Permits to visit Antarctica

A valid permit is obligatory for all those who visit Antarctica.

In Sweden, the Antarctic Act (2006:924) protects and conserves this unique environment. The act ensures that international agreements are complied with and is based on the annexes to the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty.

By law, all Swedish citizens who spend time in or undertake activities in the Antarctic must have a valid permit. The purpose of the permit process is to ensure that all activities that are planned are scrutinised in advance and that all necessary action is taken to protect the environment. Consequently, an environmental assessment in which the environmental impact must be at most minor or temporary is conducted before a permit is issued.

The Swedish Polar Research Secretariat is the authority that issues permits for Swedish citizens in accordance with the Antarctic Ordinance (2006:111). Swedish citizens denotes:

  • Swedish citizens.
  • Swedish legal entities.
  • Foreign citizens resident in Sweden.
  • Foreign citizens participating in activities that have permits issued pursuant to the Swedish Antarctic Act.

A Swedish permit is not needed if:

  • You have a valid permit issued from another country that is a party to the Antarctic Treaty.
  • You participate in a cruise or other organized activity where the tour operator reports the activity on behalf of the participant.

You are responsible for checking that the necessary permit for the activity exists and that you are covered by this permit.

How to apply for a permit

Contact the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat well in advance, at least six months prior to departing for Antarctica. For organisers planning large expeditions to Antarctica, for example cruises, the permit process may take even longer. The larger the arrangement, the earlier contact should be made as the preparations for the organiser may be extensive and time-consuming.

Each permit application has to contain an environmental impact assessment for the trip. If you are travelling with a Swedish tourist party or a Swedish research project, it is the person responsible for the tour or research project that has to compile an environmental impact assessment. The same rules apply if you are travelling independently, with a foreign tour operator or are participating in a foreign research project.

Those who are applying for permission must first take out an insurance policy that covers any environmentally hazardous accidents that may occur south of 60 degrees of latitude, i.e. in the Antarctic region.

Contact

For more information about what the permit process involves, please contact the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat: office@polar.se.

Last modified: 12 February 2020