Papua New Guinea
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Latest updates: The Risk level(s) tab was updated – Zika virus.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Papua New Guinea. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution 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 a Travel Health Notice for the Global Update: Zika virus infection 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
Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. On June 8, 2016, demonstrations at the University of Papua New Guinea in Waigani, Port Moresby, resulted in casualties. Demonstrations may continue in Port Moresby and elsewhere, including Lae. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Be extremely cautious if you travel to the central mountainous area around the old Panguna mine on Bougainville Island. The general security situation in Bougainville has improved, however, the old Panguna mine remains a “no go zone.” You may be detained by local officials if you attempt to enter this zone. Your passports may be confiscated by the Papua New Guinea government if you are found without proper authorization. There are no tourist facilities in the area, and transportation facilities are limited. Seek advice from the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby prior to travel.
Law and order remain very poor in the Highlands provinces and in the cities of Lae and Port Moresby. Violent crime is a serious problem, and occurs often in urban areas such as Port Moresby, Lae and Mount Hagen. Exercise a high degree of caution, particularly in commercial and public establishments (hotels, clubs, restaurants, bars, schools, places of worship, outdoor recreation events) and tourist areas.
Carjacking and armed robbery occur in Port Moresby and along the highway between Lae and the Nadzab Airport, especially in the Two-Mile and Nine-Mile settlement areas. There has been a recent increase in violent attacks on vehicles travelling on the Highlands Highway, particularly between Goroka and Kainantu. Remain vigilant while travelling these roads. Robberies are often accompanied by assault. Violence, including the use of firearms or machetes, is a serious risk. Avoid travel after dark if possible.
Travelling alone increases the possibility of being a victim of a crime such as robbery or sexual assault. Tolls may be demanded at illegal roadblocks and assaults can occur if payment is not made. Arrange to be met at the airport, particularly when arriving in the evening.
Sexual assault, including gang rape, occurs and foreigners have been targeted. Victims of any assault are encouraged to seek immediate medical treatment. Women should not travel alone and should dress conservatively in public. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.
Inter-ethnic tensions often lead to communal violence, particularly in the Enga and Highlands provinces and in Lae and Port Moresby. Criminals and tribal fighters are increasingly using lethal weapons.
Be vigilant if hiking the Black Cat Track, in the province of Morobe, as an attack on a group of trekkers in September 2013 left two dead and several injured.
If you are intending to walk the Kokoda track, travel with a guide from a reputable tour company and pay the required fee before setting out. Security incidents involving tourists have occurred. Facilities along the track are limited. Register with the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby prior to travel.
Road conditions are poor and driving can be hazardous, especially outside major towns. Avoid leaving personal belongings unattended in vehicles, and drive with windows up and doors locked at all times.
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.
Travel on public buses, known as PMVs (public motor vehicles), is not recommended. The vehicles are poorly maintained and are a common target for criminals. Travel by taxi is preferable; however, determine your fare prior to departure. Hotel transport is a safer alternative.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
Flight delays or cancellations occur on a regular basis. Verify your flight schedule before departure.
General safety information
Tourist facilities are available in Port Moresby, Lae and Madang. Exercise caution when visiting isolated public areas such as parks, hiking trails, golf courses and beaches.
You are encouraged to register with the High Commission of Australia in Port Moresby in order to receive the latest information on situations and events that could affect your safety.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the authorities of Papua New Guinea and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of Papua New Guinea for up-to-date information.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Papua New Guinea, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa. It is recommended that travellers obtain a tourist visa prior to departure; however, it is possible to obtain one upon arrival at Jacksons International Airport in Port Moresby. A 60-day tourist visa may be extended by a maximum of 30 days.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
An onward or return ticket and proof of sufficient funds are required to visit Papua New Guinea.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
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 bacterial disease that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. It causes diarrhea and in severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are at very low risk. Travellers at higher risk include those visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation, or to areas where outbreaks are occurring. Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
- 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
Medical care is limited, especially outside Port Moresby. Shortages of basic medical supplies are common. Specialist services are extremely limited, and there are long delays for emergency treatment. In the event of a major accident or illness, medical evacuation to Australia is often necessary. Medical transport is very expensive and payment up front is often required.
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 are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict.
The possession and sale of pornographic material is strictly prohibited.
Homosexual activity is illegal.
Traffic drives on the left.
An International Driving Permit is required.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Papua New Guinea. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Papua New Guinean citizen. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Papua New Guinean passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
The currency is the kina (PGK). Credit cards are accepted at major hotels and restaurants. American Express is most commonly used. Automated banking machines (ABMs) are available in many areas. Traveller's cheques are accepted by most shops and hotels. U.S. dollar traveller's cheques are recommended.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Papua New Guinea is located in an active seismic zone and is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
On December 17, 2016, a 7.9 earthquake has struck 46 kilometres east of Taron, Papua New Guinea. Strong aftershocks are reportedly being felt in the area. Follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
There are several active volcanoes throughout the territory, and eruptions occur regularly. Pay careful attention to all warnings issued, avoid restricted areas and follow the advice of local authorities in the event of an eruption.
Heavy smoke and ash from volcanoes periodically lead to flight disruptions, particularly in the Rabaul region. Verify your travel schedules with local authorities or travel service providers.
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, especially on the Highlands Highway between Lae and Mount Hagen, resulting in significant loss of life and extensive damage to infrastructure, and hampering 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 advice 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. You can obtain consular assistance and further information from the High Commission of Australia in Port Moresby under the Canada-Australia Consular Services Sharing Agreement.
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. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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