Pitcairn Island Immigration Questions and Answers

Pitcairn Island top 5 Immigration Questions and Answers

There’s not a day that goes by, when Big Flower isn't asked questions on immigrating to Pitcairn, in particular to settle. Given this, we feel it makes sense we provide the answers to the top 5 questions on our site.

And here they are;

Q: What do I need to do formally, to come and settle on Pitcairn?

A: It is strongly recommended you visit the island first. You can apply for a 6 month long term visitor’s visa by completing an ‘Application for Pitcairn Island Entry Clearance’ form. You can use this time to get a hand’s on feel for the island, the community and the life style before making the ultimate decision to settle.

There are privately owned accommodation places which will give you a good rate for a long term stay, checkout accommodation providers at Pitcairn Island Tourism. From there you can communicate with providers directly or email Pitcairn Island’s Tourism Department on tourism@pitcairn.pn if you require support.

Pitcairn Island Visa Application
Pitcairn Island Visa Application Form

Then, if you wish to continue on the path to settlement, you would complete a ‘Pitcairn Island Settlement Application’ form.

There are small fees associated with each application.

Forms and more information can be found on Pitcairn Island’s government website here: Pitcairn Island Visa Information

Immigration and associated legislation is constantly being reviewed in order to ensure fairness and support to new immigrants. Relevant law can be found here. Pitcairn Island Immigration Control Ordinance.
There are changes to be enacted over 2013 so please check this link on a regular basis.

Q: How do I travel to Pitcairn?

There are a couple of options. One is to charter your own vessel or yacht. However, this will require both research and logistical planning on your part. Costs are variable.
The recommended method is to use the government contracted vessel Claymore II. It runs every 3 months to Pitcairn carrying supplies and passengers. Once supplies are unloaded, it makes 2 additional trips between Mangareva and Pitcairn for further passengers and in 2014 it will be running a 3rd rotation each quarter.

Also, depending on your budget, you can travel on the Claymore’s first run from New Zealand to Pitcairn with the islands supplies. This is a 12-14 day trip and the cheapest means of travel. Alternatively, you will fly to Mangareva via Tahiti, and board the Claymore there. Travel time between Mangareva and Pitcairn is 3 days and 2 nights. From arrival at Tahiti to landing at Pitcairn plan for around 5-6 days.

Pitcairn Island's contracted ship 'Claymore II'
Pitcairn's contracted ship - Claymore II

The benefits of using the Claymore II are, reliability, especially if you have to align to air flights. It’s comfortable, even though it’s only a three day trip from Mangareva to Pitcairn, you’ll be glad of the space to move about, the hot meals and bathroom facilities. Additionally the Claymore has cargo carrying capacity, so if you’re coming long term you may be carrying a lot more than the standard traveller.

You can find out more on travelling to Pitcairn by visiting the government’s official tourism website here: Pitcairn Island Tourism.

Q: How much does land cost?

A: You might be amazed to know that land is free on Pitcairn! There’s so much of it and so few of us. Obviously this would change if the population quadrupled overnight

Which piece of land on Pitcairn Island?
Decisions, decisions
- which piece of land?

As new immigrant, there is a short process one must go through whereby land is registered to you, and as a registered owner you are then responsible for its upkeep. Registration requires the chosen piece of land be designated as one of four possible options; House, Garden, Orchard or Forestry land. Each category has a set ‘lease’ time i.e. the lifetime of the occupier/s, 5 years, the life of the orchard, the life of the tree respectively.

There is on-going discussion on the above as to whether this arrangement should be changed. One school of thought is that house land should be freehold. This would better encourage investment in the island.

At this point we’ll refer to the ‘Land Tenure Reform’, Pitcairn Island legislation enacted back in 2006.
Basically, if you were a land owner and not living on Pitcairn at the time, you were given two options;
1. Pay a small annual tax to retain it
2. Relinquish ownership
Why? Primarily because good usable land was tied up by people who had left the island 10, 20, 40+ years ago and they, their children, and their grandchildren had no intentions of returning. Remaining residents had to make do with land which was handed down to them – some of which was simply unusable and unproductive.

So, the second school of thought says, freehold land would once again tie up land.

It must be noted though, within current legislation there is nothing to stop you putting a value on your house, trees etc. and selling, with passing over of the land title.

The government has designated particular parts of the island as reserve land. These areas are obvious like ‘The Landing’, ‘Highest Point’ old Polynesian marae sites like ‘Tautama’, parts of ‘Tedside’ and the like.

Q: How much does it cost to build a house?

A: Ideally you would have some degree of building skills. If not, we’ll give you figures for employing local builders as well.

Materials for building come from New Zealand, whether it‘s cement, timber, nails, joinery or furnishings, so check out NZ prices on-line. Factor freight in at $350 per cubic metre Note: this is a subsidised cost and may be subject to change.

Unloading the supply ship at Pitcairn Island
Building materials being unloaded into our longboats
Unloading the supply ship at Pitcairn Island
Smaller items can be containerised for ease and protection

For ease of coming to a figure, we’ll use a New Zealand kitset home, 3 bedrooms, 130m2, which includes bathroom and kitchen finishing’s. This particular kitset costs $98,500
A double garage 48m2 approximately $20,000 (We’ll incorporate a wood burning water heater inside)
You’ll need transport. A good second hand quad bike $10,000
Plus, initial water storage $1500
Freight, hmmmm say 25m3 – 40m3 or $25k – $40,000
Grand total: $130,000 - $145,000

If your design your own home, instead of a kitset, for the same price above, you should be able to push the house floor area out to a minimum of 180m2, halve the shed cost and double its floor area.

