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Antarctica Country Travel Infomation

Travel Transportation

There is no direct air service from the United States to Antarctica. Flights to and over Antarctica are operated from a number of countries to include Australia, Chile, New Zealand, Argentina, and others. If you are traveling to Antarctica, please check our country information page for the country from which you are departing to get more on aviation safety standards in that country. Further information may be found on the FAA?s safety assessment page.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Antarctica should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings.

Health

Antarctica has no public hospitals, pharmacies, or doctor?s offices. Although cruise ships have the capacity to deal with minor ailments, medical emergencies often require evacuation to a country with modern medical facilities.

  • 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.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor?s prescription.

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Adventure Travel.

Local laws and Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: Some Treaty Parties, including those that claim territory in Antarctica, may seek to apply their laws to persons in Antarctica. You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of Treaty Party laws. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctica Treaty designates Antarctica as a natural reserve.

  • 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.

Safety and Security

Environmental Hazards:

  • 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.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • Help you find appropriate medical care
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • Provide general information regarding the victim?s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion
  • Provide a list of local attorneys
  • Provide our information on victim?s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • Posts in countries that have assistance programs for victims of crime should also include those links
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • Replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.

Tourism: No formal tourism industry infrastructure is in place on any level. Tourists are considered to be participating in activities at their own risk. Emergency response and subsequent appropriate medical treatment is not available in Antarctica. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

Entry exit Requirementsh

Passports and Visas: A U.S. passport is required for travel through the country or countries that you transit through in route to and from Antarctica. Please refer to the separate country information pages for those countries.

Expeditions to Antarctica:

  • The Antarctic Treaty and the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty  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

Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

Destination Description

See the Department of State?s Antarctic webpage for information on U.S. diplomatic interests in Antarctica.

Travel Embassy and Consulate

The United States does not maintain an embassy or consulate in Antarctica. If you are in need of U.S. consular services while in Antarctica, contact the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country next on your itinerary or nearest to you for assistance. Links to the embassies and consulates most commonly called upon to provide services are below:

24/7 Emergency Contact at the Department of State:
From within the United States: 1-888-407-4747
From outside the United States: 1-202-501-4444

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