have been a number of violent assaults and robberies in Samoa, including sexual assaults against foreigners. Avoid going out alone at night or to isolated locations, including beaches.

Petty crime, particularly theft from motor vehicles and accommodation, is prevalent. Burglaries are common and are sometimes accompanied by violence.

Be alert near Apia's downtown bars and restaurants where a number of violent incidents involving foreigners and Samoans have occurred. A number of assaults have taken place in the sea wall area along the harbour front at night.

Be careful when visiting remote areas, and exercise caution in response to unsolicited advances from strangers at all times.

Civil unrest and political tension

Demonstrations and protests have occurred in Samoa. Avoid demonstrations and large public gatherings as they can become violent. Monitor the media for developments and follow the advice of local authorities.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.

Money and valuables

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Keep it in a safeand dry place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. By law you must as soon as possible report a lost or stolen passport:

Local travel

Visitors must obtain a temporary driver's licence before driving in Samoa. These are available from the Apia Post Office, the Ministry of Works, Transport & Infrastructure office in Vaitele, and from some car hire agencies in Apia. Visitors must present their current Australian driver's licence and pay a fee.

Exercise caution when driving and choosing local transport providers. Driving in Samoa can be dangerous, particularly at night, due to insufficient street lighting, and poor road conditions. The general standard of driving is poor and many motor vehicles are not well maintained. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), you are almost three times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Samoa than in Australia. For further advice, see our road travel page.

In September 2009, Samoa switched from driving on the right-hand side of the road to the left-hand side. As many vehicles in Samoa are still right-hand drive, take care when driving.

Levels of motor vehicle insurance can vary depending on the rental car company to company. Ensure you understand the insurance policy of any rental contract. Before you depart Australia, discuss hire car insurance cover in Samoa with your travel insurance provider.

Samoa's inter-island ferries are aging and may not always meet Australian safety standards. Ferries may be overcrowded, which could impede access to life jackets and life rafts, or inhibit the proper implementation of safety procedures during an emergency.

Tour operators, including adventure tours, fishing and off-shore surfing charters and dive companies, do not always meet Australian safety standards. Check tour operators' credentials and safety equipment and ensure your travel insurance policy covers all of your planned activities. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if the locals don't.

Fatal swimming accidents have occurred due to tidal changes and powerful currents in the many coastal lagoons that surround the islands, particularly at the ebb tide or when seas are heavy. Consult local residents and tour operators for advice on possible hazardous swimming and water sports areas.

Stray and poorly controlled dogs are common in Samoa. Do not approach them. Dog attacks have occurred in suburban areas and on beaches.

Levels of services in Samoa for travellers with a disability are extremely limited. The lack of footpaths or adequately paved walkways makes it difficult for individuals in wheelchairs or with mobility impairments to travel around Samoa. There are few, if any, motor vehicles capable of transporting wheelchairs and the lack of disabled ramps and access points at major hotels makes finding suitable accommodation difficult. None of the tour operators cater specifically for people with a disability.

Air safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Samoa.

Refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

Follow the local laws of Samoa, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Penalties for the possession and use of illegal drugs, including cannabis, may include a prison sentence. Possession of drug paraphernalia is illegal. Suspected drug offenders can expect to be held in custody while the police investigation is underway. See our Drugs page.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Samoa, however male and female same-sex relationships are not widely accepted. Sodomy is illegal. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas can be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians can be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Samoa. Take care not to offend.

Check local customs and courtesies at the Samoa Tourism Authority page.

Health

Before you depart Australia, take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including all types of medical evacuations. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. Get vaccinated before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health pages also provide useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Hospital and medical facilities in Samoa are limited and medical evacuation may be required in serious cases. There is no helicopter service available in Samoa. Local pharmacies have a limited range of medical supplies, bring sufficient medication for your entire visit. To receive medical services in Samoa, you may be required to pay in advance and provide a deposit if hospitalised. Medical evacuation by air ambulance to Australia or New Zealand is extremely expensive. Evacuations using commercial airlines may be delayed during Australian and New Zealand school holiday periods when flights are often heavily booked.

There are no hyperbaric chambers on any of the islands for treatment of scuba diving related injuries. Serious cases of decompression sickness are evacuated to the nearest treatment centre in Auckland, New Zealand. Both registered dive companies in Samoa carry basic treatment equipment to meet Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) standards.

Mosquito-borne illnesses

Epidemics of dengue fever, Zika virus and chikungunya occur in Samoa. These viruses are transmitted by the Aedes mosquito which is active during the daytime. Dengue virus causes significant numbers of infections annually. On 1 November 2017, Samoan Ministry of Health confirmed an outbreak of dengue fever in the country. Zika virus was reported in Samoa in 2016, but the outbreak is now considered to be over. Take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes, including using insect repellent, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof. For further information see the World Health Organization's factsheets on dengue fever and chikungunya virus and see our travel bulletin on Zika virus.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, hepatitis, filariasis and tuberculosis) are a risk , with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the nearest police station, or call the national police emergency number on 995. Obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

In Samoa, Australians and Canadians can obtain consular assistance from the:

Australian High Commission, Apia

Beach Road
Apia, Samoa
Telephone: (685) 23 411
Facsimile: (685) 23 159
Website: samoa.highcommission.gov.au

If you require after-hours advice regarding a consular emergency, call the Australian High Commission on the above number. By following the prompts you will be put through to the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre. If you are unable to contact the High Commission you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre directly on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

​Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Natural Disasters

Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Cyclones

Cyclone season is between November and April when flooding, landslides and disruptions to services can occur but, tropical storms and cyclones may occur in other months. The direction and strength of tropical cyclones can change with little warning.

In the event of an approaching cyclone, identify your local shelter. Follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor the media for the latest developments. Flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended. Available flights may fill quickly. The cyclone could also affect access to sea ports in the region. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe cyclone may not be available to all who choose to stay. Familiarise yourself with your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans. Carry your travel documents at all times (i.e. passport, photo identification) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. We also suggest that you contact friends and family in Australia with updates about your welfare and whereabouts. For further information, see also our Severe weather page.

If you are travelling during cyclone season, contact your tour operator to check whether tourist services at your planned destination will be affected.

Monitor the cyclone and storm information available from the World Meteorological Organisation Severe Weather Information Centre, the USA National Weather Service Forecast Office (American Samoa), the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System, the Fiji Meteorological Service and the Samoa Meteorology Division.

Earthquakes

Samoa is located near an active earthquake area and is regularly subject to earthquakes and tremors. Familiarise yourself with safety procedures in the event of an earthquake.

Tsunamis

All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. ​

In September 2009, an earthquake near Samoa caused a tsunami to strike the southern coast of Upolu island, Samoa. A number of areas popular with tourists were affected and 143 people were killed.

Additional Resources