Papua New Guinea - Consular Information Sheet
March 14, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Papua New Guinea is a parliamentary
democracy and a member of the British Commonwealth. The country
consists of the eastern half of New Guinea Island, the Bismarck
Archipelago, the D'Entrecasteaux Islands, the Louisiade Archipelago,
and the islands of Buka and Bougainville. Good tourist facilities
exist in the capital of Port Moresby and in major towns such as
Lae and Madang. The quality of tourist facilities in other areas
varies and may be below U.S. standards, particularly in remote
areas. Crime is a serious concern throughout Papua New Guinea
(see paragraph on crime below).
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A valid passport, onward/return ticket,
and proof of sufficient funds for the intended visit are required.
Tourist visas are required for stays up to 60 days. (Visas are
issued upon arrival at Jacksons International Airport in Port
Moresby). Business visas require passport validity of at least
one year from the date the visa is issued, two application forms,
two photos, a company letter, biographic data, a recent annual
report of the parent company and a fee for multiple entries. An
AIDS test is required for work and residency permits (U.S. test
American citizens who remain in Papua New Guinea beyond the period
authorized by immigration authorities may face fines and penalties.
Papua New Guinea collects a departure tax. The departure tax is
normally incorporated into airline fares at the time of ticket
For more information about entry and exit requirements, travelers
may contact the Embassy of Papua New Guinea, 1615 New Hampshire
Ave., NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20009, Tel. 202-745-3680, or
Embassy's website at http://www.pngembassy.org.
Travelers may also wish to obtain entry permission from the Government
of Australia for transit or other purposes (see section on Medical
Facilities) before traveling to Papua New Guinea. American citizens
no longer need a visa to travel to Australia as tourists but must
obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) through their travel
agent. For further information about Australian visas or the ETA,
contact the Embassy of Australia in Washington, D.C., at 1-800-242-2878
or at the Embassy
of Australia's website at http://www.austemb.org.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Before traveling to Bougainville,
the largest island in the North Solomons province, it is recommended
that visitors obtain updated security information from the U.S.
Embassy in Port Moresby. Despite a peace agreement between the
government and dissidents, law enforcement is weak on Bougainville,
there are no tourist facilities on the island and transportation
facilities are limited.
An Indonesian secessionist group remains active along the largely
inaccessible Papua New Guinea/Indonesia border on the island of
The Southern Highlands Province is also an area of instability.
Incidents of ethnic violence have occurred near urban centers
and tourist sites. American citizens considering travel to the
region should consult with their tour operator and the American
Embassy prior to doing so.
The town of Rabaul, on the island of New Britain, is located
near two active volcanoes that buried half of the town during
eruptions in September 1994. Volcanic activity continues, and
travelers should be aware of the potential for further eruptions.
Persons with respiratory problems may find that airborne ash exacerbates
CRIME: Papua New Guinea has a high crime rate. Crime and
personal security are serious concerns throughout Papua New Guinea.
Carjackings, armed robberies, and stoning of vehicles are a problem
in Port Moresby, the capital. Pickpockets and bag-snatchers frequent
crowded public areas. Hiking in rural areas and visiting isolated
public areas such as parks, golf courses, beaches, or cemeteries
can be dangerous. Persons traveling alone are at greater risk
for robbery or gang rape than those who are part of an organized
tour or under escort. Visitors to Papua New Guinea should avoid
using taxis or buses, known as public motor vehicles, and should
rely instead on their sponsor or hotel to arrange for taxi service
or a rental car.
Travel outside of Port Moresby and other major towns at night
can be hazardous, as criminals set up roadblocks. Visitors should
consult with the U.S. Embassy or with local law enforcement officials
concerning security conditions before driving between towns. Travel
to isolated places in Papua New Guinea is possible primarily by
small passenger-aircraft; there are many small airstrips throughout
the country. Security measures at these airports are rare. Organized
tours booked through travel agencies remain the safest means to
visit attractions in Papua New Guinea. The Embassy recommends
that prospective visitors consult "A Primer on Personal Security
for Visitors to Papua New Guinea," available from the
Bureau of Consular Affairs homepage at http://travel.state.gov.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or
Consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's
pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad
for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet
is available by mail from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
or via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities in Papua New Guinea
vary from hospitals in Port Moresby and the larger towns to aid
posts (including some missionary stations) in remote areas. Medical
facilities vary in quality, but those in the larger towns are
usually adequate for routine problems and some emergencies. Equipment
failures and sudden shortages of common medications can mean,
however, that even routine treatments and procedures (such as
X-rays) may become unavailable. A hyperbaric recompression chamber
for diving emergencies is available in Port Moresby. Pharmacies
in Papua New Guinea are small and may be inadequately stocked.
