Papua New Guinea travel advice
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- Risk level
- Safety and security
- Entry and exit requirements
- Laws and culture
- Natural disasters and climate
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Papua New Guinea - AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Avoid non-essential travel to Papua New Guinea due to high levels of crime, inter-ethnic violence and civil unrest.
Safety and security
COVID-19 - Preventative measures and restrictions
COVID-19 preventative measures and restrictions are still in effect in some destinations.
These could include:
- curfews, movement restrictions, or lockdowns
- mandatory mask use
- required proof of vaccination or a COVID-19 test result to access public and private services and spaces
Before travelling, verify if specific restrictions or requirements are still in effect.
Violent crime, such as sexual assault, carjacking, home invasion, kidnapping, and armed robbery, is common and often includes the use of lethal weapons such as firearms or machetes. The Highlands provinces and the cities of Lae and Port Moresby are particularly affected.
In Port Moresby, the area around Parliament and the suburb of Waigani experience increased levels of crime.
- Do not travel alone, especially after dark
- Consider hiring private security as police capacity to respond to crimes and other incidents is very limited
Criminals tend to target areas and establishments often frequented by foreigners, including:
- restaurants and bars
- places of worship
- outdoor recreation events
- tourist areas, including markets, parks and beaches
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, frequently occurs, particularly in public markets.
- Ensure that your belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
- Avoid displaying signs of affluence
Carjacking occurs in Port Moresby and along the highway between Lae and the Lae Nadzab Airport. They are particularly frequent 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.
Criminals may attempt to open doors of cars that are stopped or moving slowly in traffic. Assailants may assault their victims while robbing them. Criminals may demand tolls at illegal roadblocks and can assault you if payment is not made.
- Be vigilant while travelling by road
- Drive with windows up and doors locked at all times
- Avoid travel after dark
- Avoid leaving personal belongings unattended in your vehicle
Pirate attacks and armed robbery against ships occur in coastal waters, particularly in the Milne Bay and its capital, Alotau. Mariners should take appropriate precautions.
Live piracy report - International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre
Credit card and ATM fraud occurs. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
Sexual assault, including gang rape, frequently occurs. Foreigners have been targeted. Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse.
Inter-ethnic tensions often lead to communal violence, sometimes deadly. They occur particularly in:
- the province of Enga
- the province of Hela
- the province of Southern Highlands
- the city of Lae
- the city of Port Moresby
Demonstrations take place from time to time, particularly in the cities of Port Moresby, Lae and Mount Hagen. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
Unexploded ordnance and landmines are present in many islands, including Bougainville and East New Britain.
Avoid walking or hiking off marked roads and trails.
There are no tourist facilities in the area. Transportation options are limited.
There is a risk of violence in the central mountainous area around the Panguna mine and access is restricted. You need a special permission to enter this area.
Attacks on trekkers have occurred, including on the Black Cat track, in Morobe, and on the Kokoda track. Facilities along the Kokoda track are limited.
If you intend on trekking:
- never do so alone
- always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company
- 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
- do not venture off marked trails
- ensure that you’re properly equipped
- ensure that you’re 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
- obtain detailed information on each activity before setting out
Rescue services may not be consistent with international standards.
- Ensure that rental aquatic equipment is safe and in good condition
- Ensure you are diving within the limits outlined by your tour company
Venomous snakes are common throughout Papua New Guinea.
If bitten, seek immediate medical attention. The cost of anti-venom is very high. Medical staff can charge up to CAD $6,000 for treatment.
Road conditions and road safety are poor throughout the country.
Driving can be hazardous, especially outside major towns. Poorly maintained cars, drunk drivers and roads in disrepair increase the safety risks.
Roads may become impassable due to flash floods and landslides during the rainy season.
If you are involved in a traffic accident, proceed directly to the nearest police station. Crowds tend to form quickly after an incident, and could become hostile and aggressive.
Public buses, known as public motor vehicles (PMVs), and taxis are poorly maintained. They also are a common target for criminals.
- Avoid travelling by taxi or on public buses
- Whenever possible, arrange for hotel or other private transportation
- Plan to have someone waiting for you at the airport, particularly if arriving in the evening
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Entry and exit requirements
COVID-19 - Entry, exit and transit restrictions and requirements
Most governments have implemented special entry and exit restrictions and requirements for their territory due to COVID-19. These measures can be imposed suddenly and may include:
- entry or exit bans
- mandatory proof of vaccination or COVID-19 testing
- suspensions or reductions of international transportation options
Foreign authorities might not recognize or accept proof of vaccination issued by Canadian provinces and territories. You may need to obtain a translation, a notarization, an authentication, or the legalization of the document.
- verify if the local authorities of both your current location and destinations have implemented any restrictions or requirements related to this situation
- consider even your transit points, as there are transit rules in place in many destinations
- monitor the media for the latest information
- reconfirm the requirements with your airline or tour operator
The situation could disrupt your travel plans. You should not depend on the Government of Canada for assistance to change your travel plans.
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 the Foreign Representatives 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 at least 6 months upon entering Papua New Guinea.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Passport with “X” gender identifier
While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
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 foreign representative for your destination.
