Exercise a high degree of caution in Papua New Guinea (PNG) because of high levels of serious crime.
Reconsider your need to travel to Tari in Hela Province due to ongoing violent tribal clashes. Seek local advice on the security situation before travel. See
Safety and security.
Reconsider your need to travel to Porgera township in Enga Province in the northern highlands at this time. Violence near the Porgera gold mine has led to a number of deaths and injuries. Porgera township has been in a State of Emergency since May 2014. See
Safety and security.
- Reconsider your need to travel to Mendi in Southern Highlands Province. On 15 June 2018 PNG authorities declared a State of Emergency in Mendi, following civil unrest and violence. Authorities have deployed additional security resources to Mendi to enforce law and order. Tensions between supporters of political candidates remain high and could turn violent without warning. Monitor local reports on security, avoid protests and follow the instructions of local authorities. See Safety and security.
- A 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck the Southern Highlands and Hela Provinces in February causing over one hundred fatalities and several hundred injuries. A State of Emergency remains in place in Hela, Southern Highlands, Western and Enga Provinces to allow disaster relief. Strong aftershocks and landslides are possible. There is wide-spread damage to infrastructure and disruptions to services, including communications and flights. Access to local food supplies and clean water is limited. The security situation in the affected area remains unstable. If you are in an affected area ensure you have appropriate security arrangements in place. Follow the instructions of the local authorities and/or your employer, monitor media and consult your travel provider. See
- Avoid large crowds and public gatherings as they may turn violent. See
Safety and security.
- Local tensions and tribal disputes are common throughout PNG and can quickly escalate into violent clashes. Clashes can spark increased lawlessness, including opportunistic crime and property damage. Monitor local media. Avoid trouble spots. See
Safety and security.
- There is a persistent high level of crime, particularly in Port Moresby, Lae, Mt Hagen and other parts of the Highlands. Armed robberies, car-jackings and burglaries occur, often in locations frequented by Westerners. See
Safety and security.
- Violent crime is particularly frequent in parts of the Highlands, Oro Province, Central and Southern Bougainville, and Lae. See
Safety and security.
- Car-jacking is common, particularly in Port Moresby and Lae. Lock your car doors and windows at all times. Be particularly alert when travelling after dark. Consider using a security escort or travelling in a convoy at night. See
Safety and security.
- You could encounter sexual assault, including gang rape. Foreigners have been targeted. Be alert to possible threats and have appropriate security measures in place. Be particularly alert if you're female. See
Safety and security.
- Australian officials in PNG adopt heightened security measures while travelling, at home, at work and in public places. Given the constant threat of violent crime, you should consider doing the same. See
Safety and security.
- Given difficult terrain, extreme weather conditions and the condition of some remote airfields, flying in PNG carries greater safety risks than flying in Australia. See
- Local disputes and weather conditions can result in disruptions to flights and other transport services. Contact your airline or travel provider for the latest information. See
- Wet season is October to May. Flooding and landslides occur and have resulted in deaths. Roads can become impassable. Check with local sources on the condition of roads and the likely impact of rain before you travel. See
Travel smart for general advice for all travellers.
Entry and exit
You need a visa to enter PNG.
If you're visiting PNG for tourism and arriving via Jacksons International Airport (Port Moresby), Gurney Airport (Alotau), Kagamuga Airport (Mount Hagen) or Tokua Airport (Rabaul), you can apply for a visa on arrival. Tourist visas are valid for 30 days only and can't be extended. To qualify, you need a passport that is valid for at least six months after your planned return to Australia, a return or onward ticket and evidence that you have sufficient funds to support yourself while in PNG.
In other circumstances, you need to arrange your visa before you travel.
Cruise ship passengers may be granted electronic visas that allow for disembarkation at some PNG ports. Contact your cruise operator for further information.
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact a
High Commission, Embassy or Consulate of Papua New Guinea for up-to-date information.
You can't bring fruit and vegetables into PNG due to quarantine restrictions.
Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia and has at least two blank pages.
Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.
Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you're forced to hand over your passport, contact the
High Commission for advice.
If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.
The local currency is the PNG Kina (PGK). Declare all amounts in excess of PGK 20,000 on arrival and departure.
