Travel Tips for French Polynesia, Updated Intl. Guide – Travel Medicine, Inc.
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French Polynesia

Capital: Papeete

Time Zone: -10 hours.
Tel. Country Code: 689
USADirect Tel.: 0
Electrical Standards: Electrical current is 220/60 and 110/60 (volts/hz). American-style two-pin flat blade plugs and a round pin plug and receptacle with male grounding pin are used. Grounding Adaptor Plugs A, D.

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Resource Links

World Health Organization
Travel Health Services
Country Insights
Travel Warnings
Consular Information
Foreign Commonweatlh Office


• There is no U.S. Embassy nor diplomatic post on the island of Tahiti, nor any of the other islands. For assistance, travelers should contact the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji; Tel: [679] 314-466

• Canadian Diplomatic Contact:
Consulate of Australia
Mobil Central Office
Papeava Port Zone
Tel: [689] 468 853
Fax: [689] 241 833

• There is no resident British Diplomatic Mission in French Polynesia. Routine consular matters are covered by the British Embassy in Paris.
In case of emergency, contact the Honorary British Consul in French Polynesia
Tel: [689] 706 382
Fax: [689] 42 00 50

Entry Requirements

HIV Test: Not required.

Required Vaccinations: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required of travelers arriving from infected areas.

Passport Information

Passport/Visa: French Polynesia is made up of 35 volcanic islands and about 183 low-lying coral atolls in five archipelagos. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati to the north-west and Cook Islands to the west. The small, uninhabited island of Clipperton, located far to the north-east, some 600 kilometres off the coast of Mexico, is administered from French Polynesia, under the direct jurisdiction of the High Commissioner. Some 75% of the inhabitants live in the Society Islands, which constitute about one-half of the land area (census 2002). The most important and most populated island is Tahiti.
As of 1 January 2007 the estimated population was 259 800. About 83% of the population are Polynesian, 12% European and 5% from Asia. 
Since 2004, French Polynesia has had the special status of a French overseas country with extended political independence. However, the core state functions such as justice, security and public order, defence, foreign policy are still under the authority of France, which is represented by a High Commissioner. 

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport valid for six months beyond duration of stay is required. Visas are not required for stays of 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 their web site at Additional information is available at GIE Tourisme, Fare Manihini, Boulevard Pomare, B. P. 65, Papeete, French Polynesia, Telephone: [689] 50-57-00, Fax: [689] 43-66-19. 

Vaccinations: Recommended and Routine

Hepatitis A: Recommended for all travelers >1 year of age not previously immunized against hepatitis A.

Hepatitis B: Recommended for all travelers who might be exposed to blood or bodily fluids from unprotected sex with a high-risk partner; from injecting drug use with shared/re-used needles and syringes; from medical treatment with non-sterile (re-used) needles and syringes (risk in lesser-developed countries); from contact with open skin sores. Recommended for any traveler requesting protection against hepatitis B virus.

Routine Immunizations: Immunizations against tetanus-diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella (MMR vaccine) and varicella (chickenpox) should be updated, if necessary, before departure. MMR protection is especially important for any female of childbearing age who may become pregnant.
• The new Tdap vaccine, ADACEL, which also boosts immunity against pertussis (whooping cough) should be considered when a tetanus-diphtheria booster is indicated.

Typhoid: Recommended for all travelers with the exception of short-term visitors who restrict their meals to major restaurants and hotels.

Yellow Fever: Travelers entering the country from an endemic area are required to present a certificate of immunization against yellow fever. Not required otherwise.

Hospitals / Doctors

All travelers should be up-to-date on their immunizations and are advised to carry a medical kit as well as antibiotics to treat travelers diarrhea or other infections. Travelers who are taking regular medications should carry them properly labeled and in sufficient quantity to last for the duration of their trip; they should not expect to obtain prescription or over-the-counter drugs in local stores or pharmacies in this country - the equivalent drugs may not be available.
� Travelers are advised to obtain comprehensive travel insurance with specific overseas coverage. Policies should cover: ground and air ambulance transport, including evacuation to home country; payment of hospital bills; 24-hour telephone assistance. Serious illness or injury may require medical evacuation to the U.S. (Hawaii or Los Angeles).

