FOLLOW US

World Travel Guide > Guides > Oceania > Samoa

Samoa travel guide

About Samoa

Samoa offers visitors the chance to experience Polynesia at its most authentic. The capital, Apia, lies on the beautiful north coast of Upolu, the largest and most populous of the country's nine islands.

In the Aleipata district, waterfalls and white-sand beaches dominate the landscape. A 65km (40 mile) drive from Apia leads to the Falefa Falls, Mafa Pass and the Fuipisia Falls. Indeed, Samoa's natural attributes have an intoxicating effect on first-time visitors – islands' teeming jungles, mighty waterfalls and stunning sea have won many a tourist's heart. Thankfully, there are no colossal resorts to mar this landscape, while the locals are humble and welcoming. For the closest thing there is to earthly bliss, head to Savai'i, a veritable land before time, only a stone's throw from the relative civilisation of Apia.

The fa'a Samoa (the Samoan way) is arguably the most vibrant living culture in Polynesia, with a heritage that dates back 2,000 years. Only a small nation, Samoa is nevertheless the heart of Polynesia both culturally and, indeed, geographically. Compared to almost any other Pacific island, its hangs on staunchly to the traditional Polynesian way of life. Efforts by 19th-century missionaries sought to challenge the time-worn ways of the Samoans, to little effect. Ruled by both Germany and New Zealand in the 20th century, Samoa gained independence in 1962.

The Scottish poet and novelist, Robert Louis Stevenson, spent his final five years living on the island – his tomb on Mount Vaea is visible from the lawn of his house, now a museum. That Samoa must have influenced Stevenson's most famous book, Treasure Island, hardly needs saying. Samoa is as isolated as it is enticing, much-loved of the adventurous and with a rich, precious culture to boot. There are few destinations as unique as this one.

Key facts

Area:

2,831 sq km (1,093 sq miles).

Population:

194,523 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

69.9 per sq km.

Capital:

Apia.

Government:

Republic.

Head of state:

Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi since 2007.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi since 1998.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Samoa on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International travel

Commercial flights to and from Samoa remain very limited. Check with your travel company for the latest information, including on transit airports and any specific requirements they have.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Samoa.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Samoa

A State of Emergency was declared on 20 March 2020.

Public transport, including bus and ferry services, have now resumed a normal schedule, apart from on Sundays.

Accommodation

Accommodation, including hotels and private rentals, is available in Samoa, though certain requirements may be applicable.

Public places and services

The Samoan government announced on 10 June 2021 that it was further relaxing restrictions brought in to limit the spread of COVID-19. Under the new restrictions, some gatherings such as church services, village meetings, and non-contact sport events are permitted. Markets have been allowed to reopen, although street vendors remain prohibited from selling on footpaths. Restaurants and entertainment venues have also been allowed to reopen at reduced capacity, due to social distancing rules. A ban on most gatherings and public activities remains in place on Sundays.

Healthcare in Samoa

You should monitor the Samoan Health Advisory website.

View Health for further details on healthcare in Samoa.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Samoa

Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the Government of Samoa announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Samoan national vaccination programme started in March 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca vaccine. The Government of Samoa has stated that British nationals resident in Samoa are eligible for vaccination Further information on the vaccination programme is available on the Government of Samoa Ministry of Health website.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in Samoa, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

For further UK government guidance on support you can access whilst abroad, visit our waiting to return guidance. This includes guidance on finance, health, and staying connected.

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Crime

The level of serious crime is low, but incidents of petty theft are fairly common.  Do not leave your belongings unattended. Use hotel safes for passports and valuables.

Road travel

Samoa switched to driving on the left in 2009, however, many vehicles still have the steering wheel on the left of the vehicle. You should take care when driving on the roads, observing speed limits.

You should avoid driving at night out of built-up areas. Vehicle safety regulations are not consistently enforced and traffic violations occur routinely. Roads in Samoa often cross small streams. Take care when crossing these streams.

Swimming

Tide changes can produce powerful currents in ocean lagoons. Take local advice before swimming. Fatal accidents have occurred at popular beaches. 

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Samoa, attacks can not be ruled out.

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 more about the global threat from terrorism.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Despite examples of men cross-dressing and behaving in a feminine manner, homosexual acts in Samoa are illegal. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

There are strict regulations concerning the import of firearms, plant and animal products, pets, drugs and pornographic materials.

Check local customs and courtesies with the Samoa Tourist Authority

More information can also be found on the government of Samoa website   

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Samoa on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Samoa.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Health risks

UK health authorities have classified Samoa as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Cases of dengue fever have been confirmed in Samoa. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, hepatitis, filariasis and tuberculosis) occur.

Medical treatment

In the event of a medical emergency, evacuation to Australia, New Zealand or Hawaii is likely to be the only option for treatment. You may find it hard to get some specialised prescription medicines in Samoa.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 996 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to Samoa

Samoa’s international borders are currently closed under an ongoing State of Emergency, unless approved by the Samoan government due to exceptional circumstances, e.g. repatriation. In these exceptional circumstances, travellers including crew are now required to be fully vaccinated before entry into Samoa with any vaccine pre-qualified by WHO. For further details please see https://www.health.gov.ws/

All international cruise ships and yachts will not be granted entry into Samoa.

Demonstrating your COVID-19 vaccination status

Samoa has not yet confirmed that it will accept the UK solutions for demonstrating your COVID vaccination status. You should follow guidance for alternative entry requirements. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

Visas are not needed for stays of up to 60 days.  As a visitor you must have an onward or return ticket and a valid visa (if needed) for the next country to which you’re travelling.  Requests for an extension of your stay must be made to the local Immigration Office.  Further information on entry requirements can be found on the Samoa Immigration Department’s website. 

A visa is needed for visits of longer than 60 days. Applications for visas can be made at Samoa’s overseas missions in Brussels, Wellington, Auckland, Canberra or New York, or to the Immigration Office at the Prime Minister’s Department (PO Box L1861, Apia, Samoa).

Passport validity  

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Samoa. 

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry and exit from Samoa. Your ETD must be valid for at least 6 months.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Departure tax  

All visitors (including children over 11 years) need to pay a departure tax of $ST 40.

Samoa is located in a seismic zone called the “Ring of Fire” and is subject to earthquakes.

An earthquake of magnitude 8.3 struck Samoa on 29 September 2009, which triggered a devastating tsunami.

The tropical cyclone season normally runs from November to the end of April. Flooding can occur.  Monitor local and international weather updates from World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the Samoa Meteorology Division website or the Fiji Meteorological Service website. See our tropical cyclones page for advice about what to do if you’re caught up in a tropical cyclone.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can not provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can not offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can not find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

Book a Hotel