COVID-19 Travel
May 28, 2021

COVID-19 Travel Guidance for U.S. Citizens

COVID-19 Alert
July 21, 2021

Update on U.S. Passport Operations

International Travel

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Country Information

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea
Independent State of Papua New Guinea
Do not travel to Papua New Guinea due to COVID-19, crime, civil unrest, health concerns, natural disasters, and kidnapping. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Do not travel to Papua New Guinea due to COVID-19, crime, civil unrest, health concerns, natural disasters, and kidnapping. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Papua New Guinea for COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country. Your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine. Before planning any international travel, please review the CDC's specific recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.

There are restrictions in place, including third-country transit requirements, affecting U.S. citizen entry and exit in Papua New Guinea. Visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 and related restrictions and conditions in Papua New Guinea.

Reconsider travel to:

  • Bougainville, particularly areas near the Panguna mine, due to civil unrest.
  • The Highlands region due to civil unrest.
  • Areas in the vicinity of Mt. Ulawun on the island of New Britain due to natural disaster.

Country Summary: Violent crime, including sexual assault, carjackings, home invasions, kidnappings, and armed robberies, is common. Tensions between communal or clan groups may result in violence at any time without warning. Police presence is limited outside of the capital Port Moresby, and police may be unable to assist due to limited resources.

Public demonstrations, especially in population centers, are common and may turn violent. Even peaceful demonstrations may present opportunities for criminal elements or other actors to exacerbate local political tensions.

On August 21, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a Level 2 Travel Notice for Papua New Guinea regarding an outbreak of vaccine-derived poliovirus in the Morobe Province. Refer to the CDC for additional information and advice on the outbreak.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Port Moresby due to limited transportation infrastructure. U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization before traveling to areas of concern, including Bougainville.

Read the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Papua New Guinea:

Areas Near the Panguna Mine - Reconsider Travel

The Autonomous Bougainville Government has designated areas near the Panguna 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 U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Port Moresby due to limited transportation infrastructure. U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization before traveling to areas of concern, including Bougainville.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

The Highlands Region - Reconsider Travel

There is a heightened risk of tribal violence in the region.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Port Moresby due to limited transportation infrastructure. U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization before traveling to areas of concern, including Bougainville.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Areas in the Vicinity of Mt. Ulawun - Reconsider Travel

Recent years have seen regular volcanic activity at Mt. Ulawun, a volcano on the eastern end of the island of New Britain. A major eruption occurred in June 2019, leading to widespread ash fall, the displacement of local communities, and the temporary closure of the international airport in Hoskins.

Smaller, but still significant, eruptions occurred in August and October 2019. Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.

 

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Embassy Messages

Alerts

Quick Facts

PASSPORT VALIDITY:


Six months.

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


One blank page is required.

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Obtain a physical visa or eVisa prior to arrival.

VACCINATIONS:


None required. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommends that travelers ensure their polio and measles vaccinations are up-to-date.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


More than PGK 20,000 must be declared.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


More than PGK 20,000 must be declared.

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 or +(675) 308-2100
Emergency After-Hours Telephone for U.S. citizens only: +(675) 7200-9439
Email: 

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

Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on entry/ exit requirements related to COVID-19 in Papua New Guinea. 

To enter Papua New Guinea, U.S. citizens 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.

Obtain a valid physical visa or eVisa in advance of arrival. The Embassy of Papua New Guinea is located at 1825 K Street, NW, Suite 1010, Washington, DC 20006; telephone: 202-745-3680; email address visa@pngembassy.org. Visit the website of Papua New Guinea’s Immigration and Citizenship Authority for the most current visa information.

If you transit other countries en route to Papua New Guinea, follow all necessary exit/entry procedures for the countries you transit. You may need to obtain visas or travel authorizations for some of those countries. If you anticipate transiting or visiting Australia, obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (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 HIV/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 nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

Safety and Security

Summary:

  • Crime is a significant concern. U.S. citizens have been victims of violent crime, including sexual assault, carjacking, home invasions, kidnappings, and armed robberies.
  • Tensions between communal or clan groups may result in violent conflict at any time, including in Port Moresby and other urban areas.
  • Exercise a high degree of caution in remote areas, as law enforcement presence is extremely limited and tourist and transportation facilities are inadequate.
  • 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.
  • There has been a recent uptick in small-scale piracy, particularly in waters surrounding Madang and Milne Bay.

Crime: Papua New Guinea has a high crime rate.

