Tipping and Taxes for Tourists in Samoa
No one wants to hear about the extra fees or taxes they might have to pay anywhere in the world. Luckily, Samoa‘s taxes affecting tourists is only limited to two types of tax: Value Added Goods and Services Tax and the Departure Tax. As the taxes are almost always included in the price, you’ll hardly notice that you’re paying the extra percentage. What’s more, tipping is not customary in Samoa, so there’s no requirement to factor that into your budget if you don’t want to. Either way, it’s always good to be consumer-savvy, so wise up on the taxes that you’ll encounter on your trip with this Samoa tipping and tax guide for travellers.
Is Tipping Customary in Samoa?
It is not customary nor expected for tourists to tip in Samoa. Should you want to reward good service, however, a tip will be well received. A situation where a voluntary donation is encouraged is during fiafia performances – more on that in the section below!
On the other hand, there are taxes that you will have to pay during your holiday. More on that in the sections below…
Taxes on Goods and Services
VAGST Rate: 15% of the price of all goods and services.
A tax applied to all goods and services in Samoa is known as Value Added Goods and Services Tax or “VAGST“. This tax will be applied to most things that you buy in Samoa, from food in restaurants to vehicle hire to any activities you pay for.
Almost all prices you will see in Samoa will include the VAGST unless stated otherwise. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to ask whether the price includes VAGST.
Goods and Services Exempt from VAGST
Some goods and services in Samoa are exempt from the VAGST, including:
- financial services
- donated goods or services by a non-profit body
- passengers of transport services by buses and taxis (but excluding arrangements to hire buses or taxis for exclusive use)
- departure tax (see below)
- interconnection fees between resident suppliers of telecommunications services
- passengers by ships within Samoa
- goods and services for an overseas-funded aid project if the agreement expressly provides that supplies be exempt.
Learn more about exempt goods on the Samoa Value Added Goods and Services Tax Act 2015.
Can You Get VAGST Refunded?
Visitors cannot claim a tax refund on VAGST in Samoa.
Samoa Departure Tax
Departure Tax: ST$65 per passenger
The Samoa Departure Tax is a flat rate of ST$65 and applies to all persons leaving Samoa, except for children under 12. The Departure Tax is included in your outbound flight ticket from Samoa, so there is no upfront fee to pay on departure. This is with the exception of passengers departing from Samoa to American Samoa, who have to pay an ST$65 departure tax upfront at Faleolo International Airport on departure.
If you’re visiting by private sailing boat, on the other hand, you will have to pay this departure fee to the authorities. Learn more about the marine craft departure process in Sailing Guide to Samoa: Tips for Yachting.
For more tips for departure, check out Leaving Samoa: Departure Tips & Checklist.
Tipping During Fiafia Nights
One of the rare occasions when tipping or a “voluntary donation” is encouraged in Samoa is during fiafia nights.
Fiafia nights are held in resorts and restaurants across Samoa, consisting of a Polynesian-themed performance along with a buffet of local and international cuisine. When the evening entertainment draws to a close, one of the performers will put an empty bowl in front of the performance area. This is a cue for the audience to make their voluntary donation; to place cash into the bowl. What you decide to donate is completely up to you.
Find out where to catch a fiafia night in the 10 Best Fiafia Nights in Samoa.
More About Tipping, Taxes and Money in Samoa
That’s it for our guide to tipping in Samoa, as well as taxes in Samoa for travellers. For more about money and budget in Samoa, check out the following guides:
- What is the Best Way to Pay in Samoa?
- How Much Spending Money Do You Need for Samoa?
- The Best Places to Exchange Money in Samoa
Finally, for more essential tips, head to the 30 Tips for Travelling in Samoa.