Reunion travel guide

About Reunion

One of the last vestiges of the French colonial empire, you can hardly blame Paris for keeping hold of this slice of paradise. Floating in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, Réunion serves up an enticing mix of Creole culture, exotic fauna and natural wonders.

Administered directly from Paris (it also flies the tricolore and is part of the Eurozone), the island has a distinct cultural identity, which has resulted from 400 years as a remote outpost of empire.

Its history is best absorbed wandering through the old heart of Saint-Denis, the island’s de facto capital. Edifices that would not look out of place in the French capital line streets and public spaces buzz with the sound of French, Creole, Cantonese and Tamil, among myriad other languages. English is almost never one of them.

The beaches are a big draw, but Réunion’s flora and fauna is equally enticing. The island’s fresh water lakes, rivers and waterfalls support some 90 species of bird, while its coral reefs harbour an abundance of marine life. Whales are also regularly observed from the beaches between May and September.

Away from the coast, much of the island’s forested and mountainous interior is protected and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A variety of activities are available, from paragliding to rock climbing and hiking. Trekking paths lead to natural wonders such the 3,000m (10,000ft) extinct volcano Piton des Neiges (the highest point anywhere in the Indian Ocean), or the lunar landscapes around Piton de la Fournaise, one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

With centuries of influence from Europe, Asia and Africa, Réunion offers Gallic charm with a tropical twist, an island where history and natural beauty abound.

Key facts


2,507 sq km (968 sq miles).


867,214 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

336.5 per sq km.




Réunion is an Overseas Department of France and as such is an integral part of the French Republic.

Head of state:

President Emmanuel Macron since 2017, represented locally by prefect Jérôme Filippini since 2022.

Head of government:

President of the Departmental Council Cyrille Melchior since 2017.

Travel Advice

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

About FCDO travel advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

This information is for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK. It is based on the UK government’s understanding of the current rules for the most common types of travel.

Réunion is an Overseas Department of France (‘Département d’Outre-Mer’).  The French authorities set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the French Consulate General in the UK.

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Réunion.

Passport validity requirements

Your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 3 months after the date you plan to leave Réunion.

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.

Visa requirements

Réunion is an Overseas Department of France and so is part of the EU.

You can visit Réunion without a visa for up to 90 days for tourism or business. To stay longer, to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons, check the visa application process and timelines on the French visa website.

UK residents of Réunion

Carry your residence document, as well as your passport, when entering or exiting Réunion. If you’ve applied but not yet received your document, carry your certificate of application. You will have received this as an email.

Vaccine requirements

For details about medical entry requirements and recommended vaccinations, see TravelHealthPro’s Réunion guide.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Réunion. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

Taking food into Réunion

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions such as powdered baby milk, baby food and special foods or pet feed required for medical reasons.  

Taking money into Réunion

Check what cash and valuables you need to declare to bring them into Réunion.


There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.    

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Réunion

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Réunion, attacks cannot be ruled out.

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism

Swimming safety

See water safety on holiday from the Royal Life Saving Society.

There have been shark attacks in Réunion. Follow advice from local authorities or your tour operator about which beaches are safe.

Scuba diving

Diving schools may have limited resources and do not always observe safety and maintenance standards. Always:

  • ask to see a dive operator’s credentials
  • check the conditions on your insurance policy – some policies require dive instructors to have certain qualifications
  • make sure safety equipment looks to be in good condition
  • make sure oxygen is available on the boat
  • ask about safety precautions, including the ability to transfer divers to a hyperbaric chamber

If you have not had any previous diving experience, check what to do if something goes wrong, including how to call for help while at sea.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in Réunion, see information on driving abroad and check the rules of the road in RAC’s France guide as French driving rules apply. The guide lists driving regulations and other legal requirements you need to be aware of.

Check with the local authorities or your car hire company if you need an international driving permit (IDP) as well as your UK driving licence.

Extreme weather and natural disasters

Find out what you can do to prepare for and respond to extreme weather and natural hazards.

Tropical cyclones

The cyclone season in Réunion normally runs from December to April. Monitor local news and check the French Weather Service (in French) and World Meteorological Organization. Follow advice issued by the local authorities.

Volcanic eruptions

There are active volcanoes on Réunion, including Piton de la Fournaise.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Call 112 and ask for an ambulance.

Contact your insurance company quickly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Vaccine recommendations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip:

See what health risks you’ll face in Réunion, including.

  • chikungunya
  • dengue

Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Réunion. Read more about altitude sickness on TravelHealthPro.


The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

Healthcare in Réunion

General healthcare facilities in Réunion, including emergency services, are good. Some specialist treatment is also available.

Health insurance cards

To get medically necessary state healthcare in Réunion, you need a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

The NHS’s getting healthcare abroad webpage has details about:

  • how to apply for a GHIC
  • how to get temporary cover if you lose your card or it does not arrive in time
  • who qualifies for a new EHIC instead of a GHIC
  • what treatment counts as medically necessary

A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. You may have costs your GHIC or EHIC does not cover, including:

  • changes to travel and accommodation bookings
  • additional standard costs for treatment
  • medical repatriation to the UK
  • treatment that is ruled non-urgent
  • private healthcare
  • private clinics

Healthcare for residents

If you plan to live in Réunion, consult the UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about long-term entitlement to healthcare under the French national system.

DWP Overseas Medical Benefits helpline: +44 (0)191 218 1999

You can also get English-language information about French social security services online or on +33 (0)820 90 42 12. You can get French-language information online about state services in Réunion.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Réunion

Telephone: 112 (ambulance, fire, police)


Ambulance: 15

Fire: 18

Police: 17

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you are in Réunion and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy in Paris, France, who provide consular assistance for Réunion.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

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