Papua New Guinea
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PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Papua New Guinea due to high levels of serious crime, often involving the use of lethal weapons.
Travel Health Notice - Zika virus
The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued advice for travellers on the Zika virus, recommending that Canadians practice special health precautions while travelling in affected countries. Pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant should avoid travel to Papua New Guinea. See Health for more information.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Violent crime is common and often includes the use of firearms or machetes. The Highlands provinces and the cities of Lae and Port Moresby are particularly affected. Exercise a high degree of caution, particularly in commercial and public establishments, such as hotels, clubs, restaurants, bars, schools and places of worship, at outdoor recreation events and in other tourist areas. These are preferred targets for criminals because they are often frequented by foreigners.
Travelling alone increases the possibility of being a victim of a crime such as robbery or sexual assault. Consider hiring private security as police capacity to respond to crimes and other incidents is very limited.
On the road
Carjacking occurs in Port Moresby and along the highway between Lae and the Lae Nadzab Airport, particularly in the Two-Mile and Nine-Mile settlement areas. Violent attacks on vehicles travelling on the Highlands Highway also occur, particularly between Goroka and Kainantu. Assailants have, in the past assaulted their victims while robbing them.
Be vigilant while travelling by road. Avoid leaving personal belongings unattended in vehicles, and drive with windows up and doors locked at all times. Avoid travel after dark.
Criminals may demand tolls at illegal roadblocks and can assault you if payment is not made.
Be particularly careful if you use an ATM. These are often monitored by criminals and users are followed and robbed of their cash and other belongings.
Sexual assault, including gang rape, occurs and foreigners have been targeted. If you are a victim of any type of assault, you should seek immediate medical treatment. Women should not travel alone.
Check our safe-travel guide for women for more travel safety information for Canadians.
Inter-ethnic tensions often lead to communal and at times lethal violence, particularly in the Enga and Highlands provinces and in Lae and Port Moresby.
Demonstrations occur and could suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media.
Exercise caution if you travel to the central mountainous area around the old Panguna mine on Bougainville Island. With the exception of the Panguna mine, the general security situation in Bougainville is stable.
There are no tourist facilities in the area, and transportation facilities are limited.
Be vigilant if hiking the Black Cat Track, in the province of Morobe, as attacks on trekkers have occurred in the past.
Security incidents affecting foreigners have also occurred on the Kokoda track. Facilities along the trail are limited.
If you intend on trekking:
- never practice this activity alone and always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company (for the Kokoda track, use companies registered with the Kokoda Track Authority)
- buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
- ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
- ensure that you are properly equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
- inform a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back to camp
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes before setting out and do not venture off marked trails
When diving, ensure that you dive well within the safety limits and have travel insurance that includes coverage for diving (including evacuation costs).
Learn more about decompression service availability.
Road conditions are poor and driving can be hazardous, especially outside major towns. Poorly maintained cars, drunk drivers and roads in disrepair increase the safety risks.
Flash floods and landslides may make roads impassable during the rainy season (between October and May).
If you are involved in a traffic accident, proceed directly to the nearest police station rather than remaining at the scene. Crowds tend to form quickly after an incident, and accident victims or on-lookers may attack those they perceive to be responsible.
You should avoid travelling by taxi or on public buses, known as PMVs (public motor vehicles). The vehicles are poorly maintained and a common target for criminals. Whenever possible, arrange for hotel or other private transportation, which are safer alternatives. You should also arrange to be met at the airport, particularly when arriving in the evening.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Flight delays and cancellations occur on a regular basis. Verify your flight schedule before departure. Extreme weather and poor runway conditions can pose hazards.
General safety information
Venomous snakes are common throughout Papua New Guinea. If bitten, seek immediate medical attention.
Learn more about medical services available in case of a snake bite.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the authorities of Papua New Guinea. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Papua New Guinea.
Official Canadian Passport
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
You should obtain a tourist visa (valid for 60 days) prior to travelling to Papua New Guinea; however, it is possible to obtain one upon arrival at the Port Moresby Jacksons International Airport.
If you arrive by cruise, you may qualify for an electronic visa. Contact your carrier for details.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is low for most travellers. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to mosquito bites (e.g., spending a large amount of time outdoors) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world.
Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in the Oceanic Pacific Islands, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera and hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in the Oceanic Pacific Islands. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a risk in parts of this country. Most travellers are at very low risk.
For protection of cholera
All travellers should practise safe food and water precautions.
Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Travellers at higher risk include those:
- visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation
- visiting areas where outbreaks are occurring.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently an outbreak of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a viral disease spread through the bite of an infected mosquito that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. Protect yourself from mosquito bites, particularly around sunrise and sunset. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. Recent or ongoing cases of Zika virus have been reported in this country.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites day and night.
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects such as abnormally small heads (microcephaly). Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted.
Travellers who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy:
- Should avoid travel to this country
- If travel cannot be avoided follow strict mosquito bite prevention measures.
- Talk to your health care professional about the risk of Zika infection in pregnancy.
- Use condoms or avoid having sex for the duration of the pregnancy, if you are pregnant and your partner has travelled to this country.
- Female travellers: wait at least 2 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive (get pregnant) to ensure that any possible Zika virus infection has cleared your body.
- Male travellers: wait 6 months after returning from this country before trying to conceive. Use condoms or avoid having sex during that time.
See travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in the Oceanic Pacific Islands, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Good medical services and facilities are limited in availability. Quality of care varies throughout the country. Shortages of basic medical supplies are common. Specialist services are extremely limited, and there are long delays for emergency treatment.
There is only one hyperbaric (decompression) chamber in Papua New Guinea and it is currently out of order. There is no indication of when the chamber will be reactivated.
The cost of anti-venom is significant. Port Moresby General Hospital charges snake bite victims 15,000 kina (about Can$6,000) for treatment.
Medical evacuation, which can be very expensive, may be necessary in the event of serious illness or injury. Make sure you have travel insurance that covers all medical expenses, including hospitalization abroad and medical evacuation.
Learn more about travel health and safety.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Illegal or restricted activities
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe.
The possession and sale of pornographic material is strictly prohibited.
Photography may be restricted at certain cultural sites. If in doubt, check with local authorities. Do not photograph individuals without their prior consent.
Adultery is a criminal offence and offenders can face imprisonment.
Papua New Guinean law prohibits sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Those convicted can face imprisonmnet.
LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Papua New Guinea.
You should dress conservatively and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
Traffic drives on the left.
An International Driving Permit is required.
You must always carry the following when driving:
- valid driver’s licence and International driving permit
- valid registration
- safety sticker
Police roadblocks are common. You could be fined if your documents are not up-to-date.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Papua New Guinea.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Papua New Guinea, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
The currency is the kina (PGK).
Credit cards are accepted at major hotels and restaurants. ATMs are available in metropolitan areas; however, using them poses a significant security risk.
Learn more about crime-related security risks when using ATMs.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Seismic and volcanic activity
Papua New Guinea is located in an active seismic and volcanic zone and is prone to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.
There are several active volcanoes throughout Papua New Guinea and eruptions occur regularly. In the event of an eruption, pay careful attention to all warnings issued, avoid restricted areas and follow the instructions of local authorities.
Heavy smoke and ash from volcanoes periodically lead to flight disruptions, particularly in the Rabaul region. In the event of a volcanic eruption, check with your carrier or tour operator to determine if the situation could affect your travel plans.
The rainy (or monsoon) season extends from December to March in the northwest and May to October in the southeast. Severe rainstorms can cause flooding and landslides, particularly on the Highlands Highway between Lae and Mount Hagen. Landslides can result in significant loss of life and extensive damage to infrastructure and can hamper the provision of essential services. Water-borne diseases could also become a threat. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts, avoid disaster areas and follow the instructions of local authorities.
There is no centralized number to reach emergency services. Research and carry contact information for local police and medical facilities.
There is no resident Canadian government office in Papua New Guinea. Canadians in Papua New Guinea can obtain consular assistance and further information from the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby under the Canada-Australia Consular Services Sharing Agreement.
Register with the Australian government to receive email updates on situations and events that could affect your safety while in Papua New Guinea.
Port Moresby - High Commission of Australia
Canberra - High Commission of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the High Commission of Australia in Port Moresby and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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