Nauru Visa Application Process
I had no clue such country existed until I checked the UN list of countries in the Pacific. I bought the Lonely Planet Pacific edition, but there was nothing on Nauru. I checked the web for information and there were bits and pieces only. I thought I could visit every Pacific country without a visa, but I found out about three weeks before my planned trip to Nauru that every national needed a visa. I was in Perth at that time visiting my friend Nelson and my planned itinerary was two weeks in Perth, 5 days in Cairns, a week in Papua New Guinea, a week in the Solomon Islands and then to Nauru.
I stumbled upon the Nauru home page (http://www.naurugov.nr/about-nauru/visiting-nauru/visa-requirements.aspx) and there were a list of items that I had to submit. I got in touch with Mr. Rajeev Keerthiyil, who was in charge of foreigner visa processes. I had to submit the following documents:
- A completed visa application form
- A copy of my passport
- Confirmed travel tickets to and out from Nauru.
- A hotel booking confirmation
- A document to prove my current employment/occupation
Once the above documents were received by him and reviewed, I had to wire transfer AUD 50 to an Australian bank account. The normal processing time was around one week, but it took around three weeks altogether. I got my visa two days before my arrival.
Now, you may think that this process was actually easy, but it was not. Firstly, getting the hotel booking confirmation took around one week. I emailed three hotels in Nauru and got a reply from two of them around four days later. I understood why after I got to Nauru. Internet was not prevalent and the front desk only checked emails every few days. Either way, Ehwa Lodge and Menhot were completely full and the only one that had availability was Odn Aiwo Hotel. They had one room only! I did not even get a reply from Odn Aiwo Hotel. I had to ask Ricka Raidinen from Nauru Airlines to help me with the reservation and she gladly did. If it was not for her, I might have never gotten a hotel booking confirmation. Secondly, I had to purchase my plane tickets, which were expensive. My plane segment from Honiara to Nauru to Fiji was $800 USD on Nauru Airlines and were only two hours apart! Lastly, it was not necessary to submit the proof of employment but it took Mr. Keerthiyil around two weeks to respond back. I got an email confirmation around 3 days before my arrival and he gave me an Australian bank account to deposit 50 AUD. I was really fortunate in getting my friend Nelson to remit the monies into the account, since he was living in Perth, Australia. If not, it would have been a nightmare trying to organize wire transfers online from the Solomon Islands, another place with crap modem like connectivity.
There you go, in case you plan on visiting Nauru, please follow the above process. Don’t forget to print out your visa document, since that will be required upon arrival. There were very few people on my flight so immigration took only 15 minutes max for the 20 people on the plane and the airport was super small. They only have a few flights per week so you will not get lost at the airport, but make sure to arrange your transportation, since there was only one taxi in the entire country. The hotel normally picks you up for free. Nauru was very small! In case you need a taxi, the gentleman’s name was Mohammed, a refugee.
General Visitor Information
- Nauru got its independence in 1968. There are 14 districts in Nauru and one airport.
- Population is around 10,000 which includes Nauruans, Chinese, refugees, asylum seekers, and expats working for the Australian government.
- Almost everyone speaks English.
- The official currency is Australian Dollars.
- There is one bank in Aiwo District and there are few ATM machines. Although, it is best to have AUD cash since 95% of the places do not take credit card and ATMs may run out of cash.
- There are only a handful of hotels so make sure to make reservation in advance. Hotel prices are overprices for what they are. Be prepared and do not be shocked.
- There are free buses around the island. These buses are utilized by the refugees and asylum seekers, but I believe anyone can ride them. Just hold your hand out and the bus will stop. I took them every day.
- There are several restaurants around the island, but mostly Chinese. You can find local food, seafood, and dining by the beach.
- There are several super markets on the island but things run out quickly. Almost everything needs to be imported and thus, foreign product prices are high.
- It is around 18km or so to go around the island loop. It can be a challenge to run the entire way during the day, but my advice is to run during the early morning.
- Wifi is not prevalent in the country and thus, it is best to purchase a SIM card or a mobile wifi terminal if staying for a long time. Connectivity is not cheap.
- There is only one liquor store in the country, but some of the restaurants sell alcohol. Prices are comparable to Australia and thus, buy them at the duty free before arriving.
- There are a few things to see in Nauru. You can check my next few posts on Nauru.
- Nauru does have beaches all around the island, but nothing special to brag home about. The beaches can be either sand or rocks. Watch out for the pinnacles, since they are everywhere.
- Nauru is famous for its phosphate. They were once the wealthiest nation per capita.
- Nauru is also known for the Australian detention center, but only Aussies are aware of this. When in Nauru, very few people actually talk about the detention center. Without it, the economy can easily collapse.
You can check out my visit to Nauru blog.