Visa in Fiji

As we’re staying a longer time in Fiji than most yachties, we have to renew our visa. First we got 4 months (clearance fees are about 160 USD), then we applied for an extension, which costs about 40 USD (per person), but is only valid for 2 months. After those initial months we had the choice of either getting another extension (more pricey, 290 USD per person) or clear out of Fiji, sail up to Wallis and Futuna and return to start a new clearance and visa cycle.
We were really tempted to sail, see Futuna and save some money, but it’s the middle of the cyclone season and we are just having a rather active weather phase, so in the end we decided to go for the 6 month’s extension.

Reading cruiser’s reports we were worried that it would be complicated to do the application, but it’s very straightforward. You go to https://www.immigration.gov.fj/ and fill in the online form.
For the first 2 month extension we had to do the “visitor’s permit extension” which requires
- an informal letter requesting the visa
- the filled in form
- custom’s and immigration clearance
- itaukei cruising permit
- passport copy
All went well with the upload, but the next step is to do an online payment–credit card doesn’t work, it has to be a bank transfer… Doing the transfer from a European account would mean higher fees than the actual transfer sum and we couldn’t simply go to a bank to do the transfer for us, as there are no banks in Vanua Balavu (from where we tried to do the application). In the end a helpful local did the transfer for us. All done, it took a few weeks until we got the confirmation of payment, then nothing happened over the Christmas holidays and our visa were long expired, when we phoned to inquire about the status. “All done, you’ve been approved” was the friendly answer–they had just forgotten to write an email.

The 6 month extension is called “Residence permit for yachtees” (yes, with two ees) and requires uploading the same documents as the other one. We were quite surprised when the online form demanded a medical report and a police report as well and would not let us send the form off without uploading those. I called the immigration office in Suva: “Yes, there’s a mistake in the form. Simply upload a blank pdf instead” — problem solved the Fijian way. This time we were in Suva, so we simply went to a local bank with cash in hand and did the transfer from there. All done, no big deal and we’re legal until past the end of the cyclone season again :-)

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