Living In Papua New Guinea

Advice for British people living in Papua New Guinea including information on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more.


This guide sets out essential information for British nationals residing in Papua New Guinea (PNG), including advice on health, education, residence requirements and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general enquiries apart from the information listed below. See also the information on what consulates can and cannot do and the services we provide.

Entry and residence requirements

If you wish to travel to Papua New Guinea for work, business, study or tourism you must have an entry permit/visa to enter the country. Visas can be obtained from your nearest PNG diplomatic mission and issued for single or multiple entries depending on the purpose of the visit. Tourism visas are available on arrival. Passports should be valid for at least 6 months prior to the date of intended travel. It is mandatory to hold a Work Permit and Work Visa if you are an expatriate employed in PNG. This must be obtained before you arrive. The work permit application is lodged by the employer. A signed contract of employment must be submitted at the time of the application as evidence of the term of employment. You cannot be in country while your work permit application is being processed.
To be granted permanent residence you must be the majority owner of a business investment in a registered resident business for at least 5 years with net assets and turnover exceeding K2 million.

Further information on entry and residency requirements can be found on the Department of Immigration website.

Employment and recognised qualifications

An employment contract for a specific length of time is required. Expatriate employment is generally confined to senior management positions and skilled trades people. Work permits are issued based on experience and qualifications for the role. PNG Immigration is committed to protecting jobs that can be filled by PNG nationals. As a rule you should possess a degree or other tertiary qualification or a trade certificate relative to your field of employment and demonstrate at least 3 years experience in your appropriate field of employment. Further information on employment in PNG can be found on the Department of Labour and Industrial Relations website.


Medical facilities in Papua New Guinea are very basic. Hospitals often run out of basic drugs and supplies as well as suffering from power shortages. Evacuation by air ambulance to Australia is available in more serious cases, but is very expensive. Health insurance is strongly recommended and is generally but not always arranged through the employer. There are internationally recognised health insurance providers in Papua New Guinea. Malaria is prevalent in all parts of PNG as are a number of other tropical diseases. You should contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. Your employer should have an ambulance service in place if required. St John’s run an ambulance service but it is underfunded and unreliable. You should seek advice on vaccinations from your doctor before travelling to PNG. Medical Evacuations can be arranged through International SOS, based in Port Moresby.


Papua New Guinea has a variety of schooling levels. Consult your employer before making a decision. Many expatriates send their children to school in Australia or New Zealand.

Driving licences and vehicles

Importing your car can be an expensive process. In addition to the freight and insurance costs, there are also import duties which can, depending on the size of your vehicle, range from 40% to 110% of the vehicle’s value. An Import Goods and Services Tax of 10% is also collected at the time of import. There are also quarantine fees, port handling fees and registration fees. Insurance regulations in Papua New Guinea differ from those in the UK. It is important to check carefully what cover your policy provides. For further information go to the Papua New Guinea Customs website. The minimum driving age is 18 years. A PNG driver’s licence is compulsory.


Income tax is based on salary up to a maximum tax rate of 45%. Further information can be found on the Income Tax and Revenue Commission website


Papua New Guinea is still very much a cash based society in the rural areas. Shops in towns and cities usually accept international credit cards. Cash in sterling or US dollars can be exchanged for local currency at the airport, in banks and at some hotels. Opening a bank account is a simple but time-consuming exercise requiring passport identity and evidence of residence in PNG. Interest rates are very low. If you run out of funds to pay bills, the British High Commission Port Moresby is unable to give you money. We can however advice you on procedures for transferring money from the UK or elsewhere. We can also contact family or friends if other channels are unavailable and arrange for transfer of funds via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in an emergency.

Property and property disputes

Property in Papua New Guinea is extremely expensive. There are frequent disputes amongst traditional landowners over titles and ownership. Rightful ownership can be difficult to verify. Investment in property should only be considered with the assistance of local legal advice.


This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the high commission by the relevant local authorities and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. The FCO and the British High Commission will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. British nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority.

Published 26 February 2014