Do You Need Visa to Visit South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands? Check It Out!

Visa Types

Visa Types & Categories to Apply for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

Visa Types & Categories to Apply for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are only accessible by sea. There is no visitor accommodation on the shore, so most people visit either a cruise ship or a yacht. All visits are subject to a visit permit. 

Applications for visits to commercial and private vessels will be submitted by the vessel owners or operators. You must hold a valid passport to enter South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands. Individual passengers do not need to submit an application as permits are issued for each vessel and cover all visitors on board. Vessel operators are normally members of the IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) and, as such, greater access to landing sites is permitted. Details of all IAATO members and vessel operators (including charter yachts) are provided on the IAATO website.

IAATO has two types of membership, Operators and Associates.

  • Operators are experienced organizers who:
    • Operate their own Antarctic travel programs.
    • Certain membership and operational requirements have been met.
  • Associate Members do not operate tour programs themselves, but a book on the programs of other members. They could be:
    • Tour operators
    • Travel Agents
    • Organizers
  • Other companies or individuals with an interest in promoting Antarctic tourism and the objectives of IAATO may also be associates. This includes the following:
    • Port Agents/Ship Agency
    • Government Tourism Offices/Tourist Boards
    • Providers of expedition management services
    • Conservation organizations
    • Providers of Product/Service

There is also a Provisional Operator status for organizers who operate travel programs to Antarctica but are new to IAATO and have not yet met all the membership and operational requirements. Once these requirements have been met, these companies may apply for full operator status.

 

The Commissioner for South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands, based in Stanley, Falkland Islands, regulates all access to the Territory. Visas are not required, but you must apply to the Commissioner for permission to land on the islands before you travel regardless of nationality or mode of transport. If you are traveling on a cruise ship or a yacht, the vessel operator will normally submit your visit request and manage your visit on your behalf.

Masters of vessels and holders of visit permits must report to the Government Officer at King Edward Point on arrival in South Georgia.

If you are visiting South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands for a purpose other than tourism or intend to use a drone or submersible, a Regular Activity Permit (RAP) may be required. RAP is also required for expeditions defined as any activity involving overnight camping onshore. See the Expeditions section for more information.

For more information about a Regular Activity Permit (RAP), please see this website.

 

Please note that some activities are not allowed by GSGSSI.

These include the following:

  • Use of aircraft, including helicopters and hot-air balloons
  • Field projects that are not supported by BAS and do not have a dedicated support vessel
  • Use the explosives
  • Import of non-native species

Methods or activities that are banned under CCAMLR. For more information, please check this website.

 

Exceptions to the foregoing may be granted by the Commissioner in exceptional circumstances.

Persons wishing to carry out activities that are subject to international law, treaty, or convention, e.g. UNCLOS should ensure that all relevant requirements are met.

Before planning a trip to South Georgia, visitors should familiarize themselves with the Visitor Policy & Risk Awareness page. For more information, please check this website.

 

Visitor Documents

For more information, please check this website.

 

Visitor Fee

There is a basic fee of £130 for visitors staying for up to 3 days.

For visitors staying longer than 3 days, there is an additional charge of £20 per day (or part of it) up to a maximum of £210. This higher rate includes a visit of up to 1 calendar month (e.g. 20 November to 19 December). Beyond 1 calendar month, the visitor fee structure is applied again, as if it were for a new visit.

Visitor fees run from midnight to midnight, and the visit begins with the first landing (or other activity detailed on the post-visit report form).

For example, a visitor fee of up to 4 days would be: £130 + £20 (£150)

Visiting applicants will be required to indicate at the application stage whether the proposed visit will be longer than 3 days. If a visitor has to be extended for reasons of force majeure, no additional fees will be charged. If the vessel visit ends prematurely, the vessel operator may arrange for a refund or credit to the GSGSSI.

For vessels carrying more than 12 passengers, 50% of the expected visitor fees will have to be paid in advance of the visit. This will be invoiced at the stage of the application.

 

Administration Fees & Charges

Charges for visits to the vessel shall normally be invoiced to the vessel operator.

Yacht visitors may elect to be invoiced in advance or pay in pounds sterling (cash, check, or traveler's check) or US dollars or Euros equivalent (cash or traveler's check) to the Government Officer at King Edward Point upon arrival at Grytviken.

