COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Republic of Palau is a constitutional democracy with a population of approximately 18,000 people. Upon independence in 1994, Palau entered into a 50-year Compact of Free Association with the United States. Palau is an archipelago consisting of several hundred volcanic and limestone islands and coral atolls, only several of which are inhabited. Palau is politically divided into 16 states. Palau’s developing economy depends on tourism, marine resources, and a relatively minor agricultural sector. Taxis are the main means of public transportation. Palau International Airport is located on Babeldaob Island, over a bridge from Koror. There is direct commercial air service to Palau from Manila, Taipei, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, and Guam. Please read the Department of State’s Background Notes on Palau for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Palau, please take the time to tell our Embassy 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. If you do not have access to the internet, you may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy in Koror.
U.S. Embassy in Koror, Palau
In Airai State, in an area known as Omsangel (no street address)
P.O. Box 6028, Koror, Palau 96940
Telephone: (680) 587-2920/2990
Facsimile: (680) 587-2911
The U.S. Embassy in Koror accepts passport applications but does not issue passports or make decisions about citizenship claims; the Honolulu Passport Agency handles these requests. The Embassy does not issue immigrant visas, that function is performed by the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: If you are a U.S. citizen visiting Palau for one year or less, you do not need a visa unless you will be employed. You must have a passport that is valid for at least six months in order to enter Palau. This requirement does not apply to United States military personnel traveling or visiting Palau on official business. U.S. military personnel must present official orders or documents certifying their status. U.S. military dependents ten years or older must have a U.S. Government-issued photo-ID card showing the name, date of birth, and their status. Dependents under ten years will be granted entry if they are listed in the official orders. Visit the Embassy of Palau website for the most current visa information. There is currently a departure tax and green fee totaling $50. Cholera and Yellow Fever immunizations are required for those arriving from infected areas.
HIV/AIDS Restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Palau.
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: Civil disorder is rare; however, avoid public demonstrations and/or political rallies if they occur.
We wish to remind U.S. citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. U.S. citizens are therefore urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations.
Stay up to date by:
CRIME: Although the crime rate in Palau is relatively low, as a foreign resident or visitor, you might be the target of petty and sometimes violent crime as well as other random acts against individuals and property. Please stay alert for your personal safety and protect 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 local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Palau is also 911.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Palau, 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. In Palau, it may be illegal to take pictures of certain private buildings and historical sites unless you have been granted permissions or paid the required fees. In Palau, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. Certain sites require prior permission and/or payment of a fee prior to visiting or taking photographs. Signs are posted at the relevant sites, and an attendant may be present to collect the fee. 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 Palau, 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 wherever you go.
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: UXO: Unexploded ordnance remains a problem in Palau. Although the majority of the land-based UXO is found on the island of Peliliu, UXO can be found almost on any island in Palau. Underwater UXO may also present a threat. Tourists are advised to heed all warnings on areas that might be affected.
Currency: The official currency of Palau is the U.S. dollar. Major credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, are accepted in most locations catering to tourists. There are several ATMs in Koror at the branches of local U.S. banks.
Curfew: Koror State, where most tourist facilities are located, enforces a curfew between 2:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., Monday through Thursday, and between 4:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., Friday to Sunday, and on national holidays.
Firearms: Firearms of any kind are strictly prohibited in Palau. The penalty for possession of a firearm or ammunition is up to 15 years imprisonment. Palau customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Palau of certain other items. You should contact the Embassy of Palau in Washington, D.C., for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Natural Disaster Preparedness: Palau is vulnerable to tropical cyclones and floods. You can obtain general information about natural disaster preparedness from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and from the Naval Oceanography portal.
Accessibility: While in Palau, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Palau’s overall accessibility for the disabled is very limited. There is no legislation in place that mandates access to transportation, communication, and public building for persons with disabilities. The only existing legislation is access to government buildings, which requires that there be at least one designated parking space close to the main entrance of each national government building open to the public. These parking spaces shall be clearly designated through use of words or symbols, as being available for use only by persons with disabilities. While many buildings have ramps to facilitate persons with disabilities, others do not. There is no public transportation equipped to transport persons on wheelchairs and sidewalks around Palau are limited. There are no free or reduced fares for disabled persons in taxis, or at communication, lodging, medical facilities, restaurants, cafes, bars, or other tourist spots.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Health facilities in Palau are adequate for routine medical care, but the availability and quality of services are limited. Serious medical conditions requiring hospitalizations or evacuation to the United States or elsewhere may cost tens of thousands of dollars. The Belau National Hospital will accept payment by cash, credit or debit card, while private clinics may require cash payment. Please be advised that Palau has occassional outbreaks of Dengue Fever.
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 Palau, 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: While in Palau, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Palau accepts a driver's license issued by a U.S. state or military authority for up to 30 days. After 30 days in Palau, you must obtain a Palauan driver’s license. Many roads in Koror, where the vast majority of the population lives, are in fair condition but have no sidewalks and little or no shoulder on the side of the road. . . In addition, for the most part, the roadway known as the “Compact Road” that loops around the large island of Babeldaob is in fairly good condition. Although small sections of the road have deteriorated, repairs are expected to be completed later in 2013. Secondary roads connecting villages to the Compact Road vary in quality from good to rough. The national speed limit is 25 miles per hour, but drivers routinely ignore this limit in remote areas on good-quality roads, and traffic often moves slower in congested areas. Passing slow-moving vehicles is illegal, but some drivers occasionally do this. Drunken drivers are a late-night hazard in Palau.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Palau, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Palau's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Palau dated May 3, 2012, to update sections on Entry/Exit Requirements and Special Circumstances .