Please select your home edition
Edition
Spinlock 728x90

Procedures set out for waterborne visitors to Vanuatu

by B. J. Skane on 1 Aug 2014
Port Vila in Vanuatu .. .
Aiming to strengthen the protection of Vanuatu’s borders and facilitate the clearance of genuine small craft and travelers into and out of the country the Department of Customs and Inland Revenue has issued a Notice to Masters that clearly sets out the procedures waterborne visitors must follow.

Customs has also finalised a Standard Operating Procedure for Small Craft Controls and is delivering trainings to Customs Officers in Tanna, Vila and Santo. Thursday this week saw Immigration and Bio-Security Officers joining Customs at the first of these trainings.

These initiatives are timely in that they coincide with a visit to Fiji this week by Jeremy Douglas of the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime. Mr Douglas highlighted to Fiji officials the need to watch borders and tighten bank controls in order to combat the growing use of the Pacific’s island states by drug traffickers and money launderers. The same applies to Vanuatu as much as to any other Pacific Island nation.

Vanuatu Customs’ Notice to Masters makes it clear that there are only four ports of entry and departure in Vanuatu: Lenakel (Tanna Island), Port Vila (Efate Island), Luganville (Santo) and Sola (Vanua Lava in the Banks and Torres Group). Masters of all yachts entering Vanuatu from a foreign port must first report to Quarantine, Customs and Immigration at one of these ports to obtain inwards clearance.

Vessels may not call at Mystery Island (Aneityum), Port Resolution (Tanna) or any other place in Vanuatu unless the Director of Customs and Inland Revenue grants prior written permission. Masters of vessels who visit these places prior to obtaining inwards clearance and being issued with an 'Inter-island Cruising Permit', or obtaining written permission may be subject to fines and/or prosecution.

Some of the new penalties are stiff so it is well that intending visitors are made aware of what they are in for if they do the wrong thing.

Customs requires 24 hours prior notice of arrival of any vessel by e-mail stating the expected arrival time of the vessel, where it has come from, the crew and passengers on board and the port at which it will arrive. According to Quarantine laws, the vessel is required to fly the yellow flag as soon as it enters Vanuatu’s exclusive economic zone. And upon arrival at the port, vessels can call 'Customs' on VHF radio Channel 16 (only at Port Vila at the moment) to be cleared.

Interactive Arrival and Departure forms will shortly be available on the Customs website. These can be filled out electronically and e-mailed to Customs to facilitate both inwards and outward clearances.

The electronic forms will not only allow Customs to conduct risk assessments prior to the vessel’s arrival, but also allow for a smooth arrival and departure clearance for legitimate vessels and travelers. All attempts will be made to board vessels arriving from overseas as soon as possible after their actual arrival although clearance outside of normal working hours for either arriving or departing vessels will be subject to overtime attendance fees.


On completion of arrival formalities at the Port of Entry the Master of any vessel wishing to visit other islands in Vanuatu must first apply to Customs for an 'Inter-island Cruising Permit'. For genuine cruising small craft wishing to visit more remote and isolated destinations in Vanuatu these permits may be issued for a period of up to six months and absolve the vessel from reporting to Customs until the port of departure for overseas or for application to extend the permit.

Other requirements for small craft visiting Vanuatu are that firearms and ammunition on board arriving vessels must be declared to the Customs Officer. Unless Customs is satisfied that these items (excluding automatic weapons which are banned entirely) can be safely secured under seal on board the vessel or they must be surrendered to Customs for safe keeping for the duration of the vessel’s stay in Vanuatu. Vessels so affected must give Customs at least 48 hours notice of intended departure from its final port of clearance.

Besides automatic firearms, Vanuatu’s laws also prohibit the importation of narcotics, obscene publications and materials (books, magazines, DVDs, computer stored images and videos, and video cassettes. There are severe penalties for any breach of these prohibitions.

No live animals, reptiles, birds of any description, fresh meat, fruit or vegetables imported by yachts may be taken ashore. Officers of Bio-security may enforce some restriction on whether such goods will be permitted to remain on board after the yacht’s arrival.

No foreign garbage may be landed in Vanuatu without permission from Bio-security.

Visiting yachts may enter and remain temporarily in Vanuatu without payment of Customs duty for a period not more than six (6) months in any period of not more than (2) years provided that the vessel is the property of, or has been hired by, the importer.


Duty will become payable if the vessel stays longer than the time stipulated above, or is used commercially in any way including chartering or hiring or for activities for which a charge is made such as for sailing tours.

The only exception is if the vessel falls within the definition of a 'super yacht' (a vessel valued in excess of Vt 200 M or approximately US$2,000,000) for which special conditions apply.

Details are on Customs’ website.

Customs’ duty will also become payable if the vessel is disposed of in Vanuatu whether or not for financial consideration or if it is imported by a resident of Vanuatu or a person taking up residence in Vanuatu after the six months concession period of obtaining residency permit (as per the Import or Duties (Amendment) Act) has expired.

All visiting small craft are liable for Port Dues of Vt 7,875 for 30 days or part thereof and Vt 100 per day thereafter. These fees are to be paid at the Ports and Harbours office, or if unavailable, at the Customs office at the final port of departure.

Customs’ allowances for crew and passengers include personal effects such as clothing; toiletries and jewelry possessed and used abroad not intended for gift, sale or disposal to any other person.

Each crew or passenger over the age of 18 years is allowed 250 cigarettes, or 100 cigarillos, or 50 cigars, or 250 grams of tobacco, two litres of wine and 1.5 litres of spirits, ¼ litres of toilet water and 10 centilitres of perfume plus any other item (other than prohibited goods) up to a value of 50,000 vatu per person aged over 15 years.

