Living in Palau Guide for Expats

Adam Fayed
10 min readFeb 7, 2024

This guide is your ticket to knowing the ins and outs of living in Palau from the incredible marine wonders to the warm island hospitality. We’ll also discuss how to move to the country, i.e., visa and residency requirements as well as citizenship.

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Moving to Palau: Visa and Residency

For individuals considering a move to Palau, the applicable visa requirements hinge on the country that issued their passport. The Palau entry requirements differ based on nationality, allowing citizens from specific countries to enter without a visa and remain for a duration of up to 1 year.

Palau offers visa on arrival services to the majority of its citizens, with the exception of those from Bangladesh and Myanmar. The initial 30-day validity period of this visa can be extended twice for an additional cost.

Travelers are required to have a return or onward ticket and sufficient finances, which is equivalent to $200 each week. Furthermore, an International Certificate of Vaccination is necessary for passengers entering from regions experiencing a Yellow Fever outbreak.

Applying for a visa upon arrival at the Palau airport is quick and easy; the whole process takes no more than a few minutes.

It should be noted that the Republic of Palau gives preference to hiring local workers. In order to obtain a Palau working visa, employers are required to first obtain authorization to engage non-residents. After that, workers can apply for a temporary working visa or a non-resident worker identification.

Palau visa types

  1. Tourist eVisa: People usually visiting Palau for leisure and amusement need tourist visas. Travelers will like the ease of the eVisa application procedure, which is expected to be conducted online.
  2. Business eVisa: Those going to Palau for business-related events, conferences, or meetings can apply for a business visa. The electronic visa format is indicative of an expedited web-based application procedure.
  3. Visa for Cruises: Some passengers arriving in Palau on cruises may be required to obtain a visa specifically for cruises. It is critical to adhere to the standards that are in place, and the particular requirements for cruise passengers can differ.
  4. Student Visa: People who intend to move to Palau for studies are required to apply for a student visa. As a result, candidates may be required to present documentation proving their acceptance or attendance in a school.
  5. Employment Visa: This is essential for anyone looking to work in Palau. When applying for a work visa, both employers and employees must follow the rules and procedures, as we discussed above.
  6. Official visa: People going on official government business usually get official visas. People who represent their country in an official position may fall into this category, including ambassadors, government officials, and others.

Palau residency

Palau digital residency

With Palau’s Digital Residency Program, foreign nationals can apply for and receive digital residence status. A digital residency ID is issued through this initiative, allowing access to various services offered in the country.

The scheme offers a range of alternatives for validity, allowing for flexibility. One-, five-, or ten-year residency programs are available to applicants, with different cost structures, so that people can choose the program length that best suits their requirements and goals.

A simple online application and a $248 payment (accepted by credit card or cryptocurrency) are required to join in the program.

  • How to Apply: The Palau Digital Residency scheme accepts applications only through the Root Name System website. Filling out an online form and sending the application fee to the government via bitcoin or credit card is how the procedure works.
  • Advantages: One perk of having a Palau Digital Residency ID is the access it gives you to all sorts of services on the island. You may use it to buy booze, create a bank account, and finish the Know Your Customer process at cryptocurrency exchanges. A number of benefits are available with digital residence as well, such as the possibility of multiple passports, extended stays, tax-free income for remote workers, and a zero percent tax rate for digital firms.
  • Mailing: An expedient alternative to in-person sessions for getting the resident ID is the Palau Digital resident Program, which includes physical mailing of ID cards directly to applicants.

Palau citizenship

Whoever is born inside the territory with a legally acknowledged Palauan ancestor or a Palauan national parent, or who is born outside of Palau with a legally recognized Palauan parent, is considered a Palauan citizen.

Anyone with historical or familial ties to Palau has the option to become a naturalized citizen. A parent’s recognized Palauan nationality is a requirement for naturalization.

Keep in mind that unless they knowingly decide to give up their Palauan citizenship, a person who is a citizen of Palau and another country can keep both citizenships.

What is life in Palau like?

