Originally this was going to be a “tongue in cheek” type post but then I figured it doesn’t need to be. Nor should it. I’m all about decent travel advice to help you on your journeys! After my Antarctica trip in 2010 I did get a lot of people asking me “do you need a Visa to visit Antarctica?”. In retrospect it’s a serious question, and rather than reply to countless e-mails on the subject each week about how you can do Antarctica for cheap or backpack to Antarctica, I thought a new post would suffice. First TWO things first:
1. You don’t need a visa to visit Antarctica
2. There is no immigration or border control on entering Antarctica
However to get to Antarctica you will be in either:
Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand (so please do check if you need a visa for any of those places!!).
Here is what you do need to visit Antarctica: most of the tour groups that go to Antarctica will ask for the following, so have them ready ahead of your trip:
1. A valid passport with 6 months to run (for registration and identification purposes only)
2. Some kind of travel insurance that covers you for the duration of your trip (I hate buying travel insurance but it’s essential for this trip)
3. Tell the tour company your blood group (in case of medical emergency)
4. Tell the tour company your next of kin (in case of medical emergency)
Can I Get My Passport Stamped in Antarctica?
Yes you can and there are a few places you can get this done, mostly the bases, as well as the South Pole of course. My budget didn’t take me to the South Pole, so I got my passport stamped in the Post Office at Port Lockroy, Wiencke Island. It’s free to do so.
Do you get an exit stamp when leaving Ushuaia, Argentina?
Oddly – NO you don’t. Which I found strange. In fact I think it’s one of the only times I’ve ever left a country without having an exit stamp for one I received an entrance stamp for. I left Argentina illegally…
Do you get an entrance stamp on your return to Ushuaia, Argentina?
No – again you don’t. I guess there might be an exception if you left Chile for Antarctica and headed back to South America to Argentina. However I didn’t encounter anyone who did this.
What currency do you need for Antarctica?
As a rule you should always carry US Dollars. You can use them on board the ship and at all museums and bars etc. in Antarctica. However Euros will also be accepted in most places. At the British Base Port Lockroy, you can pay in British pounds. Which I did as I had some on me.
Unsurprisingly Antarctica has no official currency, no official banks and as such no official physical banknotes. However you can get Antarctica Dollars merely as a souvenir item!!! I found this amusing, the Bank of Antarctica even have their own website. So for collectors get on it!!
At the British Base you can get Antarctica Stamps in the Post Office (which say on them British Antarctic territory). I picked a few up for souvenir purposes.
On arrival at the Polish Base I asked if they accept Zlotys, the answer was no.
Visa and Mastercard are NOT accepted on the continent of Antarctica but can be used to settle bills onboard your ship.
What Other Proof Can you get to say you went to Antarctica?
Our tour organised 2 certificates for us which make decent framed items:
1. A certificate to confirm I had stepped foot on Mainland Antarctica:
2. A certificate issued to swimmers only to confirm that we had swam in the water of Antarctica. If you read my naked dip story, you’ll know I was in the water!
What Nationalities can you expect to meet on an Antarctica Trip?
On our trip there were people on board from the following countries:
United States of America, Argentina, Chile, Canada, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Hong Kong, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Philippines, Italy, Germany, France, Brazil, Poland.
I have written over 30 posts on Antarctica on this site alone and contributed a further 6 or 7 to other sites. Here are some others that may be of interest:
So don’t stress over that Antarctica Visa folks!!! Head to
the white continent and live your dreams! Cheers!