Work permits in Papua New Guinea


An overview of the regulations and application procedures for work permits and professional accreditations in Papua New Guinea.


All non-citizens who seek employment in PNG must possess a valid work permit before they can commence employment. The work permit must be granted by the Secretary, DLIR, in accordance with the Employment of Non-Citizens Act 2007.

There are two types of work permit:

  • A general work permit for commercial employment
  • A volunteer work permit for work performed for other than financial reward

Short-term work permits are valid for up to six months and are non-renewable. Long-term work permits can last for up to three years, or five if the employer is designated a Good Corporate Citizen under the Act.

All employers who employ non-citizen workers must keep a Register of Work Permits.

A non-citizen who works in PNG without a valid work permit commits an offence.

Work Permits are non-transferable; that is they are issued for:

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  • a specific person,
  • a specific employer, and
  • a specific job.

Any changes to any of the above, even changing jobs within the one organisation will require a new work permit to be applied for.

Application procedures

For each non-national you seek to bring into PNG or employ in PNG, your registered Employment Agent will need to submit the appropriate application form with following documents to DLIR in Port Moresby on your behalf:

  • Copy of photo page or bio page of employee’s passport (with more than 6 month’s validity)
  • Curriculum vitae (Must be updated and must include specific dates, i.e. DAY/MONTH/YEAR and not “current or present”)
  • Copy of Job Description
  • Certified evidence of Education Qualifications (witnessed by a JP) – From the applicant’s country of origin.
  • Copy of employment contract signed by both employee and employer on company letterhead
  • Copy of application for New Work Permit (Green Form)
  • Two recent, clear, colour passport sized photographs of employee with a white background, must not be wearing any jewellery (earrings etc) and glasses.
  • Employee’s right thumb print
  • Evidence of membership of professional association
  • Evidence of English language proficiency if applicable – refer to listing for eligible English speaking countries
  • Employer’s Certificate of Incorporation from PNG Investment Promotion Authority (PNGIPA)
  • Evidence of payment for Work Permit (non-refundable)

If the applicant does not hold a valid work permit, the applicant must apply from outside of PNG.

If all of the documentation is correct, the Department will usually process a work permit application within 15 working days from date of lodgement.

Once the approval has been granted by the Secretary, the Work Permit and card will be collected by the appointed agent.

Renewing work permits

Existing work permit holders are required to apply for a renewal of their work permit three (3) months prior to its expiring. A renewal only applies if the application is for the same position in the same company. If there is likely to be a delay in processing the renewal such that the work permit could expire before a renewal is granted, a 60-day Renewal Extension Letter can be applied for.

If the employer wishes to transfer the employee to a new position, or the worker is changing companies, then a new Work Permit must be applied for.

Bridging Work Permits can be applicable if the Work Permit is due to expire within a month.


The following non-citizen employees do not require work permits:

  • Non-citizen employees of the Diplomatic Corps (however, locally engaged non-citizen employees of foreign diplomatic missions in PNG are not exempted)
  • Non-citizens appointed as Official Personal Staff
  • Non-citizens employed by certain aid organisations such as AusAid and JICA (again, locally-engaged non-citizen employees are not exempted)
  • Non-citizens granted Permanent Residency status.
  • Volunteers (Red Cross/Salvation Army)

Professional registration

It is necessary for certain non-citizen employees in PNG to register with a professional body before taking up employment. These bodies include:

  • Institute of Engineers PNG Inc (; +675 325 763)
  • Certified Practising Accountants of PNG (;  +675 7522 3156/7115 1651)
  • Nursing Council of PNG (;  +675 301 3803
  • Maritime Safety Authority (; +675 305 4600)
  • PNG Law Society ( +675 321 7344)
  • Medical Board of PNG (;  +675 301 3813/301 3784)
  • Pharmacy Board of PNG (;  +675 301 3866)
  • PNG Association of Surveyors (; +675 321 592/5979
  • PNG Institute of Architects (; +675 7601 6160)
  • PNG Civil Aviation Safety Authority (; +675 325 7320)

This article prepared by Scott Roberts (Managing Director, Pacific People Solutions) and George Griffin (Managing Director, CC Pacific).


  1. Jacob Magaru says

    If a work permit is given to a foreigner who is employed by Hilton Hotel, can this Foreigner conduct other business out side of Hilton Hotel?

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