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World Travel Guide > Guides > Oceania > Tuvalu

Tuvalu travel guide

About Tuvalu

Tuvalu, the world's second-smallest country and, according to the United Nations, one of the least developed, fulfils the classic image of a South Sea paradise. Visitors come to the islands to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and palm-fringed beaches. Pandanus, papaya, banana, breadfruit and coconut palms are typical. Traditional buildings with thatched roofs can be seen virtually everywhere on the islands.

Most activity is centred in the capital, Funafuti, where the greatest attraction is the enormous Funafuti Lagoon. The lagoon is 14km (9 miles) wide and about 18km (11 miles) long and is excellent for swimming and snorkelling. The second most populated island in the atoll is Funafala, which can be visited by hopping aboard the Funafuti Island Council's catamaran. There are no shops whatsoever in Funafala, so visitors should take their own provisions.

Key facts

Area:

26 sq km (10 sq miles).

Population:

9,943 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

418 per sq km.

Capital:

Funafuti.

Government:

Constitutional monarchy.

Head of state:

HM Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor-General Sir Iakoba Italeli since 2012.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga since 2013.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Tuvalu 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 Tuvalu remain very limited. Check with your travel company for the latest information.

Entry and borders

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

Returning to the UK

Resident British nationals should be aware of Australia and New Zealand border closures, and maintain contact with travel providers on flight restrictions.

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

Healthcare in Tuvalu

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

View Health for further details on healthcare in Tuvalu.

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Tuvalu

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

The Tuvalu national vaccination programme started in April 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca vaccine. British nationals resident in Tuvalu are eligible for vaccination. If you’re a British national living in Tuvalu, 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.

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.

Finance

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

Further information

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

Air travel

There are limited flights in and out of Tuvalu, and these can sometimes be unreliable.

Political situation

Tuvalu is a Parliamentary Democracy and a Commonwealth Realm. Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II is Head of State. The Queen is represented in Tuvalu by a Governor General, Honourable Sir Iakoba Italeli.

There are no political parties; politics are based on personal, family and island loyalties. Parliamentary elections are held every four years. The current Prime Minister, Kausea Natano, has been in office since 19 September 2019.

Passports

In the event of a lost or stolen passport, the Tuvalu authorities can issue emergency travel documents which will allow you to travel as far as Fiji, where you will then need to apply for a replacement passport, from the Regional Passport Processing Centre in New Zealand.

If your need to travel falls within the minimum full validity passport processing time of 3-4 weeks, you should contact the British High Commission in Suva and they will do their best to help you. You may be eligible for an Emergency Travel Document (ETD).

Keep a photocopy of the relevant pages of your passport to avoid any complications.

Telephone services

There is one local mobile network in Tuvalu; other international networks will not work while in Tuvalu. Local SIM cards can be purchased in Funafuti.

Swimming

Take great care when swimming off the outer coasts of Tuvalu’s atolls as there are very strong rip currents along coast and reef areas. You should wear safety equipment at all times during boating trips.

Swimming in Funafuti lagoon is not recommended as it is highly polluted.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Tuvalu, attacks can’t 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.

Drug taking in all forms is illegal. Importing or exporting illegal drugs attracts strict penalties. Those found guilty of cultivating or distributing illegal drugs are likely to receive similarly severe punishment.

Homosexuality is illegal in Tuvalu. Those found guilty of consensual sex between adult males could face up to 14 years imprisonment. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Tuvalu set and enforce entry rules. For further information 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)

There are currently no commercial to Tuvalu and the borders are closed to all non-nationals/residents.

Regular entry requirements

Passport validity

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

In the event of a lost or stolen passport, the Tuvalu authorities can issue emergency travel documents which will allow you to travel as far as Fiji. If you need to travel within the minimum full validity passport processing time of 3-4 weeks, you should contact the British High Commission in Suva. You may be eligible for an Emergency Travel Document (ETD).

Keep a photocopy of the relevant pages of your passport to avoid any complications.

Visas

Visas are not required for British nationals visiting for periods of up to one month. An extension of stay for a maximum period of three months is available from the Department of Immigration.

For further information contact the Department of Immigration at:

Chief Immigration Officer (acting)
Department of Immigration
Private Mail Bag
Vaiaku, Funafuti, Tuvalu
Telephone: (+688) 20240

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry and exit from Tuvalu.

The tropical cyclone season normally runs from November to April but cyclones can occur throughout the year. During this period there is a greater risk of strong winds and heavy rains flooding, landslides and road closures. In March 2015, Tropical Cyclone Pam caused significant damage to Tuvalu’s coastlines, reconstruction work will take some time.

You should monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), from the Tuvalu Meteorological Service, in local newspapers and on Tuvalu Media Department Radio on 621 AM.

See our tropical cyclones page for advice about what to do if you’re caught up in a storm.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Tuvalu 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 Tuvalu.

Health advice

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 purchased 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.

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).

Tuvalu’s only hospital is on Funafuti.The outer islands are served by trained nurses. Medical facilities are generally adequate for routine medical treatment. For more serious or complicated problems medical evacuation to Fiji, or beyond to Australia may be required. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

You should boil all drinking water or drink bottled water while in Tuvalu.

Dengue fever occurs in Tuvalu.

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

There are no ATMs in Tuvalu, and credit/debit card payments are not accepted. You should take sufficient cash for the duration of your trip. The currency used in Tuvalu is the Australian dollar.

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 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’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 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’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 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’t 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.

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