  • 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 crime such as sexual assault if you travel alone, especially if you plan to hike in isolated rural areas.
  • Pickpockets and 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.

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. Report crimes and law enforcement-related emergencies to local police by calling 112. In the event you are unable to get through to the police, operators with St. John Ambulance Service may be able to assist you by passing your request to the police control center. You may also contact the U.S. Embassy at +675 308 2100. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.

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
  • Provide general information regarding the victim’s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion
  • Provide a list of local attorneys
  • Provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States
  • 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

Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

Organized Tours and Adventure Travel

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 crime and injury. If you choose to travel to Papua New Guinea with a group tour, here are some things to be aware of:

  • Excursions to local shops, restaurants, and tourist sights should be done in groups.
  • Security protocols, standards of professionalism, and pricing can vary widely among tour operators and local guides.
  • Unscrupulous tour guides or criminal elements may attempt to extort money from tour groups and individual travelers through the use of informal roadblocks, unwarranted delays, or by imposing additional undisclosed fees.
  • Before making tour arrangements, research tour operators and guides, and compare itineraries through multiple sources, including the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority.

Diving and Snorkeling: Scuba divers and or snorkelers are advised to check the references, licenses, and equipment of tour operators before agreeing to a tour. Confirm the dive operator 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. Make sure that your travel medical insurance covers your sport. The Divers Alert Network (DAN) website has information on diver’s insurance.

Deaths and serious accidents have occurred in the past because basic safety precautions were not taken during diving and snorkeling trips. Remember that safety measures 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, located in Port Moresby at the Tropicair Hangar at Jacksons International Airport. However, it may not always be operational. Diving injuries may therefore require medical evacuation to Australia. Many popular dive sites are located near outlying islands, and it may take several hours to reach facilities in the event of an accident.

Other Water Sports: Exercise caution and common sense when engaging in all adventure sports, including but not limited to whitewater rafting, sea kayaking, and windsailing. Make sure your travel medical insurance covers your sport. Never participate in adventure sports alone. Before kayaking, rafting, or windsailing, check water conditions and wear a life jacket and helmet. Water conditions may become extremely dangerous during heavy rainfall, and flash floods are common.

Hiking: Exercise caution if you plan to hike the Kokoda Track, the Black Cat Track, Mt. Wilhelm, Mt. Giluwe, or other established or informal hiking trails in Papua New Guinea. Hikers have been attacked and killed, even along the most well-known routes. Local landowners occasionally threaten to close parts of the tracks due to local land and compensation disputes. Carry a first aid kit and observe all local and trail-specific regulations.

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Adventure Travel.

Demonstrations occur frequently. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events. 

  • Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly become violent. 
  • Avoid areas around protests and demonstrations. 
  • Check local media for updates and traffic advisories.

International Financial Scams: See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information.

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

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. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from relevant local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, 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 the following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: Same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea is a conservative country and public displays of affection are generally not understood or 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 mandating access to transportation, communication, and public buildings for persons with disabilities. The road network in Papua New Guinea is in poor condition. Foot paths, road crossings, and stairways in most major towns are congested, uneven, and are generally not constructed or maintained with an eye toward access for persons with disabilities.

Travelers with Disabilities: The law in Papua New Guinea prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, or mental disabilities, but is not enforced. Social acceptance of persons with disabilities in public is not as prevalent as in the United States. Expect accessibility to be limited in public transportation, lodging, communication/information, and general infrastructure in both rural and urban areas, including the capital. The availability of rental, repair and replacement parts for aids/equipment/devices, or service providers, such as sign language interpreters or personal assistants is limited.

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

Women Travelers: Sexual assault and gender-based violence are relatively common in Papua New Guinea. Though most often reported in urban centers and against the local population, these attacks can occur anywhere and also be directed against tourists or foreign residents. Police have limited capacity to respond to such crimes and health workers at local medical facilities may not be adequately trained or have the capacity to provide victim-centered care or administer post exposure prophylaxes. Women are advised of the following precautions:

  • Do not travel alone, and if possible travel with a group of people you trust.
  • Avoid public transport, especially after dark.
  • Limit evening entertainment to venues with professional security.
  • Avoid isolated areas when alone at any time of day.
  • 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. 
  • Ask if your lodging has a female-only floor or section. Some hotels in Papua New Guinea offer this option.

