Ask the TAFEA Tourism Office

The Vanuatu currency is called the vatu (VT) all major foreign currencies are exchangeable in Vanuatu for Vatu. As a general rule, add 30% to the vatu for an approximate equivalent in AUD$ or NZ$ i.e., 1,000 vatu = $13.00.  

Check today’s the Australian dollar Exchange Rate from OANDA.com, The Currency Site.
Caution: These exchange rates are a reference guide only.
Actual rates in-country will be slightly higher or lower.

There is a 12.5% Vat tax (goods & services) on everything except on goods sold at the markets in Port Vila or the outer island cash economy.

ANZ, Westpac and the new Bred Bank are the major banks and have foreign exchange services but no one beats "Goodies" for rates. Plus, they are local! Goodies have two offices in Port Vila. Myth: The US and Australian Dollar can be used as everyday currency in Vanuatu. That’s Nuts! You will lose heavily. Have it changed into Vatu at Goodies. You will obtain a better exchange rate in Vanuatu than from your country of origin, plus you’re assisting the local economy.

Tipping in Vanuatu:

It is not expected nor the custom to tip in Vanuatu, and only encourages a "master-servant" relationship. However gifts are very appreciated and the exchange of gifts for services rendered fits well into the local traditions (western governments have a hard time coming to terms with this practice as it is interpreted as bribery and corruption.  But in the Melanesian culture, this practice is a normal way to do business…well the White Man introduced that "Cash" stuff).

A bag of rice to a village chief may be received with gratitude and dignity, but to offer triple the value in cash may be regarded as patronising, plus it will artificially inflate the price for the next traveller; set wrong expectation, and rapidly destroy the genuine spontaneous friendship so easily given to you.

A nice gesture is to give phone cards or a T-shirt, or school pads, pens etc., for the children.  Plenty of kids here!  We naturally don’t recommend lollies and the like as it only encourages junk food dependency plus giving cash to local men may often be spent at the Kava bar and of no benefit to his family.  If you have to give cash, ensure it is given to women, preferably mothers who generally control the family budget.  The introduction of Poker machines has certainly not helped the situation considering these places are for the most part frequented by local people (mostly men) who can ill afford to waste their small wages in this way.

Investment in Vanuatu: 

Vanuatu is known for its tax-free status. There are no taxes on income, capital gains and death duties or exchange controls. There are many opportunities to invest in areas of fisheries, agriculture, forestry and tourism. The Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority (VIPA) was set up to assist foreign investment.

For details, contact : VIPA, Level 1, Laguna Building, Port Vila, Vanuatu. Telephone +(678) 24096 or 24441, fax +(678) 25216; Email: investment@vanuatu.com.vu.
However, there is a 12.5% VAT Tax on all goods and services plus varied (some can be surprisingly high, so potential investors be weary!) duties on importing goods. 
We have assisted numerous investors (Tourism only) over the years, please contact John Nicholls on johnnicholls@vanuatu.com.vu should you be wanting to set up a tourism project.

Paying by Credit Card: Be Aware!!

Most accommodation providers and tour/activities operators pass on the credit card bank fees which can be up to 5% of your bill.  In order not to pay this, it is best to travel with cash.


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