Vanuatu Currency Exchange Guide

Located in the heart of the South Pacific, Vanuatu is a lush tropical paradise consisting of 83 idyllic islands. Bursting with natural beauty, from pristine beaches to cascading waterfalls, this nation is the perfect destination for those seeking adventure, relaxation or a bit of both. With its unique blend of Melanesian culture and modern amenities, visitors can experience everything from traditional dances to luxurious spa treatments. Come discover the wonder of Vanuatu for yourself.

General Vanuatu Currency Information

What is the currency of Vanuatu?

The official currency of Vanuatu is the Vanuatu vatu (VUV).

What do Vanuatu notes & coins look like?

Vanuatu vatu

Vanuatu is known for its beautiful islands, rich culture, and friendly people. Each note is adorned with unique imagery representative of the country’s values and industries. The VT 200 note showcases family, a central theme in Vanuatu culture. Meanwhile, the VT 1000 features agriculture, a major contributor to the country’s economy. Flora and fauna are depicted on the VT 2000 note, while the VT 5000 highlights tourism, a rapidly growing industry in the country. Finally, the VT 10000 note honours communication, reflecting Vanuatu’s dedication to advancing technology and connecting with the rest of the world. Regardless of the denomination, each Vanuatu note is an exquisite representation of the country’s heritage and future aspirations.

Vanuatu vatu coin

As for Vanuatu’s coins, they are not just about their value but the story behind them as well. The reverse side of the coins is where the artwork and traditional values lie. The VT 5 copper-plated steel coin features a traditional outrigger canoe, while the VT 10 nickel-plated steel coin represents the famous coconut crab which is abundant on their island. The VT 20 portrays traditional chiefs, a symbol of the island’s culture, and the VT 50 features the ingredients of their famous drink, kava and coconut. The highest value of Vanuatu’s coins, the VT 100, made of aluminium-zinc-bronze, has the parliament building as its emblem. These coins tell unique and transcendent stories deeply rooted in the island’s past and present.

Economy

Vanuatu may not be a well-known destination on the world map, but its economy plays a significant role in the Pacific region. The country’s economy is largely agriculturally-based, with most of its population involved in farming activities. From subsistence farming to smallholder growing of cash crops like coconuts, copra, timber, beef, and cocoa, the country has carved out a niche for itself in the global market. In fact, copra alone accounts for over 35% of the country’s total exports, with kava root extract exports also becoming increasingly important. With such a diverse range of agricultural products, it’s no surprise that Vanuatu is a force to be reckoned with in the agricultural sector.

Brief currency history

Vanuatu’s history of currency began with the colonization of the islands by French and British powers, which led to the joint management of the nation named New Hebrides in 1906. In the 1970s, revolutionary efforts brought about the establishment of the Central Bank of Vanuatu, and the country replaced the New Hebrides franc with its local currency, the vatu, in 1980.

The first Vanuatu vatu banknotes were issued in 1982 and had similar designs, featuring the coat of arms of Vanuatu, a Melanesian chief holding a spear, and a banner. This was followed by the circulation of a 5,000 vatu banknote featuring a registration device and microprinting in 1989 and a 200 vatu note in 1995. In 2010, the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu began printing a new family of polymer notes, starting with the 10,000 vatu denomination to coincide with the 30th anniversary of independence.

In 2020, the bank issued a commemorative 1,000 vatu banknote in celebration of Vanuatu’s 40th year of independence. The obverse of the note features a design of a Melanesian chief, a conch shell, and the map of the islands, among other images while the reverse depicts scenes of farmers with crops, a rancher on horseback, and cattle. The 1,000 vatu banknote is a blend of brown, purple, blue, and green hues.

Taking Travel Money to Vanuatu

travel Vanuatu

What currency should I take to Vanuatu?

If you’re travelling to Vanuatu, you’ll need to exchange your Australian dollar to Vanuatu vatu (AUD to VUV).

Is it better to convert currency in Australia or Vanuatu?

While there are advantages to converting currency in both Australia and Vanuatu, it is more practical to do so in Australia. Converting your currency in Australia will give you a clear idea of your available travel money, which is helpful for budgeting and planning. You can also access your funds immediately, which is particularly beneficial if you arrive in Vanuatu outside of regular currency exchange hours.

How much money can I take to Vanuatu?

Any amount over VUV 1,000,000 (USD 10,000) in local or foreign currency equivalent must be declared. This means that if you plan on carrying a significant sum of money, you may need to go through additional procedures upon arrival or departure.

Where to convert currency?

With a commitment to transparency and customer satisfaction, Crown Currency Exchange is the leading provider of foreign currency exchange services in Australia. Our competitive AUD to VUV exchange rate and accessible service make us the go-to choice for travellers. Our team of seasoned professionals, with nearly two decades of experience in the industry, provide exceptional customer service and guarantee no hidden charges when you convert Australian dollars. With a nationwide presence of 50 stores, currency conversion in Australia has never been more convenient.

Is tipping customary in Vanuatu? How much is expected?