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 is among the most disaster-prone countries in the world. Earthquakes, tropical cyclones, destructive tsunamis, exceptionally high tides, seasonal and flash flooding, and landslides can occur with little or no notice. The country has many active volcanoes. Recent eruptions have occurred in in Bougainville, East and West New Britain, and Manam Island. Ash from volcanoes in East and West New Britain occasionally disrupts air and ground operations at the airports in Kokopo and Hoskins.

Documentation: Carry a copy of your U.S. passport and Papua New Guinean visa at all times so that you can demonstrate your proof of identity, U.S. citizenship, and immigration status to authorities if asked.

Health

For emergency services in Papua New Guinea, dial 111 to reach St. John Ambulance Service.

Ambulance services are:

  • Not present throughout the country or are unreliable in most areas except for Port Moresby and other major urban areas.
  • Not equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment.
  • Not always staffed with trained paramedics and/ or may have little or no medical equipment.
  • Injured or seriously ill travelers may prefer to take a private vehicle to the nearest major hospital rather than wait for an ambulance.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.

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. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation, as severe injuries often require medical evacuation to Australia, Singapore, the Philippines, or the United States at a cost of thousands of dollars. Medical evacuations to Australia require a visa or Electronic Travel Authority.

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Embassy of Papua New Guinea to ensure the medication is legal in Papua New Guinea.

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

Further health information:

The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.

Health facilities in general:

  • Health facilities are available in Port Moresby and other major urban areas, but health care may be below U.S. standards or vary greatly between locations.
  • Public medical clinics often lack basic resources and supplies.
  • Hospitals and doctors may require payment “up front” prior to service or admission, and credit card payment is not always available.
  • Private hospitals usually require advance payment or proof of adequate insurance before admitting a patient.
  • Generally, in public hospitals, only minimal staff is available overnight. Consider hiring a private nurse or having family spend the night with the patient, especially a minor child.
  • Patients bear all costs for transfer to or between hospitals.
  • Psychological and psychiatric services are extremely limited, even in Port Moresby and other urban areas. Hospital-based care is only available through one government institution in Port Moresby.

Pharmaceuticals:          

  • Exercise caution when purchasing medication overseas. Pharmaceuticals, both over the counter and requiring prescription in the United States, are often readily available for purchase with little controls. Counterfeit medication is common and may prove to be ineffective, the wrong strength, or contain dangerous ingredients. Medication should be purchased in consultation with a medical professional and from reputable establishments.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration are responsible for rules governing the transport of medication back to the United States. Medication purchased abroad must meet their requirements to be legally brought back into the United States. Medication should be for personal use and must be approved for usage in the United States. Please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration websites for more information.
  • Persons arriving in Papua New Guinea are advised to travel with copies of any prescriptions for medication. Common prescription and over-the-counter medications are generally available at pharmacies located in major urban areas.

Water Quality:

  • In many areas, tap water is not potable. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe, although you should be aware that many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Be aware that ice for drinks may be made using tap water.

General Health: The following diseases are prevalent:

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 car jackings, armed robbery, and criminal roadblocks near bridges, curves in the road, or other areas where vehicle speed and mobility is restricted. Be sure to:

  • Lock your doors and keep your windows rolled up.
  • Drive in convoys and avoid driving after dark, if possible.
  • Hire a reputable driver or private transport service.
  • Consult with local law enforcement officials concerning security conditions before driving between towns.
  • Wear a seatbelt at all times.

Safety risks include: 

  • Roads are in a poor state of repair, especially in rural areas.
  • Erratic and intoxicated drivers
  • Poorly maintained vehicles
  • Over-crowded vehicles
  • Landslides, especially during the rainy season along stretches of the Highlands Highway between Lae and Mount Hagen
  • Car jackings, armed robberies, and criminal roadblocks, particularly along the Highlands Highway

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, and police may not always act in a professional manner. As a driver, you should ensure that your vehicle registration and safety stickers are up-to-date in order to minimize difficulties at police checkpoints.

If You Are Involved in a Road Accident: 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), as crimes such as robbery and sexual assault on buses are not uncommon. Use a reliable service provided by your hotel, employer, or colleagues.

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 Vehicles Insurance 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. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings.

Persons arriving on or transiting through Papua New Guinea on sailboats or yachts should be aware that small-scale piracy can occur and has recently been reported near Madang and Milne Bay.

For additional travel information

International Parental Child Abduction

For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.

Last Updated: December 23, 2020

Travel Advisory Levels

Information for Vaccinated Travelers

The CDC's latest guidance on international travel for vaccinated people can be found here.

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) 308-2100
Emergency
+(675) 7200-9439
Fax
No Fax

Papua New Guinea Map