Le Roof, New Caledonia
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Le Roof, New Caledonia

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New Caledonia Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

18,575 sq km (7,172 sq miles).

Population

266,431 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density

14.6 per sq km.

Capital

Nouméa.

Government

French Overseas Territory.

Head of state

President Emmanuel Macron since 2017, represented locally by High Commissioner Patrice Faure since 2021.

Head of government

President of the government Louis Mapou since 2021.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two round pins are standard.

The Pacific island of New Caledonia is a nature lover’s paradise. Punching well above its weight, the island lays claim to impressive natural features including the largest lagoon in the world and a 1,500km-long (930 mile) coral reef, second only in size to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, New Caledonia’s vast coral reef offers some of the most spectacular diving in the world. Not only is it an important nesting site for green turtles, but it also supports an astonishing variety of tropical fish, seabirds, sharks, whales and dugongs, also known as sea cows.

Visitors will find an equally diverse mix of wildlife inland. New Caledonia is famed for its flying foxes and myriad exotic birds, including the highly intelligent Caledonian crow, which fashions hooks from branches to pick its insect prey from trees.

It’s not all about the wildlife, though. This former French colony, which is now classed as a special collectivity of France, is a fascinating melting pot of Melanesian and French culture. This unlikely fusion is most visible in the capital, Nouméa, where luxury hotels, gourmet restaurants and plush boutiques compete with Melanesian cuisine, dance and other local traditions.

This juxtaposition is not always harmonious however, and conflicts between France and New Caledonia sometimes flare up, reflecting their differing attitudes on self-government, French nuclear testing in the region and more. There’s been an appetite for independence for sometime now and the territory seems to be slowly moving towards sovereign status. France will be the poorer for it.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

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

Entry and borders

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

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

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

Travel in New Caledonia

There are local travel restrictions in place in New Caledonia.

The French Government has outlined measures to stem the spread of coronavirus in the French Overseas Territories. For further information on the measures which apply in New Caledonia, please see the French government website. The New Caledonian government’s website will have details of any further local restrictions.

Healthcare in New Caledonia

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 New Caledonia.

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

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in New Caledonia

As information is available about the national vaccination programme, this page will be updated.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the UK authority responsible for assessing the safety, quality and efficacy of vaccines. It has authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines for temporary supply and use in the UK. Find out more about MHRA approval for these vaccines.

British nationals living overseas should seek medical advice from their local healthcare provider in the country where they reside. Information about vaccines used in other national programmes, including regulatory status, should be available from the local authorities. This list of Stringent Regulatory Authorities recognised by the World Health Organisation may also be a useful source of additional information. Find out more information about the COVID-19 vaccines on the World Health Organization COVID-19 vaccines page.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

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

Road travel

From 28 March 2019, you will need to have a 1968 International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in New Caledonia. From 1 February 2019, you can only get IDPs over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.

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

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.

Restrictions in response to coronavirus

Only travellers who can prove that entry is for essential reasons will be allowed to enter, and they will be expected to fill in a travel certificate or ‘attestation’ and provide proof.

All travellers over the age of 11 must undertake a test for COVID-19 within 72 hours before departure for their destination. The test is obligatory and the traveller must show proof of a negative result before embarking.

Travellers may also need to produce a self-certified document affirming that they have no COVID symptoms and that to their knowledge they have not been in contact with any person confirmed positive within the last 14 days. Most travellers will be required to complete 14 days of quarantine in a hotel requisitioned by the government.

You should check with your travel operator and the New Caledonian government’s website ahead of travel.

These entry requirements are subject to change. For further information on the entry restrictions in place for French Overseas Territories, see the French government’s website before travelling.

If travelling via France, you should also check our Travel Advice for France.

Visas

New Caledonia is a dependent territory of France.

If you hold a British Citizen passport, you don’t need a visa to enter New Caledonia for stays of up to three months. Other British passport holders, and those who plan to stay longer than three months, should check the current entry requirements on the website of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, if necessary, confirm with the nearest French Diplomatic mission.

UK residents in New Caledonia

If you live in New Caledonia, you should carry your residence document, as well as your valid passport when you travel. If you have applied but not yet received your document, carry your certificate of application. You will have received this as an email. If you have not yet applied for a residence document, you should carry evidence that you are resident in New Caledonia. This could include a tenancy agreement or a utility bill in your name, dating from 2020. For more information, including on how to apply for a residence document, see the French government’s website.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

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 New Caledonia.

Employment

EU regulations regarding employment and right of abode do not apply to New Caledonia. British nationals have no right to work or to extend their stay beyond the initial 3 months without special authorisation from the local authorities.

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).

General health care facilities in New Caledonia are good for uncomplicated treatment, but more serious cases may need evacuation to Australia or France.  Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

UK health authorities have classified New Caledonia as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Cases of Chikungunya virus and Dengue fever have been confirmed in New Caledonia. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 15, 17 or 256767 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Tropical cyclones may occur in New Caledonia, particularly between mid-December and mid-March. Check local forecasts and updates from the World Meteorological Organisation. You should monitor these updates and follow any advice 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.