Tipping is not common practice in Vanuatu, although small tips are always appreciated. Service staff often receive a percentage of the total bill as a tip, usually around 10-15%. It is customary to round up the bill if no percentage has been added. Foreigners are not expected to tip excessively, but small tips for special services are always appreciated. Here’s a general guide to tipping in Vanuatu:

Restaurants: Vast majority of patrons, approximately 97%, opt to tip their waiter between 10% to 15% of the total bill. However, the actual percentage you decide to tip can vary depending on the level of service you receive. If you receive exceptional service, you might decide to tip more than 10%, whereas if the service is poor, you may not tip up to the customary 15%.

Taxi Drivers: In Vanuatu, around 90% of people tipping their taxi drivers choose to tip between 8% to 20% of the total fare. The tipping percentage is usually determined by the level of service provided by the driver. Approximately, the tip amount is between AUD $2-5. If the service rendered by the driver goes above and beyond, exceeding your expectations, you might tip more. However, if the service provided is anything but satisfactory, then you might tip below the established range.

Hotel Staff: Tipping is considered a way of appreciating the level of service provided. Typically, visitors in Vanuatu tip approximately AUD $2-5, which corresponds to around 70%. However, the actual percentage you choose to tip can vary depending on the level of service provided by the hotel staff. If you receive exceptional service, then you might opt to tip more than the customary amount. On the other hand, if the service provided is below average, you might decide to tip below the established range. For instance, the average tip for a bellboy per luggage is around AUD $2.

What is ATM access like in Vanuatu?

To obtain vatu, a common method is to withdraw cash from a nearby ATM. In Port Vila and Luganville, there are many ATMs available in town or even at international airports. However, outside of these towns, finding an ATM can prove difficult.

What should you budget per day?

Budget

Travelling to Vanuatu on a budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise on the experience. With 11,000 VUV per day, you can stretch your Australian dollars without sacrificing on the fun. Opt for a budget guesthouse or a private room on Airbnb, prepare your own meals with local produce and enjoy the occasional dine-out experience. Limit your drinking to save money and focus on cheap activities such as hiking and snorkelling. Use local transportation to get around and immerse yourself in the island lifestyle. 

Moderate

With a mid-range budget of 26,000 VUV per day, you can enjoy all the best the island nation has to offer. This budget will allow you to comfortably stay in a private Airbnb apartment, enjoy delicious meals at local restaurants, take part in some thrilling water sports like kayaking and diving, and even enjoy a few drinks. Additionally, you can explore the islands at your own pace with a few taxis to get around. With this budget, you’ll be able to experience all the wonders of Vanuatu without breaking the bank.

Luxury

A daily budget of 48,000 VUV can indulge you in a range of activities like renting a car to explore the islands, taking guided tours and trying out exciting water sports. This budget also allows you to stay in a comfortable hotel and dine at any restaurant of your choice without worrying about the cost. However, this budget is just a starting point for a truly luxurious trip to Vanuatu. With endless possibilities for indulgence, the sky is the limit when it comes to treating yourself to the ultimate holiday.

Currency details

Currency:

Vanuatu vatu

Currency code:

VUV

Currency symbol:

VT

Central bank:

Reserve Bank of Vanuatu

Nickname:

None

Currency sub-unit:

Cent = None

Bank notes:

100VT, 200VT, 500VT, 1,000VT, 2,000VT, 5,000VT, 10,000VT

Coins:

1VT, 2VT, 5VT, 10VT, 20VT, 50VT, 100VT

Must-do's while you are in Vanuatu

mount-yasur

Visit Mount Yasur

One of the most incredible natural wonders of Vanuatu is the active volcanic Mount Yasur. This is the world’s most accessible active volcano and an awe-inspiring sight to see. You can get up close and personal with the volcano and catch a glimpse of the live eruption from a safe distance. It’s an incredible experience that you won’t forget in a hurry.

Efate Island

Explore the Blue Lagoon

Located on Efate Island, the Blue Lagoon is a stunning natural swimming hole with crystal clear waters, surrounded by lush jungle foliage. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing swim, sunbathe on the nearby sandy beaches, or even try your hand at kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. Whatever your choice, the Blue Lagoon is not to be missed.

 

Village Tour

Take A Cultural Village Tour

Vanuatu is renowned for its unique culture and traditions, and taking a cultural village tour is one of the best ways to experience this. You can learn about ancient customs, watch traditional dances, and even partake in a traditional feast, where you will be welcomed with a “Kava” ceremony. It’s a fascinating insight into the local culture and an unforgettable experience.

Snorkel and Scuba dive

Snorkel and Scuba dive in the world's safest Marine Sanctuary

Vanuatu is home to some of the world’s best snorkelling and scuba diving locations. The country has an array of impressive reefs, with crystal clear waters and a vibrant collection of marine life. The main drawcard is the world-famous SS President Coolidge, one of the world’s most impressive dive wrecks, located off the coast of Espiritu Santo. While diving, keep an eye out for turtles, rays, and an abundance of colourful fish.

Vanuatu's nightlife

Experience Vanuatu's nightlife

Vanuatu is known to have a vibrant nightlife scene, especially in the capital, Port Vila. With numerous bars and nightclubs to choose from, you can enjoy live music, DJ sets, comedy nights, and more. There’s something for everyone here, so whether you’re into live music or just want to let your hair down and dance the night away, Port Vila has got you covered.

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