Smallcrafts & Yachts
The following information applies to the noncommercial use of yachts, motor sailers, and motor cruisers and provides an outline of the procedures and legal requirements which apply to the Master of these vessels arriving in and departing from Papua New Guinea.
If you are in charge of any of the above-mentioned craft, you are considered the Master of the craft, even if you are not its owner and the owner is on board.
Whether you are a returning resident or a visitor, you need to comply with entry requirements.
You can help speed this up if you follow these simple steps:
- Make sure each person on board has a valid visa and passport;
- Let Customs and Quarantine at the intended first port of entry know that you are coming and where and when you will arrive;
- Clearly display the International Pratique Q-flag and travel directly to an appointed boarding station; and
- Complete the arrival forms and Incoming Passenger Card.
Papua New Guinea has strict laws to protect its citizens and natural environment.
Penalties may be imposed if you breach those laws by illegally importing:
- animal or plant material
- firearms, weapons, or ammunition
- some food items
- some medicinal products
General Visa Requirements
Anyone who is not a Papua New Guinea citizen needs a valid visa to enter and spend time in Papua New Guinea. All foreign nationals should obtain a visa before travelling to Papua New Guinea. Persons who travel to Papua New Guinea on board a vessel without a visa must apply for a Border Visa at the first port of arrival. A Border Visa allows one entry into Papua New Guinea with a maximum stay of 30 days. Only officers of the Department of Immigration can grant these visas. As officers from the Department are not permanently present at the ports, applicants may suffer considerable inconvenience and delay on arrival. For more information on Papua New Guinea visa requirements please contact the Department of Immigration.
Remember, don't overstay your visa!
If your visa is about to expire, you should leave Papua New Guinea or seek advice from the Department of Immigration.
Let us know you are coming
The Master of a vessel arriving in Papua New Guinea is required to give notice of impending arrival. There are several agencies interested in your arrival - principally Customs, Quarantine and Immigration.
To make arrangements for smooth processing, prior notification of your arrival is necessary. The Master of a vessel arriving in Papua New Guinea is required by law to give notice of impending arrival not later than 48 hours before arrival. Penalties may apply for failure to do so.
You will need to provide the following information:
- the name of your yacht
- your intended first port of arrival
- your estimated arrival time
- your last four ports
- the details of people on board
- including name, date of birth,
- nationality, and passport number
- details of any illness or disease
- recently encountered
- if you have any animals on board
- if you have any firearms on board.
Customs strongly recommends that Masters of small craft ensure that voyage details are lodged with local police, volunteer rescue organisations, yacht clubs, or friends and relatives who can raise the alarm if you do not arrive as expected.
When you arrive in Papua New Guinea, you must first call at a Customs port of where Customs, Quarantine and Immigration formalities can be completed. Please note that not all Customs ports have a permanent presence.
When entering Papua New Guinean waters you are required to clearly display the International Pratique Q-flag (yellow). Your craft must also travel directly to an appointed boarding station.
Customs, Quarantine and Immigration clearance must be completed before going ashore. Please stay on board. No persons other than a Quarantine or Customs officer is allowed to board your craft, nor can any person, animal or article leave the craft until you have been given full clearance.
Depending on your arrival time, Customs and Quarantine may require all persons to remain on board overnight before clearing you the following day.
Don't throw any waste or foodstuffs overboard while you're in Papua New Guinean waters or while you are moored. Use designated quarantine disposal points. Keep all food and animals secure until Quarantine officers have inspected your vessel. Don't trade foodstuffs with other overseas vessels. Keep your vessel free of insects.
To go ashore without prior clearance is an offence. Contact with other vessels in port before clearance is also prohibited.
Documents required on arrival
All people on board will be required to produce a valid passport, visa, and completed Incoming Passenger Card.
The Master will be required to produce a completed Smallcraft Arrival Report.
Customs does not levy any charge for Customs and Immigration clearance. However, Quarantine operates on a full cost recovery basis.
You must declare all food, plant and animal items on your incoming Passenger Card. A Papua New Guinean Quarantine officer will inspect your galley stores and other quarantinable items to ensure that they do not include goods or items infested with insects or disease. These could harm Papua New Guinea's unique environment or introduce plant, animal or human, pest or diseases.
Goods of quarantine concern may be surrendered for destruction or treated at your expense. If your vessel has an animal on board you must remain at a mid-water mooring or anchorage and keep the animal secure for the duration of your stay in Papua New Guinea.
Please ensure that all waste is securely contained on your vessel and made ready for removal by the Quarantine officer. If you declare items of quarantine concern, you may be given the option of re-exporting them at your expense.
If you do not declare items of quarantine concern you could be prosecuted.
To help keep marine pests out of Papua New Guinea before you leave your last port we ask that you voluntarily adopt a bio protection strategy by:
- Keeping all ancillary gear and internal seawater systems clean of marine pests and growths; and
- Cleaning your vessels' hull where possible before arrival; or
- Applying antifouling paint within one year before arrival.
