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?)
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 Pacific International 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 Moresby 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 Moresby 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 ineffective counterfeit drugs 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 prevalent:
Malaria is common in all of Papua New Guinea except areas above 2000 m and the central business area of Port Moresby. Malaria is the most serious disease risk to travelers and can occur even in short overnight stays. Malaria prophylaxis is recommended for all travelers unless they are at altitude or central Port Moresby.
Food and waterborne diarrheal illnesses are very common in all areas including in deluxe accommodations. Travelers should take food and water precautions and talk to their provider about bringing antibiotics for self-treatment.
Due to low immunization rates in Papua New Guinea there has been an ongoing outbreak of vaccine derived polio strains in multiple areas. All travelers, in addition to other immunizations, should have a polio booster documented in their immunization record within a year of travel.
Cholera, dengue, HIV, Japanese encephalitis, leptospirosis, rickettsial infections, sexually transmitted infections, tuberculosis and Zika virus are also prevalentand Polio
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as chickenpox, measles, hepatitis A and pertussis are common in Papua New Guinea .
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.
Local laws and 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.
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:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report ? see country reports
- Human Rights Report ? see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
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.
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. Foot paths and road crossings in most major towns are congested and uneven, limiting access and movement for people with disabilities.
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, and women traveling alone may wish to inquire if their lodging offers such a choice. See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
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.
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.
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 Sports
Organized tours and hiking adventures 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. If you do 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 at 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.
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.
Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police at the nearest police station and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(675) 321-1455 or +(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.
- 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 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 are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.
For further information:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call us in Washington at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Advisories, and Alerts.
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
Entry exit Requirementsh
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. 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 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.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Papua New Guinea for information on U.S.-Papua New Guinea relations.