Visitors to PNG are permitted the following:
- 200 cigarettes (or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco)
- 2L of alcohol
- 1L or 1000g of perfume
- New goods to the value of K1000. Exceed this K1000 threshold and things get ugly. One shifty way to get around this is to ditch the packaging before you board the PNG-bound plane and act as if the goods are not new when you disembark at Port Moresby’s Jacksons Airport.
Since most people fly into and out of PNG from Australia, the customs and quarantine restrictions that apply in Australia are particularly pertinent. If anything you are carrying is deemed a quarantine risk, you’ll have to pay to have it fumigated, a process that can take several days, and if you have a same-day onward connecting flight, you can kiss your artefacts goodbye. Places such as PNG Arts in Port Moresby or the Melanesian Arts Gallery in Lae can arrange (for a fee) fumigation and certification, but Australian customs officials won’t take any notice of these documents and will want to either confiscate or fumigate your goods to their own exacting standards. Post can be a good alternative.
Items that will see you starring in an Aussie border-security reality TV show include the following:
- Animal parts, such as skin (often used on Kundu drums), teeth or feathers.
- Polished wood won’t cause much alarm, but anything with bark is deemed risky.
- Bukaware itself is fine, but small bugs love to hide in the weaving, so this sometimes raises alarms.
- Betel nuts, fruit and other plant material.
Finally, anything created before 1960, including traditional stone tools, certain shell valuables, and any item incorporating human remains or bird of paradise plumes, cannot be exported. If you are uncertain of what your purchases are made of, get them checked at the National Museum in Port Moresby.