The Republic of Palau became a constitutional democracy in free association with the United States on October 1, 1994. Palau is an archipelago consisting of several hundred volcanic islands and a few coral atolls, few of which are inhabited, and is politically divided into 16 states. Palau has a developing agrarian economy. The capital is Koror. Tourism, especially marine-based tourism, is an important and growing sector of the economy. While currently limited, tourist facilities are expanding.
A valid passport or proof of U.S. citizenship and onward/return ticket for a stay up to 30 days are required. A visa is required for stays longer than 30 days. The necessary forms for obtaining an entry permit can be obtained from airline or shipping agency servicing Palau. For more information about entry requirements of Palau, travelers may consult with the Representative Office, 1150 18th St., N.W., Suite 750, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 452-6814.
The crime rate within the local community in the Republic of Palau is moderate, with tourists usually not affected. Foreign residents can be the target of petty and sometimes violent crimes, as well as other random acts against person and property. Credible complaints by foreign residents persist that crimes against non-Palauans are not pursued or prosecuted by authorities with the same vigor as crimes against Palauan nationals. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the U.S. Embassy in Palau. Useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad, which is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. 20402, or via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs.
Health facilities in the Republic of Palau are adequate for routine medical care, but limited in availability and quality. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Supplemental medical insurance which specifically covers overseas treatment and medical evacuation has proven useful. The U.S. Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide payment of medical services outside the United States. Helpful information on medical emergencies abroad is provided in the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairsí brochure Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available from the Consular Affairs homepage at http://travel.state.gov or via autofax service at 202-647-3000. Additional information on health matters may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through its international travelers hotline at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-232-3228), via the CDC autofax service at 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.
CUSTOMS INFORMATION: Firearms of any kind are strictly prohibited in Palau. The penalty for possession of a firearm or ammunition is up to fifteen years imprisonment.
ROAD SAFETY: Palau accepts a driver's license issued by a U.S. state or military authority. Side roads in Koror and on the island of Babelthuap are in poor condition. The maximum speed limit is 25 miles per hour, but slower in congested areas. Passing of slow-moving vehicles is prohibited
U.S. citizens living in or visiting Palau are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy. They may also obtain updated information on travel and security within the country at the Embassy. The U.S. Embassy is located in Koror, Palau. There is no street address. The Embassy is located in an area known as Topside, about one and one quarter miles north of the post office and downtown area of Koror on the main road towards the airport. The mailing address of the U.S. Embassy is: P.O. Box 6028, Koror, Palau 96940. The telephone number is (680) 488-2920. The fax number is (680) 488-2911. The Embassy does not issue passports; that function is performed by the Honolulu Passport Agency.
Palau International Airport is located on Babelthuap Island, near Koror Island. Direct commercial air service exists between the U.S. (Guam) and the Republic of Palau. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Palauís Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Palauís air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.htm. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at 618-229-4801.