For those who have known me for many years … well … you wouldn’t describe me as patient, understanding, tolerant or having much empathy.

Well in Vanuatu on my last trip (3-8 April 2016) I needed all those characteristics.

I was proud (no pun intended) how I handled myself, while being sent around in circles in Port Vila for thee (3) days in a row!

I had seven (7) objectives this trip:

  1. Submit residence applications – lodged 7 April 2016
  2. Submit building application – lodged 6 April 2016
  3. Visit Vanuatu Tourism – discussed our investment and employment objectives on 6 April 2016, and was informed I needed to complete another application form and pay another fee.
  4. Meet our preferred builder – Jude introduced me to Richard on 6 April 2016 who grasped what we want to create at Divi’s. We visited the block together on Thursday 7 April 2016. At this stage it is looking good – Richard may be our builder, yahoo.
  5. Sort a land surveyor and building engineer – sort this on our next trip.
  6. Find a jetty builder – this step we plan on undertaking next year.
  7. Buy a car (if I can find a suitable one) – test drove a 2012 Ford Ranger with 17,000kms on the speedo. Very nice car. Asking price vatu 150,000 (AUD$39,375) plus 7% transfer duty.

I am going to share with you my experience with Vanuatu Immigration.

On my first day in Port Vila I headed to the Immigration office to source the Residency Application forms. I sat in their office to fill them out, checking the information required with the information I brought from Australia. Only a few missing pieces:

  • Security Bond
  • Business License
  • Bank cheque for the residency application
    • On the application you had the option to choose:
      • 1 year
      • 1 year up to 3 years
      • 5 years
      • 10 years

For the Security Bond I was sent to our bank. At the bank to arrange the security bond, a bank account in our name with cash in it the government can draw on if they want to send us back to Australia for being naughty. So, the security bond account needs to cover two one way air fares from Port Vila to Brisbane for Darleen and myself. At the bank I was asked for my itinerary. This was to validate the cost of two one way airfares. I wasn’t aware I had to have an actual itinerary to quantify the value of cash to be in the security deposit bank account. The lovely lady at the bank sent me to the Air Vanuatu sales office.

After standing in the line at Air Vanuatu sales office for over 40 minutes, I had my itinerary. Back to the bank.

All good, but … it would take the bank a few days to prepare the security bond paperwork, $62.50 set-up fee and $25 maintenance fee charged every six (6) months. Yes for a bank account with $600 in it! Note to self … must buy some more bank shares!

While I was at the bank I arranged for a bank cheque payable to Vanuatu Immigration. We decided to apply for a one year up to three year residency visa vatu 315,600 (AUD$3,945). Again, the bank cheque would be ready tomorrow.

A few days later I collected the paperwork and bank cheque from the bank. The security bond paperwork had been prepared with the wrong date (March instead of April). After another 30 minutes that was rectified, and I headed confidently to the Immigration office to submit Darleen and my residency applications. I was excited, this was another big step in our goal to live in Vanuatu – my adrenaline was pumping.

At the Immigration office all went well, I had provided all the supporting documentation requested in the application. Be disappointing if an accountant of 30 years couldn’t read an application form properly, or so I thought!

The lady headed to Treasury to obtain a payment receipt.

After a short wait, I was approached and it was explained to me that on our first residency application (not mentioned anywhere on the application form!), Darleen and I could only apply for a one year residency visa, so the bank cheque provided was for the wrong amount!

Back to the bank. Deposit the bank cheque into our bank account, and arrange for the correct funds at the one year residency application rate, vatu 57,800 each (AUD$720).

Remember, this is just one government agency in Vanuatu. I had this same experience many times over in the first three (3) days: Shefa Council (business license and building application – two different buildings), ANZ Bank, Vanuatu Financial Services Commission, Unelco, Vanuatu Tourism, and TransPacific. Some experiences were easier than others, but you get the idea!

The most amazing part of the five (5) days in Port Vila for me … after each day I was able to sit on the deck at Ocean View Apartments, look out over Mele Bay in Port Vila … drinking a Lemon Tusker beer … thinking … Darleen and I are both going to live here soon.

Mele Bay Port Vila

Mele Bay Port Vila