Rescue and emergency services are of a high standard although distances between the capital, Papeete, and the outer islands could delay the response to an emergency. A helicopter evacuation from one of the islands to Papeete will cost around $A10,000. An aeromedical evacuation from Noumea to the United States would cost in excess of $50,000.

There is only one decompression facility in French Polynesia, in Papeete. Many popular dive sites are located on other islands and it may take some time to reach the decompression facility in the event of an accident. Most registered dive companies require participants to have insurance cover for diving.

Medical treatment is generally good on the major islands, but is limited in more remote or less populated areas. In Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, two major hospitals and several private clinics provide 24-hour medical service.

The U.S. Embassy in Fiji maintains a list of doctors and hospitals in Tahiti at:

Destination Health Info for Travelers

AIDS/HIV: It is estimated that 0.4% of the adult population of Oceania is living with HIV/AIDS but no statistics are currently available for French Polynesia. A small number of AIDS cases and HIV infections have been reported. The hospital blood supply is screened for HIV and is considered safe.
� Transmission of HIV can be prevented by avoiding: sexual contact with a high-risk partner; injecting drug use with shared needles; non-sterile medical injections; unscreened blood transfusions.
� The threat of HIV/AIDS should not be a primary concern for the traveler. However, there may be a concern for a subset of travelers who may be exposed to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, through contact with body fluids or blood of another person. Although travel has contributed in a general way to the global spread of AIDS, fear of traveling because of this disease is not warranted.

Accidents & Medical Insurance: Accidents and injuries are the leading cause of death among travelers under the age of 55 and are most often caused by motor vehicle and motorcycle crashes; drownings, aircraft crashes, homicides, and burns are lesser causes. Important safety rules to follow are 1) Do not drive at night, 2) Do not rent a motorcycle, moped, bicycle, or motorbike, even if you are experienced, and 3) Don't swim alone, at night, or if intoxicated.
• Heart attacks cause most fatalities in older travelers.
• Infections cause only 1% of fatalities in overseas travelers, but, overall, infections are the most common cause of travel-related illness.
• MEDICAL INSURANCE: Travelers are advised to obtain, prior to departure, supplemental travel health insurance with specific overseas coverage. The policy should provide for direct payment to the overseas hospital and/or physician at the time of service and include a medical evacuation benefit. The policy should also provide 24-hour hotline access to a multilingual assistance center that can help arrange and monitor delivery of medical care and determine if medevac or air ambulance services are required.

Dengue Fever: This disease occurs throughout French Polynesia. An outbreak reported in November 2006 affected almost 400 people, chiefly in the capital, Papeete. The highest risk of dengue is during the rainy season months. Dengue fever is a mosquito-transmitted, flu-like viral illness widespread in the Indian sub-Continent. Symptoms consist of sudden onset of fever, headache, muscle aches, and a rash. A syndrome of hemorrhagic shock can occur in severe cases.
• Dengue is transmitted via the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. Aedes mosquitoes feed predominantly during daylight hours. All travelers are at risk and should take measures to prevent daytime mosquito bites. Insect-bite prevention measures include applying a DEET-containing repellent to exposed skin and applying permethrin spray or solution to clothing and gear.
• There is no vaccination or medication to prevent or treat dengue.

Filariasis: Malayan filariasis has been reported in the general population, but current levels are unclear. There is little or no risk to tourists. A combined program of mosquito control and mass chemotherapy with diethylcarbamazine has reduced the prevalence of this disease.