Palau weather

A normal wet season in Palau lasts from June to October. The islands are hit hard by severe rain and high humidity around this time. From July through October, typhoons are more common as well. People planning to travel or participate in outdoor activities at this time should be prepared for possible delays.

Meanwhile, the months of November through April constitute the dry season on the island country. Dryer and more pleasant weather is typical throughout these months, and rainfall is also reduced.

Travelers often flock to Palau during the dry season because of the pleasant weather all year round. In particular during the rainy season, the humidity in Palau is quite high. Humidity can make the temperatures feel warmer than they actually are.

Palau population

In 2023, the estimated population of Palau was 18,058, as reported by Macrotrends.

Palau language

Native to the island nation of Palau, the Palauan language is one of two official languages in the Republic of Palau, the other being English. Except in the states of Sonsorol and Tobi, Palauan is widely used in ordinary conversation across the nation. Sonsorolese and Tobian, the native languages of these two states, are equally recognized as official languages alongside Palauan. Also, some elderly Palauans speak Japanese, and it’s an official language in Angaur.

Palau currency

The United States Dollar (USD) is the official currency that’s widely accepted and used in Palau. Because of its long history of trade and investment with the US, Palau joined certain territories like Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands in adopting this currency.

Palau culture

In addition to their warm welcome and profound respect for environment, the Palauans are well-known for their world-class arts and crafts. Traditional beliefs continue to have a significant impact on Palau culture. Coming together as Palauan brought people from different villages, clans, and backgrounds who had been divided for a century by colonial rule.

With a Christian presence that spans over a century, education and literacy are flourishing in Palau. Most notably, the country is a matriarchal society, meaning that women have a lot of power in the home and the economy.

Palau real estate

The real estate landscape in Palau leans towards the higher end, with elevated average property prices and property investment indices. Despite this, the housing market in Palau offers diverse options for both renting and buying properties.

Rental Properties

  • Palau features listings for houses available for rent, presenting an array of choices for potential tenants.
  • Rental prices are accessible, with the average cost for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center at $800.00 and $600.00 outside of the center.

Property for Sale

  • Prospective buyers can explore a range of properties available for sale in Palau, offering mixed options at various price points.
  • The average price per square meter to purchase a city center apartment is $8,490.56, while it is $788.80 outside of the center.

Is Palau safe?

Palau is popular with expats and tourists for its safety. The country’s hospitality and respect for nature contribute to its low crime rate. Palau’s safety record is good, although common sense should be used to protect yourself.

Natural risks in some regions must be considered. The country is vulnerable to hurricanes, cyclones, and floods. Information on local circumstances, assistance from local authorities, and safety measures are crucial, especially while participating in water sports or outdoor activities.

What’s the cost of living in Palau?

Is Palau expensive? Sadly for those on a budget, the Palau cost of living can be particularly high. According to data from Numbeo, a McDonald’s McMeal or equivalent combo meal costs $12.50; a cheap restaurant dinner costs about the same amount. Meanwhile, an upmarket three-course lunch for two costs $65.00.

Beer is $1.60 to $1.85, while cappuccinos are $2.75. White rice, a dozen normal eggs, chicken fillets, and beef round cost $0.25, $4.75, $17.64, and $16.53, respectively.

Considering the difficulty in delivering affordable and long-lasting healthcare services to the people of Palau, addressing healthcare costs is a huge concern. A large section of the population could not afford healthcare due to its astronomical cost until the Healthcare Fund (HCF) was established.

Other living expenses

  • Essential utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for an 85-square-meter apartment: $170.00
  • High-speed internet (60 Mbps or More): $60.00
  • Car rental cost in Palau: $30 to $120 per day
  • Gas/petrol price: Approximately $1.62 per liter

Palau jobs for expats

Job opportunities for expats in Palau may be scarce because most people live and work in the tourist, public service, and academic industries. The tourist and hospitality sectors, however, do provide some prospects for foreigners.

Employment license is required for non-residents in Palau since the government favors hiring locals over outsiders. Temporary non-resident worker identity certificates and labor visas can be applied for by employees after their applications have been approved.

