Kiribati travel advice
Latest updates: The Health section was updated - travel health information (Public Health Agency of Canada)
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On this page
- Risk level
- Safety and security
- Entry and exit requirements
- Laws and culture
- Natural disasters and climate
- Need help?
Kiribati - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in Kiribati.
Safety and security
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs. Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times.
There have been reports of organized crime in Kiribati waters. The majority of these reports are drug related. Exercise caution when travelling in Kiribati waters as officials lack the resources to respond to organized crime effectively.
Exercise caution on beaches in Tarawa, particularly in the Betio and South Tarawa areas, where unexploded ordnance may have been left over from past naval warfare.
Avoid jogging or running in the street as street dogs can become aggressive and bite.
Tourist facilities and services are limited. Internet and mobile phone services are not available on some of Kiribati’s outer islands.
Coastal waters can be dangerous. Riptides are common, particularly beyond the reef area. Several drownings occur each year.
- Follow the instructions and warnings of local authorities
- Avoid swimming in the heavily polluted lagoon in south Tarawa
Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse.
Road conditions and road safety are poor throughout the country. Street lighting is limited and vehicles are often poorly maintained. Some roads regularly flood after heavy rains.
Drivers employ dangerous driving practices and do not respect traffic laws. Drinking and driving is prevalent, particularly on weekends. Accidents are common.
- Be extremely careful when driving at night, particularly outside of Betio due to the busier traffic and limited street lighting
- Be aware of small motorbikes and mopeds sharing the road, as drivers typically do not follow traffic laws
Maritime transportation is the primary mode of transport.
Passenger ferries go to many of the smaller islands, though they do not always operate on time. Local ferries are often overcrowded and do not always meet international safety standards. Ferry accidents occur from time to time due to the overloading and poor maintenance of some vessels. Do not board vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy.
- Be aware of the emergency exits and where to find life jackets
- Consider bringing your own life jackets and locator beacons
- Ensure you leave ample time for travel as timetables are not always reliable
A private minibus service is available in the absence of taxis. It operates in Tarawa, on the main islands of the Gilbert group, and Christmas Island. These are often used for travel to and from airports. Passengers must hail minibuses.
- Exercise caution on minibuses as they can be overcrowded
- Drivers are often reckless and pose a threat to pedestrians
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
The main islands of the Gilbert group have airstrips and are served from Tarawa’s Bonriki International Airport. There is no scheduled service between the Gilbert Islands, the Phoenix Islands and the Line Islands. You must transit through Fiji to travel between Tarawa and Christmas Island.
Entry and exit requirements
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 Kiribati. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives 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 Kiribati.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Passport with “X” gender identifier
While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
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 foreign representative for your destination.
Tourist visa: not required for up to 30 days
Business visa: required unless you are travelling for short term business such as a meeting, seminar, conference or workshop
Student visa: required
Visas must be obtained before entry and take between 10 and 30 days to process.
Other entry requirements
You must show an onward or return ticket and proof of sufficient funds.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
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.
Pre-travel vaccines and medications
You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines are right for you.
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.
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.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air..
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
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.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.
For destination entry and exit requirements, including for COVID-19 vaccination requirements, please check the Entry/exit requirements section.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.
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.
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!
Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is a risk of chikungunya in this country. The risk may vary between regions of a country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- In this country, risk of dengue is sporadic. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
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.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care professional.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Good healthcare is limited in availability. Hospitals in South Tarawa, Betio and Tabiteuea have the capacity to perform only routine procedures. In more rural areas, health clinics and centres offer basic care.
Medical evacuation can be very expensive and you may need it in case of serious illness or injury.
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
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
The laws of Kiribati prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Those convicted can face jail sentences of up to 14 years.
2SLGBTQI+ travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Kiribati.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Kiribati.
If local authorities consider you a citizen of Kiribati, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.
International Child Abduction
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and Kiribati.
If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Kiribati by an abducting parent:
- act as quickly as you can
- consult a lawyer in Canada and in Kiribati to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
- report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre.
If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.
Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.
- International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
- Travelling with children
- Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
- Emergency Watch and Response Centre
Dress and behaviour
Nudity and wearing revealing swimsuits are not socially accepted.
To avoid offending local sensitivities:
- dress conservatively
- behave discreetly
- respect religious and social traditions
You can drive in Kiribati with an international driving permit or a domestic driver’s license for up to two weeks. After this period, you must acquire a Kiribati driver’s license.
Traffic drives on the left.
Car rentals are available in Tarawa.
Importation of firearms, ammunition, explosives, counterfeit money and goods, knives and pornography is strictly prohibited. Strict quarantine laws govern the import of any part of plants, fruits, vegetables and soil, as well as animals and animal products.
Visitors are not allowed to export human remains, artifacts that are 30 or more years old, traditional fighting swords, traditional tools, dancing ornaments or suits of armour.
The currency is the Australian dollar (AUD). The Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Limited is the only bank in Kiribati. There are a limited number of ATMs. Visa and MasterCard are accepted at most hotels. Western Union can be used for money transfers.
Natural disasters and climate
Cyclones and monsoons
The rainy seasons in the South Pacific extend from November to April. Severe rainstorms can cause flooding and landslides, which can hamper overland, maritime and air travel. They can also reduce the provision of essential services such as water and power.
- Keep informed of regional weather forecasts
- Avoid disaster areas
- Follow the advice of local authorities
During a cyclone or monsoon, hotel guests may be required to leave accommodations near the shore and move to inland safety centres. Travel to and from outer islands may be disrupted for some days.
Kiribati is in an active seismic zone. A tsunami can occur within minutes of a nearby earthquake. However, the risk of tsunami can remain for several hours following the first tremor. If you are staying on the coast, familiarize yourself with the region’s evacuation plans in the event of a tsunami warning.
Tsunami alerts - U.S. Tsunami Warning System
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 192 or 188
- medical assistance: 994 or +686 28100 (Tungaru Central Hospital)
- firefighters: 193
There is no resident Canadian government office in Kiribati. You can obtain consular assistance and further information from the Australian High Commission to Kiribati, in Tarawa, under the Canada–Australia Consular Services Sharing Agreement.
Sign up to receive email updates from the Australian government on situations and events that could affect your safety while in Kiribati.
Smartraveller - Australian travel advice
Tarawa - High Commission of Australia
Wellington - High Commission of Canada
American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Wallis and Futuna
For emergency consular assistance, call 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, expressed 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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