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Latest travel advice for Papua New Guinea including safety and security, entry requirements, travel warnings and health

2017-03-10T10:56:20.116+00:00: Latest update: Summary - removal of information and advice about the earthquake in the New Ireland region in December 2016

UK health authorities have classified Papua New Guinea as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

There is a high level of serious crime. Law and order is poor or very poor in many parts of the country. Pay close attention to your personal security, particularly after dark, and monitor the media for possible new security risks. See Crime and Local Travel

Carjacking is an ever present threat, particularly in Port Moresby and Lae. Lock car doors and keep windows up at all times. If possible travel in convoy or with a security escort after dark. See Crime

Outbreaks of tribal fighting can occur and may escalate quickly. You should avoid large crowds and public gatherings as they may turn violent. See Local travel

Following an increase in civil unrest in Lae, you should be particularly vigilant as there’s an increased risk of violence and crime.

Papua New Guinea is prone to seasonal natural disasters including tropical cyclones and flash flooding. Monitor the latest weather reports. See Natural disasters

For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

There is a low threat from terrorism.  See Terrorism

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. Most visits are trouble free.

Safety and security

Crime

Serious crime is particularly high in the capital, Port Moresby, and in the cities of Lae and Mt Hagen. Settlement or squatter areas of towns and cities are particularly dangerous. ’Bush knives’ (machetes) and firearms are often used in assaults and thefts. Carjacking, assault (including sexual assaults), bag snatching and robberies are common. Banks and cash machines are attractive targets for criminals. Walking after dark is particularly dangerous in Port Moresby and other urban centres.

Known high-risk areas include the area around Parliament House in the Port Moresby suburb of Waigani, particularly outside of working hours, and along the highway between Lae and Nadzab Airport, particularly between Goroka and Kainantu. Criminals use roadblocks on roads outside towns to stop and loot vehicles and then attack the occupants. If you intend to travel in these areas, take great care and consider using a security escort.

If you have to travel at night, do so by car, with doors locked and windows up, and travel in convoy or with a security escort.

Most crime is random, but people have been abducted by organised gangs and forced to open office safes while others are held captive until the ransom has been paid.

Rape and sexual assault are problems across the country. 

Local travel

Damage caused by heavy rain and cyclones can make travel difficult.

Check your travel insurance before considering any travel to remote areas. The cost of rescue by boat or aircraft can be high.

Outbreaks of tribal fighting are common, especially in Port Moresby, the Highlands Provinces (particularly Southern and Western Highlands) and Enga Province. Ethnic disputes can quickly escalate and result in the widespread destruction of property, disruption of normal services and serious injury. Stay alert, monitor local media and consult local contacts, (accommodation or other service providers) before travelling to a new area. Tribal fighters and criminals are becoming increasingly well armed through the trade in drugs for guns. Although foreigners are not normally targeted, you should avoid areas where tribal fighting is taking place.

Following murders in the town of Popondetta in Oro province, law and order has deteriorated. The potential for more violence exists. Travel to Popondetta, and on the road between Popondetta and Kokoda, may be dangerous. You should be extremely vigilant when travelling in and around Popondetta.

There have been serious attacks and robberies at both ends of the Kokoda Trail including a serious assault in January 2016. Although community leaders have assured tourists of their safety and well-being while walking the Kokoda Trail, you should take care.

If you intend to walk a trail or track, including the Kokoda trail, avoid walking independently and travel with guides from reputable travel companies. You can get details from the Papua New Guinea Tourism Authority or the Kokoda track authority.

World War II unexploded ordnance still exists in Papua New Guinea, particularly along the Kokoda Trail and at Milne Bay and Rabual.

Bougainville Island has emerged from a period of separatist conflict. You must provide notice of your intention to visit the island to the Bougainville Provincial Administration (telephone: +675 973 9798), and contact the Administration again upon arrival. Take great care when travelling in Bougainville. Be particularly vigilant when travelling beyond Buka into central and southern Bougainville. The mountainous area in central Bougainville around the old Panguna mine is a ‘No Go Zone’. You should not enter the ‘No Go Zone’. Foreigners who have entered the Zone without authorisation from the PNG Government have been questioned, some for many days, by PNG authorities and had their passports withheld on departure from the Zone.

Border areas

The land boundary between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea stretches for around 760km and is poorly defined. Border incursions and continuing conflict between the Indonesian government and portions of the indigenous population of West Papua started with the withdrawal of the Dutch colonial administration in 1962.

Renewed clashes between Indonesian soldiers and OPM (Free Papua Movement) close to the Papua New Guinea-Indonesian border near Wutung in Sanduan Province have reportedly left several soldiers and OPM members injured. Papua New Guinean authorities have placed restrictions on those who cross the border regularly. The fighting coincides with a global protest by pro-West Papua sympathisers on the eve of Indonesia’s national legislative elections, which were held on 9 April 2014.

The situation at Wutung on the border with Indonesia remains tense. There have been reports that the Indonesian military and the OPM have been engaging in gun battles. In response the Papua New Guinean government has strengthened its defence units at its Wutung border post. You should take extreme care and be prepared for possible sudden closure of the border crossing.

