Confusion surrounds Papua New Guinea visa ban

by Ray Clancy on February 28, 2014

in Australia Travel, General Information

A ban on Australian citizens arriving in Papua New Guinea without a visa is due to become effective this weekend after the country announced it is scrapping its visa on arrival programme.

But there is still confusion over who will and will not be allowed entry. At first it was announced that Australians, who have previously been able to acquire a visa on arrival, will no longer be permitted to do so. Then it was claimed that tourists would be able to do so.

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Australian citizens wishing to travel to Papua New Guinea are advised to apply for a short term single entry visa at their nearest Papua New Guinea consulate

Those travelling to Papua New Guinea could end up stranded in Singapore, some experts are warning. There have also been suggestions that Australians who arrive without a visa will be put on the next available flight, and it may not be back to where they came from.

‘Australians uplifted without a valid visa will be repatriated on the next available flight at the expense of the uplifting airline, which may not necessarily be to the port of origin,’ one notice issued by the Papua New Guinea Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority said.

‘For instance, an Australian uplifted without a visa from Cairns could be repatriated to Singapore if that was the next available flight at the cost of the uplifting airlines,’ it added, but officials later appeared to back track and then confirm the ban.

The confusion has come as a result of the Australian government refusing to agree to Papua New Guineans being able to get visas on arrival. Papua New Guinea is Australia’s nearest neighbour.

International airlines have been notified not to let Australians without visas on board flights to Papua New Guinea, and a spokeswoman for flag carrier Air Niugini said it had ensured all its consultants and travel agents were aware of the new rules.

There is the chance that Australians arriving for farther away destinations could find themselves stranded, such as those taking flights from Hong Kong, Tokyo, Manila and Fiji. It is unclear who would then pay for their return to Australia.

The Papua New Guinea government has been threatening to ban visas on arrival for some time. After the general election it delayed implementation to allow for discussions with the new government, but these have not been fruitful.

Traditionally, a 60-day tourism visa could be issued upon arrival in Port Moresby. There is now concern that the decision could affect the tourism industry in Papua New Guinea, especially in the short term while confusion surrounding the visa ban exists.

Visa on arrival bans also exist for other countries including all African nations, all Middle Eastern countries, China, Vietnam, India and Russia.

All Australian citizens wishing to travel to Papua New Guinea are being advised to apply for a short term single entry visa at their nearest Papua New Guinea consulate. Australians on cruise ships or those flying in or out of the country to board or depart a liner don’t need to apply beforehand because their visas are granted electronically. Also, those transiting for less than eight hours also don’t require a visa, but must remain within the airport.

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