Hepatitis: All travelers not previously immunized against hepatitis A should be vaccinated against this disease. Travelers who are non-immune to hepatitis A (i.e. have never had the disease and have not been vaccinated) should take particular care to avoid potentially contaminated food and water. Travelers who will have access to safe food and water are at lower risk. Those at higher risk include travelers visiting friends and relatives, long-term travelers, and those visiting areas of poor sanitation.
• Hepatitis E is endemic but levels are unclear; it may be emerging as a major cause of acute viral hepatitis in the Western Pacific. Sporadic cases of hepatitis E may occur but go unrecognized or underreported. Transmission of HEV occurs primarily through drinking water contaminated by sewage and also through raw or uncooked shellfish. Farm animals, such as swine, and also deer and wild boar, may serve as a viral reservoirs. (HEV is one of the few viruses which has been shown to be transmitted directly from animals through food.) In developing countries, prevention of hepatitis E relies primarily on the provision of clean water supplies and overall improved sanitation and hygiene. There is no vaccine.
• Hepatitis B is hyperendemic. The oveepatitis B (HBsAg) carrier rate in the general population is estimated at 12% or higher. Hepatitis B is transmitted via infected blood or bodily fluids. Travelers may be exposed by needle sharing and unprotected sex; from non-sterile medical or dental injections, and acupuncture; from unscreened blood transfusions; by direct contact with open skin lesions of an infected person. The average traveler is at low risk for acquiring this infection. Vaccination against hepatitis B is recommended for: persons having casual/unprotected sex with new partners; sexual tourists; injecting drug users; long-term visitors; expatriates, and anybody wanting increased protection against the hepatitis B virus.
• Hepatitis C is endemic with a prevalence of 1.5% in the general population. Most hepatitis C virus (HCV) is spread either through intravenous drug use or, in lesser-developed countries, through blood contamination during medical procedures. Over 200 million people around the world are infected with hepatitis C - an overall incidence of around 3.3% of the population of the world. Statistically, as many people are infected with HCV as are with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Influenza: Influenza is transmitted year-round in the tropics. The flu vaccine is recommended for all travelers over age 6 months.

Malaria: There is no risk of malaria in French Polynesia.

Marine Hazards: Swimming related hazards include jellyfish, spiny sea urchins, and coral.
• Ciguatera poisoning is prevalent and can result from eating coral reef fish such as grouper, snapper, sea bass, jack, and barracuda. The ciguatoxin is not destroyed by cooking.

Travelers' Diarrhea: Low to medium risk. The tap water on most of the main islands is generally safe. Outside of hotels and resorts, we recommend that you filter or purify all drinking water or drink only bottled water or other bottled beverages and do not use ice cubes. Avoid unpasteurized dairy products. Do not eat raw or undercooked food, especially meat, fish, raw vegetables. Peel all fruits.
• Good hand hygiene reduces the incidence of travelers’ diarrhea by 30%.
• A quinolone antibiotic, or azithromycin, combined with loperamide (Imodium), is recommended for the treatment of diarrhea. Diarrhea not responding to antibiotic treatment may be due to a parasitic disease such as giardiasis, amebiasis, or cryptosporidiosis.
• Seek qualified medical care if you have bloody diarrhea and fever, severe abdominal pain, uncontrolled vomiting, or dehydration.

Typhoid Fever: Outbreaks of typhoid fever have been reported, but the incidence of this illness is low. Typhoid fever is the most serious of the Salmonella infections. Typhoid vaccine is recommended by the CDC for all people (with the exception of short-term visitors who restrict their meals to hotels or resorts) traveling to or working in French Polynesia, especially if visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas and staying with friends or relatives where exposure might occur through food or water. Current vaccines against Salmonella typhi are only 50-80% protective and do not protect against Salmonella paratyphi, the cause of paratyphoid fever. (Paratyphoid fever bears similarities with typhoid fever, but the course is generally more benign.) Travelers should continue to practice strict food, water and personal hygiene precautions, even if vaccinated.