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Travel Security Advice for Fiji

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fiji_mapFiji_Overview


COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

Fiji is a South Pacific island nation consisting of over 350 islands and islets, of which approximately 100 are inhabited. The capital is Suva. On December 5, 2006, in the fourth coup since 1987, the Commander of Fiji’s military force deposed the lawfully elected government of Fiji. There is currently an unelected interim government in place established by the military.  The interim government abrogated the constitution and enacted Public Emergency Regulations on April 10, 2009, after the Court of Appeal declared the interim government illegal.  The interim government also devalued the currency by 20% on April 15, 2009.  Tourist facilities are available.  The Fiji Visitors Bureau, which has a wide range of information of interest to travelers, can be contacted via the Fiji Visitors Bureau’s web siteRead the Department of State Background Notes on Fiji for additional information.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

A passport valid for at least three months beyond the intended date of departure from Fiji, proof of sufficient funds and an onward/return ticket are required for entry to Fiji. A visa is not required for tourist stays up to four months. Yachts wishing to call at the Lau group of islands need special permission granted at the first port of entry into Fiji. For further information on entry/exit requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of the Republic of Fiji, 2233 Wisconsin Avenue NW, No. 240, Washington, DC  20007; telephone (202) 337-8320, or the Fiji Mission to the United Nations in New York. This is particularly important for travelers planning to enter Fiji by sailing vessel.

Information about dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information.

SAFETY AND SECURITY:

Under Public Emergency Regulations currently in place, some basic rights have been limited, including freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.  The independence of Fiji’s law enforcement and judicial systems is compromised, putting into question protections ordinarily afforded by the rule of law.  The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of travel to the Republic of Fiji at this time.  While Fiji’s country situation appears calm on the surface, political, economic, and security uncertainties continue. It is possible that the security situation, especially in Suva, could deteriorate rapidly.  American citizens in Fiji should remain vigilant, particularly in public places and near military activities in the greater Suva area, and should avoid demonstrations and large crowds.  Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful could turn confrontational and escalate into violence unexpectedly.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State,
Bureau of Consular Affair’s web site, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, including the Worldwide Caution, can be found.

Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

CRIME:

Urban areas experience a higher incidence of crime than do other areas.  Travelers should protect their valuables and be aware that theft from hotel rooms and purse snatching or pick-pocketing are the most common crimes against tourists.  Offenses against persons do occur, and visitors should remain attentive to their personal safety.  Tourists should be cautious about sharing too much personal information about their country of origin or lodging.  Americans not familiar with their environs should ask hotel staff about areas to avoid at night.  Visitors are advised not to walk alone after dark and not to walk alone in isolated areas at any time.  Due to crime directed against taxi drivers, travelers should not allow taxis to pick up other passengers while en route and should not enter a taxi that already carries other passengers.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji at (679) 331-4466 (ask for American Citizen Services).  If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance.  The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney, if needed.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Fiji is 911.

See our information on Victims of Crime.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than those in the United States for similar offenses.  Persons violating Fijian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.  Penalties for possession of, use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Fiji are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:


Water Sports: Many visitors to Fiji participate in water sports, including scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, and operating jet-skis.  The Embassy strongly recommends that anyone interested in scuba diving and snorkeling while in Fiji check the references, licenses, and equipment of tour operators before agreeing to or paying for a tour.  Visitors should rent equipment only from reputable operators and should insist on sufficient training before using the equipment.  Rental diving equipment may not always be properly maintained or inspected, and some local dive masters may fail to consider the skill levels of individual tourists when organizing dives.  Deaths and serious mishaps have occurred in the past as a result of lack of attention to basic safety measures during diving and snorkeling trips.  Surfing on Fiji’s numerous reef breaks can be highly dangerous.  Safety precautions and emergency response capabilities may not be up to U.S. standards.  Fiji has only one decompression chamber, which is located in Suva, far from most resorts.

Trekking: Terrain in the Fiji islands can be hazardous.  Please consult with local guides and/or your place of lodging before undertaking a trek.  Americans are also advised to hike with a companion and not to stray from marked or well-worn paths.