Australian dollars can be exchanged at local banks for PGK. Most hotels accept international credit cards. Ask your bank whether your Australian cards will work in PNG.
ATMs are available in Port Moresby and major urban centres. Always use ATMs located in hotels and other secure locations due to the high risk of crime.
Safety and security
Crime levels are high and police responses can be slow.
Crime is particularly prevalent in urban areas, such as Port Moresby, Lae and many areas of the Highlands, including Mt Hagen and Hela province. Squatter settlement areas of towns and cities are particularly dangerous. Robbery, assault (including sexual assaults), bag snatching and car-jacking are common. 'Bush knives' (machetes) and firearms are often used in assaults and thefts. The crime rate tends to increase leading into the Christmas holiday period.
Most crime is opportunistic but some robberies target expatriates in their homes or workplaces. Local authorities advise of a heightened risk of armed robbery at well-attended shopping centres, hotels, restaurants and other areas frequented by Westerners in urban areas, including Port Moresby. Most armed robberies involve firearms.
Sexual assault, including gang rape, is prevalent. Foreigners are sometimes targeted.
In major urban centres such as Port Moresby and Lae, it is dangerous to walk the streets, particularly after dark.
Car-jacking occurs throughout PNG. Known high-risk areas include the area around Parliament House in the Port Moresby suburb of Waigani (particularly outside working hours) and along the highway between Lae and Nadzab Airport. Criminals use roadblocks on roads outside of towns to stop and loot vehicles, and attack the occupants.
Police response times can be slow. Many businesses, including the High Commission, employ private security companies to help deliver a prompt response to calls for assistance and as security escorts.
Australian officials in PNG adopt heightened security measures at all times. This includes at home, at work, in public places and while travelling domestically. Officials receive security training and adhere to strict security guidelines. Closely monitor your personal security in PNG and ensure you have appropriate security measures in place.
- Avoid high crime risk areas and activities.
- Assess your personal security arrangements. Make sure you have appropriate security measures in place, in public and private spaces. Consider engaging a private security company.
- Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables, including your passport, in a secure location.
- Don't tempt thieves – avoid obvious signs of wealth.
- Keep your car windows and doors closed and locked at all times, including when moving.
- If you need to travel at night, consider using a security escort or travelling in convoy.
- Secure your home or other accommodation, including when you're there.
- Be alert to your surroundings at all times. Females are particularly vulnerable.
- Avoid travel by taxi or public transport and consider using a secure transport provider (see
Civil unrest and political tension
Tension between tribal, communal or clan groups can occur without warning. Fighting sometimes follows, often involving the use of firearms, rioting and looting. Outbreaks of violence have occurred in squatter settlements and marketplaces in Port Moresby, Lae, Bulolo, Mt Hagen, Mendi, Porgera and other major towns in the Highlands, as well as in Oro Province, and Central and South Bougainville.
Clashes can result in widespread destruction of property, serious injury and disruption of normal services, including transport services. Opportunistic crime often increases in these circumstances.
On 14 June 2018, civil unrest and violence broke out in Mendi, Southern Highlands Province, following a court decision on a disputed election outcome. Rioters looted and burned an Air Niugini aircraft and several buildings. Travel into/out of Mendi by road and air has been severely disrupted. On 15 June, authorities declared a State of Emergency in Mendi and deployed additional security resources to enforce law and order. Tensions between supporters of rival political candidates remain high and could turn violent without warning. Monitor local reports on security, avoid protests and follow the instructions of local authorities.
Violent tribal clashes are ongoing in Tari in Hela Province. Porgera Township in Enga Province is under a State of Emergency because of ongoing violence (related to illegal mining at the Porgera gold mine) that has led to several deaths and injuries.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.
Terrorist threat worldwide
Kokoda Track and trekking
Walking the Kokoda Track is physically demanding and requires a high level of fitness. Dysentery and dehydration are key health risks. Each year, several Australians are medically evacuated at huge cost to these individuals, and some deaths have occurred. You may need to wait several days for medical evacuation, given unpredictable weather conditions and poor local services. Adequate travel insurances is essential.
