Foreign travel advice

Solomon Islands

Summary

You should monitor local media and be vigilant around political demonstrations and large gatherings.

The Solomon Islands government has confirmed an outbreak of dengue fever in all provinces. You should follow the advice of local authorities and avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

UK health authorities have classified Solomon Islands 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.

Earthquakes are common in Solomon Islands. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see the New Zealand government’s GetReadyGetThru website. If a major earthquake or landslide occurs close to shore, you should follow the instructions of local authorities, bearing in mind that a tsunami could arrive within minutes.

The tropical cyclone season normally runs from November to May. You should monitor local and international weather updates and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Most visits to Solomon Islands are trouble free.

The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force has limited resources and response times to calls for help can be slow. There have been reports of robberies involving violence, handbag snatching, pick-pocketing, distraction thefts and harassment, particularly around the central market in Honiara.

Fresh and salt water crocodiles and sharks are common. Large crocodiles have been seen offshore at beaches near Honiara.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in the Solomon Islands, attacks can’t be ruled out.

Medical facilities are very basic throughout Solomon Islands, including in Honiara. Contact local health providers for further advice.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

Safety and security

Political situation

You should monitor local media and be vigilant around political demonstrations and large gatherings.

Crime

The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force has limited resources and response times to calls for help can be slow. There have been reports of robberies involving violence, handbag snatching, pick-pocketing, distraction thefts and harassment, particularly around the central market and local beaches. There has been a recent increase in the number of house burglaries. Make sure you have effective security in place.

Civil unrest and drunken behaviour can occur. Foreigners and expatriates may be attractive targets for violence. Take care if going to local nightclubs and be aware that such venues rarely have adequate fire precautions in place.

Take sensible security precautions at all times, and maintain a high state of personal awareness. Be especially vigilant whilst travelling around Honiara at night particularly if on foot. Take particular care in the squatter settlements around Honiara, White River and the Lungga Bridge, Sun Valley, Mataniko Bridge, Burns Creek and Henderson (airport) area. Security incidents in these areas have included improvised road blocks, sporadic rock throwing and more serious violent criminal acts, including sexual assault, robbery and vehicle hijacking. If you plan to visit rural Guadalcanal, take day trips outside Honiara or visit the island of Malaita you should check local advice before travelling. Visits to other provinces in Solomon Islands are generally trouble-free.

Road travel

There are few roads in Solomon Islands; 90% of these are on Guadalcanal and Malaita. Many are very heavily potholed and in some areas bridges have collapsed. Standards of driving and vehicle maintenance are poor. Be especially careful when overtaking. Many Solomon Islanders chew betel nut and frequently open vehicle doors, including on the driver’s side, when travelling at speed, in order to spit onto the road. Take care when driving in and around town. Poor pedestrian discipline and speeding has resulted in a number of fatal accidents. Driving at night requires even more care as there is little street lighting.

If you are involved in a road accident the law requires you to stop and stay at the scene until the police arrive. There may however be circumstances where this is not safe, for example if a large and hostile crowd has gathered. In this case, it may be preferable to drive to the nearest police station to report the incident.

Air travel

Reliability of services can be patchy and cancellations occur. Domestic flights are particularly prone to disruption and visitors with international connections should take note and plan accordingly. Facilities at Henderson International Airport are well below those at most international airports and you should prepare accordingly. International flight departures are to Brisbane, Sydney, Port Moresby and Port Vila.

Sea travel

You should avoid travel on inter-island ferries wherever possible. Ferry services are usually crowded and safety regulations are not always strictly applied. Some domestic inter-island passenger ferries are operated at a nationally acceptable standard, but most domestic shipping is operated at a standard that would not be acceptable to an international traveller, and few carry recognised insurance. You should check with the operator before embarking. Bring your own lifejacket if you are taking sea journeys. Journeys to small and/or remote islands are usually in small-motorised canoes.

On 18 December 2013, an inter-island ferry travelling from Honiara to the island of Malaita sank with at least 300 people on board. The MV Francis Gerena sank 8 miles north of Anuha as a result of overcrowding. All were rescued but at least 11 people needed hospital treatment.

