Tonga Immigration and Customs Visitor Clarification

Updated 15 May 2018

Visa extensions for Yacht and crew in Tonga

In the past two years it has not been possible to spend a full season in Tonga. This is because crew can get extensions for a 6 month stay but the yacht cannot! I have been working with MFAT in NZ and the Tongan authorities to clarify the situation.

Tongan Immigration confirmed that yachties get a visitor’s visa on arrival, plus they can apply for up to 5 months extension of the visitor’s visa. The visa extension can be applied for in Vava’u or Tongatapu. (NZ and Australian passport holders get an initial one month. EU citizens get an initial 90 days).

The situation for the yacht is somewhat different. The boat gets 4 months when you arrive. Should you want longer an application has to be made to the CEO of Customs. The steps are as follows.
• Within 2 weeks of the 4 month expiry period, lodge the application. You will get a reply within one week.
• The application should state the name of the boat and the names of the crew.
• The application must be signed by a Customs Boarding Officer at either Vava’u or Nuku’alofa.
• Send the application to
Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Revenue and Customs,
Attn Mr Felefonu Mapakaitolo
Ports Authority Building
Hala Vuna
Nuku’alofa, Tonga
Ph: +676 23 651
Fax: +676 22 108
• The extension must be used within one year. It will not be for more than one year including the original 4 months.

Thanks to Sau Niulala at the Tongan Revenue and Customs Department for clarifying this for us. His email is
Please detail any problems as the season progresses. Patricia
By the way, Mr Feleofono Mapakaitolo handles all yacht related questions and correspondence, including pre arrival notification.

Well the above sounds good but in Tonga the department for Customs has their own ideas, that differ significantly from those of their sister department, Immigration. I have written again to the above email, to try and clarify the situation for 2018. As yet, 25 April, I have not had a reply!

The problem last year and some years before was not with the visitors visa and immigration department!
It was the customs regulations, which only grant you a 4 month temporary import for your yacht. They do not tell you this on entry and you do not get any paper work. Yet you still need to apply for an extension with customs 2 weeks weeks before your 4 month are up at the latest.
Last year they did deny extensions for a month. After a change of personel, they would again grant them, or at least not deny them. In this case no news is also news, since the law in Tonga says, that once you have applied for the extension, and it was not denied, you are still in the clear.

Received May 11 th and I am following up to learn the process. We are in fact slowly getting there!

Dear Patricia,

Hope all is well, the current law only allows for the temporarily import of 4 months and the extension within one year has to be applied to the CEO for the approval .

Sau Niulala.