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Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea
Independent State of Papua New Guinea
Exercise increased caution in Papua New Guinea due to crime, civil unrest, and a polio outbreak. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Exercise increased caution in Papua New Guinea due to crime, civil unrest, and a polio outbreak. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Do Not Travel To:

  • The Southern Highlands Province and Hela Province due to civil unrest.

Reconsider travel to:

  • Areas near the Panguna mine in Bougainville due to civil unrest.
  • The Highlands region due to the aftermath of a recent earthquake

Violent crime, such as gang-rape, carjacking, home invasions, kidnappings, and armed robberies, is common. Tensions between communal or clan groups may result in violence.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of major population centers and in the southern part of Bougainville, Porgera Mine area, Lae, Mt. Hagen, Southern Highlands, and Hela Province as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization before traveling to those areas.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a Level 2 Travel Warning for Papua New Guinea regarding the recent outbreak of vaccine derived poliovirus in the Morobe Province. The CDC has additional information and advice on the outbreak at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/alert/polio-papua-new-guinea. Travelers who have received all the routine childhood polio vaccinations as well as a single booster dose of polio vaccine as an adult have essentially no risk of infection with this vaccine derived polio that is circulating in Papua New Guinea.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Papua New Guinea:

  • Visit the CDC Travelers Health Page.
  • Avoid using local taxis or buses, known as public motor vehicles or PMVs.
  • Travel with guides from a reputable tour company, particularly if you plan to hike.
  • Avoid walking or driving at night.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Papua New Guinea.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Areas Near the Panguna Mine - Level 3: Reconsider Travel

The Autonomous Government of Bougainville has designated areas near the mine as “no go zones" due to the risk of violence and civil unrest. Bougainville police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.

The Highlands Region - Level 3: Reconsider Travel

An earthquake has damaged infrastructure and disrupted local services.

The Southern Highlands Province and Hela Province - Level 4: Do Not Travel

Recent government protests and tribal fighting have caused major destruction to government buildings and public infrastructure. Police have been unable to keep public order or prevent destruction of property. The U.S. Embassy has banned travel to these two regions for all Embassy employees until further notice.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

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Embassy Messages
Alerts
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:


6 months.

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


One blank page is required.

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Available upon arrival at the international airport for stays of fewer than 60 days.

VACCINATIONS:


None required.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


More than PGK 10,000 must be declared.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


More than PGK 10,000 must be declared.

ALL /
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Port Moresby

Douglas Street, adjacent to the Bank of Papua New Guinea,
P.O. Box 1492
Port Moresby, NCD 121
Papua New Guinea
Telephone: +(675) 321-1455
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(675) 7200-9439

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Papua New Guinea for information on U.S.-Papua New Guinea relations.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

To enter Papua New Guinea, 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 reasons 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. If you anticipate transiting or visiting Australia, we advise you to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) for Australia before leaving the United States

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 this information with the Embassy of Papua New Guinea before you travel.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

Safety and Security
  • Tensions between communal or clan groups may result in local conflicts involving bush knives, machetes, or firearms.
  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Bougainville. Law enforcement in this area is limited, and tourist and transportation facilities are inadequate.
  • Avoid areas near the Panguna mine that have been officially designated “no go zones” by the Autonomous Government of Bougainville.
  • 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.

Crime: Papua New Guinea has a high crime rate. U.S. citizens have been victims of violent crime, including gang-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, or serious injury. Excursions to local shops, restaurants, and tourist sights should be done in groups.

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.

See Road Conditions and Safety below for information on road security and areaas to avoid. 

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams. 

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: To report crimes to the local police, contact your nearest police station and contact the U.S. Embassy at +675-308-2100. There is no nation-wide number like 911. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime. Police have been known to demand gas money or other forms of compensation before leaving the station to investigate a crime. For petty crime, they will often not investigate. 

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you 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.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: 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. 

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: 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.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: There have been multiple cases of sexual assault, including gang rapes. Sexual violence occurs not only in the capital of Port Moresby but is common in many parts of the country, against both local and expatriate women. Women especially are cautioned not to travel alone in Papua New Guinea. Women should observe stringent security precautions, including avoiding use of public transport, especially after dark, restricting evening entertainment to venues with good security, and avoiding isolated areas when alone at any time of day. When possible, travel with groups of well-known, trusted people rather than alone. Women traveling in Papua New Guinea are advised to respect local dress and customs. Customary everyday dress for women throughout the country is conservative, and even more so in non-urban areas, with women wearing clothing that covers their shoulders and their legs past the knees. Some hotels in Papua New Guinea offer a female-only floor or section for added safety, so women traveling alone may wish to inquire if their lodging offers such a choice. See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

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. Firearms should not be brought into the country. 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.