If you are an expat looking for a career in Palau, it is a good idea to keep yourself updated on the latest positions by checking local job boards, recruiting agencies, and internet job portals.

What is the healthcare system like in Palau

The Ministry of Health and Human Services oversees and delivers clinical services in Palau’s healthcare system, which mixes public and private providers. With the establishment of the Palau Healthcare Fund by the 2010 National Health Financing Act, the nation is happy to support a healthcare system that is accessible to all.

Promoting better health and social welfare for all Palau residents is the primary goal of the HCF program.

The National Health Insurance handles in-patient treatment and referrals to facilities outside the island, while the Medical Savings Account handles preventative care and treatments rendered outside of the hospital. Any employee working for Palau is required to join in the program.

Community health facilities and private health clinics supplement the principal Palau hospital, the Belau National Hospital. Palau has made great strides in healthcare activities, with a focus on enhancing facilities and being prepared to handle health emergencies and outbreaks.

Palau is a secluded island nation, but its healthcare system is well-established and provides excellent medical treatment to its residents.

Transportation in Palau

Multiple modes of transportation are available in Koror Palau to meet the demands of individual travelers. Car rental services give customers a lot of options in terms of models, sizes, and pricing, so they can really adapt to their trip needs.

Especially in the city of Koror, you can hail a taxi at any time of day or night, and instead of using meters, they use fixed-rate documents that detailed the fare for every trip. Beyond that, you can haggle with local cab drivers for rental services.

Boat taxis provide an inexpensive and picturesque way to travel from several states to Koror, perfect for anyone who want to experience life at sea. Within Koror, there is a small but adequate bus system that runs through the city streets, and tour companies all across the archipelago provide vans and tour buses as options for local transportation.

Are there international schools in Palau?

There are a number of foreign schools in Palau, including Koror’s International School and Prince of Wales Island International School. The children of civil servants and expats make up a large portion of the international student body at these schools.

It should be noted that the tuition prices for these foreign schools tend to be greater than those of Palau’s local institutions.

Expat Banking in Palau

By submitting the necessary paperwork and an initial payment, foreign nationals can begin the procedure of creating a bank account in Palau. This usually necessitates a trip to the branch, when the usual requirements like identification and proof of address are required. You can also find banks that provide the option to bank online or using a mobile device.

Access to ATMs allows for easy financial transactions in Palau, particularly in urban areas such as Koror. Foreign nationals living abroad who are in need of banking services, such as savings accounts, money transfers, and investment opportunities, could do well to investigate the many choices provided by local banks.

Because of the complexity of the legal structures, tax rules, and related expenses, it is recommended that you seek the aid of a financial planner or advisor. There are a number of commercial banks and credit unions in Palau, making up a strong banking sector. These institutions offer different services to investors and account holders.

Best places to live in Palau

  1. Koror. This is the main city and commercial center of Palau. It is home to most of the people and is where most of the government offices, schools, and companies are located. An array of services, amenities, and recreational opportunities are easily accessible to Koror residents.
  2. Babeldaob. A bridge connects Koror to Babeldaob, Palau’s largest island. People who seek a more peaceful and rural lifestyle often choose Babeldaob over Koror because of its lower population density. Babeldaob is a tranquil place to live thanks to its beautiful scenery, which includes verdant landscapes and historic settlements.
  3. Airai. Airai, a state in southern Babeldaob, is famous for its beautiful scenery and the Palau International Airport. Living in Airai is like finding the perfect combination of city life and country living: closeness to the airport and peace and quiet.
  4. Ngarchelong. The state of Ngarchelong, in Babeldaob’s northern region, is well-known for its beautiful scenery and waterfalls. It may be less crowded, but the tranquil atmosphere it offers makes it perfect for people who want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
  5. Peleliu. This is a little island to the southwest of Koror that is well-known for the WWII sites that it contains. For those seeking a more peaceful living, Peleliu is an attractive option due to its secluded lifestyle, stunning beaches, and relaxed pace of life.

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