Help for British nationals overseas – guidance

Visits to Antarctica: How to apply for a Permit

This guide sets out who has to apply for a permit, how to do so and explains the other rules managing travel south.

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 & 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 two months before the date of your departure if you have previously obtained a permit for summer activities, or at least four 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 expeditions 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, scientific research etc) it is likely you will require a separate permit. For further information please contact the Polar Regions Department.

Specialist Activities permit application form (MS Word Document, 173KB)

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 1639



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 pertaining to the 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:

Name Company Purpose and location Date received and IEE
Patrick Woodhead, Managing Director, White Desert Ltd To re-establish a former blue ice runway in Dronning Maud Land July 2016 - Wolfs Fang Runway - available at with access code whitedesert123

Applications received for expeditions from the 2016/17 season

Permit applicant Vessel/Aircraft name Purpose and date of visit Brief itinerary
Robert Dougall McCallum M/Y Alucia Sailing cruises and film project 1 December 2016 - 19 March 2017 Antarctic Peninsula
James Collier Awelina of Sweden Sailing cruise 5 January 2017 - 25 January 2017 Antarctic Peninsula
Michael Bentley Via BAS vessel and BAS aircraft from Rothera Station Scientific Research 14 November 2016 - 28 February 2017 Central Antarctic Peninsula
Jean-Baptiste Sallee Via BAS vessel Scientific Research 9 January 2017 - 1 March 2017 Filchner Depression, Weddell Sea
Peter Convey Via BAS aircraft, small boat, foot Scientific Research 1 November 2016 - 31 March 2017 Alexander Island, Rothera Point
Robert David Larter RV Polarstern Scientific Research 7 February 2017 - 18 March 2017 Western Antarctica
Joanne Susan Johnson Via ski/man haul, skidoo and BAS aircraft Scientific Research 1 November 2016 - 28 February 2017 Kohler Range, Mt Murphy, Marie Byrd Land
Sarah Reed Via BAS vessel from BAS Station, Rothera Scientific Research 23 November 2016 - 30 April 2017 Rothera Research Station, Antarctic Peninsula
Jesamine Carmen Bartlett Via BAS vessel, foot from BAS Station, Signy Scientific Research 1 December 2016 - 17 March 2017 Signy Research Station, Signy Island, South Orkney Islands
Alexander James Tate via BAS vessel Scientific Research 1 December 2016 - 5 January 2017 Southern Scotia Sea in vicinity of South Orkney Islands
John Inglis Spicer via BAS aircraft, foot Scientific Research 1 January 2017 - 31 March 2017 Rothera Point, Antarctic Peninsula
Dion Poncet Hans Hansson Sailing cruises 22 December 2016 - 2 March 2017 Western coast of Antarctic Peninsula
Sebastian Coulthard MS Hebridean Sky Snow shoe trekking 30 October 2016 - 21 November 2016 Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands
Orla Doherty M/Y Alucia Filming project 30 November 2016 - 23 December 2016 Antarctic Peninsula
Skip Novak S/V Pelagic Australis Sailing cruises, camping and climbing 1 December 2016 - 27 February 2017 Antarctic Peninsula and South Sheltand Islands
Simon Anthony Morley BAS vessel Scientific Research 1 June 2016 - 30 July 2017 Marguerite Bay, Antarctic Peninsula
Richard Anthony Phillips BAS vessel Scientific Research 1 January 2017 - 10 February 2017 Antarctic Peninsula
Robert Dougall McCallum MY LEGEND Sailing cruise 18 December 2016 - 5 February 2017 Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands
Tom Hart MV Ocean Diamond and MV Ocean Endeavour British Science Expedition 10 December 2016 - 3 February 2017 Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands. South Orkney Islands
Lauren Luscombe UK Antarctic Heritage Trust Operation of Port Lockroy, conservation of British Antarctic Territory Historical Sites and Monuments and monitoring of Gentoo penguin population 10 November 2016 - 15 March 2021 Port Lockroy, Goudier Island
Emil Grimmson Arctic Trucks UK Ltd Overland vehicle expedition 26 November 2016 - 29 December 2016 Union Glacier, South Pole, Leverett Glacier, Ross Island
Patrick Woodhead Plane and 4x4 vehicles via The Antarctic Comany (TAC) Camping/mountaineering/penguin watching 25 October 2016 - 28 February 2017 Dronning Maud Land
Yanina Najman Via vessel Scientific Research 7 February 2017 - 18 March 2017 Amundsen Sea and Western Antarctica