 

Customs & Harbour Fees (for all vessels and yachts)

 

2.1. Customs Fees

  • Customs Entry: £35
  • Customs Clearance: £35
  • Customs fees @ £25 per hour, minimum charge 2 hours: £50
  • Customs fees are charged at a higher rate of £40 per hour outside normal working hours (08:00-16:30 Monday to Friday).

 

2.2. Harbor Fees (Cumberland East Bay)

These are calculated on the basis of the net tonnage of the vessel and the number of passengers. Harbor Fees shall be charged on a daily basis for periods spent in Cumberland Bay, with the first 24 hours of any visit to the port being charged at the indicated rate and the subsequent 24-hour period being charged at half the rate.

Harbor Fees for yachts (up to 24 meters in length): £50

Net Registered Tonnage

12 pax or fewer

More than 12 pax

Less than 100 tonnes

£220

£440

100-799 tonnes

£310

£620

800-999 tonnes

£390

£780

1,000-1,499 tonnes

£450

£900

1,500-1,999 tonnes

£550

£1,100

2,000-4,999 tonnes

£660

£1,320

5,000-6,999 tonnes

£820

£1,640

7000-9,999 tonnes

£1,220

£2,440

10,000-14,999 tonnes

£1,490

£2,980

15,000-19,999 tonnes

£1,750

£3,500

20,000 tonnes and over

£1,840

£3,680

 

Provision of Medical Care

In the last decade, Antarctic tourism has become increasingly popular and diversified into an ever-wider range of activities, modes of transport, and destinations. The continued success of Antarctic tourism is to be welcomed. With this increase and a number of incidents where medical attention has been required, there is a need for operators to assess and review on-shore and on-shore medical care in order to ensure robust and safe medical care.

The aim of this document is to identify specific medical risks associated with travel to South Georgia with a potentially wider application to the Southern Oceans, to assess current medical professional standards, and to provide advice and guidance on appropriate medical care.

 

Vessel and Yacht Visit Application Form

All cruise ship and yacht operators or owners intending to visit South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands must complete a visit application form. This need not be completed by individual passengers.

Applicants wishing to operate Human Occupied Vehicles (HOV) or Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) should complete the application form and return it together with the Vessel or Yacht Visit Application.

If permission to operate an HOV or ROV (as stipulated in your Visit Permit) is granted, the GSGSSI HOV & ROV Policy sets out the parameters for acceptable use and should be carefully studied. All HOV & ROV dives must be recorded and submitted to GSGSSI in the Dive Record Report.

 

Post Visit Report Form

Post Visit Report Form should be completed and submitted to all Visit Permit Holders within 30 days of departure from South Georgia.

 

Arrival Arrangements

The requirements for immigration

At least 72 hours prior to arrival in South Georgia, the vessel must provide the Government Officer with the following information on all persons on board, ideally in Excel format:

  • Full names
  • Nationality
  • Passport details
    • passport number
    • date of issue
    • date of expiry
    • country of issue
  • Date of birth
  • Confirmation that all persons on board the vessel have adequate travel & medical insurance as sighted by the Visit Permit holder

All passports must be submitted to the Government Officer (Immigration Officer) for stamping upon arrival at Grytviken. The Immigration Officer may refuse to grant permission to enter if the information requested is not provided.

EMBASSY INFORMATION AND LOCATION

FAQ

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How do I get to South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands?

It South Georgia is only accessible by sea and visitors come by cruise ship – further information here.

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I’m visiting South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; do I need to apply for a visa?

There are currently no visa requirements. If in doubt, check with your cruise operator.

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I wish to work in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, what are the current job vacancies?

Yes, Any GSGSSI vacancies will be posted here. There is no point in contacting us regarding any other opportunities for employment. You could try the British Antarctic Survey here.

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What is IAATO?

The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators is a member of the Antarctic Tour Operators Association, representing Antarctic Tour Operators and others organizing and conducting travel to Antarctica. It was originally founded in 1991 by seven private tour operators who wanted to work together to promote safe and environmentally responsible travel to this remote and delicate region of the world.

Membership today includes more than 100 respected companies from all over the world.

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