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 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 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 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:
|Name||Company||Purpose and location||Date received and IEE|
|Patrick Woodhead, Managing Director, firstname.lastname@example.org||White Desert Ltd||To re-establish a former blue ice runway in Dronning Maud Land||July 2016 - Wolfs Fang Runway - available at white-desert.com/dates-2016/ with access code whitedesert123|
|BAS Environment Office email@example.com||British Antarctic Survey||To relocate Halley VI Research Station, Brunt Ice Shelf, Antarctica||September 2016 - Halley Relocation Project - available at www.bas.ac.uk|
|BAS Environment Office firstname.lastname@example.org||British Antarctic Survey||To improve the understanding of the uncertainty in predicting future sea level rise associated with the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, Rutford Ice Stream, Antarctica||September 2016 - BEAMISH ANTARCTICA - available at www.bas.ac.uk|
|BAS Environment Office email@example.com||British Antarctic Survey||To gain a better understanding of the ice shelf and ocean shelf seas to predict future behaviour, Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf, Antarctica||Updated September 2016 - Filchner Ice Shelf System - available at www.bas.ac.uk|
Applications received for expeditions from the 2016/17 season
|Permit applicant||Vessel/Aircraft name||Purpose and date of visit||Brief itinerary|
|Robert Dougall McCallum firstname.lastname@example.org||M/Y Alucia||Sailing cruises and film project 1 December 2016 - 19 March 2017||Antarctic Peninsula|
|James Collier email@example.com||Awelina of Sweden||Sailing cruise 5 January 2017 - 25 January 2017||Antarctic Peninsula|
|Michael Bentley firstname.lastname@example.org||Via BAS vessel and BAS aircraft from Rothera Station||Scientific Research 14 November 2016 - 28 February 2017||Central Antarctic Peninsula|
|Jean-Baptiste Sallee email@example.com||Via BAS vessel||Scientific Research 9 January 2017 - 1 March 2017||Filchner Depression, Weddell Sea|
|Peter Convey firstname.lastname@example.org||Via BAS aircraft, small boat, foot||Scientific Research 1 November 2016 - 31 March 2017||Alexander Island, Rothera Point|
|Robert David Larter email@example.com||RV Polarstern||Scientific Research 7 February 2017 - 18 March 2017||Western Antarctica|
|Joanne Susan Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org||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 email@example.com||Via BAS vessel from BAS Station, Rothera||Scientific Research 23 November 2016 - 30 April 2017||Rothera Research Station, Antarctic Peninsula|
|Jesamine Carmen Bartlett firstname.lastname@example.org||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 email@example.com||via BAS vessel||Scientific Research 1 December 2016 - 5 January 2017||Southern Scotia Sea in vicinity of South Orkney Islands|
|John Inglis Spicer firstname.lastname@example.org||via BAS aircraft, foot||Scientific Research 1 January 2017 - 31 March 2017||Rothera Point, Antarctic Peninsula|
|Dion Poncet email@example.com||Hans Hansson||Sailing cruises 22 December 2016 - 2 March 2017||Western coast of Antarctic Peninsula|
|Sebastian Coulthard firstname.lastname@example.org||MS Hebridean Sky||Snow shoe trekking 30 October 2016 - 21 November 2016||Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands|
|Orla Doherty email@example.com||M/Y Alucia||Filming project 30 November 2016 - 23 December 2016||Antarctic Peninsula|
|Skip Novak firstname.lastname@example.org||S/V Pelagic Australis||Sailing cruises, camping and climbing 1 December 2016 - 27 February 2017||Antarctic Peninsula and South Sheltand Islands|
|Simon Anthony Morley email@example.com||BAS vessel||Scientific Research 1 June 2016 - 30 July 2017||Marguerite Bay, Antarctic Peninsula|
|Richard Anthony Phillips firstname.lastname@example.org||BAS vessel||Scientific Research 1 January 2017 - 10 February 2017||Antarctic Peninsula|
|Robert Dougall McCallum email@example.com||MY LEGEND||Sailing cruise 18 December 2016 - 5 February 2017||Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands|
|Tom Hart firstname.lastname@example.org||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 email@example.com||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 firstname.lastname@example.org||Arctic Trucks UK Ltd||Overland vehicle expeditions 01 November 2016 - 01 February 2017||Union Glacier, South Pole, Leverett Glacier, Ross Island, Lake Untersee, Novo Runway|
|Patrick Woodhead email@example.com||Plane and 4x4 vehicles via The Antarctic Comany (TAC)||Camping/mountaineering/penguin watching 25 October 2016 - 28 February 2017||Dronning Maud Land|
|Yanina Najman firstname.lastname@example.org||RV Polarstern||Scientific Research 7 February 2017 - 18 March 2017||Amundsen Sea and Western Antarctica|
|British Antarctic Survey email@example.com||BAS Research Stations||To operate BAS Research Stations and undertake expeditions for scientific research 1 October 2016 - 30 September 2017||BAS Research Stations and Antarctica region|
|Tom Hart firstname.lastname@example.org||SY Pelagic||British Science Expedition 10 November 2016 - 6 December 2016||Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands, South Orkney Islands, Joinville Island|
|Patrick George Harkness email@example.com||BAS vessel and plane||Scientific Research 30 November 2016 - 19 December 2016||Rothera and Alexander Island|
|Peter Davis firstname.lastname@example.org||BAS vessel and plane||Scientific Research 28 October 2016 - 29 January 2017||Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf|
|Alexander Whittle email@example.com||BAS vessel||Scientific Research 01 April 2017 - 16 April 2017||Signy Island, South Orkney Islands and Rothera, Antarctic Pensinsula|
|Dr. Tang Chin Cheung firstname.lastname@example.org||Aurora Expeditions vessel||Scientific Research 26 December 2016 - 2 January 2017||Antarctic Peninsula|
|Chase Arthur Smith email@example.com||MY Reliance||Sailing cruise 5 February 2017 - 21 February 2017||Antarctic Peninsula|
|Kevin Kerr Newsham firstname.lastname@example.org||British Antarctic Survey Station - Rothera||Scientific Research January/February 2017||Leoni Island, Antarctic Peninsula|