You must report any drugs on board your craft to Customs on arrival and departure. This includes medications containing narcotics, hallucinogens, amphetamines, barbiturates and tranquillisers in your medical kit.
Any drugs landed in Papua New Guinea or on board vessels imported into Papua New Guinea will have to meet the requirements of the Department of Health.
WARNING: Penalties for drug offences in Papua New Guinea are severe and could result in imprisonment.
Weapons and firearms
All weapons on your craft must be reported to Customs. Certain weapons may be detained in safe storage for transhipment to your intended port of departure (at Customs expense).
In cases where a weapon has been detained the Master will be required to contact Customs at least one week before departure so the weapon can be returned.
For information about duty free allowances, visit the Customs website and follow the links from 'Travellers'.
There is no limit on the amount of Papua New Guinean or foreign cash that may be brought into or taken out of Papua New Guinea, but travellers carrying K5000 or more, or the equivalent in foreign currency, must declare this on arrival and departure.
Currency includes notes and coins but does not include travellers cheques. Reporting is required by law and failure to do so is an offence.
Temporary import of goods
Commercial goods brought into Papua New Guinea with the intention of being sold are subject to the normal rates of duty and tax where applicable.
Goods, commercial or personal, that are brought into Papua New Guinea to remain temporarily may be admitted duty and tax-free, subject to certain conditions.
When you arrive in Papua New Guinea, there are two clearance options depending on when you intend to leave. You may be granted a cruise permit or asked to provide a security for temporary importation. Both options provide access to Papua New Guinean waters and lands.
A cruise permit may be issued to the Master of the craft if Customs is satisfied the craft is transiting Papua New Guinea for non-commercial purposes. Cruise permits may be issued for the length of the Master's visa.
Extension of the permit may be granted on application, provided you have an appropriate visa. You will be required to comply with certain conditions attached to the issue of the permit.
Cruise permits will not be issued if:
- the vessel is owned or operated by a Papua New Guinean resident; or
- the vessel, or parts of the vessel, are to be sold or listed for sale.
If circumstances of the craft's presence in Papua New Guinea change, you are required to advise Customs. Failure to do so can result in a cruise permit being revoked and the vessel being imported at which time payment of duty and tax will be required.
What if the Master wants to fly home and come back later? This is possible but prior approval from Customs must be obtained. You should contact Customs to discuss.
Temporary importation of vessels
If your visa allows you to reside in Papua New Guinea for a limited period you may be required to temporarily import a craft into Papua New Guinea. Temporary importation without paying Customs duty and tax is subject to:
- the vessel being exported within 12 months of arrival and
- a security in cash or an appropriate bank guarantee being provided equal to the duty and tax that would otherwise be payable.
Importation of vessels
If you are a Papua New Guinean citizen or permanent resident of Papua New Guinea on a vessel purchased outside Papua New Guinea, importation of the vessel is required. Customs duty and tax are payable on any craft imported into Papua New Guinea. The duty and tax are payable on arrival and are subject to change.
Details of importation procedures are available from any Customs Office.
Papua New Guineans returning home on a craft on which Customs duty and tax have previously been paid will not be required to make a further payment, provided no major alterations have been made to the craft while overseas.
Details of the conditions applying to free re-admission should be obtained from Customs at your port of departure from Papua New Guinea.
Passenger Movement Charge
Passengers on board may be required to pay a Departure Tax - this is currently K30.
Before departure from Papua New Guinea, Customs and Immigration clearance is required. This is available at any Customs port. Customs should be contacted in advance to avoid unnecessary delay. It is an offence to depart without clearance.
Requirements for Departure
Passports and completed Outgoing Passenger card for all persons on board.
Masters of Papua New Guinean or imported vessels may be required to 'enter' the vessel for export if the craft is to be sold or positioned overseas.
Registering craft - the Registrar of Ships
Masters of foreign craft not registered under the law of a foreign country must make a declaration about the nationality of their craft when leaving Papua New Guinea.
All Papua New Guinean craft or vessels, irrespective of size or type whether owned by a Papua New Guinean citizen or by a Papua New Guinean company, must be registered before leaving Papua New Guinea.
It is necessary to apply for registration of your craft several weeks before leaving Papua New Guinea. Unregistered craft will not receive Papua New Guinean Diplomatic protection while overseas.
You can do this by contacting the Registrar of Ships at customs office.
Papua New Guinean residents who are taking articles out of Papua New Guinea which they already own, including yachting equipment, may require proof of prior ownership on return to avoid paying duty. These goods should be listed for Customs at your port of departure.
It is illegal to take out of Papua New Guinea, without a permit, items identified as being of great importance to Papua New Guinea's national heritage. These items can include a vast array of objects from works of art and archeological finds, to objects associated with our history such as Second World War relics. Further information can be sourced from the National Museum.
Exportation of endangered and threatened (animal and plant) wildlife and Papua New Guinean native wildlife is strictly regulated and in some cases is illegal. Information and permits regarding the exportation of wildlife and products made from them is available from the Department of Conservation.
All permits must be obtained before you leave Papua New Guinea. Severe penalties apply for offences against the International Trade (Flora and Fauna) Act.