Mail delivery in Vanuatu has a colourful but proud past. In the Colonial days, the New Hebrides (as Vanuatu was then known) was serviced by irregular sea mail delivered by outsourced contractors. From 1887 to 1899, the people of the New Hebrides received their international mail from Australasian New Hebrides Company steamers every three weeks. Almost all of the country’s 83 islands were serviced by these steamer ships, proving to be a great, but unprofitable service for the times.
The Australian Post Office for a time was contracted to bring in the mail, but it wasn’t really until 1910 when Port Vila’s new post office was open to the public that the country began to have its own postal identity.
The Condominium administration ran the post office in typical New Hebridean fashion – selling stamps in both francs and pence, however the service quickly became a good revenue earner for the administration.
Customs duties were also collected by the Post Office with revenue going towards public buildings and other infrastructure projects in the country. Customers could choose to purchase stamps in French or English, and pay in francs or pence, ensuring the stamps would become valuable collector’s items in years to come.