Author: Scott Proud


The internet in Vanuatu has been the biggest challenge so far.

At last, I have been able to upload a short video clip taken on Thursday 23rd June 2016. I took a 10-minute video walking around the two blocks. But … the file was too big for the internet we have at Mangaliliu. We even went into Port Vila one day and tried to use free Wi-Fi at a bar in town over lunch, but that didn’t work either.

Now that I have chopped up the 10-minute video into smaller clips, over the next few days I plan to upload them to update you on our progress.

Check out the link:

Three weeks today … and loving our piece of paradise in Vanuatu.



Darleen and I landed in Vanuatu around 3pm on 20 June 2016. A step closer to realising our dream by moving into our neighbour’s house at Mangaliliu, Bob’s house – three blocks from our building site … perfect.

At the block on Tuesday morning (21 June 16), I was met by a ‘village elder’, who explained he was very concerned construction had commenced on our blocks, but no one was employed from the local village. An interesting exchange on our first full day at Mangaliliu!

This is what had previously occurred … on Friday morning (10 June 2016) the same elder closed our worksite and sent all the workers home for the day, for the very same reason. Our amazing builder Richard (Rabco Constructions) organised a meeting with the village Chief that afternoon, explaining how he won a contract to build for us, and that he wasn’t under any obligation to employ anyone from the village.

We did not purchase the land from the landowner, we simply purchased a 75-year lease that started in 2012. Our understanding from the lease – we did not have to employ anyone from the land owner’s family or the village in construction. But we did once we started to operate a business on the land.

As it turns out, our understanding was correct, but in our absence (we were back in Australia on 10 June 2016) Richard agreed to employ two local villagers to keep the project moving forward. Over the weekend their position changed, as the local villagers did not turn up on the work site Monday (13 June 2016) to start with Richard!

Well, here we were dealing with the same issue again on Tuesday morning (21 June 2016) with the elder. After:

– listening to his concerns for the land owners and local villagers,

– explaining our understanding of the lease regards construction,

– highlighting the sooner construction can be completed, the sooner we can employ local villagers in the business, and

– suggesting we meet with the elder and Chief that afternoon to talk through our project,

I closed the discussion by explaining we needed to talk with our Builder, and the elder departed.

After an update on progress from Richard (builder) Darleen and I headed into town to see Immigration, Shefa Council and the Land & Environment office.

Driving through the village on the way to Port Vila, the elder stopped us to explain he was happy with what we were doing on the land, and there was no need for a meeting with the Chief that afternoon … well there you go!

In town we didn’t have much luck, the key people we needed to see at each office were not to be found. But before heading back home we did receive a phone call from one of the departments, saying the documents would be finalised and could we come and collect them. The caller explained he was the person authorised to sign the documents, and informed me he was a family man, leading the conversation in the direction of a little sweetener … I simply said we could sort that out when we met that afternoon.

At the meeting we were taken to a private office, received the certified documents, and I explained when I submitted the application, ALL applicable fees were paid. Nothing more was said and we departed happy.

We were warned that we would be constantly tested by the locals!

Getting accustomed to life in paradise … Scott.



My great friend Jan asked me yesterday if I had a photo or video of the whole block. Jan was interested because she was with Darleen and I in May 2015 when we found the block at Mangaliliu, 30 minutes from Port Vila on the island of Efate at Vanuatu.

Guess what, I do.

After showing the video to Jan, I am now sharing it with you.

The footage was taken on Sunday 15th May 2016. I was standing on a big rock in the centre of the block.

As you can see, the rock has an awesome tree on it that we wanted to try and keep as a feature.

Hope the footage gives you a feel for the area, and why it has Darleen and I so excited.

Missing my Darleen.

Scott from the Gold Coast.




Good news … yesterday at Vanuatu Immigration we were handed our Residency Visas for one (1) year.

And on Saturday (9 May 2016) we received our Building Permit to start construction at our block at Mangaliliu.

Building Approval Vanuatu

Building Approval Vanuatu

We have two (2) years to complete construction. We are thrilled with these outcomes from my April 2016 trip.

We met with the builder again today to work towards finalising the construction cost for our bungalow and tapas bar.

Before he starts construction, we have to clear trees, arrange for a water supply to the block, and purchase a generator so he will have power at the site.

