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Palau

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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Palau. Use common sense. Look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local conditions.
  • Palau experiences tropical storms, which can disrupt services. Monitor storm information on the US Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center or other sources. See Natural disasters
  • Saltwater crocodiles are in parts of Palau, but there are often no warning signs to indicate their presence. Check with local authorities before considering water activities in mangrove areas. See Local travel
  • Drinking in public places is not allowed. See Laws
  • You could encounter mosquito-borne illnesses including dengue fever and Zika virus. See Health
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Palau. The Australian Embassy in the Federated States of Micronesia provides consular assistance to Australians in Palau.

Entry and exit

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

Visas

Visitor visas (entry permits) for stays of up to 30 days are issued on arrival subject to evidence of an onward or return ticket.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Palau doesn't have an embassy or consulate in Australia. For up-to-date visa information, contact the Palau Bureau of Immigration (phone: +680 488 2498/2678, email: imm@palaunet.com) or Ministry of State (phone: +680 767 2490).

If you travel via the United States (US), including Guam and Hawaii, you'll need to meet US entry or transit requirements. Check visa requirements with a US Embassy or Consulate well in advance of your travel.

Other formalities

If you travel with children, carry evidence of your relationship. If neither or only one parent or legal guardian is present, you'll need a notarised letter from the non-travelling parents or guardians stating who the minor has permission to travel with, and the dates and places of travel.

When you leave, you'll need to pay a departure tax and environmental protection fee in cash at the airport.

Sea vessels

You must get an entry permit before entering by water. Contact Palau Port Control well in advance of your arrival.
Email: dot@palaunet.com
Phone: +680 488 4224
VHF Channel: 16
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 7:30am - 4:30pm.

Passport

Check the expiry date of your Australian passport before you travel. Some countries won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for six months from when you plan to leave that country.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you're forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

The US dollar is the official currency. ATMs are available in larger centres and at the airport. Some local shops and restaurants accept credit cards.

Safety and security

Crime

The crime rate is low but there is occasional petty crime.

Counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available but buying, selling and possessing these goods is illegal. Counterfeits are also illegal in the United States, including Guam through which flights transit to and from Palau.

  • Stay alert to your personal safety.
  • Protect your valuables.
  • Don't buy or accept counterfeit or pirated goods.
  • Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Civil unrest and political tension

Civil unrest is rare. Avoid any demonstrations that occur, monitor local media for information on developments and follow the advice of local authorities.

Terrorism

There is a low threat of terrorism in Palau, but terrorism is a threat throughout the world. More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Local travel

Tours and adventure activities

Transport and tour operators don't always meet the safety standards you might expect, including for adventure activities, such as diving and yachting. They may not provide sufficient safety equipment or follow recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions.

  • Check operators' credentials and safety equipment before booking.
  • If appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider.
  • Insist on minimal safety requirements and always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don't.
  • If you plan to participate in adventure activities, first talk to your travel insurer to check if the activity is covered by your insurance policy.

Diving, swimming and caving

There are unexploded mines in Palau left from World War II, particularly in Peleliu and Angaur. Take care when diving or exploring caves.

There are saltwater crocodiles in parts of Palau, and often no warning signs to indicate their presence. Check with local authorities before considering water activities in mangrove areas.

A major attraction is the 'Jellyfish Lakes'. Diving is only permitted in the lake on Eil Malk Island. Only free diving and snorkelling are permitted. Scuba diving isn't allowed.

Road travel

The island of Koror has a number of paved roads that remain in fair condition after rain. But many roads on Palau's other islands are unsealed and after rain they may only be passable with a four-wheel drive.

  • Many roads across Palau are narrow and don't have footpaths and only have a limited road shoulder.
  • The national speed limit is 40 km/h.
  • Overtaking slow moving vehicles is illegal.

More information: Palau Visitors Authority

Driver's licence

You can drive for 30 days on an International Driver's Permit and a valid Australian driver's licence. For longer stays you'll need to obtain a local licence.

Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when riding a motorcycle. Always wear a helmet.

Taxis

Use only licensed taxis and hire car services, preferably those arranged through your hotel. Local taxis aren't metered and fares between locations are fixed. Ask the driver to see the fare list.

Public transport

Public transport options are very limited. A bus service operates a limited schedule on Koror.

Sea travel

Inter-island ferries and water taxis are a common form of transport. Always use a life jacket, even if others don't.

Air travel

The Australian Government doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

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.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences are strict. Possession of any amount of illegal 'hard drugs' (such as heroin or cocaine) carries a mandatory sentence of 25 years imprisonment.

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Other laws

Drinking in public places is not allowed. The legal drinking age is 21.

It's illegal to disturb or take historical items (including from sunken vessels).

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

More information: Dual nationals 

Local customs

Dress and behaviour standards are conservative. Take care not to offend.

Homosexuality isn't illegal, but social and cultural attitudes towards same-sex relationships can be conservative. Open displays of affection between same-sex partners could attract adverse attention and may offend.

More information: LGBTI travellers

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

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. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel.

Keep your medicines in their original packaging. Carry a copy of your prescription and a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is (including the generic name of prescribed drugs), how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Dengue fever outbreaks occur occasionally and there has been recent transmission of Zika virus in Palau.

Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses:

  • ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
  • avoid insect bites, including by using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
  • monitor local media for health announcements
  • if you're pregnant, discuss your travel plans and possible health risks with your doctor before you travel.

More information:

Medical facilities

Hospital and medical facilities are limited throughout Palau.

The hospital in Koror has one hyperbaric chamber. But many of the popular dive sites are located away from Koror.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Air evacuations are very expensive. Your initial medivac would normally be to Guam, which is an expensive destination. The extremely limited flights out of Palau and Guam can make medical evacuations to Australia very difficult.

Natural disasters

Tropical storms can disrupt services. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe storm may not be available to all who choose to stay.

If there is a tropical storm, flights could be delayed or suspended or may fill quickly. Access to seaports could also be affected.

    • Find out your hotel or cruise ship's evacuation plans.
    • Identify your local shelter.
    • Secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times.
    • Monitor local weather reports and the US National Weather Service Forecast Office.
    • Take official warnings seriously.
    • Familiarise yourself with the advice of local authorities on preparing for a natural disaster.

If a tropical storm is approaching or there is another natural disaster:

All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but Palau's position in the Pacific Ocean, where large and destructive tsunamis are more frequent, means it is more at risk from tsunamis.

In addition to the advice for all natural disasters above:

  • check for information on earthquakes and tsunamis in the Pacific on the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center website
  • if you're in a coastal region after an earthquake or when a tsunami is approaching, move to higher ground immediately.

More information: Severe weather

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, 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.

Emergencies

  • Firefighting and rescue services: 911
  • Medical emergencies: 911
  • Criminal issues: 911 or contact the police at your nearest police station

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Palau. The Australian Embassy in the Federated States of Micronesia, provides consular assistance to Australians in Palau.

Australian Embassy, Pohnpei

H & E Building
Kolonia, Pohnpei
PO Box S
FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA
Telephone: (691) 320 5448
Facsimile: (691) 320 5449
Email: phpi.mail@dfat.gov.au
Website: fsm.embassy.gov.au
Facebook: Australia in Micronesia

Check the embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you're unable to contact the embassy in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas or 1300 555 135 in Australia.

Additional information