Palau

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Friday, 27 June 2014.   This advice has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments. We continue to advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Palau.

Palau overall

Summary

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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Palau does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Australia. For the most up-to-date information on Palau, Australians should contact the:

Bureau of Foreign Affairs
PO Box 100
Ngerulmud, PW 96940
PALAU
Telephone: +680 767 2490
Fax: +680 767 3680 / 8092
E-mail: state@palaugov.net

A departure tax and environmental protection fee is payable in cash at the airport on departure from Palau.

If you are travelling to or through the United States of America, or if you are transiting Guam or another US point of entry, you are required to meet US entry/transit requirements. Make sure you check visa requirements with the nearest US Embassy or Consulate well in advance of your travel. You should also read our travel advice for the United States of America.

Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should 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.

Crime

The crime rate in Palau is low, although, there is occasional petty crime.

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. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas. US dollars are the official currency of Palau.

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 Australian Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan caused major damage to infrastructure on the outlying atoll of Kayangel to the north of Palau, which continues to be repaired and rebuilt. You should check with your tour operator or travel agent for the latest information on the availability of tourist infrastructure and services in the areas you are travelling.

The safety standards you might expect of tour operators are not always met, especially for adventure sports such as diving and yachting. Sufficient life jackets and adequate safety equipment may not be provided, and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. Check operators' credentials and safety equipment beforehand and ensure your travel insurance policy covers your planned activities.

There are still unexploded ordnance in Palau left over from World War II, particularly in Peleliu and Angaur. Particular care should be taken when diving or exploring caves.

There are saltwater crocodiles in parts of Palau, and often no warning signs to indicate their presence. Check with local authorities before considering water activities in mangrove areas.

Airline safety

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

Laws

When you are in Palau, 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.

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

Penalties for drug offences are strict. Possession of any amount of illegal 'hard drugs' (such as heroin and cocaine) carries a mandatory sentence of 25 years imprisonment.

Drinking in public places is not allowed. The legal drinking age is 21.

It is illegal to disturb or take historical items (including from sunken vessels).

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, 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

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Palau and you should take care not to offend.

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. Divers visiting Palau should have travel and health insurance that includes coverage for deep sea diving, hyperbaric chamber and evacuation costs. 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.

Hospital and medical facilities are limited throughout Palau and evacuation may be required in cases of serious illness or accident. Initial medivac would normally be to Guam, which is an expensive destination. If medical travel to Australia is required, the extremely limited flights out of Palau and Guam could cause difficulties. Costs for a medical evacuation could be considerable (in the tens of thousands of dollars).

Many of the popular dive sites are located away from the capital, Koror. The hospital in Koror has one hyperbaric chamber.

Dengue fever outbreaks occur occasionally in Palau. We recommend you monitor local media for health announcements and take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes, including using insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof. For further information see the WHO factsheet on dengue fever.

Where to get help

Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Palau. You can obtain consular assistance from the nearest Australian Embassy which is in the Federated States of Micronesia:

Australian Embassy, Pohnpei

H & E Building
Kolonia, Pohnpei
PO Box S
FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA
Telephone: (691) 320 5448
Facsimile: (691) 320 5449
E-mail: phpi.mail@dfat.gov.au
Website: http://www.fsm.embassy.gov.au.

If you are travelling to Palau, 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 Embassy 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

Palau is affected by tropical storms which may disrupt services, including in November 2013 with Typhoon Haiyan and in December 2012 with Tropical Cyclone Bopha. Typhoon and storm information for the Western Pacific Ocean region is available from the USA Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center, the USA National Weather Service Forecast Office or Humanitarian Early Warning Service.

In the event of any approaching storm, 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. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe storm may not be available to all who may choose to stay. You should review and follow hotel evacuation plans and heed the advice of local 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.

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 advice of local authorities.

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.