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How IAATO Works





IAATO is a membership organization supported entirely by its members through the collection of dues and per passenger fees. For IAATO, the fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30, in alignment with the seasonal nature of Antarctic tourism.

IAATO is structured as a not-for-profit entity in the United States. The technical classification for this type of organization is a 501(c)(6), and generally includes trade associations, business development organizations, real estate boards and so forth. For IAATO members, the operative word is “not-for-profit,” which means that the association is not required to pay income taxes to the US federal government. However, it is not exempt from other sorts of taxes, such as taxes on its employee payroll, sales taxes on office supplies, equipment and some services, or annual tangible property tax on depreciating office equipment and furniture.

As a 501(c)(6) organization, IAATO is required to file an annual tax return, or Form 990 to the US Internal Revenue Service, and this is generally submitted in late November for the previous fiscal year ending June 30.

Financial issues relating to dues and per passenger fees are dealt with in the Bylaws, noted just below. These sections are very important, as they can affect a member’s remaining in good standing within IAATO. Further explanation of these sections follows.

Solicitation, collection and administration of dues and fees


IAATO invoices its members in May of each fiscal year. Invoices are sent to the IAATO member representative by email; no hardcopies are mailed via the postal service. Representatives are kindly requested to forward the invoices to the accounting department or appropriate person promptly in order to expedite payment and avoid late charges or other penalties.

Associate Members

For Associate members, the invoicing process is straightforward, with the invoice covering only the dues for the upcoming fiscal year. Payment is due no later than July 1.

Along with the invoice, Associate members receive a statement showing the balance of credits and debits posted to the member’s account. It is important to pay the amount owed on the statement, as this may reflect some debits carried over from the previous season that are still owed to IAATO.

Operator and Provisional Operator members

For Operator and Provsional Operator members (operators/organizers), the invoicing is in two parts:

  1. One invoice covers the balance of passenger fees owed to provided by the member. (New Provisional Operator members do not incur a balance of passenger fees if they joined after the operating season concluded.)Fees can be adjusted for certain non-revenue passengers carried, which includes expedition staff, guides and lecturers, observers, home office personnel, and national program representatives. Travel writers, group leaders, travel agents, guests of the ship operator/charterer and others receiving complimentary passage do not qualify as non-revenue passengers for the purposes of IAATO per passenger fees.
  2. A second, separate invoice covers:
    • Dues for the upcoming fiscal year. This payment is due no later than July 1.
    • A pre-payment of sixty-five percent (65%) of anticipated per passenger fees for the upcoming season. This amount is based on the number of passengers that the operator/organizer estimates will be carried for the upcoming season. Estimates for the upcoming season should be as accurate as possible in order not to underestimate anticipated passenger loads. Of course, no one has a crystal ball, and we understand that canceled departures and lighter passenger loads can and do occur.

Along with the invoice, Operator and Provisional Operator members receive a statement showing the balance of credits and debits posted to the account. It is important to pay the amount owed on the statement rather than the total of the two invoices, as the statement amount may reflect some debits carried over from the previous season that are still owed to IAATO.

If a departure(s) is added by an operator/organizer following the initial invoicing period, IAATO may send another invoice and statement for pre-payment (65%) of passenger fees for the new departure(s). Members are kindly asked to remit payment as well as any outstanding balance on the statement as soon as possible.

The schedule of membership dues and per passenger fees for the current season can be found in the IAATO Membership Application form. Specifically, see Steps 4 & 5 in the instructions that precede the application itself. The application can be found on and downloaded from the Join IAATO public page of the website.

Dues and Fees - Refunds & Timely Payment

Non-Refundable Fees

Per-passenger fees are non-refundable. On occasion, IAATO members have been forced to cancel a number of departures or the balance of a season for a vessel, resulting in a reduction in seasonal passenger numbers and corresponding per passenger fees due to IAATO. In those cases – where per passenger fees may already have been pre-paid – the fees already paid will be credited to the member’s account for the following season.

Similarly, dues are non-refundable, even if a company or organization decides to drop its IAATO membership – for whatever reason – following remittance of dues for the upcoming season.

Timely Payment of Dues and Fees

Member payments can be made by check in US Dollars drawn on a US-based bank, by credit card (there is an approximate 3% service fee), or by wire transfer. Instructions for a wire transfer can be found on the bottom of the invoice, and are included here:

Bank of America
4 Old Tower Hill Rd.
Wakefield, RI 02879

Account Name: International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators
Account Number: 394002218904
Routing Number: 011500010
Swift Code: BOFAUS3N

For those companies paying by wire transfer, please make sure that the net amount received is equal to the balance due. Any wire transfer fees not covered will be added to the member’s account for future payment.

As noted in Article III Sections E  and Section G of the Bylaws, members are subject to timely payment of dues and fees, and to stay current with their accounts. Late charges will be applied, as determined by the Finance and Executive Committees, and are two percent (2%) of the outstanding balance per month. Members not current with their accounts are not in good standing, will not be permitted to vote or to attend the IAATO Annual Meeting and may be subject to other penalties, including reprimand or change in membership status e.g., probation or expulsion.

If a company is re-applying for membership and had outstanding dues or fees from a previous period of membership, that company will be required to pay those overdue dues or fees, plus any applicable late charges or penalties, as determined by the Finance and Executive Committees.

Financial Management of IAATO

The Executive Director and Administrative Officer together with the Executive and Finance Committees manage the association’s finances on behalf of the membership, as noted below:

Relevant Bylaws: Article VII, Section B, Section D, and Section E

In general, financial management and budgeting decisions are made in order to maintain:

  • The pace of ongoing and anticipated IAATO projects and services, including those outlined in the Five-Year Strategic Plan;
  • The present levels of IAATO coverage at Antarctic Treaty, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and related meetings;
  • The ability to deal with new issues arising in the next three to five years; and
  • IAATO’s ability to maintain a cash reserve adequate to cover a minimum of one and, ideally, two years of operation, should the economy fall flat or in the event of a major disaster.

As noted in Article VIII, Section D, decisions made on budgets and financial matters will be presented to the Membership at the Annual Meeting for review and approval by two-thirds of the Members in good standing. This usually includes:

  1. Review and final approval on the budget for the IAATO fiscal year ending approximately 12 months earlier;
  2. Review and approval on the budget for the current fiscal year; and
  3. Review and tentative approval on the budget for the next fiscal year.