Tourist visa: required
Business visa: required
Student visa: required
You may obtain a tourist e-visa prior to travelling to Papua New Guinea. It’s also possible to obtain your e-visa upon arrival at the Jacksons International Airport in Port Moresby.
Online visa application - Government of Papua New Guinea
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
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.
Pre-travel vaccines and medications
You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines are right for you.
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 required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- Contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of your trip to arrange for vaccination.
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* 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.
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.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air..
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is very low for most travellers. Travellers at relatively higher risk may want to consider vaccination for JE prior to travelling.
Travellers are at higher risk if they will be:
- travelling long term (e.g. more than 30 days)
- making multiple trips to endemic areas
- staying for extended periods in rural areas
- visiting an area suffering a JE outbreak
- engaging in activities involving high contact with mosquitos (e.g., entomologists)
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.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.
For destination entry and exit requirements, including for COVID-19 vaccination requirements, please check the Entry/exit requirements section.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.
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.
- 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.
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 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.
To protect against cholera, all travellers should practise safe food and water precautions.
Travellers at higher risk of getting cholera include those:
- visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation
- visiting areas where outbreaks are occurring
Vaccination may be recommended for high-risk travellers, and should be discussed with a health care professional.
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 a risk of chikungunya in this country. The risk may vary between regions of a country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
- In this country, dengue is a risk to travellers. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue.
Zika virus is a risk in this country.
Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects.
Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should visit a health care professional before travelling to discuss the potential risks of travelling to this country. Pregnant women may choose to avoid or postpone travel to this country.
- Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
- If you are pregnant, always use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact with anyone who has travelled to this country for the duration of your pregnancy.
- Women: Wait 2 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy. If your male partner travelled with you, wait 3 months after travel or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer).
- Men: Wait 3 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy.
For more travel recommendations, see the travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
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 professional.
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
COVID-19 - Testing
Contact local health authorities, or the nearest Government of Canada office abroad to find out where you can get a COVID-19 test.
Good health care is limited in availability. Quality of care varies throughout the country.
Specialist services are extremely limited. There are long delays for emergency treatment.
Shortages of basic medical supplies are common. Doctors often expect immediate cash payment for services.
Medical evacuation, which can be very expensive, may be necessary in the event of serious illness or injury.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
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
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences.
Photography may be restricted at certain cultural sites.
Do not photograph individuals without their prior consent.
Adultery is a criminal offence. Offenders can face imprisonment.
The possession and sale of pornographic material are strictly prohibited.
Papua New Guinean law prohibits sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Those convicted can face up to 14 years’ imprisonment.
LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Papua New Guinea.
Dress and behaviour
To avoid offending local sensitivities:
- dress conservatively
- behave discreetly
- respect religious and social traditions
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.
International Child Abduction
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and Papua New Guinea.
If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Papua New Guinea by an abducting parent:
- act as quickly as you can
- consult a lawyer in Canada and in Papua New Guinea to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
- report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre.
If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.
Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.
- International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
- Travelling with children
- Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
- Emergency Watch and Response Centre
Traffic drives on the left.
You must always carry the following when driving:
- valid driver’s licence and International Driving Permit
- valid registration
- safety sticker
If your driver’s licence is in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by an official English translation.
Police roadblocks are common. You could be fined if your documents are not up-to-date.
The currency of Papua New Guinea is the kina (PGK).
ATMs are available in Port Moresby and other main cities but may be rare in certain rural areas.
Natural disasters and climate
Papua New Guinea is located in an active seismic and volcanic zone. Earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions occur.
There are several active volcanoes throughout Papua New Guinea, and eruptions occur regularly.
Heavy smoke and ash from volcanoes periodically lead to flight disruptions, particularly in the Rabaul region.
In the event of an eruption:
- pay careful attention to all warnings issued
- avoid restricted areas
- follow the instructions of local authorities, including evacuation orders
- check with your carrier or tour operator to determine if the situation could affect your travel plans
A tsunami can occur within minutes of a nearby earthquake. However, the risk of tsunami can remain for several hours following the first tremor. If you’re staying on the coast, familiarize yourself with the region’s evacuation plans in the event of a tsunami warning.
Tsunami alerts - U.S. Tsunami Warning System
The rainy (or monsoon) season extends from:
- December to March in the northwest
- May to October in the southeast
Seasonal flooding and landslides can hamper overland travel, damage infrastructure and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged. This is of particular concern on the Highlands Highway between Lae and Mount Hagen.
- Keep informed of regional weather forecasts
- Avoid affected areas
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
In case of emergency in Port Moresby, dial:
- police: 000
- ambulance: 111
- fire department: 110
In the rest of the country, there is no centralized number to reach emergency services.
Local emergency services - Papua New Guinea white pages
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 to Papua New Guinea, in Port Moresby, under the Canada-Australia Consular Services Sharing Agreement.
Sign up to receive email updates from the Australian government on situations and events that could affect your safety while in Papua New Guinea.
Smartraveller - Australian travel advice
Port Moresby - High Commission of Australia
Canberra - High Commission of Canada
Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Guam, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, Northern Marianas, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu
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, expressed 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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