Serious crime is a risk throughout PNG, including along the Kokoda Track and in areas adjacent to each end of the track. See
Safety and security.
Unexploded ordnance (UXO) exists in PNG, particularly along the Kokoda Track, Milne Bay and Rabaul. The exact condition and stability of these items is largely unknown. If disturbed, UXO could maim or kill you.
The PNG Government regulates trekking along the Kokoda Track. Confirm with your trekking company that they have contingency plans if the track becomes blocked. Kokoda trekkers need a permit, which can be arranged through the PNG Government. If your trekking company undertakes to arrange this for you, make sure you get the permit before you start trekking.
- Train extensively and seek medical advice and fitness testing before you commit to trekking.
- Make sure your travel insurance will cover you for your planned activities and includes cover for medical evacuation.
- Only travel with guides from reputable trekking companies.
- Leave an itinerary for your trek, including the contact details of the trekking company, with your family or friends in Australia.
- remain hydrated and protect yourself from dysentery (see
- store your passport in a waterproof bag or container to avoid water/sweat damage
- pay closed attention to your personal security and stick with your group
- do not touch or disturb anything that could be unexploded ordnance, whether near the track or on display.
Tourism Promotion Authority
The mountainous area in central Bougainville around the old Panguna mine has previously been declared a 'no go zone' by armed Bougainvillean factions. Travel in Bougainville, particularly beyond Buka Island into Central Bougainville and Southern Bougainville, could provoke unwanted attention from armed locals and associated risks to your safety.
- Monitor local media and consult local sources about the security situation prior to travelling.
- Be alert to your surroundings and ready to turn back if you develop concerns for your safety.
- Take appropriate personal security precautions.
Some mobile telephone global roaming facilities are available in PNG, but service can be patchy. Landline phones occasionally suffer from outages.
- Check mobile coverage with your service provider.
- Make contingency plans for service outages. Consider carrying a satellite phone.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you're three times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in PNG than in Australia. Roads are in a poor state of repair, especially in rural areas. Other hazards include erratic and drunk drivers, poorly maintained and over-crowded vehicles. Large crowds can form quickly after road accidents. These crowds can become violent with little or no warning.
During the wet season (October to May), flash floods and landslides can result in road closures and travel delays, particularly on stretches of the Highlands Highway between Lae and Mount Hagen.
In 2011-12, severe flooding in Oro Province caused significant damage to major roads and bridges throughout the province. Restoration and rehabilitation is ongoing. Expect delays when travelling in this area.
Police regularly use roadblocks to check licences and vehicle registrations in Port Moresby.
- Familiarise yourself with local traffic laws and practices before driving.
- Keep your car windows and doors closed and locked at all times.
- Don't drink and drive.
- Avoid driving at night. If you need to travel at night, consider using a security escort or travelling in a convoy (see
Safety and security).
- Consider using a security escort if driving along the Highlands Highway (including between Lae and Nadzab Airport).
- Be aware that if you're involved in a car accident, large crowds can form and quickly turn violent.
- Expect delays when travelling by road in Oro province.
- If stopped by police, follow their instructions.
- Make sure your licence, vehicle registration and safety stickers are up-to-date to minimise difficulties at roadblocks.
Road safety and driving
You need a valid International Driving Permit (IDP) along with your current Australian driver's licence to drive a vehicle. Driving without an IDP could void your travel and vehicle insurance. After one month, you will need to get a local licence.
Avoid travel by motorcycle. Riding a motorcycle exposes you to significantly higher risks than in Australia due to the poor state of local roads and high risk of crime. Travel in a locked vehicle is a safer option. Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when riding a motorcycle. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet.
Avoid taxis, especially if you're female. Taxis are poorly maintained and often targeted by criminals. Vehicles hired from a reputable security company or hotel transport are safer alternatives.
Avoid public transport. Public Motor Vehicles (PMVs) provide public transport in major urban centres. Generally, PMVs are poorly maintained. Criminals sometimes target PMVs. Vehicles hired from a reputable security company or hotel transport are safer alternatives.
Travel by boat in PNG can be dangerous. In recent years several ferries have sunk in rough weather with significant loss of life.
