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Safety and security

Road travel

You can hire a car using a full, clean UK driving licence. Residents should obtain a Kiribati driving licence. Road conditions are poor on Tarawa, but driving standards are reasonable. Minibuses can be dangerously overloaded at times.

Inter-island travel

It’s not always possible to travel directly from one part of Kiribati to another. If you need to get to Kiritimati (Line Islands) from Tarawa (Gilbert Islands) you have to fly via Nadi, Fiji.


Don’t swim in the lagoon in south Tarawa as it is highly polluted. Take great care when swimming in the sea around Kiribati, as there are very strong rip tides along coast and reef areas. You should wear safety equipment at all times during boating trips. Squalls can occur at very short notice. Some people have drowned in recent years.

Political situation

The Republic of Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas) is an independent republic within the Commonwealth. It is a full member of the United Nations and Pacific Islands Forum. Politics are stable.


Internet and mobile phone services are available in some parts of Kiribati. Not all of the outer islands are connected however. Telecoms services can be unreliable and expensive due to the country’s remote location.


There is a low threat from terrorism, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

There is considered to be 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

Possession or trafficking of drugs is a serious offence under the Kiribati penal code and prison sentences may be heavy.

Homosexual relations are not widely accepted.

Local laws forbid nudity and revealing swimming costumes.

Kiribati operates a strict quarantine regime for the import of food, plants and animal (including fish) products. Further information on restricted or prohibited imports can be obtained from:-

Biosecurity Services
SPC-Plant Protection Service
Private Mail Bag
Suva, Fiji Islands.
Tel: (679) 3370 733
Fax: (679) 3370 021
Some local handicrafts (including straw products and shells) may be subject to strict Australian or New Zealand import regulations. Phyto-sanitary Certificates should be obtained in Kiribati, but items may nevertheless be confiscated.

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 aren’t required from visiting British passport holders provided you hold a return/onward ticket and sufficient funds for your stay. You’ll normally be granted a 1 month stay. This can be extended on application to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration in Bairiki, for additional 1 month periods for a maximum 3 additional months, provided your passport remains valid. If you’re arriving for employment you should obtain a visa in advance by arrangement with your employer.

Passport validity

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 Kiribati

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Yellow fever vaccination is required for travellers arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Departure tax

Departure Tax of AU$20 is applicable for both adults and children.

Natural disasters

Being so close to the equator, Kiribati doesn’t usually experience tropical cyclones. However, during the wet season, which normally runs from November to April, strong winds and sea swells are sometimes experienced.

You should monitor regional and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation, the Fiji Meteorological Service, and local newspapers.

Kiribati is subject to periodic spells of drought. These can be severe, and water restrictions may be put in place.


Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

Medical facilities at the general hospital in Tarawa are modest. Elsewhere, clinics are generally staffed by nurse practitioners. Pharmaceuticals and prescription medicines are generally not available. You should bring any medicines you need for existing medical conditions with you. Medical evacuation from Kiribati is required for most non-basic medical problems. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation/evacuation by air ambulance.

Dengue Fever, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, occurs in Kiribati.

There have been several reported cases of Tuberculosis.

Drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. Avoid eating local shellfish or lagoon fish on Tarawa.

There have been reports of visitors being bitten by stray dogs. Be vigilant, particularly on the beach. If you are approached by a dog, do not run. Reaching down as if to pick up something off the ground can be enough to scare dogs away. If you are bitten seek medical attention immediately.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 999, then ask for the specific number (994 - medical emergency, 993 - fire, 992 - police). You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.


Credit cards have very limited acceptance in Kiribati. There are ATMs at branches of the Bank of Kiribati and ANZ in Betio, Bairiki and Bikenibeu (all on Tarawa atoll). Kiribati uses the Australian dollar.