Travel Tips

Additional Travel Links

State Department Travel Warnings

Health Information For PNG Travelers

Dive Insurance

Air Niugini

Destination Desciption

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a dynamic and democratic country in the Southwest Pacific, north of Australia. The capital is Port Moresby. PNG boasts more than 800 distinct languages and tribes and is home to a number of unique tropical species. Tourist facilities outside major towns are limited, and crime is a concern throughout the country (please see the section on crime below). Read the Department of State Fact Sheet on Papua New Guinea for additional information.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Per the Papua New Guinea Immigration website, to enter the country you must have a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of intended travel, an onward/return airline ticket, and proof of sufficient funds. You may obtain a tourist visa (valid for stays of up to 60 days, with extensions available for an additional 30 days) and single-entry business visas (valid for stays of up to 30 days) when you arrive at Jacksons International Airport in Port Moresby. You must apply for a visa in advance if you are traveling for other than business or tourism. The Embassy of Papua New Guinea is located at 1779 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 805, Washington, DC 20036; telephone: 202-745-3680. Visit the Embassy of Papua New Guinea website and the Papua New Guinea Immigration website for the most current visa information.

If you transit other countries en route to PNG, please follow all necessary exit/entry procedures for the countries that you transit. You may need to obtain visas or travel authorizations for some of those countries, such as Australia.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

HIV/AIDS Restrictions: The Government of Papua New Guinea imposes HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors and foreign residents. If you request residency or intend to remain long term in Papua New Guinea, you are required to have an AIDS test performed at a U.S. medical facility. Please verify current procedures with the Embassy of Papua New Guinea in Washington, DC before you travel.

Safety and Security

Tensions between communal or clan groups may result in local conflicts involving bush knives, machetes, or firearms. Consult with your tour operator or with Papua New Guinean authorities for current information on areas where you intend to travel.

Exercise a high degree of caution in Bougainville. Law enforcement in this area is ineffective, and tourist and transportation facilities are limited. Areas near the Panguna mine, located on the southern part of the Island of Bougainville, have been officially designated “no go zones” by the Autonomous Government of Bougainville; we strongly recommend that you avoid those areas.

Unexploded ordinance and mines may be found in Bougainville, East New Britain, and throughout the Papua New Guinea islands. Exercise caution when walking or hiking off marked roads and trails.

To stay connected:

- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea on Twitter and visiting the Embassy’s website
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.

CRIME: Papua New Guinea has a high crime rate. U.S. citizens have been victims of violent crime, including rape, carjacking, home invasions, kidnappings, and armed robberies. Crime rates are highest in and around major cities such as Port Moresby, Lae, Madang, Mount Hagen, and Goroka, but crimes can occur anywhere. You are at a greater risk of violent crimes such as robbery or sexual assault if you travel alone, especially if you plan to hike in isolated rural areas. Pickpockets and opportunistic bag-snatchers frequent crowded public areas, including parks, golf courses, beaches, and cemeteries. Bag-snatchers may try to open doors of automobiles that are stopped or moving slowly in traffic. Please see our page on Personal Safety.

Organized tours booked through travel agencies remain the safest means to visit Papua New Guinea, although on rare occasions, even persons participating in organized tours have been subject to violent robbery, assault, serious injury, or death. In Papua New Guinea, avoid using local taxis or buses, known as Public Motor Vehicles (PMVs). Rely on your sponsor or hotel to arrange for hotel transportation or a rental car. Road travel outside of major towns can be hazardous due to criminal roadblocks near bridges, curves in the road, or other areas where vehicle speed and mobility is restricted. Lock your doors and keep your windows rolled up. Avoid driving after dark, if possible. Please consult with local law enforcement officials concerning security conditions before driving between towns. (See the Traffic Safety and Road Conditions section below.) Travel to isolated places in Papua New Guinea is possible primarily by small passenger aircraft to the many small airstrips throughout the country. Security measures at these airports throughout Papua New Guinea are often inadequate. When possible, only fly during daylight hours.

Hiking Trails: Exercise caution if you plan to hike the Kokoda Track, the Black Cat Track, or other trails in Papua New Guinea. Travel with guides from a reputable tour company. Local landowners occasionally threaten to close parts of the tracks due to local land and compensation disputes. Check with your travel agent and/or tour operator for contingency plans in the event that a track is blocked. Hikers have been attacked even though they are part of an organized tour, some sustaining serious injuries or death. You are strongly advised to purchase appropriate travelers/medical insurance, including medical evacuation coverage, before arriving in Papua New Guinea. The Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) has stationed rangers along the track and at airports to collect fees from trekkers who have not obtained a valid trekking permit. The KTA can be contacted by telephone at 675-325-5540 or 675-325-1887 regarding payment of applicable fees.

VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:

Replace a stolen passport.
Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, contact family members or friends.
Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Papua New Guinea is “111”.

Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

Local Laws and Special Circumstances

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Papua New Guinea, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. Persons violating Papua New Guinea laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Papua New Guinea are severe. Driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. If you break local laws in Papua New Guinea, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution.

There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still be illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted in the United States for engaging in sexual conduct with children or for using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country regardless of the legality of these activities under that country’s laws. Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well.

Arrest notifications in host country: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in that country, others may not. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Customs: Papua New Guinean customs authorities enforce strict regulations governing firearms, certain prescription drugs, wooden artifacts, animal products, food, and sexually explicit material. Other products may be subject to quarantine. You should contact the Embassy of Papua New Guinea in Washington, D.C. for specific information regarding customs requirements. (See the contact information in the section on Entry/Exit Requirements above.)

Natural Disasters: Papua New Guinea lies in an active seismic zone. Earthquakes, destructive tsunamis, and landslides can occur. There are active volcanoes in PNG with regular eruptions around Rabaul, Bougainville, West New Britain, and Manam Island. Ash from volcanoes in the Rabaul region occasionally disrupts airline schedules at Kokopo airport. Flights may be cancelled at short notice.

General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Documentation: Carry a copy of your U.S. passport at all times so that you can demonstrate your proof of identity and U.S. citizenship to authorities if asked.

WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.

LGBT RIGHTS: Same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Papua New Guinea. However, there are no known incidents of the prosecution, of consenting adults. Papua New Guinea is a conservative country and public displays of affection are not welcomed. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.

ACCESSIBILITY: While in Papua New Guinea, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from that in the United States. Papua New Guinea does not have legislation that mandates access to transportation, communication, and public buildings for persons with disabilities. The road network in Papua New Guinea is in poor condition and foot paths and road crossings in most major towns are congested and uneven, limiting access and movement for people with disabilities.

Health

The quality of medical facilities in Papua New Guinea varies greatly between larger towns and remote areas. Medical facilities in larger towns are usually adequate for routine problems and minor emergencies. However, equipment failures and shortages of common medications can mean that even routine treatments and procedures (such as X-rays) may be unavailable.

Medical facilities may be inaccessible in some rural areas. Although there is purportedly one hyperbaric recompression chamber for diving emergencies located in Port Moresby, it is routinely inaccessible or non-operational. Diving injuries will therefore almost always require medical evacuation to Australia, where more sophisticated facilities are available. Medical evacuation companies may charge thousands of dollars for transport to Australia or the United States. If you anticipate the possible need for medical treatment in Australia, obtain a visa or entry permission for Australia in advance.

Pharmacies in Papua New Guinea are found only in urban centers. Pharmacies are generally small and may be inadequately stocked. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for medical services. Additional Health and Medical Information is available on the Embassy website.

You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

Travel and Transportation

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Papua New Guinea, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Papua New Guinea is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Traffic in Papua New Guinea moves on the left. Motor vehicle accidents are a common cause of serious injury in Papua New Guinea, especially to passengers sitting in the open bed of a pickup truck. Whether the driver or a passenger, you should wear a seatbelt at all times. There is no countrywide road network. Roads, especially in rural areas, are in a poor state of repair. Other common safety risks on PNG roads include erratic and drunk drivers, poorly maintained vehicles, and over-crowded vehicles. During the rainy season, landslides occur on some stretches of the Highlands Highway between Lae and Mount Hagen. Vehicles often encounter criminal roadblocks on the Highlands Highway during the day and widely after dark.

Police roadblocks to check vehicle registrations are a regular occurrence at night in Port Moresby. As a driver, you should ensure that your vehicle registration and safety stickers are up-to-date in order to minimize difficulties at roadblocks.

Crowds can react emotionally and violently after road accidents. Crowds form quickly after an accident and may attack those whom they hold responsible by stoning and/or burning vehicles. Friends and relatives of an injured party may demand immediate compensation from the party they hold responsible for injuries, regardless of legal responsibility. People involved in accidents should not stop at the scene of the accident, but rather go directly to the nearest police station.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. For specific information concerning Papua New Guinea driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, road safety and mandatory insurance, please call the Papua New Guinea’s Motor Vehicle Institute Limited at 675-325-9666 or 675-302-4600.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Papua New Guinea, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Papua New Guinea’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

 

State Department Travel Warnings

Health Information For PNG Travelers

Dive Insurance

Air Niugini








© 2015
PAPUA NEW GUINEA EXPEDITIONS