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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Fiji

Fiji - Consular Information Sheet
April 10, 2000

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Fiji is a South Pacific island nation consisting of over 800 islands and islets, of which approximately 100 are inhabited. Fiji is a democratic republic based on the parliamentary system with elections every five years. In May 1999, there was a peaceful transition to the newly elected government. Fiji has a developing economy, and tourist facilities are available. The capital is Suva. The Fiji Visitors Bureau, which has a wide range of information of interest to travelers, can be contacted via the Internet at http://www.bulafiji.com.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Proof of sufficient funds, an onward/return ticket, and a passport valid for at least three months beyond the date of departure from Fiji are required for entry to Fiji. A visa is not required for tourist stays up to six months. Yachts wishing to call at the Lau group of islands need special permission granted at the first port of entry into Fiji. Fiji collects a departure tax, payable in local currency. For more information about entry/exit requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of the Republic of Fiji, 2233 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., No. 240, Washington, D.C., 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.

SAFETY/SECURITY: 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.

CRIME INFORMATION: Travelers should protect their valuables and be aware that theft from hotel rooms and purse-snatching in the cities are the most common crimes against tourists. Americans not familiar with their environs should make inquiries of hotel staff for any areas to avoid at night. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Health care facilities in Fiji are barely adequate for routine medical problems. Two major hospitals, the Lautoka Hospital in the city of Lautoka, and the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva, the capital, provide emergency and outpatient services. 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 or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties. Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provisions for medical evacuation. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital of doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death. Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), and or via their Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

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 may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Very Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Very Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Not Available

Traffic moves on the left in Fiji. While most roads in urban areas are paved, roads outside the city frequently are not. Stray animals, unwary pedestrians, and potholes make driving dangerous and particularly hazardous at night.

For specific information concerning operation and rental of motor vehicles in Fiji, please contact the Fiji Visitors Bureau at http://www.bulafiji.com.

AVIATION OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Fiji's Civil Aviation Authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Fiji Air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at tel. 1-800-322-7873 or visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. (618) 229-4801.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Fiji's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into Fiji of items such as alcohol and tobacco products. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Fiji in Washington, D.C. at tel. (202) 337-8320 for specific information regarding customs requirements. Pets arriving directly from the U.S. require a 3-month quarantine. This requirement applies to pets arriving on yachts as well.

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 in the United States for similar offenses. A person violating Fiji's law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Fiji are strict, and convicted offenders can expect severe jail sentences and fines.

CONSULAR ACCESS: 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 charges are brought. INTERPOL normally advises the U.S. Embassy of the detention or arrest 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.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Fiji is located in an area of high seismic activity. Although the probability of a major earthquake occurring during an individual trip is remote, earthquakes can and will continue to happen. General information regarding disaster preparedness is available via the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/crisismg.html, and from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) home page at http://www.fema.gov.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION AND EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy in Suva. The Embassy will also be able to provide updated information on travel and security in Fiji. The U.S. Embassy in Fiji is located at 31 Loftus Street in the capital city of Suva. The telephone number is (679) 314-466, and the fax number is (679) 302-267.

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