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.

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. 

Health

The quality of medical facilities in Papua New Guinea varies greatly between larger towns and remote areas.Medical care in remote areas is poor and access can be very difficult. With the development of the New PIH hospital in Port Moresby the standard of general medical care has improved. They offer 24/7 Emergency service with fully equipped ambulances. They have specialty clinics including Pathology, X-rays,U/S and CT scanner. Severe injuries will almost always require medical evacuation. The Medevac Centre for Port Morseby is Singapore. Urgent cases can be medevaced to Australia. 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 and confirm if your health insurance will cover the costs of a medical evacuation. 

Pharmacies in Papua New Guinea are found mainly in urban centers. Pharmacy care in Port Morseby is improving. There are now some bigger chain pharmacies available that offer a wide range of medications. The medications in these larger pharmacies are now sourced from reliable vendors. There have been some reported problems with counterfeit drugs that are not efficacious being sold at pharmacies in PNG. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for medical services. Additional Health and Medical Information is available on the Embassy website.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments.  See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Papua New Guinea to ensure the medication is legal in Papua New Guinea. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription. 

The following diseases are prevelant:

  • Communicable diseases
    • Malaria
    • Tuberculosis
    • Diarrhoeal diseases
    • Acute respiratory diseases
  • HIV - driven mainly by heterosexual transmission.
  • Cholera
  • Typhoid Fever
  • Filariasis (elephantiasis)
  • Leprosy
  • Zika

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Drinking Water: The water supply is chlorinated and fluoridated but it is advisable to boil before consumption.

Further health information:

Water Sports: If you scuba dive or snorkel while in Papua New Guinea, be sure to check the references, licenses, and equipment of tour operators before agreeing to a tour. Confirm that the dive operator you use is certified through one of the international diving associations, and that their certification is current. Confirm with the diving association directly that the operator is certified. Local dive masters may not consider your skill level when they organize a trip.

Rent equipment only from trustworthy operators and be sure to receive training before using the equipment. Some rental diving equipment may not be properly maintained or inspected.  Ensure that your travel insurance covers what some consider “risky” outdoor activities. You can also look at the Divers Alert Network (DAN) website for diver’s insurance.

Deaths and serious accidents have occurred in the past because basic safety measures were not taken during diving and snorkeling trips. Remember that safety precautions and emergency responses may not meet U.S. standards.

Papua New Guinea has one hyperbaric recompression chamber to provide medical assistance for dive-related injuries, which is located in Port Moresby. However, it is routinely inaccessible or non-operational. Diving injuries will therefore almost always require medical evacuation to Australia. Many of the popular dive sites are located on other islands, and it may take several hours to reach facilities in the event of an accident.

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Motor vehicle accidents are a common cause of serious injury in Papua New Guinea. 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. If possible, hire a local driver, who knows the roads and safety conditions. Be sure to:

  • Lock your doors and keep your windows rolled up. 
  • Avoid driving after dark, if possible. 
  • Consult with local law enforcement officials concerning security conditions before driving between towns.
  • Wear a seatbelt at all times.

Safety risks include: 

  • Roads, especially in rural areas, are in a poor state of repair.
  • Erratic and drunk drivers
  • Poorly maintained vehicles
  • Over-crowded vehicles
  • Landslides occur on some stretches of the Highlands Highway between Lae and Mount Hagen during the rainy season.
  • Criminal roadblocks on the Highlands Highway during the day and after dark 

Traffic Laws: Traffic in Papua New Guinea moves on the left. 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. If you are involved in an accident and you feel threatened, go directly to the nearest police station instead of remaining at the scene of the accident.

Public Transportation: 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. 

See 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.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Papua New Guinea should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at www.marad.dot.gov/msci. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website and the NGA broadcast warnings website (select “broadcast warnings”)

Last Updated: March 9, 2018
Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Port Moresby
Douglas Street, adjacent to the Bank of Papua New Guinea,
P.O. Box 1492
Port Moresby, NCD 121
Papua New Guinea
Telephone
+(675) 321-1455
Emergency
+(675) 7200-9439
Fax
No Fax
Papua New Guinea Map