What to Expect When Arriving at Faleolo Airport
The airport process is something many of us dread about a holiday: the stern faces of the Immigration Officers making you feel guilty when you’re not, the various rules about what you can bring into the country… Samoa is no different, especially with the country’s sole international airport, Faleolo International Airport, boasting a US$20 million upgrade replacing any Pacific charm it may have had with an authoritarian airport experience we’re now all used to. As for us here at Samoa Pocket Guide, we’re here to help you with your international arrival in Samoa through this step-by-step arrival guide for Faleolo International Airport, which you may know as Apia Airport.
For more information on the facilities and services of Faleolo International Airport, see our guide to the Samoa Arrival Airport: Which Airport to Fly into Samoa.
5 Steps to Arriving at Apia Faleolo International Airport
The process for international arrivals at Faleolo International Airport may be a little more complex than what you’re used to, so we’ve split the process into six steps of what to expect for an international arrival at Faleolo Airport:
- Complete the Passenger Arrival Declaration Card – this will be given to you during your international flight to Samoa
- Land at Faleolo International Airport and pass through Immigration with your passport, Passenger Arrival Card and other relevant documents
- Collect your baggage from the Baggage Claim area
- Pass through Quarantine and Customs, vocally declare any declarable items and officers will inspect your Passenger Arrival Card
- Officially enter Samoa! Move into Faleolo’s Arrivals Area and do some shopping or get your transfer.
Now, let’s go over all of the steps in detail…
Step 1: Complete the Passenger Arrival Declaration Card
The first part of the Faleolo International Airport arrival process is completing the Samoa Passenger Arrival Declaration Card. Although you can do this once you arrive at the airport, we recommend doing it on your flight to Samoa.
Each individual arriving at Faleolo International Airport must have a completed Passenger Arrival Declaration Card, even children. These forms must also be completed in English or Samoan.
Hold onto your Passenger Arrival Declaration Card, as you will need to show it at Immigration, as well as Quarantine and Customs when you arrive at Faleolo International Airport.
For a complete guide to the Passenger Arrival Declaration Card, including what it looks like and what details it calls for, check out our guide, Samoa Passenger Arrival Card: What You Need to Know.
Step 2: Immigration
Upon landing at Faleolo International Airport, take a moment to appreciate the Polynesian-inspired yet modern architecture of one of the most modernised airports in the South Pacific Islands. You’ll likely walk through a jet bridge to get from the aircraft to the arrival terminal. Signage will funnel you and your fellow passengers toward your first stop for arrival at Faleolo Airport, Immigration.
Queue at Immigration. Note that the process can take a while if the airport is understaffed. You may be indicated to queue for a certain booth subject to whether you are a foreigner or a Samoan citizen.
Hand over your passport and Passenger Arrival Declaration Card to the Immigration Officer. Note that you may also be asked for any documents concerning current entry requirements – see What Documents Do I Need to Travel to Samoa? for updates.
Make sure your passport is up-to-date, which we detail how up-to-date in our Samoa Tourist Visa Guide. Providing you meet all of the entry conditions, you will be granted a visitor permit, which will be stamped into your passport.
The Immigration Officer may ask some questions in regard to the answers you have given on the Arrival Card. The officer will then either tell you if any further action is required or simply return your passport and Arrival Card for you to move to the Baggage Claim area.
Step 3: Pick Up Your Suitcase at the Baggage Claim
Beyond the Immigration desks, a large hall opens up with baggage carousels of the Baggage Claim area. Wait by the carousel that displays your flight number then identify and take your bags from the carousel. The Baggage Claim area also has toilet facilities, should you need them!
Once you’ve collected all of your baggage, join the queue for Quarantine and Customs inspection.
Step 4: Declare Any “Declarable Items” at Quarantine and Customs
After you have picked up your baggage, in the same hall is the queue for Quarantine and Customs. At the front of the queue, a Quarantine/Customs Officer will look at your Passenger Arrival Declaration 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 Samoa, 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 Samoa.
Depending on if you have anything to declare or not, the Quarantine Officer will point you either toward an inspection area or toward an X-ray screening area where you’ll be instructed to place your baggage through an X-ray.
Just past the quarantine screening area is the exit to the public Arrivals Area.
To learn more about what happens if you are found with restricted or prohibited items at Quarantine and Customs, as well as more about the entire procedure, head to Arriving in Samoa: Airport Customs, Biosecurity & the Arrival Process.
Step 5: Enter the Public Arrivals Area
This is it! You have officially entered Samoa! In the public Arrivals Area are the next steps to get you started on your Samoa holiday. There are offices for the Samoa Tourism Information Centre, car rentals (note that some are only open for bookings), stores for the local phone networks, banks, ATMs and foreign exchange, as well as retail stores. Information on all of these facilities and services can be found in our guide, Samoa Arrival Airport: Which Airport to Fly into Samoa.
The car park outside of the airport is where booked rental cars, taxis and airport transfers will be waiting.
If you have an airport transfer booking, it is likely that a representative may be waiting just outside the Arrivals Area holding a sign with your name on it. Check out all of your transfer options in the 10 Best Airport Transfers in Samoa.
Taxis park up in a long line immediately outside of the Arrivals Area, so you don’t need to walk far. Learn more about taking a taxi from the airport in How Much Does a Samoa Airport Taxi Cost?
Rental companies will either have an office just outside of the Arrivals Area, whose entrance faces the car park, or a representative may be waiting just outside the Arrivals Area holding a sign with your name or the car rental company’s name on it. You’ll go through the car inspection process with a representative and complete a Temporary Driver’s License before hitting the road. Learn more in our guide, What You Need to Hire a Car in Samoa.
Now, transition into “island time” and enjoy your holiday! Need stuff to do? Check out the 101 Best Things to Do in Samoa: The Ultimate List.
More About Arriving at Apia Faleolo Airport
That’s it for our complete guide to arriving at Faleolo Airport. For more on the subject, check out our other arrival guides:
- Samoa Arrival Airport: Which Airport to Fly into Samoa
- How Long Can You Stay in Samoa on a Visitor Visa?
- What Documents Do I Need to Travel to Samoa?
Finally, don’t miss a thing about planning a trip to Samoa by checking out The Best Samoa Travel Guide.