The other good news in the last seven (7) days the completion of repair work to the runway at the Vanuatu airport. Looking forward to Virgin Australia and Air NZ bringing lots of tourists to Vanuatu over the next few months. The country certainly needs it. The country has struggled since Air NZ suspended flights to the gateway to Vanuatu in January 2016.

Vanuatu Airport

Vanuatu Airport

The government has also made a commitment to upgrade the standard of the airport over the next few years to accommodate bigger long haul aircraft.

A World Bank loan of US$59.8 million Phase 2 loan has been promised to assist, and the upgrade is anticipated to start before the end of 2016.

Bring it on … we want travel to be as easy and enjoyable as possible for any tourist wanting to visit Vanuatu, and of course … Divi’s – Bar – Tapas – B&B.

Scott in paradise.


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


Hooray … we got it … approval to operate our Divi’s business in Vanuatu.

The Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority approved our application submitted on 11 February 2016. Submitting the application, we explained we would be back in Australia when VIPA made the decision, and asked if we could be emailed the outcome. We were told that would be fine.

The application stated VIPA can take up to 15 days to process. Applying 15 working days, we hoped an email would arrive by Thursday 3 March 2016. No luck.

We left it another week before calling VIPA from Australia on 10 March 2016 to be advised approval was granted on 23 February 2016 … “island time”. I asked for an email copy of the approval which we received later that day.

Step 1 done and dusted!

Darleen and I have been living this adventure since July 2013. This was a big positive step. Now the intensity is increasing day by day … we love it.

We have started on Step 2 – Residency Permits.

Even through the resident permits have been granted through the VIPA process at Step 1, we are still required to submit an application through the immigration department: answer lots questions, provide copies of our passports, provide passport photos (2) for both of us, deposit a security bond that holds two return airfares (just in case they want to kick us out), marriage certificate, divorce certificate, police check, and medical check.

Residing and operating a business in Vanuatu, we are going to have ongoing annual costs:

  • VIPA renewal VT60,000      AUD$750
  • Residency renewal
    • Darleen VT57,600       AUD$720
    • Scott VT57,600       AUD$720
  • Work Permit
    • Darleen VT210,000    AUD$2,625
    • Scott VT210,000    AUD$2,625
  • Business License VT100,000    AUD$1,250

ANNUAL       VT695,200    AUD$8,690

But, no company tax or income tax!

I will be in Port Vila again from 3-8 April. This trip:

  1. Submit residence applications
  2. Submit building application
  3. Visit Vanuatu Tourism
  4. Meet our preferred builder (once we have decided)
  5. Sort a land surveyor and building engineer
  6. Find a jetty builder
  7. Buy a car (if I can find a suitable one).

Getting closer …


To start a business in Vanuatu as a foreigner, there is a very specific process to follow.  We were introduced to the process by George Vasaris, a lawyer in Port Vila on our second trip to Vanuatu in May 2015. He handed us a Fact Sheet titled Business Start-up Regulatory Requirements for foreign Investors:

Step 1   Foreign Investment Approval – Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority (VIPA)

Step 2   Residence Permits – Immigration Department

Step 3   Work Permits – Department of Labor

Step 4   Company Incorporation – Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (VFSC)

Step 5   Business License – Department of Customs & Inland Revenue &/or Provincial Councils

Step 6   VAT registration – Department of Customs & Inland Revenue

Step 7   Employer registration – Vanuatu National Provident Fund

Back in Australia on the Gold Coast an internet search from this document led us to the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority website –

This website was helpful to gain an understanding of what we were required to do.

Step 1 through 4 must be completed one at a time in the order indicated. Steps 5, 6 & 7 can be done concurrently.

Before our February 2016 visit we prepared the documentation to complete the:

Application for a VIPA Certificate of Approval by an Investor for a New Investment

In the first few days of our February 2016 visit, we met Gelpen Silas (Manager Certification) at the VIPA office in Port Vila. We reviewed with Gelpen the information we prepared for our application and made sure we had what was required. More importantly though, we wanted to check with Gelpen that we had selected the correct “Intended investment categories and business activities” (Section 3 of the application). This was important, certain business activities have been defined as “reserved” under the VIPA Act. These activities are reserved solely for Vanuatu citizens, and as a foreign investor we are not permitted to involve ourselves in any of these activities.