What if you don’t have building skills and want to employ labour?
I’d suggest a minimum team of 3, allowing 4 months to complete a kitset home.
The island rate tends to be $10 - $12 dollars an hour. So, 3 workers x 8 hour per day x 6 day week x 16 weeks, budget NZ$23k to $28,000.

Pitcairn Island, Building Big Flower - framed
Building Big Flower

If you have your own design in mind, or have enlisted an external architect to draw up plans, ensure a competent builder on the island reviews these. Architects in particular will be working to their region’s building codes which will include structural features and materials not necessary or appropriate on Pitcairn. This could save you quite a few dollars. It’s best to utilise local knowledge where possible. I’d allow 5 months in total, to complete the job. At the 3 month mark you could move in whilst finishing internals – although this can make completing the job awkward.

Q: What is the cost of living on Pitcairn?

Let base this on the cost of living for 2 people sharing a home in 2013.
Note: Pitcairn works on a monthly versus weekly financial cycle.

Up ‘Big Flower’ we are power conscious. So we run eco-friendly light bulbs, turn lights off behind us, balance electricity with gas, to heat drinking water and so on. We have a medium sized freezer, and a good sized fridge/freezer. We have a TV, 2 laptops and a desk top computer, stereo ceiling fans, automatic washing machine and electric water pump.
Our monthly power bill averages NZ$110.00.

Phone line rental is $15.00 per month
Phone call costs for us average around $45.00 per month (considering Pitcairn’s situation, our rates are reasonable e.g. to call North America it costs 15 cents a minute, France 61 cents)

We’re not big ‘downloaders’ i.e. we don’t use YouTube, Skype, Facebook or download movies or music. However, daily general web browsing, emailing and the like will set you back $41.00 per month.
This will incrementally increase depending on your amount of usage.

We’ve always maintained a garden with fresh produce. Most of our meals will be based on what’s available from the garden on a given day. We also have chooks for fresh eggs. In addition the island has an abundance of edibles such as, Taro (pronounced Tala), seasonal ‘Wild Beans’ (a running vine which produces copious amounts of beans twice a year), green cooking bananas, fresh fish, wild goat, wild chickens and the like. There’s always fresh fruit, bananas, pawpaw and passion fruit. Citrus fruit is seasonal although limes and lemons are available most of the year.

Pitcairn Island Fresh Lobster
Pitcairn Island frersh lobster
Big Flower Garden
Big Flower's garden in full production

The General Store stocks essential items like flour (you’ll need this to bake your own bread), milk, cheeses, cereals, coffee, tea, toiletries, laundry and cleaning products, LPG gas and so on.
Ok, you’ll feel like that slab of prime beef now and again perhaps an occasional bottle of red to accompany a meal, which you’ll need to budget for.

Lastly, it’s recommended you have a gas hob at the least, so you will need to refill a bottle occasionally. On average we go through 1 x 8kg bottle every 8 weeks.

If you keep a good garden, make use of what the island has to offer and the store for essentials items and occasional treats, you’ll need to budget around $80 -$100 per week.

So, monthly costs:
Electricity $110
Phone/Internet $101
Food $320 - $400
LPG Gas $26
Grand total per month: NZ$557 to $637 ($140 - $160 per week)

PS. We're probably a little high on the food cost. Reduce it down by $100 - $150 per month if you want to utilise what the island has to offer to its maximum.
If not add another $100 - $150 to costs.
Also, in some instances during cruise ship season, you’ll be able to make ‘special’ purchases from the visiting ships at cost. You can use opportunities like this to stock up on food stuffs at very affordable prices.

Q: What about Income?

The Pitcairn government provides and employs most locals with part-time jobs.
Jobs are of an operational nature, for example admin positions, engineers, equipment drivers through to ground maintenance people and service workers e.g. Post Office staff. The island has a set budget to work within so it cannot guarantee a new immigrant immediate employment. Rather, as with the outside world, you would compete for a position when it became available.

Having said this, if you intend coming to permanently reside on Pitcairn it is highly recommended you have two things; sufficient funds to support yourself for a time and entrepreneurial skills.

Opportunities to generate your own income are numerous. For example, within the visiting cruise ship season, which runs over 6 months and entails 10 ships on average, and with the right product, you could support yourself on an annual basis.

Alternatively, consider becoming part of the successful honey industry. The global demand for Pitcairn’s honey continually increases. We have excellent communications so opportunities exist in the ecommerce field. And what about all those opportunities not yet explored? We’re clean, green, and, believe it or not, our isolation puts us at an immediate advantage over outside competitors.

Tourism business opportunities
Business opportunities include
providing services to tourist

Huge investments are being made into developing the Tourism industry. For example the European Union is investing millions and millions of dollars over the next 6 - 9+ years in this sector. As a result, over the next 3 years, we are anticipating an increase in visiting cruise ships and importantly, that they will be able to land their passengers on the island.
National Geographic and the PEW foundation are supporting us in creating the largest no-take marine reserve in the world. Although in early stages of planning, it is already attracting other scientific organisations and eco-tourists to the Pitcairn Island group.
So, within Tourism alone, there are huge local business opportunities providing necessary services.

Living on Pitcairn Island is a lifestyle choice, so you get to choose how much or how little you want to commit to business. It’s entirely up to you. However, it’s the entrepreneurs, the go getters and the adventurous that will be the ones who will help us move Pitcairn Island toward economic sustainability. And, take it from us… it’s so worth it.