Air travel

Given the challenging terrain, extreme weather conditions and the condition of some remote airfields in PNG, flying in PNG carries greater safety risks than flying in the UK. Since 2000 over 20 aircraft accidents have happened in Papua New Guinea. The most recent being on 13 October 2011 when an Airlines PNG Dash 8 aircraft crashed near Madang, killing 28 people on board.

Delays and cancellations of international and domestic flights occur regularly. Check with your airline before travel and be prepared for the possibility of a lengthy wait at the airport.

Road travel

Driving is on the left. When driving, you must keep your driving licence with you at all times. You may use your UK driving licence for a period not exceeding 1 month. Roads, especially in rural areas, are in a poor state of repair and driving is often erratic. Drivers who are involved in, or witness road accidents may find themselves at personal risk. You should seek police assistance as soon as possible.

Don’t use public buses known locally as PMVs. There have been incidents of armed hold-ups of PMVs and of passengers being attacked and robbed of their personal belongings. There have also been reports of occasional rape attacks on Port Moresby PMVs. Many PMVs are not roadworthy.

Taxis are available in some major centres, but can be badly maintained. If you use a taxi, agree a fare before getting setting off, irrespective of whether or not there is a meter. Where possible arrange to be met by family, friends or a hotel courtesy bus when arriving at international or domestic airports.

Political situation

Avoid large public gatherings (including political rallies) which can be unpredictable.

Terrorism

There is a low threat from terrorism, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

As a general rule, you are prohibited from entering Papua New Guinea with fruit, vegetables and animal products due to local quarantine controls.

Marijuana and other narcotics are illegal in Papua New Guinea; offences can carry substantial prison sentences.

Homosexual acts are illegal; if found guilty, the penalty could be result in up to 14 years imprisonment.
Murder may draw the death sentence although there is currently a moratorium on the death penalty.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

You need a visa to enter Papua New Guinea. Tourists can get a visa free of charge on arrival. Business travellers can also get a visa on arrival, but will have to pay a fee in cash only (Kina). Entry requirements can change so check the latest information with the Papua New Guinea Immigration & Citizenship Authority before travelling.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Papua New Guinea.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Papua New Guinea.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

UK health authorities have classified Papua New Guinea as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Medical facilities in Papua New Guinea are very basic. Hospitals often run out of basic drugs/supplies and suffer from power shortages. Evacuation by air ambulance to Australia is available in more serious cases. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

The Papua New Guinea government has launched a national tuberculosis awareness campaign in response to the rapidly growing number of TB cases in the country. Cases of drug resistant TB have been reported in Western and Gulf province and in Port Moresby.

For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Cases of Chikungunya virus have been confirmed in Papua New Guinea. Dengue fever is also present. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 111 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Natural disasters

Papua New Guinea sits along a volatile seismic strip called the “Ring of Fire” in the Pacific. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis are possible. Seismic and volcanic activity is more likely to occur near Rabaul in East New Britain Province, Kimbe in West New Britain Province, and on Manam Island in Madang Province.

Earthquakes

There is a constant danger from earthquakes, which can be followed by tsunami warnings.

To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see the website of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Volcanoes

Manam Island Volcano erupted in 2010 and although there has been no evidence of any lava flow, people have been advised not to climb on or around the volcano.

Tavurvur in East New Britain erupted on 29 August 2014. Authorities have evacuated communities close to the volcano and residents of Rabaul town have been advised to remain indoors to avoid falling ash. You should monitor local reports for latest information on the volcano and follow the instructions of local authorities. Information on the volcanic ash plume is available on the website of the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Darwin.

Tropical Cyclones

The tropical cyclone season normally runs from November to May. Monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

See our tropical cyclones page for advice about what to do if you are caught up in a storm.

Floods 

Flooding and landslides can occur, especially in rural areas. Coastal areas experience monthly King Tides, which may cause localised flooding. Local communities are fairly well adapted to cope.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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  • British High Commission Port Moresby

    Title:British High Commission Port Moresby
    Email:uk.inpng@fco.gov.uk
    Address:

    Sec 411 Lot 1 & 2
    Kiroki Street
    Waigani
    National Capital District
    Port Moresby
    Port Moresby
    Port Moresby
    Locked Mail Bag 212
    Papua New Guinea

    Contact: Telephone: (+675) 303 7600
    Fax: (+675) 325 3547
    Visiting:Public hours:
    Monday to Friday - 9.00am to 12.00pm

    Office hours:
    Monday to Thursday - 8.00am to 4.00pm
    Friday - 8.00am to 12.00pm
    Passports collection Monday - Friday 9.00am to 12.00pm
    Services:Transferring funds for prisoners / for financial assistance service (Assistance Services)
    Births and Deaths registration service (Documentary Services)
    Citizenship Ceremony service (Documentary Services)
    Emergency Travel Documents service (Assistance Services)
  • Department for International Trade Papua New Guinea and South Pacific

    Title:Department for International Trade Papua New Guinea and South Pacific
    Email:hera.tonge@mobile.trade.gov.uk
    Address:

    Ms Hera Tonge, Head of Department for International Trade PNG and South Pacific
    British High Commission
    Lock Bag 212
    Waigani
    National Capital District
    Papua New Guinea

    Contact: Mobile: +(675) 7909 3520
    Telephone: +(675) 325 1677 ext 2202
    Visiting:
    Services:

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