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Travel Security Advice for Papua New Guinea

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papua_new_guineaPapua_New_Guinea_Overview


COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:  

Papua New Guinea is a developing country in the Southwest Pacific.  The capital is Port Moresby.  Tourist facilities outside major towns are limited.  Crime is a serious concern throughout Papua New Guinea (please see the section on crime below).  Please read the Department of State Background Notes on Papua New Guinea for additional information.



REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:  

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Papua New Guinea are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the Department of State’s travel registration page in order to obtain updated information on local travel and security.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  By registering, U.S. citizens make it easier for the embassy or consulate to contact them in case of emergency. 

The U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby is located on Douglas Street, adjacent to the Bank of Papua New Guinea, in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.  That address should be used for courier deliveries.  The mailing address is P.O. Box 1492, Port Moresby, NCD 121, Papua New Guinea.  The Embassy's telephone number is 675-321-1455; the after-hour’s duty-officer telephone number is 675-601-9689; and fax number is 675-321-1593.  U.S. citizens may This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS: 

Travelers must possess a passport valid for at least six months, onward/return airline ticket, and proof of sufficient funds for their intended visit.  Travelers may obtain business or tourist visas (valid for stays of up to 60 days, with extensions available for an additional 30 days) upon arrival at Jacksons International Airport in Port Moresby.  All persons boarding international flights originating from Papua New Guinea must pay a departure fee, which is usually included in airline fares.  Travelers may obtain more information on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 1779 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 805, Washington, DC 20036.; tel. 202-745-3680; fax 202-745-3679.  Travelers may also visit the Papua New Guinea Embassy website and the Papua New Guinea Customs Service website.

Travelers who plan to transit or visit Australia must enter with an Australian visa or, if eligible, an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) The ETA replaces a visa and allows a stay of up to three months.  It may be obtained for a small service fee.  Airlines and many travel agents in the United States are also able to apply for ETAs on behalf of travelers.  Please note that U. S. citizens who overstay their ETAs or visas, even for short periods, may be subject to exclusion, detention, and deportation.  More information about the ETA, other visas, and entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of Australia at 1601 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC  20036, telephone (202) 797-3000, or via the Australian Embassy home pageVisa inquires may be directed to the Australian Visa Information Service at 1-905-280-1437. 

Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Papua New Guinea.  Travelers requesting residency or who intend to remain long term in Papua New Guinea are required to have an AIDS test performed at a U.S. Government medical facility.  Please verify this information with the Embassy of Papua New Guinea before you travel.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.



THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY:  

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs' website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad.

Civil Unrest/Political Tension: 

Tension between communal or clan groups may lead to outbreaks of tribal fighting, often involving the use of firearms.  Travelers should consult with their tour operator, the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby, or with Papuan authorities before visiting the region.

Visitors intending to travel to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville should contact the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby for updated security information.  South Bougainville continues to suffer from intermittent factional violence.  Law enforcement in this area is weak, and tourist and transportation facilities are limited.  Travelers are advised to exercise a high degree of caution.  Areas near the Panguna mine, located on the southern part of the Island of Bougainville, have been officially designated “no go zones” by the Autonomous Government of Bougainville; U.S. citizens should avoid those areas.



CRIME: 

Papua New Guinea has a high crime rate.  Several U.S. citizen residents and visitors have been victims of a violent crime in recent years.  Victims sometimes suffered severe injuries.  Individuals traveling alone are at greater risk of violent crimes such as robbery or rape than those who are part of an organized tour or under escort.  Carjackings, armed robberies, and stoning of vehicles are problems in and around major cities such as Port Moresby, Lae, Mount Hagen, and Goroka but can occur anywhere.  Pickpockets and bag-snatchers frequent crowded public areas.  Hiking or other travel in isolated rural areas and visiting unguarded public sites such as parks, golf courses, beaches, or cemeteries can be dangerous.  The Embassy recommends prospective visitors consult the State Department’s Primer on Personal Security for Visitors to Papua New Guinea .

