Antarctica Traveler Information — Travel Advice

Quick Facts

Embassies and Consulates

Destination Description

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

  • The Antarctic Treaty and the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty do establish certain obligations on the Treaty Parties with regard to expeditions to the Antarctic Treaty area.
  • The Treaty obliges each Party to give advance notification of all expeditions to and within Antarctica, on the part of its ships, aircraft, or nationals, and all expeditions to Antarctica organized in or proceeding from its territory.
  • U.S. tourists who have booked passage to Antarctica on a commercial cruise regulated by an Antarctic Treaty Party normally would be covered by the vessel operator’s and/or tour company’s advance notification unless the tourist intends to conduct independent activities while on the commercial vessel. Always check with your tour operator about advance notification coverage.
  • All U.S. nationals organizing private expeditions to Antarctica in the United States, or proceeding to Antarctica from the United States, are required to provide notification to the Department of State at least three months prior to the intended travel to the Antarctic Treaty area.
  • Contact the Department of State’s Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs for complete information at Antarctica@state.gov

Safety and Security

  • The greatest threats to travelers to Antarctica are environmental hazards posed by the severe elements and changeable weather.
  • Among the more common threats are frostbite, dehydration, eye damage from reflected glare, overexposure to the sun, and maritime accidents.
  • U.S. citizens should be aware that dangerous confrontations have occurred involving Japanese whaling vessels and private vessels in the waters off the coast of East Antarctica near the Ross Sea.
  • U.S. citizens are urged to avoid involvement in activities that violate U.S. law, the laws of foreign countries, or international law.

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

  • Several areas are afforded special protections as they have been designated as having ecological, scientific, historical, or other significance.
  • It is forbidden to bring any non-native species into Antarctica. This includes live poultry, pet dogs and cats, and household plants or seeds.
  • It is prohibited to take or harmfully interfere with Antarctica wildlife except in accordance with a permit issued by a national authority.
  • Visit the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators website for more information on visitor guidelines.

Health

  • There are no organized search and rescue groups in Antarctica. Cost of search and rescue efforts are borne by the person/s in need of the assistance.
  • There are no emergency evacuations facilities in Antarctica. Cost of medical evacuation is borne by the individual/s.
  • Travelers to Antarctica should obtain adequate medical evacuation and travel insurance before leaving home.
  • **We do not pay medical bills. **Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.

Travel and Transportation

Fact Sheet

For additional travel information

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