They are found only in urban centers and at missionary clinics.
Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for
Medical conditions arising as a result of diving accidents will
almost always require medical evacuation to Australia. More sophisticated
medical facilities are located in Australia. The most commonly
used facilities are in Brisbane and Cairns, both in the Australian
state of Queensland. Travelers who anticipate the need for ongoing
medical treatment should obtain entry permission for Australia
in advance. Entry permission for Australia can be granted by the
Australian Embassy in Port Moresby, but it is easier to obtain
prior to leaving the United States.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always
valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs
do not provide payment for medical services outside the United
States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment
for health services. Uninsured travelers who require medical care
overseas may face extreme difficulties.
Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your
policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation,
and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring
hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States
can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Ascertain whether payment
will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you
will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance
policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for
disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via
of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations
and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international
travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's
Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, U.S. citizens 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
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor to Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Not Available
Traffic in Papua New Guinea moves on the left. Travel on highways
outside of major towns can be hazardous. Motor vehicle accidents,
especially where passengers are sitting in the open bed of a pickup
truck, are one of the more common causes of serious injury in
Papua New Guinea. Drivers and passengers are urged to wear seatbelts
whenever possible. There is no countrywide road network, roads
are generally in poor repair, and flat tires occur routinely as
a result of debris on the roadways. Landslides can be a problem
on some stretches of the Highlands Highway between Lae and Mount
Hagen during the rainy season. Criminal roadblocks have occurred
during the day on the Highlands Highway and more widely after
dark. Travelers should consult with local authorities or the U.S.
Embassy before traveling on the Highlands Highway.
Reactions by crowds after road accidents in Papua New Guinea
can be emotional and violent. Crowds form quickly after an accident
and may attack those whom they hold responsible, stoning and/or
burning their vehicles. Friends and relatives of an injured party
may demand immediate compensation from the party they hold responsible
for injuries, regardless of legal responsibility. Persons involved
in accidents usually find it prudent to proceed directly to the
nearest police station rather than stopping at the scene of an
For additional general information
about road safety, including links to foreign government sites,
see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page
at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information
concerning Papua New Guinea driving permits, vehicle inspection,
road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the
Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion via the Internet at http://www.paradiselive.org.pg.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial
air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority
to operate such service, between the U.S. and Papua New Guinea,
the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed
Papua New Guinea's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with
international aviation safety standards.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit
Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S.
Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air
carriers for suitability as official providers of air services.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Papua New Guinea customs authorities
may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation
into or export from Papua New Guinea of items such as firearms,
certain prescription drugs and sexually explicit material. Other
products may be subject to quarantine. It is advisable to contact
the Embassy of Papua New Guinea in Washington for specific information
regarding customs requirements.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S.
citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which
sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States
and may not afford the protections available to the individual
under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe
than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating
the Papua New Guinea law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested
or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in
illegal drugs in Papua New Guinea are strict, and convicted offenders
can expect severe jail sentences and fines.
CONSULAR ACCESS: U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry
a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that,
if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship
are readily available.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Papua New Guinea is located in
an area of high seismic activity. Although the probability of
a major earthquake occurring during an individual trip is remote,
earthquakes can and will continue to happen. In addition, there
are two active volcanoes near the town of Rabaul on New Britain.
General information regarding disaster preparedness is available
via the Internet from the
U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) home page
For information on international adoption of children or international
parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site
at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens are encouraged
to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Port
Moresby and obtain updated information on travel and security
within Papua New Guinea. The U.S. Embassy is located at Douglas
Street, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. This address should be
used for courier service deliveries. The Embassy is located adjacent
to the Bank of Papua New Guinea. The mailing address is P.O. Box
1492, Port Moresby, N.C.D. 121, Papua New Guinea. The U.S. Embassy's
telephone number is (675) 321-1455; fax (675) 321-1593. Americans
consular inquiries via e-mail to: email@example.com.