French Polynesia - Consular Information Sheet
April 10, 2000
DESCRIPTION: French Polynesia is a French overseas territory
located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It is made up of several
groups of islands, the largest and most populated of which is
Tahiti. French Polynesia has a moderately developed economy, which
is dependent on imported goods, tourism and the financial assistance
of mainland France. Tourist facilities are well developed and
are available on the major islands.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport valid for six months beyond
duration of stay is required. Visas are not required for stays
up to one month. Extensions for up to three months may be granted
locally by applying to the Haut Commissionaire (The French High
Commissioner). For further information about entry requirements,
travelers, particularly those planning to enter by sea, may contact
the French Embassy at 4101 Reservoir Road, N.W, Washington, D.C.
20007, telephone (202) 944-6200, fax 202-944-6212, or visit the
Embassy of France’s web sites at http://www.info-france-usa.org.
CRIME INFORMATION: French Polynesia has one of the lowest
crime rates within France and its territories. However, petty
crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs. The
loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately
to the local police and 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: Medical treatment is generally good
on the major islands, but is limited in areas that are more remote
or less populated. Patients with emergencies or with serious illnesses
are often referred to facilities on Tahiti for treatment. In Papeete,
the capital of Tahiti, two major hospitals as well as several
private clinics provide 24-hour medical service. Serious medical
problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to
the United States can cost thousands of dollars. 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. Check with your own insurance company
to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision
for medical evacuation. Ascertain whether payment will be made
to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed
later for expenses 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
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations
and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention’s international travelers’
hotline at telephone 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747), via the
CDC autofax service at 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299) or via
CDC’s 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 French Polynesia is provided for general reference
only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good in Tahiti
While most major roads are paved, many secondary roads are not.
Traffic is brisk and all types of vehicles and pedestrians jockey
for space on narrow streets. Crosswalks are marked and the law
requires that motor vehicles stop for pedestrians; however, this
is not always done. Tourists should exercise caution when driving,
particularly at night.
For specific information concerning the operation and rental
of motor vehicles in French Polynesia contact the Embassy of France.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: Civil aviation operations in
French Polynesia fall under the jurisdiction of French authorities.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the
government of France’s civil aviation authority as category 1
-- in compliance with international aviation safety standards
for oversight of France’s air carrier operations. For further
information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation
within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA 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 DOD at (618) 229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: French customs authorities may enforce
strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export
from French Polynesia of some items. Customs officials can control
at any time, not just on the border. It is advisable to contact
the Embassy of France in Washington, D.C. or one of France’s consulates
in the United States for specific information regarding customs
requirements. The web site for French customs is www.finances.gouv.fr/douane.
Goods arriving on pleasure yachts must be declared at the first
point of arrival in French Polynesia. Arms, animals, alcohol,
cigarettes, cameras, etc., must be included in this declaration.
French customs officials encourage the use of an ATA (Admission
Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission
of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for
exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located
at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of
the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA
Carnet in the United States. For additional information call (212)
354-4480, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their
web site at http://www.uscib.org.
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 do 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. Persons violating
the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.
Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs
are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences
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. If detained, U.S. citizens are encouraged
to request that a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy in Suva,
Fiji be notified.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: French Polynesia 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
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/EMBASSY LOCATION: There is no U.S. Embassy
or diplomatic post on Tahiti nor on any of the other French Polynesian
islands. Assistance for U.S. citizens is provided by the U.S.
Embassy in Suva, Fiji, which is located at 31 Loftus Street, P.O.
Box 218, in the capital city of Suva, telephone 679-314-466, fax
Americans living in or visiting French Polynesia are encouraged
to register with the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji, and to obtain
up-to-date information on travel and security in French Polynesia.
Additional information is available from the home page of the
U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji at http://www.amembassy-fiji.gov.