Customs: Fiji's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into, or export from, Fiji of items such as alcohol or tobacco products. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Fiji in Washington, DC at (202) 337-8320 for specific information regarding customs requirements. Importation of animals is strictly controlled. Pets may be imported only from designated, rabies-free locales. Those wishing to bring pets to Fiji should contact the Ministry of Agriculture in Suva as much as six months in advance for particulars.   Please see our Customs Information sheet.

Purchase of Real Estate: U.S. citizens should be aware of the risks inherent in purchasing real estate in Fiji, and should exercise caution before entering into any form of commitment to invest in property there.  Investors must recognize the need to obtain authoritative information and to hire competent Fijian legal counsel when contemplating any real estate investment.  Fijian law and practices regarding real estate differ substantially from those in the United States.

Notification of Arrest: U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times so, that if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available.  According to Fijian law, a criminal detainee may be held for a maximum of 48 hours before being charged.  Police authorities normally advise the U.S. Embassy of the detention or arrest of a U.S. citizen within 24 hours of the incident. Nevertheless, U.S. citizens who are detained are encouraged to request that a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy in Suva be notified.

Natural Disasters: Fiji is located in an area of high seismic activity. Although the probability of a major earthquake occurring during a particular trip is remote, earthquakes can and do occur.  The cyclone season is November through April.  The Fiji Meteorological Service maintains a Tropical Cyclone Warning Center (TCWC) in Nadi serving the Southwest Pacific Region. General information regarding disaster preparedness is available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs' web site, and from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) home page.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

Health-care facilities in Fiji are adequate for routine medical problems. Emergency response is extremely limited, and the few ambulances available are poorly equipped and staffed.  Two major hospitals, the Lautoka Hospital in the western city of Lautoka, and the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva, provide limited emergency and outpatient services.  A private hospital in Suva provides Western-style medical care, and maintains the Fiji Recompression Chamber for the benefit of scuba divers.  Other hospitals and clinics provide only a limited range of health services.  Medical emergencies may be referred to Australia, New Zealand, or the United States.  Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States or elsewhere can cost thousands of dollars.  Doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Fiji may impose HIV/AIDS travel restrictions on some visa applicants for work permits.  Applicants must obtain a medical clearance, and the work permit committee will make the decision to grant the permit on a case-by-case basis.  Before traveling, please inquire directly with the Embassy of the Republic of Fiji, 2233 Wisconsin Avenue NW, No. 240, Washington, DC 20007; telephone (202) 337-8320, or the Fiji Mission to the United Nations in New York.

Fiji is currently experiencing an increased number of Dengue fever cases, with almost 1,000 cases confirmed (but no deaths) since September 1, 2008.  Dengue fever is a common disease caused by a virus that humans get by being bitten by infected mosquitoes (usually Aedes aegypti).  For more information about Dengue fever, see the CDC website below.

For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site. Further health information for travelers is available from the WHO.

MEDICAL INSURANCE:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.  The information below concerning Fiji is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Traffic moves on the left in Fiji.  While most roads in urban areas are paved, they are poorly maintained.  Roads outside the city are usually not paved. In the city, driving after dark requires heightened attentiveness; outside the city, it is discouraged, except in emergency or exceptional circumstances. Stray animals, unwary pedestrians, and potholes make driving dangerous and particularly hazardous at night.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.  Visit the web site of Fiji’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Fiji’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Fiji's air carrier operations. For further information may be found on FAA’s web site.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:

For information see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on international adoption and international parental child abduction.

REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:

Americans living or traveling in Fiji are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Suva through the State Department's travel registration web site, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Fiji.  Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  By registering, American citizens make it easier for the U.S. embassy or consulate to contact them in case of emergency.  The U.S. Embassy is located at 31 Loftus Street in Fiji’s capital city of Suva.  The telephone number is (679) 331-4466; the fax number is (679) 330-2267.  Information may also be obtained by visiting the U.S. Embassy’s home page.

This replaces the Country Specific Information dated October 24, 2008, to update the sections on Country Description, and Safety and Security.

 


 

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding Fiji HERE.....

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassy Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens)........

Regards

The SW Team....

 

Direct Gov Travel News and Alerts