High Level Visits and Special Envoys

Information Note for Visiting Ambassadors and High Commissioners Visiting Samoa for the Presentation of Credentials
A. Arrival and Departure Formalities

You and party (if any) will be greeted at Faleolo International Airport by a Foreign Service Officer who will assist with facilitating arrival formalities that include Immigration and Customs clearance before you are transported to your hotel in town.

Please ensure that your Arrival/Customs Declaration card is completed and, together with the passport and ticket (with baggage tickets), are handed over to the Foreign Service Officer at the airport.

Please note that these same documents should be made available again to the Foreign Service Officer carrying out Protocol duties for you at the airport upon departure.

Whilst in Samoa, a diplomatic identity card will be issued to you and spouse. In this regard, kindly provide to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Apia through the Samoa High Commission/Embassy or to the Foreign Service Officer at the airport upon arrival, two passport size photographs each of yourself and spouse for processing of your identity cards.

B. Official Transport

Official transport will be provided by the Government to you for arrival and departure at the airport and for official engagements and appointments as outlined in your programme from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Official transport is also arranged for any breakfast, luncheon, and/or dinner engagements that you may wish to host whilst in Apia. In such cases, please inform your Foreign Service Officer of such plans for transport arrangements.

Similarly, transport is provided should you be invited to any Government function that may be held during the time of your visit in Samoa.

Official transport however, will not be provided for any other travel or additional engagements not referred to above. You are kindly encouraged to make alternative transport arrangements with either your Honorary Consul in Samoa where applicable, or with the car rental agencies, taxi services or hotel-arranged tours. These can be arranged either directly with these agencies or with the assistance of the assigned Foreign Service Officer. In such cases, you may pay for the costs of alternative transport yourself.

C. Accompanying Party

Members of the accompanying party to the presentation of credentials ceremony must be made known through the Samoa High Commission/Embassy as soon as it is possible to assist with arrangements with the Office of the Head of State.

D. Welcoming Ceremony

A traditional ‘ava ceremony will be held just before the commencement of the Presentation Ceremony in honour of your official visit for the presentation of your Letters of Credence to His Highness the Head of State of Samoa. During the ‘ava ceremony, the ceremonial drink or ‘ava (Piper methysticum) will be served to you while seated. The ‘ava is sipped or drank while sitting.

You may say a few words if so desired before sipping/drinking the ‘ava for instance to propose a toast to the health of the Head of State of Samoa, the Government and the people of Samoa; to the relations between your Government and the Government of Samoa, and the like. Please note to remain seated while saying your few words and while sipping/drinking your ‘ava.

E. Speech

A brief speech or remarks are allowed to be made during the credentials ceremony. This is usually one page long and to be provided to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Apia via the Samoa overseas Mission in the country of residence of the Head on Mission at least one week in advance of arrival in Apia.

As outlined in the credentials programme, after this speech is made, the Head of State gives a brief speech in return. A copy of his speech can be available to you upon request after the credentials ceremony.

F. Car Pennant

It is requested that you hand-carry a car pennant that will be used in Samoa and returned to you at the time of your departure. The car pennant will be flown on the official vehicle immediately after the credentials ceremony for the next appointment and thereafter while en route to every official engagement up until your departure at the airport.

G. Dress Code

Dress for the credentials ceremony and all other official appointments and engagements especially those outlined on the programme for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is business suit or national costume. Family members including children accompanying you to the credentials ceremony similarly must be suitably attired in formal or traditional wear. Shorts, sandals, sleeveless and backless dresses are not considered suitable attire.

H. Other Useful Information
Time zone:UTC-GMT Offset:
• Samoa is GMT/UTC +13h during Standard Time
• Samoa is GMT/UTC + 14h during Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Start Date: Sunday 27th September 2015 at 3:00am local standard time
Daylight Saving End Date: Sunday 05th April 2016 at 4.00am local daylight time.
Climate:Tropical with an average temperature of 28 degrees Celsius.
Electricity:240 volts/AC 50 cycles, but can be converted to 110 volts in most hotels. Three-pronged plugs are widely used in Samoa.
Banking:ANZ, Bank , Bank of the South Pacific, National Bank of Samoa and Samoa Commercial Bank operate all types of banking business in Samoa from 9am-3.30pm on Monday through Wednesday; 9am to 4.30pm for Thursday and Friday; and 9am to 12noon on Saturday. ANZ and BSP operate Automated Transfer Machines (ATMs) and accept international bank cards. Major credit cards such as American Express and Visa credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants and some shopping facilities.