Passport and Visa Requirements to Antarctica

devil-island-iceberg-weddell-sea-adelie-penguins-antarctica_34421_600x450Traveling to Antarctica is the ultimate traveler’s dream. There has never been a native population and because of that, there is no official government of the final frontier continent. The residents of Antarctica are all temporary, and citizens of countries from all over the world. An international treaty signed by 46 countries acts as the governing body of Antarctica. As such, Antarctica is a peaceful place, free of military operations and designated as a utopia for scientific research, available to everyone. There is very little infrastructure in place, as human development is kept minimal and temporary. Antarctica has no public hospitals, pharmacies, or doctor’s offices, so safety is always a primary concern. Most cruise ships and bases have the capacity to deal with minor ailments. Serious medical emergencies require evacuation to a country with modern medical facilities. Travelers to Antarctica should get medical evacuation and travel insurance before leaving for Antarctica.

Primarily composed of research scientists and tourists, Antarctica does have a growing need for constant visitors and residents. Most research facilities and bases act as a small town, with barbers, carpenters, chefs, engineers, cleaning crews, and more, all finding their place in Antarctica. U.S. citizens account for over one-third of ship-borne tourism to Antarctica. The opportunity for unique employment and tourist opportunities means diplomatic requirements must be set in place. Yes, there are passp0rt and visa requirements to Antarctica.


Passport and Visa Requirements to Antarctica

A valid passport is required at the time of entry into Antarctica. There is no official visa for Antarctica, however one must have the required permits in order to visit. The Antarctic Treaty’s Protocol on Environmental Protection in 1998 now requires that all visitors who are citizens of countries that are signatories of the Antarctic Treaty must have a permit to visit Antarctica. Cruise ship passengers are usually covered under the permits applied for by the cruise company. There are no vaccines required nor are their any currency requirements. You should expect to pay about $5000 for your trip, so you may want to make sure you have sufficient finances in place.


Antarctica Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements

The Antarctic Treaty and the Environmental Protocol have established certain obligations on the Treaty Parties with regard to expeditions to the Antarctic Treaty area. This is designated as the area south of 60° South Latitude, including all surrounding ice shelves. Article VII(5)(a) of the Treaty obliges each Party to give advance notification of all expeditions to and within Antarctica, on the part of its ships or nationals, and all expeditions to Antarctica organized in or proceeding from its territory.

All U.S. nationals organizing private expeditions or charters to Antarctica in the United States, or proceeding to Antarctica from the United States, should complete a DS-4131 ADVANCE NOTIFICATION FORM – TOURIST AND OTHER NON-GOVERNMENTAL ACTIVITIES IN THE ANTARCTIC TREATY AREA and submit it to the Department of State’s Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs at least three months prior to the intended travel to the Antarctic Treaty area.

The Department of State, in consultation with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), will then determine whether the expedition is subject to U.S. jurisdiction. In accordance with longstanding U.S. Policy on Private Expeditions to Antarctica, the U.S. government is not able to offer support or other service to private expeditions, U.S. or foreign, in Antarctica.

ANTARCTICA CONSULAR SERVICES: The United States does not maintain an embassy or consulate in Antarctica. If you lose your passport or require other consular services while there, contact the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country next on your itinerary or nearest to you for assistance. For your convenience, links to the embassies and consulates most commonly called upon to provide services are below:

Embassies and Consulates

Office of Overseas Citizens Services

Telephone from within the U.S . 1-888-407-4747

Emergency Telephone from outside the U.S. 1-202-501-4444

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