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Visits to Antarctica: how to apply for a permit
This guide sets out who has to apply for a permit, how to apply and explains the other rules covering travel to Antarctica.
Any person on a British expedition to Antarctica or taking a British vessel or aircraft into Antarctica will need to apply for a permit to the Polar Regions Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
A British expedition is one organised in the UK, or one where the last place of departure for Antarctica is the UK, a British overseas territory, or a Crown Dependency. ‘Expedition’ includes a single person and is a tour or journey of any purpose, including activities such as landing ashore, skiing, kayaking, small boat activities, climbing, diving or any related activity.
You don’t need a permit for:
- ships or aircraft travelling to an immediate destination outside Antarctica
- fishing vessels, unless they are carrying out functions related to an expedition
- expeditions organised in and authorised in writing by another contracting party (country) to the Environmental Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty
It is also unlikely that you will need a permit if you are a passenger on an organised visit to Antarctica, as your tour operator would usually arrange this. However you should confirm this with them before travelling. Contact the Polar Regions Department if you are still unsure.
Applying for a permit
You should submit applications for permits as far in advance as possible. This should be at least 2 months before the date of your departure if you have previously obtained a permit for summer activities, or at least 4 months for a new or unusual application.
Organisers will need to demonstrate that they are sufficiently prepared for a visit to Antarctica. We advise all applicants to discuss their plans informally with the Polar Regions Department before they begin their permit application, especially if your expedition involves specialist activities such as extreme sports, extended trips or multiple transport options.
Application forms and guidance
For a land- or vessel-based expedition you can download the new permit application form and guidance below. For further information please contact the Polar Regions Department.
Expedition permit application form (MS Word Document, 653KB)
Expedition permit application guidance (MS Word Document, 178KB)
If you plan to undertake more specialist activities in Antarctic (such as wildlife monitoring or scientific research) it is likely you will need a separate permit. For further information please contact the Polar Regions Department.
Specialist Activities permit application form (MS Word Document, 196KB)
Specialist Activities permit guidance (MS Word Document, 172KB)
Section 10 application form (MS Word Document, 191KB)
Once the expedition is complete, you will need to fill in a Post Visit Report.
Post Visit Report for Specialist Activities (MS Word Document, 140KB)
We strongly encourage all applicants to fully read the supporting guidance before completing either application form.
How to contact the Polar Regions Department
Telephone: 020 7008 1500
Polar Regions Department
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Room K 2.55
King Charles Street
Publishing application details
Applicants should be aware that within 10 days from the Polar Regions Department confirming receipt of any permit applications, the FCO will openly publish information relating to these applications on this website. This will include application type, applicant name, duration of visit, proposed itinerary and the contact details of the applicant.
UK Antarctic enforcement policy and procedures
The FCO is responsible for ensuring that the UK’s Antarctic legislation is fully complied with. See our UK Antarctic Enforcement Policy and Procedures page for further details.
Initial Environmental Evaluations (IEEs) received for activity in Antarctica 2017 to 2018
No Initial Environment Evaluations have currently been received. When received, we publish the name, company, purpose and location, and date received and IEE.
Applications received for expeditions from the 2017 to 2018 season
|Permit applicant||Vessel/Aircraft name||Purpose and date of visit||Brief itinerary|
|Tim Cochrane TimC@noble-caledonia.co.uk||MV Island Sky||Tourism 22 to 29 November 2017||Antarctic Peninsular|
|Dion Michael Poncet firstname.lastname@example.org||Hans Hansson||Tourism and film project 5 December 2017 to February 2018||South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula|
|Skip Novak email@example.com||Pelagic Australis||Tourism, climbing and film project 4 December 2017 to 27 February 2018||Antarctic Peninsula|
|Steven Derrick Brown firstname.lastname@example.org||Novara||Tourism and climbing 1 Jan 2018 to 15 March 2018||Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands|