Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Friday, 04 April 2014.   It contains new information in the Summary, under Civil unrest/political tension (Elections will be held on 17 September 2014) and Health (Fijian authorities have confirmed cases of dengue fever across Fiji, including Nadi; you should take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes). We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Fiji overall.

Fiji overall

Suva

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Fiji. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
  • Cyclone season is November to April. See Additional information: Natural disasters, severe weather and climate for more detailed advice.
  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Suva because of the prevalence of crime and potential for civil unrest. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media about possible new safety or security risks
  • In April 2009 Fiji’s Constitution was abrogated. Fiji is currently ruled by decree. The Public Order Act (Amendment) Decree provides extensive powers to the police and military (See Civil unrest/political tension for more information).
  • Australia is represented in Fiji by an Acting High Commissioner after the Australian High Commissioner was expelled in 2009. The Australian High Commission in Suva continues to operate normally.
  • You should avoid demonstrations, street rallies and public gatherings.
  • Expatriates and tourists have been the victim of violent crime, particularly in Suva. You should maintain a high degree of personal security awareness. There have been cases of sexual assaults.
  • Cases of Dengue fever have been confirmed across Fiji, including Nadi. Outbreaks of other endemic mosquito-borne illnesses are common. We recommend you take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes, including using insect repellent, wearing long, light coloured, loose-fitting clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Fiji for the most up to date information.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your date of return to Australia and carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.

Civil unrest/Political tension

We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Fiji. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.

Checkpoints and road closures are occasionally put in place by local authorities. You should follow the instructions of local authorities at these checkpoints.

In April 2009, Fiji’s Constitution was abrogated. Although a new Constitution was promulgated in September 2013, Fiji continues to be ruled by decree. The Public Order Act (Amendment) Decree provides extensive powers to the police and military and maintains many of the restrictions and powers of the previous Public Emergency Regulations (PER) which were implemented in April 2009. Australians should be aware of restrictions on the freedom of assembly and movement in Fiji, wide powers of detention, arrest and search, and limitations on individuals seeking judicial redress for decisions made by the government under the decree.

Elections are to be held on 17 September 2014. Political parties are likely to become more active in the lead-up to elections through the holding of meetings and public rallies. You should avoid demonstrations, street rallies and public gatherings.

Since April 2009 actions taken by the Fiji Interim Government have affected the interests and welfare of Australians in a number of instances. A number of high profile expatriates have been expelled from the country. This included the expulsion of the Australian High Commissioner in November 2009 and the then Acting Australian High Commissioner in July 2010. Australia is currently represented in Fiji by an Acting High Commissioner. The Australian High Commission in Suva continues to operate as normal.

You should avoid military installations, military activity and concentrations of military personnel.

Suva: We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Suva because of the prevalence of crime and potential for civil unrest. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media about possible new safety or security risks.

Crime

Robbery, theft and violent assault occur in Fiji, including against tourists and expatriate residents. Incidents occur more frequently in urban areas and at night. Although most crime is opportunistic, there have been incidents of violent crime such as assault, sexual assault, and robbery in which expatriates and tourists have been targeted. You should maintain a high degree of personal security awareness. Home invasions also occur, affecting both locals and expatriates.

Suva: We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Suva because of the prevalence of crime and potential for civil unrest.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Consult with your bank to find out the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Fiji.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

Inclement weather sometimes affects air and tourist services. Take care when driving, particularly at night, because of insufficient street lighting, stray animals and the poor quality of roads. For further advice, see our road travel page.

The safety standards you might expect of tour operators are not always met, especially for adventure sports (including diving) or on boats in coastal waters and between islands. There are sometimes insufficient life jackets for boats, rafts and kayaks. Check operators' credentials and safety equipment beforehand and ensure your travel insurance policy covers your planned activities.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Fiji, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Court proceedings can be lengthy and the Australian Government is unable to influence the time a case takes to go through the normal court procedures.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Since the December 2006 coup, April 2009 abrogation of the Constitution and the implementation of the Public Order Act (Amendment) Decree, actions taken by the military and other government organisations have undermined the protections ordinarily afforded by the rule of law, and have affected the interests and welfare of Australians in some instances.

Possession of any quantity of illicit drugs may result in a prison sentence.

It is illegal in Fiji to be under the influence of alcohol while at an airport or when on an aeroplane. Airline travellers who are intoxicated may be detained by police, even on arrival.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

Outside resorts, the dress code in Fiji is conservative. You should take care not to offend.

Homosexual acts between adults are not illegal in Fiji, but you should be aware of local sensitivities. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Open displays of affection could offend, particularly in rural communities.

Information for dual nationals

While Fiji recognises dual nationality, we recommend dual nationals travel on their Australian passport. Australian/Fijian citizens should ensure they ask officials for consular assistance from the Australian High Commission if they are arrested or detained.

Our Dual Nationals brochure provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Public hospitals and medical facilities in Fiji are generally not as well-equipped as hospitals in Australia in terms of services, specialist equipment and pharmaceuticals. Travellers should note that hotels and resorts rely on public health facilities during medical emergencies. Many regional hospitals provide only basic services. Hospitals usually require a confirmation of payment guarantee from medical insurers or the payment of a deposit before admitting patients. In the case of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to Australia is usually necessary. Medical evacuation costs are considerable.

In February 2014, the Fiji Ministry of Health declared a dengue fever outbreak in the Central Division, particularly in Suva, with an unusual increase in dengue cases. In March 2014, the Fiji Ministry of Health reported that cases of Dengue fever have now been confirmed across Fiji, including Nadi. Outbreaks of other endemic mosquito-borne illnesses (including filariasis) are common. We recommend you take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes, including using insect repellent, wearing long light coloured and loose-fitting clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof. Seek medical advice if you have a fever. For further information see the World Health Organization's dengue fever factsheet.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, hepatitis, leptospirosis, tuberculosis, measles and mumps) are common, with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. To minimise the risk of food poisoning or water-borne disease, we recommend that you boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes, raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

You should also be aware that illness caused by naturally occurring seafood toxins such as ciguatera, as well as scombroid (histamine fish poisoning) and toxins in shellfish can be a hazard (for more information see Queensland Health’s factsheet). Seek urgent medical attention if you suspect poisoning.

There are two operational decompression chambers in Fiji and both are located in the capital, Suva. They are at Suva Private Hospital and the Colonial War Memorial Hospital. Many of the popular dive sites are located away from Suva and divers needing emergency treatment are medically evacuated to the chambers. Rescue and emergency services are not as comprehensive as in Australia.

Where to get help

In Fiji, you can obtain consular assistance from the:

Australian High Commission, Suva

37 Princes Road
Tamavua
Suva, Fiji
Telephone: (679) 338 2211
Facsimile: (679) 338 2065
Website: www.fiji.embassy.gov.au

If you are travelling to Fiji, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the High Commission you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Cyclone season in Fiji is November to April and may result in flooding, landslides and disruptions to infrastructure and essential services.

The Fiji Meteorological Service provides up to date information about the weather conditions in Fiji, including cyclone information. The Fiji Ministry of Information also provides regular updates on cyclones via their website and Facebook page

In the event of an approaching cyclone, you should identify your local shelter, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor media and weather reports for the latest developments. Flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended. Available flights may fill quickly. The cyclone could also affect access to sea ports in the region. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe cyclone may not be available to all who may choose to stay. You should review and follow hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans and heed the advice of Fijian authorities. You should carry your travel documents at all times (i.e. passport, photo identification) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. For further information, see our Severe Weather page.

The direction and strength of tropical cyclones can change with little warning. Information can also be obtained from the World Meteorological Organisation Severe Weather Information Centre or the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.

Flooding is common in Fiji, particularly in the areas of downtown Nadi and the Coral Coast, and can sometimes result in road access being cut, including to the airport. Ensure you follow the advice of local authorities at all times.

Fiji is subject to earthquakes.

All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure.

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the instructions provided by local authorities on radio and television.

For Parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.