The VIPA application contained certain key requirements:

  • Statutory declaration confirming the contents of the application are true and correct
  • Copy of business name reservation with VFSC
  • Copy of passport ID pages for each investor
  • Copy of police clearance for each investor intending to reside in Vanuatu
  • Business Summary including:
    • Plan for training Ni-Van (local) workers
    • Three year profitability projection
    • 3 year cash flow projection

By Thursday 11 February 2015 we had all the information required to submit the VIPA application for approval. The application fee was VT120,000 (AUD$1,500). Once paid we received our receipt, and recorded the moment with a photo.

VIPA pplication submit 1 8 Feb 2016

We were excited to have this step completed in our transition from life in Australia to starting a new business and life in Vanuatu – in a third world country!

It can take up to 15 days for the application to be reviewed, discussed by the VIPA committee and approved.

Now we wait … in anticipation of VIPA’s verdict. Will VIPA accept our project at Mangaliliu on the island of EFATE in Vanuatu, and will VIPA understand how our project will raise the welfare of the people of Vanuatu!

Cheers Scott



Boarding the plane at Brisbane International Airport was exciting for the Vanuatu crew and officials. We were boarding a brand new Boeing 737-800 that Air Vanuatu took delivery of on Wednesday 3rd February 2016. It was the aircrafts first visit to Brisbane … we even had the fire trucks spray the aircraft as we taxied towards the runway. That was a new experience.

We landed late Friday night (11.10pm) safe and sound at Port Vila International Airport. It wasn’t a soft landing either! Thought the pilot would be focused on executing a soft landing because of the “breaking up” of the runway as reported by Air New Zealand, Qantas and Virgin. That was not our experience, we landed with a thud!

We had an experience at Port Vila International Airport that was so Vanuatu. We expected there would be a line of taxis at the airport that would be able to take us to our accommodation – no luck. Once we realised we were in trouble, I chatted with the transfer company that was taking two (2) other passengers to Chantilly’s on the Bay. After paying him Vatu3,000 we boarded the transfer coach with twelve (12) other people. Turns out it was one transfer bus for all the resorts in Port Vila.

We were all sitting … sweating on the bus about to leave and there was one couple standing on the curb as they shut down the airport. Turns out they were waiting for Evergreen Tours to pick them up. Our bus organiser went and helped the couple for the next 20 minutes, while we all sat sweating on the bus. He explained to us once the couple was sorted, that normally there is a line of taxis, but for some reason that was not the case tonight. He wanted to help “his friends”. That highlights a part of Vanuatu we love.

We checked into our room at Chantillys on the Bay just after midnight. A few weeks ago Trip Advisor had sent Darleen an alert to a deal at Chantillys on the Bay, pay four (4) nights @ AUD$199, next three (3) nights for free. We grabbed the deal straight away.

The air-conditioning was running in the room at 16 degrees, it was sensational stepping out of the humidity and heat into a cool room and climbing into bed.

Waking hungry, we wandered down to The Moorings for breakfast. Ironically where we ate breakfast was on decking under a natangura roof (grass roof), the same as we want to create at Mangaliliu. After a yummy omelette we asked for the name of the company that completed the construction after the cyclone – Island Constructions – we plan to have a chat with them.

Saturday morning after collecting a Suzuki Jimny from Europcar for the week, we picked up some basics from the supermarket. Darleen was thrilled to see Pauls fresh milk on the shelf! We grabbed some for our neighbour Bob as well.

Arriving at Mangaliliu and seeing our blocks, now cleared thanks to Bob and his team of local Ni-Vans was great. It gave us a much better feel for the what we have to work with.

We discussed our plans with Bob over a long lunch at his home, which looks great.

After lunch we walked around our beach block and went for a swim. The temperature of the ocean felt 28c. It was lovely.

Arriving back at Chantillys on the Bay, we grabbed two Tusker Lemons and watched the sun set over Port Vila Bay.

Tusker sunset, divis vanuatu

On Sunday after another beautiful breakfast at The Moorings we headed back out to Mangaliliu.

