The Cook Islands is a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand.
Safety and security
Petty crime occurs. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.
Traffic drives on the left. Coastal roads in Rarotonga are paved. Driving at night can be dangerous due to poor visibility and road conditions.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
Swimming and water sports
Injuries and fatalities have occurred due to tidal changes and breaks in the reefs. Seek local advice on which parts of the lagoon are safe for swimming. Reef shoes are recommended.
Sports and aquatic equipment may not meet Canadian safety standards and may not be covered by your insurance. Ensure that your travel insurance covers these activities if you decide to rent equipment or take classes.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the authorities of the Cook Islands and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an “as is” basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit the Cook Islands, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Tourist visa: Not required (for up to 30 days)
Business visa: Required (for up to 21 days)
Student visa: Required
An onward or return ticket, proof of sufficient funds and proof of accommodations are required to enter the Cook Islands.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*||
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers’ diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in the Oceanic Pacific Islands, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in the Oceanic Pacific Islands. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently an outbreak of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a viral disease spread through the bite of an infected mosquito that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. Protect yourself from mosquito bites, particularly around sunrise and sunset. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in the Oceanic Pacific Islands, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
Medical and dental services are available on Rarotonga, including hospital and emergency services. Two pharmacies are available for prescription medicine. Hospital and medical facilities on the outer islands are limited. The Cook Islands are not equipped with hyperbaric chambers. In the event of a major accident or illness, medical evacuation may be required. Medical transport is very expensive and payment is often required up front.
Keep in Mind…
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Homosexual activity is illegal.
A valid Cook Islands driver’s licence is required for all drivers and can be obtained from the police station in Avarua upon presentation of your own licence. The cost is NZ$20.
Dress conservatively to avoid offending local sensitivities.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in the Cook Islands. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a New Zealand citizen. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a New Zealand passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Children born before January 1, 2006 are most likely considered citizens of New Zealand but should check their status with the authorities of New Zealand.
Children born after December 31, 2005 are considered citizens of New Zealand if at least one of their parents is a New Zealand citizen, or is entitled to reside indefinitely (permanent resident) on the island where they were born.
The currency is the New Zealand dollar (NZD), supplemented by Cook Island dollars and coinage for local use. Major credit cards are accepted at most hotels, shops and restaurants. Traveller’s cheques are accepted at the main shops and hotels. Automated banking machines are available on Rarotonga, but are extremely limited elsewhere.
Natural disasters & climate
The Cook Islands are located in an active seismic zone and are prone to earthquakes. Tsunamis may occur after a strong earthquake and can travel long distances across the Pacific.
The rainy (or monsoon) and typhoon seasons in the South Pacific are from November to April. Severe rainstorms can cause flooding and landslides, resulting in significant loss of life and extensive damage to infrastructure, and hampering the provision of essential services. Disruptions to air services and to water and power supplies may also occur. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts, avoid disaster areas and follow the advice of local authorities.
During a typhoon or monsoon, hotel guests may be required to leave accommodations near the shore and move to safety centres inland. Travel to and from outer islands may be disrupted for some days.
Consult our Typhoons and monsoons page for more information.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 999
- medical assistance: 998
- firefighters: 996
There is no resident Canadian government office in the Cook Islands. You can obtain consular assistance and further consular information from the Embassy of Canada in Wellington, New Zealand.
For emergency assistance after hours, call the High Commission of Canada in Wellington, New Zealand, and follow the instructions. You may also make a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.
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