Tahiti and French Polynesia Basics

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The Basics

Time: GMT -10 (The Marquesas Islands are half an hour ahead of the rest of French Polynesia).

Electricity: The electric current in most hotels is 220 volts, 60Hz. European-style two-pin plugs, with a round pin plug, are in use.

Money: The unit of currency in French Polynesia is the French Pacific Franc (XPF), divided into 100 centimes. The exchange rate is fairly stable as it is linked to the Euro. Apart from Maupiti, all the main islands in the Society group have at least one banking agency, while only Rangiroa has permanent banking services in the Tuamotus. There are Banque Socredo agencies on 'Ua Pou, Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa in the Marquesas, and some banking services on Rurutu and Tubuai in the Australs group. Banks are the best place to change foreign currency, though rates of exchange are not as good at hotels. Travellers will find ATMs on main islands; hotels and restaurants on main islands accept credit cards.

Currency Exchange Rates

XPF100.00 = USD 0.93GBP 0.72CAD 1.21AUD 1.36ZAR 13.43EUR 0.84NZD 1.40
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: Though French is the official language,Tahitian is widely spoken. English also has a fairly strong presence.

Entry requirements for Americans: US citizens require a passport valid for three months after intended travel. No visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens require a passport valid for three months beyond travel period but no visa to enter French Polynesia. All other British nationals require a passport valid for three months after intended travel, and no visa is required for a stay of up to three months. Visa extensions are obtainable.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians require a passport valid for three months after intended travel. No visa is required for a stay of up to three months in any six month period.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australians require a passport valid for three months after intended travel. No visa is required for a stay of up to three months.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans require a passport valid for three months after intended travel. A visa is required for South African citizens wishing to travel to Tahiti and French Polynesia.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for three months after intended travel. No visa is required for a stay of up to three months.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish citizens require a passport valid for three months after intended travel. No visa is required.

Passport/Visa Note: All foreigners entering French Polynesia must hold return tickets or documents for onward travel and proof of sufficient funds. Although French Polynesia doesn't officially require it, it's recommended that passports have six months of validity remaining prior to travel.

Travel Health: A yellow fever vaccination is required for travellers to French Polynesia arriving from an infected area. Vaccinations for hepatitis A and hepatitis B are recommended, and those staying long-term and eating outside of major hotels and restaurants may also want to consider a vaccination for typhoid. Malaria is not a concern but cases of dengue fever are on the rise so precautions against mosquito bites should be taken. Tap water in hotels and resorts should be safe to drink, but bottled water is also available throughout the islands. Tahiti has decent medical facilities and there are a few private doctors and clinics in the outer islands but healthcare options are limited outside of major cities. The only decompression chamber is at Papeete. Comprehensive medical insurance is recommended for all travellers.

Tipping: Tipping in Tahiti and the islands is not required or expected - it is seen as contrary to the local custom of hospitality. Generally prices quoted are all-inclusive.

Safety Information: Visits to French Polynesia are usually trouble-free. The crime rate is low, but sensible precautions should be taken with valuables. Tropical storms and cyclones can occur between November and April.

Local Customs: The culture in Tahiti and French Polynesia is relaxed and welcoming, with hospitality and generosity considered important values. People greet each other with a handshake or kiss on the cheek, and it is considered impolite not to greet everyone in the room unless there is a large group. Guests should remove their shoes when entering someone's home.

Business: Business etiquette is relatively informal in Tahiti and French Polynesia. French is the main language of trade, however English is often understood in more popular tourist areas and main urban centres. Business hours are generally 8am to 12pm and 1.30pm to 5.30pm Monday to Friday.

Communications: The international dialling code for French Polynesia is +689 and the outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for South Africa). Wifi is available in the larger hotels and resorts; travellers can purchase local SIM cards for unlocked phones.

Duty Free: Travellers aged 18 or over who are arriving with goods purchased in the EU do not have to pay customs duty on 800 cigarettes, 200 cigars or 1 kilogram of tobacco; 90 litres of wine, 110 litres of beer or cider and 10 litres of alcoholic spirits. Passengers arriving from non-EU Member States do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacoo; 4 lites of wine, 16 litres of beer or cider and 2 litres of spirits.