All yachts leaving Vanuatu for a foreign port or place are required to obtain an outward clearance from Customs at the final port of departure: Lenakel, Port Vila, Luganville or Sola and must depart for overseas within 24 hours of its issue. Vessels wishing to obtain clearance at locations other than these ports should obtain permission from Customs and Immigration in advance. Fees for official attendance and travel may apply if such a request is granted.

No yacht is allowed to call at any place in Vanuatu once an outward International Clearance has been given.

Duty–free goods and fuel may be shipped on board any vessel clearing outwards for a foreign port or place. Details may be obtained from Customs offices.

Customs’ normal operating hours are 0730 – 1200 and 1300 – 1630 Monday to Friday.

Between 06:00 - 07:30 and 16:30 - 18:00 Monday to Friday there is a fee of VT 1,000 per hour per officer.

From 1800 to 0600 the fee is VT 1,500 per hour per officer and on weekends and public holidays VT 2,000 per officer.

A minimum charge of three hours is applicable for all out of normal hours attendances.

The full text of the Notice to Masters can be found here

You can listen to Radio Australia’s report on the UN Drugs and Crime Office visit to Fiji here.

upffront 660x82Wildwind 2016 660x82X-Yachts AUS X4 - 660 - 3

Related Articles

Knowing Harken takes years and years (Pt.II)
We looked at how Grant Pellew became the MD here in Australia, and how they rigorously go about testing their gear In Part One of getting to know Harken, we looked at how Grant Pellew became the MD here in Australia, and how they rigorously go about testing their gear. We also looked at some of the other brands Harken distributes in Australia and so we move on to the last category.
Posted on 25 Sep
Olympic Gold medalist and Volvo Ocean Race winner up for WS Board
Torben Grael (BRA) is amongst the 15 nominations for one of seven places on the Board of Directors of World Sailing Torben Grael (BRA) is amongst the 15 nominations for one of seven places on the Board of Directors of World Sailing in November. The five times Olympic medalist, Volvo Ocean Race winner and several times America's Cup competitor will bring a much needed sailing edge to the Board of World Sailing if he can navigate the politics of the controlling body of the sport.
Posted on 25 Sep
Amel - Do you fit the bill?
Perhaps it is equally as fascinating as the many features that go into either the Amel 55 or 64 It is certainly an interesting set of criterion. Perhaps it is equally as fascinating as the many features that go into either the Amel 55 or 64 and make them a definitive part of the quintessential bluewater cruiser armada. We’ll come to all of those in due course, but firstly we’ll tackle the hero image and why in so many ways, this explains, so, so much.
Posted on 21 Sep
Knowing Harken takes years and years (Pt.I)
You could imagine that being familiar with all that Harken produces and stands for is a lengthy process. You could imagine that being familiar with all that Harken produces and stands for is a lengthy process. So if you were going to be the person at the top in Australia, it would be best for you to have immersed yourself in sailing from an early age. When you grew up, being one of the technical service team would be more than a handy apprenticeship, as it were.
Posted on 19 Sep
Brookes and Gatehouse Videos with Knut Frostad
Navico, the parent company for Brookes and Gatehouse (B&G), Simrad and Lowrance have prepared some terrific videos Navico, the parent company for Brookes and Gatehouse (B&G), Simrad and Lowrance have prepared some terrific videos with Knut Frostad, the legendary Volvo Ocean Race sailor and former CEO. See him talk about sailing in general, the B&G product choices and placement he made for his own boat, and then why he loves his Outremer 5X.
Posted on 8 Sep
Boat Books of the Month - How to Read Water and False Flags
How to Read Water: Clues, Signs & Patterns from Puddles to Sea & False Flags: Disguised German Raiders of World War II. This month the Boatbooks Australia: Boat Books of the Month are How to Read Water: Clues, Signs & Patterns from Puddles to the Sea and False Flags: Disguised German Raiders of World War II.
Posted on 6 Sep
Soft Padeyes – light, strong and versatile
Several types of soft padeyes are now available and are proving increasingly popular over traditional stainless steel pa Several types of soft padeyes are now available on the market and are proving increasingly popular over traditional stainless steel padeyes. They all capitalise on the incredible strength to weight ratio and abrasion resistance of Dyneema® which offers a reliable, robust, flexible and safe termination.
Posted on 6 Sep
The X Factor starring X-Yachts
X-Yachts do indeed have plenty to sing about. X-Yachts do indeed have plenty to sing about. Testament to that is the three-year-old Xp38 on display at the recent Sydney International Boat Show still looked brand new. This was no mooring minder either, but rather a boat that had gone up to Hamilton Island Race Week for each of those years and campaigned hard.
Posted on 31 Aug
The C Beetle Project
Every now and then something comes along your way and you just have to read it. Every now and then something comes along your way and you just have to read it. Such is Phil Smidmore’s tale of Mick Miller and if I could be so bold as to implore you to read, then I know your life will be the better for it!
Posted on 30 Aug
Zhik sailors win 17 sailing medals at 2016 Olympic Regatta
The 2016 Olympic games are over and what a Games they have been - Zhik sailors dominated Zhik sailors won almost 60% of the medals contested at Rio de Janeiro. It was a regatta which tested sailors and gear - with one day being the most severe conditions ever experienced at an Olympic regatta. For the Zhik team riders on the waters of Rio, four years and more of hard work and dedication have paid off for many.
Posted on 29 Aug