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Exercise increased caution in Antarctica due to environmental hazards posed by extreme and unpredictable weather and limited emergency services.

Reissued with updates to information.

  • Exercise increased caution in Antarctica due to environmental hazards posed by extreme and unpredictable weather and limited emergency services.
  • There are no U.S. government consular services available to U.S. citizens in the Antarctic Region. The closest U.S Embassies/Consulates are in Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, and South Africa. U.S. government resources in the Antarctic Region are committed to the U.S. Antarctic Program, per longstanding U.S. policy.

Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Antarctica.

If you travel to Antarctica:


Embassy Messages


Quick Facts


Required by transit countries


May be required by transit countries.


None for Antarctica. May be required by transit countries.







Embassies and Consulates

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

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

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:
  • Any expedition to the Antarctic Region could have an impact on the environment and its ecosystems.  To manage those risks and impacts, 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, such as those that are a member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (, normally would be covered by the vessel operator’s and/or tour company’s advance notification. Always check with your tour operator about advance notification coverage.
  • Any U.S. nationals organizing a private expedition to Antarctica in the United States, or proceeding to Antarctica from the United States,  should initiate the process by notifying 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 additional information at
  • Visit the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators website for more information on visitor guidelines.

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

Safety and Security

Environmental Hazards:

  • The greatest threats to travelers to the Antarctic Region 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.
  • Additionally, emergency response capabilities including search and rescue are restricted due to limited availability, long distances, and environmental hazards.

See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

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

Once in a country, 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 information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • 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.

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: Some Treaty Parties, including those that claim territory in Antarctica, may seek to apply their laws to persons in Antarctica. Furthermore, some laws remain applicable to certain persons in Antarctica and may subject them to prosecution in the U.S.  For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained in transit to/from Antarctica, 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.  Additionally, the Antarctic Conservation Act, which protects native mammals, birds, plants, and their ecosystems, applies to all U.S. citizens and expeditions that originate from the United States.

  • 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.


Antarctica has no public hospitals, pharmacies, or doctor’s offices.  Although cruise ships and land-based expeditions should have the capacity to treat minor ailments, medical emergencies often require evacuation to a country with modern medical facilities, which could require travel over a significant distance.  There is no guarantee that transportation would be available or that weather conditions would allow for transportation, even in an emergency.

  • Search and rescue resources in Antarctica are extremely limited.   Cost of search and rescue efforts are borne by the person/s in need of the assistance.  Travelers should obtain comprehensive travel, medical, and medical evacuation insurance prior to departure; see our webpage for more information on overseas insurance coverage.
  • There are no public utilities, such as phone or Internet service providers, in the Region.

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.  Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.

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.

Travel and 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 Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, 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.  Due to maritime incidents, tourists have suffered severe injuries and/or death in the Antarctic Region and when traveling between South America and the Antarctica and in the Antarctic area.