UK Government Foreign travel advice- St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

Summary

St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha are British Overseas Territories. There is no formal British diplomatic representation on any of the islands and the local authorities deal with all requests for consular assistance. See Consular Assistance

You must take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, attacks can’t be ruled out. See Terrorism

Travel to Tristan da Cunha is by sea only. St. Helena Airport offers weekly flights via Windhoek to Johannesburg or Cape Town. Due to runway repairs required to the Ascension Island runway, the Ministry of Defence has temporarily rerouted the South Atlantic Airbridge via an alternative location. Until further notice, the only means of access to Ascension Island is via the RMS St Helena. You should contact your travel agent, local tour booking office or Ascension Island employer for the latest up-to-date information. See Getting to St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

You must meet certain conditions before the Tristan da Cunha island Council will authorise a visit. Visitors to Ascension must be in possession of a valid entry permit before travelling. See Entry Requirements

A good standard of medical care is available on Ascension Island, but it is limited and is not free to visitors. An adequate standard of medical care is available on St Helena but costs for major treatment can be high. Medical treatment in Tristan da Cunha is not free and major treatment can be very expensive, especially if repatriation to Cape Town is needed. See Health

You can contact the emergency services in St Helena by calling 999 (fire and police) or 911 (ambulance) and in Ascension by calling 999 for all emergency services.

Safety and security

Crime

Crime levels are low.

See Victims of Crime

Local travel

St Helena

Many roads on St Helena are single lanes. Speed limits are signed across the island but drivers are unlikely to travel at speeds in excess of 30 miles an hour or above third gear. Vehicles travelling downhill must give way to those travelling uphill. Driving is on the left. Drink drive laws are strictly applied with a limit of 50 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath. Public transport on St Helena is very limited but hire cars are available.

Ascension

There is no public transport on Ascension Island, but bus tours with a driver can be arranged.

The speed limit is 20 mph in Georgetown and Two Boats Village, and when passing the US Base. It is either 30mph or 40 mph elsewhere.

Wild sheep and donkeys can gather on the roads, especially during wet weather.

Tristan da Cunha

You’re not allowed to hike up the Base or to Marys Peak unless accompanied by a Tristan guide. Trips to areas away from the main settlement on Tristan, including to Nightingale and Inaccessible Islands, must be made with a guide for safety reasons. A fee is payable and an indemnity declaration must be signed. You need prior approval from the Administrator to visit Gough Island, which is 200 miles away by sea to the south. Permission to land will rarely be granted as Gough is a World Heritage Site. If you intend to hill walk, fish or undertake any pursuit away from the Settlement, seek the advice of a local guide and let others know where you are going and when you intend to return. This especially applies if you intend to climb The Peak, which requires a high level of fitness and an early start.

Getting to St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

St Helena

Travel to St Helena is by sea only. St. Helena Airport offers weekly flights via Windhoek to Johannesburg or Cape Town. Access is also currently available via the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) St Helena.

Due to limited harbour facilities the RMS has to anchor offshore and passengers are ferried by smaller local boats to the landing steps. In heavy swells or bad weather, this transfer can be hazardous.

Ascension

Due to runway repairs required to the Ascension Island runway, the Ministry of Defence has temporarily rerouted the South Atlantic Airbridge via an alternative location. Until further notice, the only means of access to Ascension Island is via the RMS St Helena, although it is anticipated that monthly flights to Ascension via St Helena will be available from November 2017. You should contact your travel agent, local tour booking office, or Ascension Island employer for the latest up-to-date information.

Tristan da Cunha

Travel to the Island is by sea only. Fishing vessels from Cape Town visit the Island nine times a year, and there is one annual visit made by a South African research vessel in September/October. Due to the limited harbour facilities, vessels have to anchor offshore and passengers are ferried by smaller local boats. This can be hazardous in bad weather. Approaching bad weather can mean that you have to return to your ship ahead of schedule. Fishing requirements may mean that ships need to depart Tristan ahead of schedule.

Consular assistance

Ascension

The Ascension Island Police Detachment handles all consular protection services. There is no facility for issuing replacement UK passports or UK entry visas.

Tristan da Cunha

If you need consular assistance, contact the local police (telephone 2010). If you need a replacement or emergency passport, contact the Administrator’s office at the Government offices in the Settlement.

Contact details

UK – Representative for St Helena

Mrs Kedell Worboys MBE St Helena Government UK Representative 16 Old Queen Street, London, SW1H 9HP

Telephone: 0203 170 8705 or 0203 170 8706

Fax: 0203 159 5151

Mobile: 07989 404 654

Email: shgukrep@sthelenagov.com

South Africa – Project Administrator Manager

Mr John Scipio

Enterprise St Helena

1st Floor

Convention Towers

Cnr of Heerengracht and Coen Steytler Street

Cape Town

8001

Telephone: + 27 21 403 6366

Fax + 27 21 403 6301

Mobile + 27 72 877 9571

Email: john.scipio@esh.co.sh

Office of Tourism

The Canister, Jamestown, St Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean, STHL 1ZZ

Telephone: 00 290 22158

Fax: 00 290 22159

Email: enquiries@tourism.gov.sh

Website

Office Hours: GMT: (Local Time = GMT) Mon-Fri: 08:30-12:30 and 13:00-16:00.

Terrorism

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, attacks can’t be ruled out.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

Don’t become involved with drugs of any kind. There are severe penalties for possession or importation of even small quantities.

