What is the status of Antarctica in terms of visa regulation? Does one need a visa to visit Antarctica? If so, which country does issue such a visa?

  • 1
    Unless you are able to arrange your own travel, you will need a visa (to reach the port of departure) and a permit from one of the countries maintaining a presence in Antartica.
    – Relaxed
    Aug 5, 2014 at 21:38
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    I can't comment, but this has to be said. youtube.com/watch?v=dH573B1bkHI
    – user19059
    Aug 5, 2014 at 22:50
  • @pnuts No, what I meant is simply that you need to reach the port of departure.
    – Relaxed
    Aug 6, 2014 at 10:04
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    what gives a sovereign entity (e.g. government) power over a land is because they're willing and capable of defending the land from outsider. Most governments, even those that officially make claims on Antartica probably wouldn't be willing to spend too much effort defending it if the push comes to the shove. Government permits are there for your safety. With permit, the government/tour issuing the permit can vouch for your identity. If you don't have a permit, then if you meet a hostile group while in there, they're free to assume the worst of you, a spy, a hostile soldier, or whatever.
    – Lie Ryan
    Aug 6, 2014 at 12:11
  • It is easier to trusts the government/tour that issued your permit, than to trust a random guy who walked into their camp, unable to prove that he's a harmless tourist. The Atlantic treaties are basically gentlemen's agreement, because while there aren't anyone capable enforcing it as a sovereign entity would, it is mutually unbeneficial for anyone to not go along with it.
    – Lie Ryan
    Aug 6, 2014 at 12:29

2 Answers 2


There are seven countries which have territorial claims on parts of Antarctica: Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, and Norway, which all recognize each other's claims; and Chile and Argentina, whose claims are disputed.

In practice, however, all claims are suspended under international treaty, and there are no checkpoints or immigration officers. For most people, a visit to Antarctica consists of a flight over it or a ride on a ship through its waters, neither involving disembarkation and thus both avoiding immigration formalities.

Land tourism does exist, and a permit is required. The vast majority of visitors will arrive by commercial ship or helicopter, and the tour operator is responsible for obtaining the necessary permits. You may, of course, need a visa for the country where your tour is departing from.

To land on the continent in a private vessel such as a yacht, you would need to obtain a permit yourself from your own government, if your country is a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty System. For example, Britons would apply to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Polar Regions Department; Americans would file the DS-4131 Advance Notification Form – Tourist and Other Non-Governmental Activities in the Antarctic Treaty Area with the Department of State’s Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs

Due to Antarctica's extreme physical conditions and remoteness, only a few dozen yachts make the trip each year, and there are special yachting guidelines for Antarctic cruises.

For a list of tour operators, see the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators.

  • 1
    I want to know who is the authority who issue such a permit either to the tour operator or the person itself. If I should get the permit from my own government, in case of going there by private means, then visiting Antarctica does not need visa because I doubt if any government limits its own citizen. For example If I want to go to the France I need a visa and France is easily able not to give me visa. Is it possible, for a citizen like me, that I won't get the permit?
    – MOON
    Aug 5, 2014 at 22:46
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    @yashar As I noted, each country has its own authority and procedure for issuing visitor permits. If your country is not a signatory to ATS, then you could apply via one of the countries that is. Or I suppose there is no one to stop you from going by yourself, but that also means that there is no one to protect you if another party decides that you don't belong there.
    – choster
    Aug 5, 2014 at 23:00
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    @yashar no government may limit its own citizen to come into the country they are a citizen of, but that hardly means they will issue you permits for anything you happen to want. You need a PERMIT even if you don't need a VISA - don't expect one to follow the rules of the other. Aug 5, 2014 at 23:37
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    @yashar It seems the ship providing logistic support to the French base in Antarctica is based in Hobart in Tasmania so you might need an Australian visa as well.
    – Relaxed
    Aug 6, 2014 at 10:07
  • @Relaxed. According to "choster", I can get the permit from my own country, which has signed ATS. So, I think it is not necessary to get the permission from another country if I want to go there directly.
    – MOON
    Aug 6, 2014 at 15:37

From 101Visa:

No single government controls Antarctica, so visitors do not need visas to go there. But with the ratification of the Antarctic Treaty’s Protocol on Environmental Protection in 1998, 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 covered under the permits applied for by the cruise company. Yacht passengers and crew, and anyone visiting Antarctica by air, should check with their national government to make sure they have their paperwork in order. If you are uncertain about your status, check with your tour operator.

  • If someone wants to go their by their own ship, who should the travelers get the permit from? There are countries which their citizens cannot go to the most countries without the visa. What should they do? It seems the easiest way is going their by tour companies, but what a bout going their with personal ship or airplane?
    – MOON
    Aug 5, 2014 at 20:25
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    Are there any developed or developing countries that haven't signed the Antarctic treaty and have citizens that could feasibly visit Antarctica on their own?
    – Nzall
    Aug 6, 2014 at 7:26
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    @NateKerkhofs: Richest person in the world by many accounts is Carlos Slim, from Mexico. So yes.
    – MSalters
    Aug 6, 2014 at 8:35

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