In May 2012 an inter-island ship travelling from Honiara to Temotu foundered in rough seas. After a search and rescue operation lasting several days, all 49 people on board were rescued.

Dangerous wildlife

Salt water crocodiles are native to many parts of Solomon Islands, and there are regular sightings on beaches. Take local advice before entering unfamiliar waters, including lakes. There are also large species of shark (such as bull, hammerhead and tiger sharks) in the coastal waters.

Water sports

Many visitors to Solomon Islands take part in water sports, including scuba diving and snorkelling without incident. However, deaths and serious accidents have occurred because basic safety measures weren’t taken. Safety precautions and emergency responses may be less than those expected in the UK.

There’s a decompression chamber in Honiara staffed by volunteers. Registered dive operators can provide information on access arrangements.

Make sure your travel insurance policy covers you for the activities you take part in.

Communications

There are two mobile telephone networks operating in Solomon Islands. Coverage is variable but does extend to the outer provinces and is becoming more extensive. Contact your service provider for further details. Your UK mobile phone is highly unlikely to work in the Solomon Islands. Local SIM cards and handsets are available. Solomon Telekom offers a hire service for satellite phones. Mobile 3G internet services are available. Check with the operator for tariffs.

There are plenty of internet cafes in Honiara; costs are around 50 cents per minute.

Terrorism

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in the Solomon Islands, attacks can’t be ruled out.

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.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

Drug use is illegal in Solomon Islands, and can lead to prison sentences.

Swearing is a crime and can lead to large compensation claims and even jail.

Dress codes, particularly for women, are modest. In certain areas there are ‘tabu’ sites only visited by men.

Land ownership in Solomon Islands is an important and sensitive issue. Walking and trekking off the beaten track, or the use of many of the beaches around Honiara, may require payment of a ’kastom’ fee to the landowner.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Solomon Islands and the penalties can include custodial sentences. Open displays of affection are likely to offend. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Entry requirements

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.

Visas  

Visas are not required for British nationals visiting Solomon Islands. However, you should be in possession of printed copy of a return or onward ticket. Check with the Solomon Islands Immigration Department for any other visa related questions, including how to apply for research, business or residency permits.

We advise all British nationals (including those residing in the Solomon Islands) to obtain a multiple entry visa for Australia.

Passport validity

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

Yellow fever certificate requirements

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

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Solomon Islands.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures.

Check the latest country-specific information and advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website or from NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

UK health authorities have classified Solomon Islands 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.

The Solomon Islands government has confirmed an outbreak of dengue fever in all provinces. You should follow the advice of local authorities and avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Medical facilities are very basic. There are limited hospital facilities and medical supplies aren’t always available. The National Referral Hospital in Honiara frequently runs out of blood supplies and often has a very limited stock of oral re-hydration salts, paracetamol and basic antibiotics. Wards and units can close down at very short notice. Gizo hospital is newly built and has good facilities, but can also run short of supplies.

Take a basic medical kit with you when visiting rural and remote areas. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. To receive medical treatment in Australia, you’ll need a medical visa before you arrive in Australia.

Malaria can occur in the Solomon Islands.

Viral infections are common and you should take precautions to reduce the risks (ie washing hands and drinking bottled water).

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Natural disasters

The Solomon Islands are a part of the ’Ring of Fire’ that surrounds the basin of the Pacific Ocean; earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic activity can occur at any time.

Sometimes localised tsunamis are caused by larger undersea earthquakes. The Solomon Islands authorities are responsible for providing tsunami warnings and alerts, usually through radio broadcasts. You can get up to date information from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre

The tropical cyclone season normally runs from November to May. You should monitor local and international weather updates from the  World Meteorological Organisation and Solomon Islands Meteorological Service.

Heavy rain and flooding can affect the Solomon Islands. Bridges are often washed away as a result. Check local weather forecasts and take care if you are travelling during the tropical cyclone season.

Money

Access to banking facilities is difficult in rural areas. ATMs are available in Honiara, Honiara Airport, Gizo, Munda and Auki.

Credit and debit card payments through the 2 main banks ANZ and BSP are becoming more widely available in Honiara

Travel advice help and support

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 and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (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 FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t 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 FCO 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’t 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 FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us 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.