Drink/drive laws and speed restrictions are strictly enforced.

Drinking alcohol in public in the Jamestown area of St Helena is not allowed.

There are strict rules about importing alcohol into Tristan da Cunha. You need a licence to import more than two bottles of spirits.

Camping is not allowed in Tristan da Cunha.

Same-sex marriage has been legal on Ascension, St Helena and Tristan da Cunha since January, August and December 2017 respectively. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Entry requirements

St Helena

Visas

An Entry Permit costs £17 and allows a stay of up to 183 days. You will need to provide evidence of a return ticket, or funds for a return ticket, medical insurance, adequate accommodation and sufficient funds for your stay.

If you wish to stay for longer than 183 days you should apply to the St Helena Immigration Control Board.

If you need a South African visa you should get one before your visit and make sure it is valid for the date of your planned return journey. There are no facilities to issue international visas on the island.

Passport validity

You must hold a valid passport to enter St Helena. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into from St Helena.

The Immigration Service in St. Helena only issues and renews British Overseas Territory Citizen passports and British Emergency travel documents.

Travelling with children

If you intend to send an unaccompanied minor to St Helena you should seek advice from Andrew Weir Shipping prior to making any travel arrangements.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Ascension

Visas

You must get permission to visit Ascension Island from the Administrator before travel. Entry permit applications can be downloaded from the Ascension Island Government website or obtained by sending an e-mail to: aigenquiries@ascension.gov.ac. You must be able to produce evidence of holding comprehensive travel and medical insurance. You must also be able to produce on request evidence of a return air ticket (or other evidence of pre-paid onward travel), pre-booked accommodation and sufficient funds to cover your stay on the island.

Visitors are prohibited from taking employment, paid or unpaid, without first obtaining permission to do so from the Administrator.

Passport validity

You must hold a valid passport to enter Ascension. Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Ascension.

Tristan da Cunha

Visas

You will need the prior permission of the Island Council to land on Tristan. You should apply to the Administrator’s office: enquiriestdc@gmail.com. You must have a confirmed and fully paid return passage; comprehensive travel and medical insurance that cover the cost of medical treatment and evacuation to Cape Town; and sufficient funds to cover the cost of your visit. A small landing fee is payable on arrival at the Island.

Passport validity

You must hold a valid passport to enter Tristan. Your passport must be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required. However, it’s always sensible to have a short period of extra validity on your passport in case of any unforeseen delays to your departure.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any treatment abroad, medical evacuation and repatriation. You should contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

St Helena

An adequate standard of medical care is available on St Helena, but all visitors, including UK residents, are charged a fee for medical and dental treatment. If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 and ask for an ambulance.

Ascension

There is a small hospital in Ascension that is available to deal with day-to-day complaints but sophisticated treatment is not available on the Island. The hospital charges visitors for both outpatient and in-patient treatment. If you need regular supplies of prescription drugs, you should make sure you bring adequate supplies with you. A UK-qualified dentist is available on the island.

If you intend to participate in diving sports, please note that there is no decompression facility on Ascension, nor are there qualified rescue divers. Visiting divers are strongly recommended to dive with an experienced diver. There is a small diving club on the island.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 999 and ask for an ambulance.

Tristan da Cunha

A good standard of general practice level medical care is available on Tristan da Cunha, but it can be expensive. Operations and more serious medical cases usually require medical evacuation to Cape Town and this depends on the availability of ships. The journey itself can take up to a week, or longer in bad weather.   Limited pharmaceutical supplies are available on Tristan and you should make sure you take sufficient stock of any regular prescription medication with you.

Money

St Helena

The local currency is the Saint Helena Pound which is linked at parity to the British Pound (Sterling). Notes and coins are similar in denomination and appearance to their UK counterparts. Banking services on St Helena and Ascension Island are provided by the Bank of St. Helena. Sterling is accepted in shops and restaurants on the island but change will often be given in Saint Helena Pounds.

Credit cards are not widely used, although a few outlets and businesses will accept them. You will be charged a commission for using your credit card. Bank of St. Helena can advance cash against credit or debit cards. All cash advances are subject to charges and you will need identification bearing a photograph and signature. The Bank of St. Helena also offers foreign exchange facilities.

Travellers’ cheques can be cashed at the Bank. You will need to change back any surplus local currency before leaving, as it is not possible to exchange St Helenian notes or coins once back in the UK. St Helena currency is accepted on Ascension Island and on the RMS St Helena.

Ascension

Credit cards are accepted at the Chandlery and the NAAFI shop on Travellers Hill, but otherwise are not in general use. There is one bank – the Bank of St Helena – but no cash machines, although cashback is available at some stores. Travellers’ cheques are accepted. While the official currency is the St Helena pound, sterling bank notes are accepted in all shops and bars and the US base will accept US dollars, sterling or St Helena currency. The St Helena pound is fixed at a rate of one pound Sterling. Foreign currency (including Euros) can be exchanged at the bank, which also cashes UK cheques with proof of identify and a cheque guarantee card.   The Bank can also accept debit and credit cards. Charges may apply.

Tristan da Cunha

Tristan does not have the facilities to accept credit cards, only hard currency (British Sterling). Sterling is the currency used on the Island. There is a small bank that can exchange currency but supply is limited.

Natural disasters

Tristan da Cunha is a volcanic island but it has not had an eruption since 1961.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

 

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