It was time for Darleen to drive. In all of our trips to Vanuatu so far, I have been the driver. Darleen jumped into the left side driver’s seat and off we went. We drove past the Mangaliliu turn off the main road travelling up to Havannah Harbour. We wanted to check out the amount of new development. We didn’t notice any new work. But work that was in progress on our last visit (November 2015) had progressed or been completed.

With tape measure and red and white marking tape (like you might see at an accident or building site). We marked out the lines of the beach block from front to back tying the tape at eye height on the trunks of trees, then finding the 30 metre markers from the high water mark, and measuring in four (4) metres to the front corner of our proposed bungalow. From that point we measured out the complete outer structure.

We duplicated this process for the bar and tapas building.

We have a vast amount of land to work with. The effort we are going to have to put into the gardens is daunting. There are certain natural features on the block, rocks and big trees, and an amazing tree canopy over the proposed bar and tapas and bungalow, and they are what we had hoped for.

We had big grins over our faces all day.

Returned back to Chantillys on the Bay for a relaxing dinner of tapas and Tusker Lemon watching another beautiful sun set over Port Vila Bay.

Scott in paradise


Tusker is the local beer in Vanuatu, and they make a “Tusker Lemon” beer that Bob (neighbour) introduced me to while in Vanuatu last November (2015).

I enjoyed the flavor, consuming quite a few in the week I was there checking out the block at Mangaliliu, Vanuatu. I am looking forward to having another Tusker Lemon next weekend, after arriving in Port Vila. C’mon Air Vanuatu – please keep those planes flying into and landing safely at Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Earlier this week after hearing about Air New Zealand, then QANTAS, and now Virgin Australia not flying into Port Vila Vanuatu because of the condition of the runway, I started scanning the web searching for any information I could find to gain a better understanding of the situation. While much of the information reported was simply comments from one government agency blaming another government agency for the issue, I couldn’t find any actual steps being taken, other than planned meetings and visiting delegations, that was leading to the outcome wanted by all – every airline being able to fly into and land safely at Port Vila International Airport Vanuatu.

But I did come across the Tusker Road Movie, and I LOVED IT.

Check it out for yourself …

BUT … the locals are not happy!

The Vanuatu Daily Digest said:

Video: Tasteless Tusker promo plumbs new low in Vanuatu advertising

They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but they were not convinced that is entirely true.


Whether you have been to Vanuatu or not, I would love to read/receive any comments you might have about the Tusker Road Movie.





Now Virgin Australia have suspended flights to Vanuatu! Virgins last flight to Port Vila is today!

Virgin wants to be more confident the runway at Port Vila’s airport can be maintained properly before flights will recommence.

The runway issue applies only to international jet aircraft, such as the Boeing 737 operated by Air Vanuatu, or the Airbus A320, which Air New Zealand used for its Port Vile service. The ATR, Twin Otter and Islander planes are still considered safe to land at this time.

So, Air Vanuatu, Solomon Airlines and Fiji Airways are still flying into Port Vila.

We are flying with Air Vanuatu to Port Vila next week … wish us luck!!! If Air Vanuatu stop flights, we are not sure when our next visit to our little piece of paradise will be!

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vanuatu (CAAV) reported it had directed the airport operator to act on measures required by airlines to ensure jet operations could continue safely. CAAV Director Joseph Niel said, “It is a fact that the runway is urgently due a resurfacing or repair and this was further exacerbated by the effects of the recent Tropical Cyclone Pam”.

The World Bank signed a USD$59.5 million credit agreement with the Vanuatu government in May 2015, but it has been suggested a former Prime Minister of Vanuatu pulled out of the deal! Without knowing the terms of the deal, and if the loan was viable or not for the Vanuatu government, the current situation is a devastating outcome for the citizens of Vanuatu. The cancellations for holiday makers planning to visit Port Vila will have a huge impact for the local economy that relies on tourism to provide income for local workers.

World Bank country director for the pacific, Franz Drees-Gross confirmed on Radio New Zealand that the loan is still on the table. A World Bank delegation is due to visit Vanuatu in the next week.

Let’s hope they can get the heads together and sort this issue out.

To complicate matters, general elections were held on Friday 22 January 2016. Intense situation for the newly elected Prime Minister to walk into.

Interesting time ahead for the local Vanuatu citizens, businesses and politicians. And this is before you take into account tourists, or our development at Mangaliliu called “divi’s”.