South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands are only accessible by sea. There is no visitor accommodation ashore, therefore most people visit by cruise ship or yacht. All visits require a visit permit. Visit permit applications for both commercial and private vessels are submitted by the vessel owners or operators. Individual passengers don’t need to submit an application as permits are issued for each vessel and covers all visitors on board.
Vessel operators are normally members of IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) and as such are permitted greater access to landing sites. Details of all IAATO members and vessel operators (including charter yachts) are detailed on the IAATO website.
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 Regulated Activity Permit (RAP) may be required. A RAP is also required for expeditions which are defined as any activity involving camping ashore overnight. For more information refer to the Expeditions section.
Please note that there are some activities that GSGSSI will not permit. These include:
- Use of aircraft including helicopters and hot air balloons.
- Field projects which are not supported by BAS and that do not have a dedicated support vessel.
- Use of explosives.
- Importation of non-native species.
- Methods or activities that are banned under CCAMLR.
Exceptions to the above may be granted by the Commissioner in exceptional circumstances.
Persons wishing to carry out activities that are covered by international law, treaty or convention e.g. UNCLOS should ensure that they comply with all relevant requirements.
Visitors should familiarise themselves with the Visitor Policy & Risk Awareness page before planning a trip to South Georgia.