- We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in French Polynesia. You should exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions.
- A tsunami of between 1-3 metres above tide levels may occur in French Polynesia following an 8.3 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile in the evening of 16 September (local time). You should follow local sources of information on latest developments and heed any instructions issued by local authorities. See Additional information.
- Industrial disputes and strikes have the potential to cause disruption to the supply of essential services and transport, including international air links. You should monitor developments and plan accordingly. See Safety and security.
- Cyclone season in French Polynesia is from November to April. However, tropical storms and cyclones may occur in other months. See Additional information.
- An outbreak of chikungunya virus has caused a number of deaths in French Polynesia, and outbreaks of dengue fever are also common. We recommend that you take precautions against being bitten by mosquitos. Outbreaks of leptospirosis are also common. See Health for more information.
- See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
- Australia has a consulate in French Polynesia headed by an Honorary Consul, who provides limited consular assistance. The Australian Consulate-General in New Caledonia provides full consular assistance to Australians in French Polynesia. See Where to get help.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
- organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
- register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
- subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it's reissued
- follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Entry and exit
Australian tourists can enter French Polynesia without a visa in most circumstances. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of France, or visit their website for the latest information, including on passport and other specific requirements.
Some goods are either prohibited from entering French Polynesia or require specific formalities. Refer to the websites (in french) of the French High Commission in French Polynesia and of the Biosecurity Department of French Polynesia for the most up-to-date information.
Safety and security
Civil unrest/Political tension
Industrial disputes and strikes have the potential to cause social unrest and disruption to the supply of essential services and transport, including international air links. In the event of strike action, you should check the status of flights with your airline before travelling to the airport and contact your tour operator to check if tourist services have been disrupted.
You should avoid demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent.
French Polynesia has a low incidence of serious crime. Petty crime does occur. Be aware of your personal belongings at all times and don’t leave your belongings unattended or unsecured.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.
Money and valuables
The currency in French Polynesia is the Pacific Franc (XPF - Franc Pacifique). Money exchange services are available at most banks, the international airport, licensed exchange offices, and at hotels and resorts. Credit cards and ATM facilities may not be available at smaller shops and on the more remote islands and atolls.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
If you intend to hire cars, motorcycles, jet skis or any other motorised water sport equipment, talk to your insurer to check if you are covered by your insurance policy.
The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities such as diving, may not be of the same level as in Australia. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, you should use another provider.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in French Polynesia.
Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
French Polynesia is an overseas territory of France and mix of French and local laws apply. See the Laws section of our travel advice for France for information on French laws.
You are subject to the local laws in French Polynesia, including ones that 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 cannot get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
Penalties for drug offences, even possession of small amounts, include fines and imprisonment. See our Drugs page.
French law allowing same-sex marriages also applies in French Polynesia. However, other than the tourist islands of Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora, French Polynesia is a conservative society and it is recommended that same sex couples avoid public displays of affection. For more information, 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 may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may 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.
Other than the tourist islands of Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora, French Polynesia is a conservative society and you should dress and behave modestly outside tourist resorts.
Information for dual nationals
Our Dual nationals page provides information.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. 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 a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations 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 page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
Medical facilities in the capital Papeete are comparable with those of a medium-sized rural hospital in Australia. However, facilities in the outlying areas and on remote islands, including Bora Bora, are basic. Medical and hospital costs in French Polynesia are extremely high.
Rescue and emergency services are of a high standard although distances between the capital, Papeete, and the outer islands could delay the response to an emergency. A medical evacuation to Australia can cost tens of thousands of Australian dollars.
There is only one hyperbaric (decompression) facility in French Polynesia, in Papeete. Many of the popular dive sites are located on other islands and it may take hours to reach the decompression facility in the event of an accident. Many registered dive companies require participants to have insurance cover for diving. Regardless, you should ensure that your insurance covers whatever activity you intend to undertake.
Tap water in Papeete is safe to drink. It is recommended, however, that you boil all drinking water or drink only bottled water in rural areas.
Mosquito-borne diseases: An outbreak of chikungunya virus has caused a number of deaths in French Polynesia. Outbreaks of dengue fever are common during the warm wet months of February to May. It is strongly recommended you take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes, including using an insect repellent, wearing loose fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof. Seek medical advice if you have a fever. Local authorities have dengue fever and chikungunya virus prevention measures in place. For further information see the WHO's fact sheets on dengue and chikungunya. The mosquito-borne disease filariasis also occurs, particularly in rural areas.
Leptospirosis Outbreaks of leptospirosis are common. Local authorities recommend wearing closed-in shoes when walking. Avoid swimming in rivers and contact with muddy water. For information on leptospirosis, see the World Health organisation’s website.
Where to get help
Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.
In an emergency, you can contact the police on 17, ambulance on 15 and 18 for fire. You should also obtain a police report when reporting a crime.
If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.
The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas.
Australia has a Consulate in French Polynesia headed by an Honorary Consul. The Consulate provides limited consular assistance which does not include the issue of Australian passports.
Australian Consulate, Tahiti
C/- Petropol Central Office
Papeava Port Zone
Tahiti, FRENCH POLYNESIA
Telephone +689 40 468 853
Facsimile +689 40 468 854
You can obtain full consular assistance from the Australian Consulate-General in New Caledonia:
Australian Consulate-General, Noumea
11 rue Georges Baudoux
Artillerie, Noumea, New Caledonia
Telephone +687 272 414
Facebook: Australia in New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna
See the Consulate-General website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
Follow the Consulate-General on Facebook for events and notifications.
If you are travelling to French Polynesia, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the above Consulate-General or Consulate, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
A tsunami of between 1-3 metres above tide levels may occur in French Polynesia following an 8.3 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile in the evening of 16 September (local time). You should follow local sources of information on latest developments and heed any instructions issued by local authorities.
If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.
The French High Commission in French Polynesia has procedures in place for natural disasters, such as severe weather, strong winds, strong swells, tsunamis, heavy rains, thunderstorms and cyclones. We recommend that you monitor the High Commission website for weather notifications and up-to-date information. In the event of an emergency, the French High Commission will open a hotline to their Emergency Management Centre. The hotline can be reached at +689 40 44 42 10.
If you are travelling after a cyclone or natural disaster, you should contact your tour operator to check whether tourist services at your planned destination have been affected.
Cyclone season for French Polynesia is from November to April when flooding, landslides and disruptions to services may occur. However, tropical storms and cyclones may also occur in other months. The direction and strength of cyclones can change with little warning.
In the event of an approaching cyclone, you should identify your nearest safe location, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor the media and weather reports 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 may choose to stay. You should familiarise yourself with your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans. You should 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 our Severe weather page.
French Polynesia has a five-level cyclone alert system: YELLOW (potential cyclone activity in the next 72 hours), ORANGE (potential cyclone activity in the next 48 hours), RED (cyclone is imminent – in the next 12 to 18 hours), PURPLE (assessment of damage phase) and GREEN (end of cyclone alert). Details on the alert system and recommended activities during each level can be found on the French High Commission website.
The Weather Bureau in French Polynesia (Meteo-France Polynesia Francaise) provides weather information (in French) on its website, by phone on 44 27 08 and fax on 44 27 09 (both numbers are for within French Polynesia only).
French Polynesia is in an active earthquake area. Further information on earthquakes and other natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.
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. The French High Commission estimates that a tsunami generated in the Tongan or Kermadec islands would reach French Polynesia within one hour. A tsunami generated in Latin America or Alaska would take approximately 8 hours to reach French Polynesia. See the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center website or the Tsunami Awareness brochure for more information.