Antarctic Permits

Background and Legislation

The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty was agreed in 1991 and came into force in 1998, once it had been ratified by all 26 (now 28) Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties (ATCPs). The UK has enacted domestic legislation to enforce the provisions of the Protocol through the Antarctic Act 1994. This legislation introduced a very strict environmental protection regime, with which BAS must comply. UK activities in Antarctica require permits issued on behalf of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.  

Conducting activities in Antarctica without first obtaining a permit, or breaching of permit conditions, or breach of a prohibition, is an offence punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.


Types of permit required

PLEASE NOTE: All permit application forms were reviewed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 2013 and as a result of this, there is now a single form that requires completion should you require a permit.  The new FCO form, 'Application for a permit to carry out Specialist Activities in Antarctica' is now available, along with some guidance notes for completing the form. Please contact the Antarctic Funding Office if you require any further guidance or information.

A description of the types of permits can be found below:

  • Expedition permit  (formally referred to as the Section 3 permit):

Section 3 permits are required for any person on a British expedition to Antarctica. The Antarctic Funding Coordinator will ensure that all fieldwork personnel are named on the BAS Section 3 permit. Therefore, Principal Investigators of projects that will be conducting field work in the Antarctic (and sub Antarctic) do not need to apply for a Section 3 permit.

Additional permits, as identified below, are needed by Principal Investigators whose projects involve the following:

  • Permit to undertake a mineral resource activity (formally referred to as the Section 6 permit):

Collecting of any geological samples – including lake and marine sediment cores. Such samples are deemed to be ‘mineral resources’.

If your project requires such a permit, please complete sections 1 and 2 of the 'Application for a permit to carry out Specialist Activities in Antarctica' and send the completed form to the  Antarctic Funding Office

Other permits that may be required include:

  • Permit to cover interference with fauna or flora - (formally referred to as the Section 7 permit): To apply for this permit, please complete sections 1 and 3 of the 'Application for a permit to carry out Specialist Activities in Antarctica' and send the completed form to the  Antarctic Funding Office.
  • Permit to cover introduction of non-native species - (formally referred to as the Section  8 permit): To apply for this permit, please complete sections 1 and 4 of the 'Application for a permit to carry out Specialist Activities in Antarctica' and send the completed form to the  Antarctic Funding Office.
  • Permit to enter into areas protected under the Protocol (Antarctic Specially Protected Areas) or under the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) - (formally referred to as the Section 9 permit): To apply for this permit, please complete sections 1 and 5 of the 'Application for a permit to carry out Specialist Activities in Antarctica' and send the completed form to the  Antarctic Funding Office.
  • Permit to enter to a site used by the CCAMLR Ecosystem Monitoring Programme (CEMP) - (formally referred to as the Section 11 permit): Please contact the Antarctic Funding Office in the first instance if you think you require this permit.

If your project is likely to require a permit of any description, you should contact the Antarctic Funding Office no later than 22nd April 2014. BAS has delegated authority to grant permits for Section 7, 8 or 9 activities to BAS staff only.

Deadline for submitting the new FCO permit application form is 23rd May 2014.