Guidance

Getting married in Antarctica

Find out how to get married in Antarctica, including how to purchase a licence to get married and a licence to conduct marriages.

Port Lockroy
Port Lockroy (UKAHT, Photographer Cat Totty)

You can get married legally in the British Antarctic Territory. Both different and same sex couples are entitled to apply for a legal wedding, in line with the laws governing marriage in England and Wales.

Changes to the marriage legislation for the British Antarctic Territory have made it easier for marriages to be arranged in the Territory. If you’re considering getting married in Antarctica, here’s what you need to know:

Marriage validity

The British Antarctic Territory is a UK Overseas Territory, but under the Antarctic Treaty the UK does not seek to assert its sovereignty against other Treaty Parties. Consequently, if you’re British citizens, any wedding in the British Antarctic Territory will be valid within the United Kingdom. However, foreign nationals will need to consult their national authorities about making a formal validation/registration of the marriage (as would be the case when marrying anywhere else overseas).

Arrange through a recognised tour operator

We would encourage any couples wishing to travel and marry in Antarctica to do so through an International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) operator and to explore what packages they have available. However, please be aware that not every tourist company operating in Antarctica will offer, or support, British Antarctic Territory marriages. Check with your tour operator before making any firm plans.

Apply for a wedding licence

If your tour operator is happy to facilitate your wedding, and you wish to get married in the British Antarctic Territory, you’ll need to apply for a wedding licence from the British Antarctic Territory Administration. Complete and return the Marriage licence application form (PDF, 89.9KB, 2 pages) to: polarregions@fco.gov.uk.

You must apply at least 3 months before your intended marriage date and pay a £500 administration fee.

Solemnizing and registering the marriage

The marriage must be solemnized by a Marriage Officer registered by the British Antarctic Territory Administration. Your tour operator will be able to advise whether they have appointed Marriage Officers available on your tour. After the marriage ceremony, the Marriage Officer will sign the marriage certificate and the British Antarctic Territory Administration will register the marriage.

Information for Tour Operators: become a Marriage Officer

The British Antarctic Territory Administration can appoint Marriage Officers for 12-month periods. These Officers are then able to solemnize marriages, where couples have obtained permission to marry within the Territory.

You can apply for appointment as a Marriage Officer. Complete and return the Marriage Officer application form (PDF, 89.8KB, 2 pages) to: polarregions@fco.gov.uk. You must pay a £1000 administration fee.

More detailed guidance on the role and responsibilities of a Marriage Officer will be provided at the time of appointment.

Travelling to Antarctica

You need to get a valid permit to travel to Antarctica, usually via your tour operator. Find out how to apply for a permit.

Published 20 October 2016