COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Papua New Guinea is a developing country in the Southwest Pacific. The capital is Port Moresby. Tourist facilities outside major towns are limited, and crime is a serious concern throughout Papua New Guinea (please see the section on crime below). Read the Department of State Background Notes on Papua New Guinea for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Papua New Guinea, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your trip. When you enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, we can keep you up-to-date with important safety and security announcements. STEP enrollment will also help us get in touch with your friends and family in an emergency.
Local embassy information is available below:
The U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby
Douglas Street, adjacent to the Bank of Papua New Guinea,
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, P.O. Box 1492, Port Moresby, NCD 121, Papua New Guinea.
Telephone: 675 321-1455
After-hour’s duty-officer telephone: 675 7200-9439
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: To enter Papua New Guinea, you must have a passport that is valid for at least six months, have an onward/return airline ticket, and proof of sufficient funds. You may obtain business or tourist visas (valid for stays of up to 60 days, with extensions available for an additional 30 days) when you arrive at Jacksons International Airport in Port Moresby. You must apply for a PNG 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 all other countries that you transit. You may need to obtain visas or travel authorizations for other countries.
HIV/AIDS Restrictions: The Government of Papua New Guinea imposes some 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. government
medical facility. Please verify current procedures with the Embassy of Papua New Guinea in
Washington DC before you travel.
Information about dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Tensions between communal or clan groups may lead to localized conflicts involving bush knives, machetes, or firearms. Always consult with your tour operator, the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby, or with Papuan authorities for current information on areas where you intend to travel.
If you plan to travel to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby for updated security information. South Bougainville continues to suffer from intermittent factional violence. Law enforcement in this area is weak, and tourist and transportation facilities are limited. If you travel to Bougainville, exercise a high degree of caution. 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.
Stay up-to-date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and become a fan of the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.
You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or call a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
Take some time before travel to improve your personal security; conditions in other countries are often different than they are in the United States. Here are some useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: The majority of tourists visit Papua New Guinea without incident. Papua New Guinea, however, does have a high crime rate. U.S. citizens have occasionally been victims of violent crime, including rape, carjacking, and armed robberies. You are at a greater risk of violent crimes such as robbery or rape if you travel alone, and it is dangerous to hike in isolated rural areas. We advise you to travel as part of an organized tour or escort. Crime rates are highest in and around major cities such as Port Moresby, Lae, Mount Hagen, and Goroka, but can occur anywhere. Pickpockets and bag-snatchers frequent crowded public areas, and they may frequent public sites such as parks, golf courses, beaches, and cemeteries as well. If you plan to travel to Papua New Guinea, please consult the State Department’s Primer on Personal Security for Visitors to Papua New Guinea.
Organized tours booked through travel agencies remain the safest means to visit Papua New Guinea. In Papua New Guinea, avoid using local taxis or buses, known as Public Motor Vehicles (PMV's). 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 features that restrict vehicle speed and mobility. Please consult with the U.S. Embassy or 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 are often inadequate.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, you may be breaking local laws, too.
Hiking Trails: If you plan to hike the Kokoda Track and other trails in Papua New Guinea, exercise caution. Travel with guides from a reputable tour company. This is particularly important given the occasional threats by villagers to close parts of the track due to local land and compensation disputes. Check with your travel agent and/or tour operator for contingency plans in the event that the track is blocked. You should purchase appropriate travelers/medical insurance 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 is a victim of a crime abroad, contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates). If your passport is stolen we can help you replace it. For violent crimes such as assault and rape, we can help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends, and help them send money if you need it. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime are solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you understand the local criminal justice process and find an attorney if you need one. For details, please visit the U.S. Embassy’s website on Crime Victims Assistance.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Papua New Guinea is “111”.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Papua New Guinea, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. If you break the law in Papua New Guinea, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. Laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. Criminal penalties will vary from country to country. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.
Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Papua New Guinea, you may request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby of your arrest. You may request to have communications from you forwarded to the U.S. Embassy.
Customs: Papua New Guinean customs authorities enforce strict regulations about importing and exporting items such as firearms, certain prescription drugs, wooden artifacts, animal products, food, and sexually explicit material into or from Papua New Guinea. Other products may be subject to quarantine. You should contact the Embassies 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 is in an active seismic zone: Earthquakes, destructive tsunamis, and landslides can occur. There are active volcanoes in PNG, and regular eruptions occur, particularly 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.
All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches.
General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Accessibility: While in Papua New Guinea, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find 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. The open drainage systems that encircle most of downtown Port Moresby limit access and movement for people with disabilities.
Documentation: You are encouraged to 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.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities in Papua New Guinea vary greatly between larger towns and remote areas. Medical facilities in larger towns are usually adequate for routine problems and some 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. A hyperbaric recompression chamber for diving emergencies is available in Port Moresby. Pharmacies in Papua New Guinea are found only in urban centers and at missionary clinics. Pharmacies are generally small and may be inadequately stocked. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for medical services. Please see the U.S. Embassy website for a list of medical facilities in Papua New Guinea.
Diving injuries will almost always require medical evacuation to Australia, where more sophisticated facilities are available. Medical evacuation companies could charge thousands of dollars for transport to Australia or the U.S. If you anticipate the possible need for medical treatment in Australia, obtain a visa or entry permission for Australia in advance.
You can find good 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. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, 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. Travel on highways outside of major towns can be hazardous. 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. Criminal roadblocks on the Highlands Highway are often encountered 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 go directly to the nearest police station instead of stopping at the scene of the accident.
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.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of Papua New Guinea’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety.
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.
This replaces the Country Specific Information for Papua New Guinea dated May 27, 2011, with updates to all sections.