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Cook Islands - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in the Cook Islands.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Petty crime occurs. Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times.
Road conditions and road safety can vary greatly throughout the country. Coastal roads on Rarotonga are paved. Driving at night can be dangerous due to poor visibility and road conditions. Traffic accidents involving motorcycles are common. If you ride a motorcycle, bicycle or scooter, you and any passenger must, by law, wear an approved helmet.
Coastal waters can be dangerous. Injuries and fatalities have occurred due to tidal changes and breaks in the reefs. Wear reef shoes in the water. Seek local advice on which parts of the lagoon are safe for swimming, and follow the instructions and warnings of local authorities.
Ensure that the recreational activities you choose are covered by your travel insurance. Sports and aquatic equipment may not be in good condition, and rescue services may not be consistent with international standards.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the authorities of the Cook Islands. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave the Cook Islands.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: Not required (for up to 31 days)
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Not applicable; it is not possible to travel to the Cook Islands to study.
Other entry requirements
You must show an onward or return ticket, proof of sufficient funds and proof of accommodations to enter the Cook Islands.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Chikungunya: advice for travellers - March 19, 2018
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world.
Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in the Oceanic Pacific Islands, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in the Oceanic Pacific Islands. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently an outbreak of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a viral disease spread through the bite of an infected mosquito that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. Protect yourself from mosquito bites, particularly around sunrise and sunset. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. The mosquito that spreads the virus is found here.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites and other diseases spread by insects.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in the Oceanic Pacific Islands, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
Medical and dental services are available on Rarotonga, including hospital and emergency services. Two pharmacies dispense prescription medicine. Hospital and medical facilities on the outer islands are limited. The Cook Islands are not equipped with hyperbaric chambers (the closest are on the island of Tahiti or in New Zealand). Medical evacuation can be very expensive and you may need it in case of serious illness or injury. Payment is often required up front. Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in the Cook Islands.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of the Cook Islands, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
Traffic drives on the left. You can drive in the Cook Islands with your Canadian driver’s licence, as long as the class of vehicle you intend to drive is covered by this licence. To drive a different class of vehicle, you must obtain a valid Cook Islands visitor’s licence from the police station in Avarua, for NZ$20 and upon presentation of your own licence.
Dress and behaviour
To avoid offending local sensitivities:
- dress conservatively
- behave discreetly
- respect religious and social traditions
The laws of the Cook Islands prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex.
Those convicted could face up to 5 years imprisonment.
LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to the Cook Islands.
The currency is the New Zealand dollar (NZD). Most hotels, shops and restaurants accept major credit cards. Main shops and hotels accept traveller’s cheques. There are ATMs on Rarotonga only.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
The Cook Islands are located in an active seismic zone and are prone to earthquakes. Tsunamis may occur after a strong earthquake and can travel long distances across the Pacific Ocean.
Cyclones and monsoon
Monsoon rains and cyclones usually occur from November to April. During this period, even small storms can quickly develop into major cyclones. The severe storms can put you at risk and hamper the provision of essential services.
If you decide to travel to the Cook Islands during cyclone season:
- know that you expose yourself to serious safety risks
- be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
- stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
- carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
- follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 999
- medical assistance: 998
- firefighters: 996
There is no resident Canadian government office in the Cook Islands. You can obtain consular assistance and further consular information from the High Commission of Canada in Wellington, New Zealand.
Wellington - High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the the High Commission of Canada in Wellington, New Zealand and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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