The websites listed provide downloadable passport applications as well as the current processing fees. For an up-to-date, country-by-country listing of passport requirements around the world, go to the "Foreign Entry Requirement" page of the U.S. State Department's website at www.travel.state.gov.
All visitors to French Polynesia must have a passport that will be valid for 6 months beyond their stay here. Allow plenty of time before your trip to apply for a passport; processing normally takes 3 weeks, but can take longer during busy periods (especially spring). And keep in mind that if you need a passport in a hurry, you'll pay a higher processing fee.
For Residents of Australia: You can pick up an application from your local post office or any branch of Passports Australia, but you must schedule an interview at the passport office to present your application materials. Call the Australian Passport Information Service at tel. 131-232, or visit the government website at www.passports.gov.au.
For Residents of Canada: Passport applications are available at travel agencies throughout Canada or from the central Passport Office, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G3 (tel. 800/567-6868; www.ppt.gc.ca).
For Residents of Ireland: You can apply for a 10-year passport at the Passport Office, Setanta Centre, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 (tel. 01/671-1633; www.irlgov.ie/iveagh). Those under age 18 and over 65 must apply for a 3-year passport. You can also apply at 1A South Mall, Cork (tel. 021/272-525) or at most main post offices.
For Residents of New Zealand: You can pick up a passport application at any New Zealand Passports Office or download it from their website. Contact the Passports Office at tel. 0800/225-050 in New Zealand or 04/474-8100, or log on to www.passports.govt.nz.
For Residents of the United Kingdom: To pick up an application for a standard 10-year passport (5-year passport for children under 16), visit your nearest passport office, major post office, or travel agency or contact the United Kingdom Passport Service at tel. 0870/521-0410 or search its website at www.ukpa.gov.uk.
For Residents of the United States: Whether you're applying in person or by mail, you can download passport applications from the U.S. State Department website at http://travel.state.gov. To find your regional passport office, either check the U.S. State Department website or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free number (tel. 877/487-2778) for automated information.
All visitors except French nationals are required to have a passport that will be valid for 6 months beyond their intended stay, as well as a return or ongoing ticket. French citizens must bring their national identity cards.
Citizens and nationals of the United States, Canada, Argentina, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brunei, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, and Uruguay may visit for up to 30 days without a visa.
Nationals of Andorra, Australia, the European Union countries, Monaco, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, St. Martin, and the Vatican, can stay up to 3 months without a visa.
Citizens from all other countries (including foreign nationals residing in the U.S.) must get a visa before leaving home.
French embassies and consulates overseas can issue "short stay" visas valid for 1 to 3 months, and they will forward applications for longer visits to the local immigration department in Papeete. Note: Visas issued by French embassies and consulates do not entitle you to visit Tahiti without being stamped "valable pour la Polynésie Française" -- valid for French Polynesia.
In the United States, the Embassy of France is at 4102 Reservoir Rd. NW, Washington, DC 20007 (tel. 202/944-6000; www.info-france-usa.org). There are French consulates in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco.
Transiting the U.S.
Nearly all travelers to Tahiti from the U.K. and Europe will stop in Los Angeles on the way and thus must comply with U.S. immigration procedures. Citizens of 27 countries (including the U.K., most European nations, Australia, and New Zealand) can visit and transit the U.S. without a visa, but as of January 12, 2009, they must register online at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov more than 72 hours before leaving home under the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) program administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (www.dhs.gov). Citizens of all other countries without a visitor visa to the U.S. must obtain a C-1 transit visa from the U.S. State Department (www.unitedstatesvisas.gov), even if they don't leave the airport.
No vaccinations are required unless you are coming from a yellow fever, plague, or cholera area.
What You Can Bring into French Polynesia -- French Polynesia's Customs allowances are 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, 2 liters of spirits or 2 liters of wine, 50 grams of perfume, .25 gram of toilet water, 500 grams of coffee, 100 grams of tea, and 30,000CFP (US$375/£189) worth of other goods. Narcotics, dangerous drugs, weapons, ammunition, and copyright infringements (that is, pirated videotapes and audiotapes) are prohibited. Pets and plants are subject to stringent regulations (don't even think of bringing your dog).
What You Can Take Home from French Polynesia -- United States Citizens: Returning U.S. citizens who have been in French Polynesia for at least 48 hours are allowed to bring back, once every 30 days, 200 cigarettes (age 18 and older), 1 liter of alcoholic beverages (age 21 and older), and US$800 worth of merchandise duty-free. You'll be charged a flat rate of 4% duty on the next US$1,000 worth of purchases. Be sure to have your receipts handy, since you must list every item if you're over the duty-free limits. On mailed gifts, the duty-free limit is US$100. You cannot bring jewelry or other items made of black coral or whalebone into the United States. Nor can you bring fresh foodstuffs; tinned foods, however, are allowed.
For more information about what you can bring back and the corresponding fees, download the invaluable free pamphlet Know Before You Go at www.cbp.gov (click on "Travel" and then "Know Before You Go"). Or request the pamphlet from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20229 (tel. 877/287-8667).
Canadian Citizens: For a clear summary of Canadian rules, write for the booklet I Declare, issued by the Canada Border Services Agency (tel. 800/461-9999 in Canada, or 204/983-3500; www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca).
U.K. Citizens: For information, contact HM Customs & Excise at tel. 0845/010-9000 (from outside the U.K., 020/8929-0152), or consult their website at www.hmce.gov.uk.
Australian Citizens: A helpful brochure available from Australian consulates or Customs offices is Know Before You Go. For more information, call the Australian Customs Service at tel. 1300/363-263, or log on to www.customs.gov.au.
New Zealand Citizens: Most questions are answered in a free pamphlet available at New Zealand consulates and Customs offices: New Zealand Customs Guide for Travellers, Notice no. 4. For more information, contact New Zealand Customs, The Customhouse, 17-21 Whitmore St., Box 2218, Wellington (tel. 04/473-6099 or 0800/428-786; www.customs.govt.nz).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.