Arrival at Nuku'alofa Airport: Step-by-Step(c)
Arrival at Nuku'alofa Airport: Step-by-Step

Arrival at Nuku’alofa Airport, Tonga: A Step-by-Step Guide


What to Expect When Arriving at Fua’amotu International Airport

The airport process is always a dreaded aspect of a getaway abroad. What hurdles are you going to have to jump through this time? Why do you always feel like you’re acting suspicious when you’ve, in fact, done nothing wrong? Well, we’d hate to say it, but Tonga is no different with a whole Customs and Quarantine process to go through before you can start exploring the islands. Nevertheless, this trusty arrival guide to Fu’amotu Airport (more commonly known as Nuku’alofa Airport) should help relieve the stress and show you what to expect when touching down in Tonga.

For more information on the facilities and services of Fua’amotu International Airport, see our guide to the Tonga Arrival Airports: Which Airport to Fly into Tonga. More information about Tonga’s other international airport, Lupepau’u International Airport in Vava’u, can also be found in the link above.

6 Steps for Arriving at Nuku’alofa Fua’amotu International Airport

Arriving in Tonga is more than just getting your passport checked and being on your way. The procedures include Quarantine searches, Passport Control and more, which can be split into six simple steps:

  1. Complete the Passenger Arrival Card given to you during your flight
  2. Land at Fua’amotu Airport (Nuku’alofa Airport) and pass through Passport Control, allowing Customs Officers to view your passport and Passenger Arrival Card
  3. Collect your baggage from the Baggage Claim area
  4. See Quarantine Officers, handing over your Passenger Arrival Card and declaring potential risk items
  5. Put your baggage through Biosecurity x-rays, if instructed
  6. Get your airport transfer to start your holiday in Tonga!

Now, let’s go over all of the steps in detail…

Arrival at Nuku'alofa Airport: Step-by-Step(c)

Step 1: Complete the Tonga Passenger Arrival Card

The first part of the arrival process into Tonga comes with completing the Tonga Passenger Arrival Card, also known as the Passenger Declaration Card. The form is displayed on a narrow double-sided card, handed out by airline staff during your flight to Tonga.

The card must be completed for each individual passenger including children and must also be completed in English.

Hold onto your Passenger Arrival Card, as you will need to show it at Passport Control, as well as Quarantine and Customs when you arrive at Fua’amotu International Airport.

To see what the Passenger Arrival Card looks like, as well as tips for completing it, in the guide to The Passenger Arrival Card for Tonga.

Arrival at Nuku'alofa Airport: Step-by-Step(c)

Step 2: Go Through Passport Control

You’ve landed at Fua’amotu International Airport! You’ll walk into the arrivals area of the airport, where there is a duty-free shop (remember your Tonga duty-free allowance), currency exchange, as well as restrooms. You’ll also notice Quarantine Amnesty Bins, where you have the opportunity to dispose of any risk items that you don’t want to take through Customs, such as food.

When you’re ready, queue up for Passport Control, following the signs for “Non-Tongan Passport Holders” if you are from overseas.

Passport Control Desk

At Passport Control, hand over your passport, passenger arrival card and evidence relating to your visa, if applicable. If you’re just visiting Tonga on a holiday and are from one of the visa-exempt countries, you will be granted a free Visitor Visa for Tonga valid for one month (or three, if from a Schengen member country). Find out which are the visa-exempt countries and Schengen countries, as well as more information in our guide, Tonga Tourist Visa: Do You Need a Visa to Visit Tonga?

Any other paperwork that may be required at the border is kept updated in What Documents Do I Need to Travel to Tonga?

The Customs Officer will check your passport and Passenger Arrival Card and may ask some questions regarding the answers you have given on the card. The officer will then either tell you if any further action is required or simply return your passport and the Arrival Card for you to move to the Baggage Claim area.

Arrival at Nuku'alofa Airport: Step-by-Step(c)

Step 3: Pick Up Your Baggage from the Baggage Claim Area

Walk into the next area which is the Baggage Claim area. This is arguably the easiest part of the arrival process, which most travellers are familiar with.

Luckily, there is one carousel to collect baggage, so finding your baggage is as easy as waiting for it to appear on the carousel. Baggage trollies are available to transport multiple bags.

Arrival at Nuku'alofa Airport: Step-by-Step(c)

Step 4: Declare Any “Declarable Items” at Quarantine and Customs

After you have all of your baggage, the next step is to queue up to go through Quarantine. Here, a Quarantine Officer will look at your Passenger Arrival Card and may ask you questions regarding your answers. This is also your last opportunity to verbally declare any “declarable items” that you may have in your possession or in any of your baggage.

You will also be given the opportunity to dispose of items that are likely to be considered “risk items” that you won’t be able to bring into Tonga, most commonly fresh food. There are amnesty bins for this.

Not sure what you’re supposed to declare? Check out What to Declare When Arriving in Tonga.

Arrival at Nuku'alofa Airport: Step-by-Step©

Step 5: Scan Baggage in Quarantine X-Rays

This step may come after you have seen the Quarantine Officer, while you’re queuing to see the Quarantine Officer, or not at all. Random Quarantine checks are done for every flight arriving in Tonga, where baggage is placed in X-ray machines to check for potential risk, restricted or prohibited goods. Airport staff will prompt you over to the X-ray area if chosen.

Alternatively, after talking to the Quarantine Officer, you may be asked to put your baggage through the X-ray machines. If a risk item is found in your baggage, you may be given the opportunity to re-export it to your chosen overseas address at your expense, have the item treated if possible at your expense, or dispose of the item.

If an undeclared item is found, whether it’s restricted, prohibited or just considered a declarable item, you may receive a penalty or even face prosecution.

For more quarantine advice, see Arriving in Tonga: Airport Customs, Biosecurity & Arrival Process.

Arrival at Nuku'alofa Airport: Step-by-Step(c)

Step 6: Enter the Public Arrivals Area and Get Your Airport Transfer

After passing through Customs and Quarantine, you are officially in Tonga! The arrivals area leads out to a large parking and pick-up area where signposts indicate where to pick up car rentals, where to catch airport shuttles and where to get a taxi. There are also the offices of the local phone networks, an ATM and a Visitor Information Centre. Information on these facilities can be found in Tonga Arrival Airports: Which Airport to Fly into Tonga.

Finally, to leave Fua’amotu International Airport, you’ll need to catch one of the taxis or pre-arranged accommodation transfers. There are also taxis to transport passengers to the Domestic Terminal, should you be catching a flight to one of the outer islands – see Domestic Flights in Tonga: A Guide to Interisland Flights.

Check out the How to Get an Airport Transfer in Tonga for more advice on transport from Fua’amotu International Airport.

More About Arrival at Nuku’alofa Airport

That’s it for the guide to arrival at Nuku’alofa Airport.

Finally, head over to Arriving in Tonga: Airport Customs, Biosecurity & Arrival Process or get even more advice in our 30 Tips for Travelling in Tonga.


Robin (Lopini) C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of Tonga Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before settling in the South Pacific, so he knows a thing or two about planning the perfect trip in this corner of the world. Robin works and consults regularly with the Ministry of Tourism of Tonga. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides and is a regular host of webinars with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation.

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