Enjoy diving in Palau
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Enjoy diving in Palau

© Creative Commons / JennyHuang

Palau Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

459 sq km (177 sq miles).

Population

21,501 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density

46.3 per sq km.

Capital

Melekeok.

Government

Republic in free association with the USA.

Head of state

President Surangel Whipps, Jr. since 2021.

Head of government

President Surangel Whipps, Jr. since 2021.

Electricity

110-120 volts AC, 60Hz. American-style plugs with two flat pins (with or without grounding pin) are used.

An untamed paradise for divers and snorkellers, Paula is an archipelago of more than 500 islands, which sprout like giant mushrooms from the crystalline waters of the Pacific Ocean.

The island of Koror is the beating heart of the country and the entry point for most visitors. Home to most of Palau’s inhabitants, it is far from the prettiest island in the archipelago and few choose to linger here. Those who do, however, can grab a slice of Micronesian life in the local bars and restaurants, where charismatic natives take pleasure convincing foreigners to try the local delicacy: fruit bat soup.

Palau is also home to some of the world’s healthiest and most impressive UNESCO-listed reefs. Iridescent corals swirl around the islands, their marine populations teeming with a bounty few other places can match. Indeed, not a list exists that doesn’t rank Palau’s Blue Corner amongst the planet’s top dive sites.

It isn’t just in the tropical seas where strange creatures thrive, for Palau is also home to one of the most ecologically sensitive and unique evolutionary phenomena: Jellyfish Lake. Cut off from the sea millions of years ago, the lake’s predator-free inhabitants have evolved to lose their poisonous sting. To snorkel slowly amongst these gentle creatures is to float through an alien world.

While it’s easy to see Palau's beauty, a closer look will reveal scars from ferocious battles that took place on these shores during WWII. Ship and plane wrecks remain buried in dark lagoons, while long-forgotten bunkers and rusted machine guns are peppered across the islands. This is testament to Palau’s tumultuous modern history, which saw it swap hands from Germany to Japan and, finally, the Untied States, before achieving independence in 1994.

While Palau may be remote and untamed, it is precisely these attributes that make it one of the world’s last unspoiled natural beauties. The archipelago endures as a marvel of Mother Nature, stands proud as a centre for Micronesian culture and offers a haunting memorial to battles once fought in its turquoise waters.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Palau 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

A limited number of international commercial flights are currently available.

Entry and borders

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

Returning to the UK

Travelling from and returning to the UK

Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting. If you will pass through a red list country, book your hotel quarantine package before travelling to the UK.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact the Ministry of Health on +680 488 2552 or 2553 for information on testing facilities.

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 Palau

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 Palau.

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

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Palau

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

The Palau national vaccination programme started in January 2021 and is using the Moderna and Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) vaccines. British nationals resident in Palau are eligible for vaccination. The Palau Ministry of Health and Human Services publishes regular guidance on how to get a vaccine in Palau via its Facebook page. The guidance includes vaccination dates and details on who to contact for further information.

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 Palau, 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.

Help and support

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

Unexploded ordnance

There is still a significant amount of unexploded ordnance in Palau left over from World War II, particularly in Peleliu and Angaur. Take care, particularly when diving or exploring caves.

Crime

Crime levels are low. However, you should take sensible precautions to protect your belongings.

Water sports

Wear appropriate safety equipment and take local advice on safety. There are over 60 vertical drop-offs in the diving areas and some are for experienced divers only.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Palau, 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.

There are heavy penalties for all drug offences.

The legal drinking age in Palau is 21 years. It is illegal to drink alcohol in public, except on licensed premises.

On 1 January 2020, a new act by the Palauan Senate prohibited reef-toxic sunscreens from Palau. Reef-toxic sunscreen is no longer allowed to be brought into Palau, and will be confiscated on arrival. There are also penalties for the manufacture, importation for sale, or the selling of reef-toxic sunscreens. The act defines reef-toxic sunscreens as ‘skin-care products, sold for topical application, which contain oxybenzone (BP3), octyl methoxycinnamate (EHMC), octocrylene (OC), 4-methyl-benzylidene camphor (4MBC), triclosan, methyl paraben, ethyl paraben, butyl paraben, benzyl paraben, or phenoxyethanol, or other chemical ingredients prohibited by the minister pursuant to regulation.’

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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

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).

Medical treatment

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

Health facilities in Palau are adequate for routine medical care, but limited in availability and quality. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

The only national hospital is ‘Belau National Hospital’, in Koror, which can generally be reached in less than two hours from most locations. The hospital has an operating suite, dialysis machines and an outpatient clinic. The hospital also houses a pharmacy that dispenses basic medicines.

Serious medical conditions requiring hospitalisation or evacuation may be very expensive. Emergency treatment or treatment for serious conditions is limited and so you may be medically evacuated to another country. Costs can escalate quickly, so make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. 

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 Palau 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)

Entry to Palau

The wearing of a face mask is mandatory when exiting the aeroplane in Palau.

Quarantine requirements

A 14 day compulsory quarantine is currently in place for international arrivals into Palau. During this time, you will need to undertake two separate PCR swab tests. If your tests return a negative result then at the end of the 14 days quarantine you can transfer to your residence to complete a further 7 days of self isolation, followed by a further PCR swab test.

Fully vaccinated individuals may be exempted from quarantine, subject to presentation of proof of a complete course of COVID-19 vaccination, with the final dose having been administered at least 14 days prior to departure, and a negative PCR test taken within 3 days of leaving the country of origin. Travellers who have previously contracted COVID-19 may submit proof of recent infection and a letter from a healthcare provider certifying recovery.

Travellers exempt from quarantine must ensure their vaccine has received emergency use authorisation from either the US Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization.

Palau authorities require that any traveller exempted from quarantine undergo two mandatory COVID-19 tests at Belau National Hospital. These tests must fall on the first and fifth day of the traveller’s stay. Quarantine-exempted travellers are also required to limit their movement around Palau until they have taken their second test.

Demonstrating your COVID-19 status

Palau has not yet confirmed that it will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. You should follow the entry rules for unvaccinated people. 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 British nationals visiting for periods of up to 30 days. Extensions of stay are not automatically granted. On arrival you can ask for entry to be granted for all the time you believe you will need. Consult the Bureau of Immigration before you travel if you’re likely to seek an extension of stay. Contact details are (+680) 488 2498 or 2678 (Monday to Friday from 7:30am to 4:30pm); email imm@palaunet.com

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a period of at least 6 months from the date of your arrival in Palau.

Departure tax

A mandatory departure tax of US$20 and environmental fee of US$30 is applicable to all travellers.

Palau is vulnerable to tropical cyclones and floods. You should monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation and the Japanese Meteorological Agency and follow any instructions issued by the local authorities.

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

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.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.