COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Tonga is a South Pacific island nation consisting of 171 islands, of which 45 are inhabited. Tonga is a constitutional monarchy and a member of the British Commonwealth. Its agrarian economy is developing, and its tourist industry, although limited, is growing. Tourist facilities are concentrated in and around the main island of Tongatapu where the capital, Nuku’alofa, is located. Tourism is expanding to the island of Va’vau. The Tongan Visitor’s Bureau has a wide range of information of interest to travelers. Please read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Tonga for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Tonga, please take the time to tell our Embassy in Fiji about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. You can download our free Smart Traveler App, available through iTunes and the Android market, to have travel information at your fingertips. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
There is no U.S. Embassy or diplomatic post in Tonga. The U.S. Embassy in Fiji provides assistance for U.S. citizens in Tonga.
U.S. Embassy Suva
158 Princes Road,Suva, Fiji
Emergency after-hours telephone: (679) 772-8049
Facsimile: (679) 330-2267
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport with at least six (6) month validity and an onward/return ticket are required. Visas are not required for stays of up to 30 days. For further information about entry requirements, travelers, particularly those planning to enter by sea, may wish to contact the Embassy of the Kingdom of Tonga located at 250 East 51st Street, New York, NY 10022, telephone 917-369-1024 and 917-369-1025. Tonga also has a Consulate General of Tonga at 360 Post Street, Suite 604, San Francisco, California 94108; telephone 415-781-0365.
The Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Tonga.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Stay up to date by:
CRIME: Although Tonga has a low crime rate, there has been a recent rise in house break-ins and property theft. Though rare, sexual assaults against foreigners have occurred, including on public beaches. Females in particular should avoid going out alone at night or alone to isolated locations. You should not be complacent regarding your personal safety or the protection of your valuables.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
The Tonga equivalent numbers to the U.S. “911” emergency lines are: 911, which connects to the Tonga Telecommunications emergency operators; 922, which connects directly to the police; and 933, which connects directly to the hospital. U.S. citizens requiring immediate emergency services in Tonga should call one of these emergency contact numbers.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in the Kingdom of Tonga, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. You may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. It is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. Driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Tonga, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Accessibility: While in the Kingdom of Tonga, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. There are no legally mandated provisions for services for persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental disabilities. There also are no programs to ensure access to communications and information for persons with disabilities. The Tonga Red Cross Society operates a school for children with disabilities and conducts occasional home visits. There is no specific government agency with responsibility for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities.
Customs: Tonga’s customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Tonga of items such as firearms, explosives, motor vehicles, eggs, and certain types of alcohol. It is advisable to contact the Tongan Embassy in New York or the Consulate General of Tonga in San Francisco for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please see our Customs Information.
Religious Customs: Tonga is a deeply religious country. Many services are not provided and offices routinely closed on Sundays. Many hotels and restaurants do not serve breakfast on Sunday, and tourist activities are limited.
Citizenship Documents: U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship is readily available. U.S. citizens who are detained are encouraged to request that a consular officer from the U.S. Embassy in Fiji be notified.
Cyclone Season: The official cyclone season is November through April. The Fiji Meteorological Service maintains a Tropical Cyclone Warning Center (TCWC) in Nadi serving the Southwest Pacific Region. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available at the State Department’s website, as well as from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) website.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities, including medications, in Tonga are extremely limited. The cities of Nuku'alofa and Neiafu have hospitals with limited emergency and outpatient facilities. Local residents and visitors with serious medical problems are often referred to New Zealand for treatment. For additional information on medical visas for New Zealand, contact the Embassy of New Zealand, 37 Observatory Circle NW, Washington, DC 20008, (202) 328-4800 or the Consulate General in Los Angeles (310) 207-1605. Serious medical conditions requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.
You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions, on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors’ and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Tonga, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Tonga is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
No roadside assistance is available. Traffic moves on the left in Tonga. While roads in Nuku’alofa are paved, most other roads are not. Animals and unwary pedestrians walking in the road make night driving on unlit secondary roads hazardous. There are no stop lights in the country; drivers are required to stop at all roundabouts and allow vehicles on the right side to proceed. For specific information concerning Tonga driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, please contact the Consulate General of Tonga in San Francisco.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Tonga’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Tonga’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Tonga dated November 3, 2011, to update the sections on Criminal Penalties, Threats to Safety and Security, and Accessibility.