Passenger ferry services are subject to disruption at short notice. Overcrowding of passenger ferries is common. Consider flying to your destination, rather than taking a passenger ferry.
There are limited marine search and rescue services in PNG. Take additional precautions when travelling on the water. Precautions could include:
- carrying your own life jackets, an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) and satellite telephone
- avoiding single-engine boats
- travelling in convoy with all boats at half capacity or less, and
- registering your departures and arrivals with a trusted friend.
International cruise lines stop over in PNG. More information:
Given the difficult terrain, extreme weather conditions and the condition of some remote airfields, flying in PNG carries greater safety risks than flying in Australia. Since 2000, over 20 aircraft accidents have occurred in PNG.
- On 23 December 2017, a North Coast Aviation Ltd aircraft crashed in mountainous terrain in Morobe Province, killing the Australian pilot.
- On 13 April 2016, a Sunbird Aviation aircraft crashed in Kiunga, Western Province killing 12 people, including an Australian.
- On 20 September 2014, a light aircraft crashed just outside Port Moresby killing four people, including an Australian.
- On 25 November 2013, a Tropicair charter flight crashed in Gulf Province killing three people, including an Australian.
- On 6 July 2012, a helicopter crashed into a remote mountainous area of the Gulf Province, killing two Australians and one New Zealander.
Delays and cancellations of international and domestic flights are frequent. Re-check flight schedules with airlines. Be prepared for possible extended waits at airports.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the
Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in PNG.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our
Consular services charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
The death penalty can be imposed for crimes including treason, piracy, murder, rape and robbery.
The following activities are illegal and subject to jail sentences in PNG:
- possession or sale of pornographic material
Sexual acts between individuals of the same sex are illegal and punishable by imprisonment.
Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you can be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:
- bribery of foreign public officials
- child pornography
- child sex tourism
- female genital mutilation
- forced marriage
- money laundering
Staying within the law
PNG only recognises dual nationality in some circumstances. Since 2016, PNG nationals can apply to hold dual citizenship with certain countries, including Australia.
This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian-Papua New Guinean dual nationals who are arrested or detained.
The traditional custom of 'payback' is often practised in PNG. If you offend local custom, engage in illegal or inappropriate sexual or financial relations, or damage someone's property (including livestock), you could face extrajudicial responses ('payback') from offended parties. 'Payback' could include violence and/or demands for compensation.
There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in PNG. Take care not to offend.
Seek permission before taking photographs of individuals and cultural sites, including spirit houses.
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. Make sure your policy includes adequate coverage for any pre-existing conditions.
Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government won't pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.
- what circumstances and activities are and aren't covered under your policy
- that you're covered for the whole time you'll be away.
Physical and mental health
Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
- At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
- Get vaccinated before you travel.
Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel
Take legal prescription medicine so you remain in good health. Always carry a copy of your prescription and a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you take and that it's for personal use only.
Malaria is a risk throughout PNG. Zika virus,
dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases also occur, including in Port Moresby. Cases of
chikungunya virus have been reported since 2012. Japanese encephalitis is a risk throughout PNG, but the risk to short-term visitors to urban areas is relatively low. The Australian Department of Health advises pregnant women to discuss any travel plans with their doctor and defer non-essential travel to Zika virus-affected areas.
Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses:
- ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
- take measures to avoid insect bites, including using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
- consider prophylaxis against malaria
- consider getting vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis before you travel
- if you're pregnant, discuss your travel plans and possible health risks with your doctor before you travel
- seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.
Tuberculosis is prevalent in PNG. Drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis are present, including in Port Moresby. Cases of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis have been detected in Western Province and Port Moresby. Children under five years of age and people with medical conditions that affect their immune system may be at a greater risk of tuberculosis.
- If you suspect you have tuberculosis, seek immediate medical treatment.
The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in PNG is high. Other sexually transmitted diseases are prevalent. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.
Other infectious diseases
Food-borne, water-borne and other infectious diseases (including dysentery, typhoid and hepatitis) are common. Local water supplies can be interrupted or polluted. Water-borne parasites are in many of PNG's rivers.
