Arriving at St Helena
There are a number of immigration, bio-security and Customs requirements that must be adhered to by people arriving on St Helena Island. Given the remoteness of the Island and its unique and diverse environment, it is important that the precious, finite resources of the Island are managed effectively. St Helena Government departments work together to enforce border security to keep the Island safe for everyone.
St Helena is a remote island in the South Atlantic Ocean which welcomes both long and short term visitors. The Immigration Section manages all applications to enter St Helena as well as applications for permission to work for people who do not hold St Helenian status. You can read more about this on the official St Helena Government website.
Visas to enter St Helena are required by certain nationalities. Please click here to obtain further information on visa requirements.
Evidence of adequate medical insurance and a return ticket (or the means to repatriate yourself and any dependants) will need to be shown to immigration officials upon arrival at St Helena. Evidence should ideally be in paper form but electronic evidence will be considered where applicable.
Please note that medical insurance with a minimum value of £500,000 of coverage is mandatory for those applying for short or long-term entry permits. The medical insurance policy must include provision for emergency evacuation by air ambulance (“medevac”).
There are strict controls on what you can bring in to St Helena when arriving on Island. This is to ensure the diverse and unique environment of St Helena is preserved and encouraged.
Q: Why do these controls exist?
A: As a remote oceanic island, St Helena is very vulnerable to the harmful impacts of introduced pests, weeds and diseases. Everyone benefits from a strong biosecurity system so everyone has a role to play. In order to protect the Island please note the following restrictions on the personal effects you can bring in.
It is against the law to import honey. Honey isn’t processed and can carry bee diseases such as American foul brood, as can many other unrefined bee related products and used bee equipment. St Helena at the moment has very few bee diseases and local bee keepers are trying to develop honey production.
- Fruit, vegetables, plants and cut flowers can carry diseases and pests which could affect our crops or native plants. Because of this you need a licence to bring in fresh fruit and vegetables, and some plants.
- Plant seeds which are commercially produced and packaged are allowed. Seeds collected by yourself from the garden are prohibited.
- Food (for example nuts, herbs, spices, dried fruits and beans etc) is allowed as long as packets are unopened and come from a commercial source such as a supermarket.
- There are restrictions on some meat and fish products. Please declare any such items to Customs or Biosecurity.
- In addition, dirty boots and shoes can carry weed seeds and harmful plant diseases which can damage the islands agriculture or native plants and animals. Please ensure that your footwear is clean before landing.
All goods and personal effects entering St Helena are inspected on arrival using a combination of detector dogs, x-ray machines and visual checks. Any prohibited or restricted goods found will be seized. If you have inadvertently brought in such goods please hand them over to a Customs or Biosecurity Officer, or place them in the quarantine bin in the arrivals hall.
To find out what you can and can’t import, see our import health standards, and download application forms for import licences on the official St Helena Government website: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/st-helena-biosecurity-service/
Contact for any queries or further information: call the biosecurity team at ANRD on (290) 24724, or email Julie Balchin, Biosecurity Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org or Natasha Stevens, Biosecurity Assistant: email@example.com
Customs and Excise
Information relating to Customs and Excise duties, including duty-free allowances available to visitors arriving at St Helena are as follows. If you are in any doubt, please contact the HM Customs and Excise team whose details can be found at the bottom of this page.
Q: What are my duty-free allowances?
A: The following items are permitted to be imported free of duty for each passenger
Spirits, strong liqueurs:
- 2 litres at 22% or below; or
- 1 litre exceeding 22%
- 2 litres Wine; or
- 12 Bottles/Cans (340ml) Beer/Lager; and
- Perfumed spirits and toilet water not exceeding in total 250ml; and
- Cigarettes not exceeding 200, or other tobacco goods not exceeding in total 250grams; and
- Clothing and other miscellaneous goods intended for personal use not exceeding in total £100 in value.
Note: All alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco allowances are not available to any person under the age of 18 years.
Q: Do I have to declare my duty-free allowances?
A: No. Only list items which are not covered by the duty-free allowance above. If you are unsure about the need to declare, then please speak with a Customs Officer.
Q: What should I declare?
In addition to your duty free allowance, you are entitled to temporary importation for a period of six months on items of personal baggage as long as you intend to take it with you when you leave. If you intend to leave any items on St Helena, you must declare your personal effects to a Customs Officer and pay the required duty.
You will need to list all items which you purchased or obtained abroad, which are in excess of your duty free allowances and which you are bringing into St. Helena. If you have a lot of goods, please provide a separate list attached to the declaration.
Q: What other details do I need to show?
A: You must show the value of the goods, and in the case of beer, wines, spirits and/or tobacco goods, the quantity. The value should be the price paid, or if the goods were given to you, the market value of the goods. You should have evidence of the value in the form of a receipt/invoice wherever possible; you may be asked to produce these. If you have any doubts regarding values please ask a Customs Officer.
Q: What goods are prohibited or restricted?
A: The importation of the following goods into St Helena is prohibited or restricted and must be declared to Customs:
- Controlled Drugs and utensils used therewith
- Firearms and ammunition unless accompanied by a valid licence
- Obscene item or pornographic literature, films, DVDs, video tapes or any form of electronic media
- Honey, bees, unrefined beeswax, any other bee derived substance that may have been exposed to bee diseases, used bee keeping equipment. Sunflower seeds from any supplier and monkeys and psittacine birds (parrots, parakeets, etc.)
You need a licence to bring in the following: fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables, live plant material, and animals such as pets or livestock (except monkeys and psittacine birds).
Q: Will I need to pay any duty due immediately?
A: Yes. Any duty as a result of this declaration must be paid immediately and normally before the goods will be released by HM Customs.
Q: What other information is required?
A: Entering or departing St Helena with over £6,000 or equivalent? Then you must declare this. This includes coins, currency, travellers cheques and bearer instruments such as personal or cashiers cheques, stocks and bonds and gold.
Please speak with a Customs Officer as you will be required to complete an additional declaration form.
If you intend to bring a drone or other aerial device onto the Island to take aerial photographs or film of the Island, you must adhere to the operating restrictions and requirements. More detail can be found here. If you wish to use drone footage for commercial purposes, you must gain permission from our regulator (Air Safety Support International) prior to your arrival on Island.
Contact details for Customs
If you have any queries relating to Customs requirements or duties, please use the contacts below:
- Deputy Head of Customs (Juliette O’ Dean) – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Operations Manager (Verona Paulsen) – email@example.com
- Operations Supervisor (Delmarie Williams) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, please telephone +290 22287 to speak to Customs