Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Extending Your Stay in French Polynesia

US citizens can travel around French Polynesia for 30 days without
obtaining a travel visa. For more than 30 days you need to obtain a
visa *before* arriving. Since we planned on staying in French
Polynesia for 35 days total, we knew we would need to do something
about our visa situation so we contacted the tourism board here and
they said no problem, just show up, get your 30 day stamp, then extend
your visa while you're here. When we got to customs on arrival we
discovered that is not the way they do it any more. Luckily we had
the instructions in writing so they let us into the country with a 30
day stamp. If your plans change and you decide to extend your stay,
you can still obtain a visa extension once you are here.

Today, we got to visit our local Gendarme in Huahini and go through
the process for getting a visa extension. While not a difficult
process, you do have a couple of hoops to jump through and speaking
French would help. If you need to extend your stay for some reason,
be sure to have your passport and a hard copy of your ticket out of
French Polynesia. First, go to the post office and purchase a "fiscal
stamp" ( 3000 CFP ) - it takes two seconds and they know exactly what
to give you. Take your passport, proof of leaving the country, and
stamp to the local Gendarme and tell them you need to extend your
visa. They will look at your documents and get you the appropriate
information stamped on your passport.

Everyone was very nice and we were sorted out without too much
trouble. We were even granted an extension a couple of days past our
expected departure just in case something goes wrong. As long as you
have all your documents square, it is a fairly painless process.

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