- Maintain good personal hygiene, including regular and thorough handwashing.
- Boil drinking water or drink bottled water.
- Avoid ice cubes.
- Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.
- Avoid bathing in fresh water sources.
- Seek medical attention if you suspect poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.
Stings from jellyfish and other marine animals can be fatal. Seek advice from local authorities, your tour operator or hotel regarding seasonal conditions, recommended precautions and other potential dangers.
Emergency health response
The PNG Government can declare a national emergency in response to the outbreaks of infections such as cholera, dysentery and seasonal influenza. In an emergency, the Government can make provisions, laws, orders or regulations without notice to stop the spread of infectious diseases. In these circumstances, your travel could be restricted and restaurants and water sources may be closed.
Health care facilities in PNG are poor by Australian standards, including in Port Moresby. Facilities in large towns are usually adequate for routine problems and some emergencies but health facilities in rural areas, including along the Kokoda Track, are very basic.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll may need to be evacuated to Australia. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
The only hyperbaric (decompression) chamber in PNG is currently out of order, with no timeline for when it will be fixed. Dive well within safety limits. Make sure your travel insurance covers you for diving and medical evacuation.
On 26 February 2018, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck in the Southern Highlands and Hela Provinces causing over one hundred fatalities and several hundred injuries. The Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has declared a State of Emergency in Hela, Southern Highlands, Western and Enga Provinces to allow disaster relief. Strong aftershocks and landslides are possible. There is wide-spread damage to infrastructure and disruptions to services, including communications and flights. Access to local food supplies and clean water is limited.
PNG experiences severe weather, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis.
If a natural disaster occurs:
- secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag).
- closely monitor local media and other sources such as the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
- follow the advice of local authorities and or/your employer
- contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts
- contact your airline or travel provided for up-to-date information on travel options.
If you're due to arrive in PNG after a natural disaster, contact your tour operator to check whether services at your planned destination are affected.
The wet season is from October to May when heavy rain can lead to flooding and landslides, sometimes resulting in deaths and injuries, damage to roads/infrastructure and disruptions to services. Tropical storms may also occur in other months. If you're due to arrive in PNG during the wet season, contact your tour operator to check whether services at your planned destination are affected.
There are active volcanoes in PNG and regular eruptions occur, particularly 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.
On 4 January 2018, a previously dormant volcano on Kadovar Island, near Wewak, began erupting. Authorities evacuated all residents on the small island.
On 29 August 2014, a volcanic eruption occurred at Mount Tavurvur in Rabaul. Authorities evacuated communities close to the volcano.
Information on ash clouds is available at the website of the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Darwin.
Earthquakes and tsunamis
PNG experiences earthquakes and tsunamis. Tsunamis can follow an earthquake in PNG or somewhere else in the region.
Real-time information on earthquakes can be found on the US Geological Service website. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which you can subscribe to, provides real-time information on tsunamis in the region.
If there is an earthquake, follow the advice for all natural disasters and:
- follow the advice of your accommodation provider and local authorities
- monitor the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and local sources
- if you are in a coastal or low-lying area and the earthquake is strong or long, move to higher ground.
More information: Earthquakes
Venomous snakes are common in PNG. Reported snake bite cases tend to increase during the wet season.
Where to get help
Depending on what you need, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Emergency phone numbers
- Fire: 110
- Medical emergencies: 111 or go direct to the hospital
- Criminal issues: 000 or go to your local police station
Always get a police report when reporting a crime.
Tourism services and products
For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.
Read the Consular services charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
For consular assistance, contact the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby or the Australian Consulate-General in Lae. The Consulate-General in Lae provides limited consular and passport assistance, (including the lodgement of applications for Australian passports, but not including the issue of emergency travel documents). Assistance is by appointment only.
Australian High Commission, Port Moresby
Port Moresby, PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Telephone: (+675) 7090 0100
Facsimile: (+675) 325 9239
Australian High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
Australian Consulate-General, Lae
C/o Lae International Hotel
4th Street, Lae, Morobe Province
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Telephone: (+675) 472 3316
Facsimilie: (+675) 472 6620
If you're unable to contact the High Commission or the Consulate-General in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.