Organized tours booked through travel agencies remain the safest means to visit attractions in Papua New Guinea.  Visitors to Papua New Guinea should avoid using local taxis or buses, known as Public Motor Vehicles (PMV's), and should instead rely on their sponsor or hotel to arrange for hotel transportation or rental car.  Road travel outside of major towns can be hazardous due to criminal roadblocks near bridges, curves in the road, or other features that restrict vehicle speed and mobility.  Visitors should consult with the U.S. Embassy or with local law enforcement officials concerning security conditions before driving between towns.  (See also Traffic Safety and Road Conditions below).  Travel to isolated places in Papua New Guinea is possible primarily by small passenger aircraft to the many small airstrips throughout the country.  Security measures at these airports are often inadequate.

Hiking Trails: 

U.S. citizens should exercise a high degree of caution when walking the Kokoda Track and other trails in Papua New Guinea .  Travelers should travel with guides from a reputable tour company.  Because of the terrain and logistics of Papua New Guinea, any injuries may necessitate the need for medical evacuation, which can be very expensive. The embassy therefore recommends that hikers purchase appropriate travelers/medical insurance 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 675-325-5540 or 675-325-1887 regarding payment of applicable fees. .

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available.  Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law.  In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. 



VICTIMS OF CRIME:  

If you are the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates).  This includes the loss or theft of a U.S. passport.  The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds may be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime are solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Papua New Guinea is 000.

Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.



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.  Persons violating Papua New Guinea’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.  Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Papua New Guinea are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.



SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:  

Customs:  Papua New Guinean and Australian customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Papua New Guinea and Australia of items such as firearms, certain prescription drugs, wooden artifacts, animal products, food, and sexually explicit material.  Other products may be subject to quarantine.  It is advisable to contact the Embassies of Papua New Guinea and Australia in Washington, D.C., for specific information regarding each country’s customs requirements.  (See the contact information in the section on Entry/Exit Requirements above.)

Natural Disasters:  Papua New Guinea is prone to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and sudden tidal movements.  There are numerous active volcanoes throughout Papua New Guinea.  General information about natural disaster preparedness is available from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Documentation:  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 is readily available.



MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: 

Medical facilities in Papua New Guinea vary between 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.  However, equipment failures and sudden shortages of common medications can mean 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 found only in urban centers and at missionary clinics.  They are small and may be inadequately stocked.  Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for medical services.  Please contact the U.S. Embassy for a list of medical facilities in Papua New Guinea.

Medical conditions arising as a result of diving accidents will almost always require medical evacuation to Australia, where more sophisticated facilities are available.  Medical evacuation companies could charge thousands of dollars to transport a victim to Australia or the U.S.  A last-minute, one-way commercial ticket from Port Moresby to Brisbane or Cairns costs upwards of US$650.00 for economy class and upwards of US.$950.00 for business class.  The most commonly used facilities are in Brisbane and Cairns, both in the Australian state of Queensland.  Travelers who anticipate the possible need for medical treatment in Australia should obtain entry permission for Australia in advance.  Entry permission for Australia can be granted by the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby, but it is easier to obtain an ETA prior to leaving the United States (see section above on Entry/Exit Requirements).

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC websiteFor information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) websiteThe WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.



MEDICAL INSURANCE: 

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to determine whether the policy applies overseas and whether it covers emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.



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 or circumstance.

Traffic in Papua New Guinea moves on the left.  Travel on highways outside of major towns can be hazardous.  Motor vehicle accidents are a common cause of serious injury in Papua New Guinea, especially when passengers are sitting in the open bed of a pickup truck.  Drivers and passengers are advised to wear seatbelts.  There is no countrywide road network.  Roads are generally in poor repair, and flat tires occur routinely as a result of potholes and debris on the roadways.  During the rainy season, landslides can be a problem on some stretches of the Highlands Highway between Lae and Mount Hagen.  Criminal roadblocks on the Highlands Highway are often encountered during the day and widely after dark.  Visitors should consult with local authorities or the U.S. Embassy before traveling on the Highlands Highway.

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.  Persons involved in accidents usually should proceed directly to the nearest police station, rather than stopping at the scene of the accident.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.  Visit the website of Papua New Guinea’s national tourism office and national authority responsible for road safety. 

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.


CHILDREN'S ISSUES: 

Please see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.

This replaces the Country Specific Information for Papua New Guinea dated April 23, 2009, to update the sections on Entry/Exit Requirements, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions. 


The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding travel to Papua New Guinea HERE....

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassies Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens).............

There is also a Malaria Warning for Papua New Guinea HERE......

Regards

The SW Team.......

 

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