COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: New Caledonia is a French overseas territory located in the Southwest Pacific near Australia. It consists of the large island of New Caledonia, the Loyalty Islands, the Isle of Pines, and several smaller island groups. The capital is Noumea. New Caledonia's moderately developed economy is based on mining and, to a lesser degree, tourism. Tourist facilities can be found throughout New Caledonia, the Loyalty Islands, and the Isle of Pines. The French Government Tourism Office, which has a wide range of information available to travelers, can be contacted by telephone at (212) 838-7800.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit New Caledonia, please take the time to tell our Embassy (and/or Consulate) 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. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
There is no U.S. Embassy or diplomatic post in New Caledonia. The U.S. Embassy in Fiji provides assistance for U.S. citizens in New Caledonia.
U.S. Embassy Suva
158 Princes Road, Suva, Fiji
Emergency after-hours telephone: (679) 772-8049
Facsimile: (679) 330-2267
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIERMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: You need a passport valid for six months beyond the duration of your stay in New Caledonia. You do not need a visa if your stay in New Caledonia is less than one month. You may be able to obtain an extension of your stay for up to three months by applying to the Haut Commissionaire (The French High Commissioner) in Noumea. For longer stays, you must apply for a visa at the nearest French embassy or consulate well beforehand, as the processing time can be quite long. For further information about entry requirements, particularly for those planning to enter by sea, please contact the French Embassy at 4101 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007, telephone 202 944-6200, fax 202-944-6212, or visit the Embassy of France web site.
As New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands are part of the French Republic, there are no HIV/AIDS entry restrictions since France considers such restrictions to be contrary to the principle of the confidentiality of medical records.
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: Marches highlighting labor or political issues take place in the greater Noumea area from time to time. Protests and demonstrations sometimes occur and can turn violent. You should avoid large public demonstrations at all times.
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CRIME: The crime rate in New Caledonia is low; however, petty crime such as pick pocketing and purse-snatching does occur. Fights and assaults sometimes occur outside discotheques and bars, especially over weekends and holidays and at closing time.
Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, you may be breaking local law too.
The import or possession of counterfeit items is a crime in New Caledonia and even having any such items in your baggage on arrival can lead to their seizure and serious fines for the person involved.
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 local equivalents to the “911” emergency lines in New Caledonia are 17 for police (gendarmes), 18 for fire, 15 for ambulance and medical emergencies, and 16 for rescue at sea.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in New Caledonia, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. In New Caledonia, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you, and 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 New Caledonia, 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: New Caledonia is a small, remote tropical island. The main international airport in New Caledonia, La Tontouta, offers a limited number of international flights each day, mainly to Australia, Japan and New Zealand. A number of cruise ships, most from Australia, do visit New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands each week but they generally do not take on passengers within the Territory. Transportation may be interrupted due to weather, political or labor disputes, economic difficulties, or other reasons. If you travel to New Caledonia and an emergency arises, you should be prepared to remain in New Caledonia until the emergency passes or to arrange for a private air or sea charter from the island, which may cost thousands of dollars. The U.S. Government only arranges evacuation transportation in crises that pose a potential for loss of life or an imminent physical danger to the safety and security of U.S. citizens and when commercial options are not possible. The U.S. Government is required to seek reimbursement for government-organized evacuations in an amount equal to the average cost of a one-way ticket on a commercial carrier at the time commercial services are stopped.
Carry a copy of your U.S. passport with you at all times, so that if questioned by local officials, you will have proof of identity and U.S. citizenship readily available. If detained, immediately ask detention law enforcement officials to notify a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji.
Customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from New Caledonia of items such as agricultural products. Please contact the Embassy of France in Washington or one of the French consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Accessibility: While in New Caledonia, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation different from what you find in the United States. The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical or mental disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, and the provision of other state services. The government generally enforces these provisions effectively.
Given that New Caledonia subscribes to laws that require disability accommodations, many new buildings with public or community space are accessible. However, some existing buildings as well as transportation systems do not yet meet these requirements.
Tropical Storms: The cyclone season in the South Pacific is November through April. The Fiji Meteorological Service maintains a Tropical Cyclone Warning Center (TCWC) in Nadi serving the Southwest Pacific Region. It collaborates with the French Meteorological Service and the French High Commission, which in turn alert the press and the public when necessary. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) web site.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical treatment on the main island is generally good but is more limited on the outer islands. The Centre Hospitalier Territorial in Noumea provides emergency and outpatient services, as does the smaller Centre Hospitalier Nord in Koumac in the northern part of the main island of New Caledonia and the Centre Hospitalier Est in Poindimie on the east coast of the main island. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Patients with more serious illnesses are often referred to Noumea, Australia, or France for treatment. In the event of a medical evacuation to Australia, you need to submit a referral from a doctor in New Caledonia, proof of acceptance by an Australian doctor, and proof of the patient's ability to pay for the medical treatment to Australian visa authorities to get a visa. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars.
You can find detailed 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 doctor 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: In a foreign country, road conditions may differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning New Caledonia is for general reference only and may not be accurate in each location or circumstance:
Roads are generally well maintained except in remote areas. Animals and unwary pedestrians walking in the road make night driving on unlit secondary roads hazardous.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. For specific information concerning New Caledonian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance in New Caledonia, contact the national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: Civil aviation operations in New Caledonia fall under the jurisdiction of French authorities. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of France’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of France’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 New Caledonia dated June 2012 to update sections on Special Circumstances and Threats to Safety and Security.