Tuvalu travel guide
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.
26 sq km (10 sq miles).
9,943 (UN estimate 2016).
418 per sq km.
HM Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor-General Sir Iakoba Italeli since 2012.
Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga since 2013.
Last updated: 23 January 2019
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Cyclone season is normally between November and April but cyclones can occur throughout the year. Severe weather may result in flooding, landslides, and the disruption of essential services and infrastructure.
There is no British diplomatic representation in Tuvalu. If you need consular assistance, you should contact the British High Commission in Suva, Fiji.
Most visits to Tuvalu are trouble-free.
Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Tuvalu, attacks can’t be ruled out.
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
There are limited flights in and out of Tuvalu, and these can sometimes be unreliable.
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, Enele Sopoaga, was sworn in on 5 August 2013, resolving a constitutional crisis and a period of political instability.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 on 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.
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.
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 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.