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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for French Polynesia Tahiti

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 home page.

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 or circumstance.

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 atacarnet@uscib.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 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. 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 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/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 679-302-267.

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.

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