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Information for Yachts

Information on guidelines, preparation and requirements for traveling to Antarctica by yacht.

Sailing to Antarctica

Each year, hundreds of visitors go to Antarctica onboard sailing or motor yachts to experience this unique ecosystem. With this rewarding adventure comes a responsibility: careful planning and preparation are needed to legally travel to and stay safe in Antarctica.

Remember to tread softly. Protecting the fragile environment for science and future visitors is a commitment everyone must make. Please join the Antarctic community and help keep the tradition alive: be a safe and environmentally responsible visitor to Antarctica.

Preparing For Your Voyage

At the 35th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (Hobart, 2012), Treaty Parties adopted Resolution 10. This resolution recommends that all those intending to undertake a yacht visit to Antarctica utilize an agreed checklist of yacht-specific items for preparing safe Antarctic voyages. The Parties also recommended the use of agreed Guidelines for Antarctic Cruises. Contact details of national competent authorities and relevant Maritime Rescue Coordination Centers (MRCCs) were also made available for Antarctica-bound yachts.

You can download all these documents below, along with a key information pamphlet available in English, Spanish and French.

Preparation & Responsibilities

  • Be prepared for extreme weather conditions. You, and your vessel must be prepared for extreme weather conditions: a knockdown, storm-force winds, cold, drifting ice and bad anchorages. Bad weather and strong winds can hit hard and fast, with little warning.
  • Be completely self-sufficient. Do not expect rescue, outside assistance, fuel, or other supplies. Make sure you are capable of sustaining full-speed groundings, loss of engine, propeller, steering, rigging/mast, anchor, etc. without outside assistance. Remember to carry sufficient tools and knowledge to make your own repairs.
  • Scientific research stations and ships are “outposts” with limited resources and cannot be used as a resource for supplies, repairs or buying additional fuel. They must only be contacted for assistance in life-threatening emergencies.
  • Stay Safe. Remember the weather can change in just a few minutes in Antarctica and ice can drift in. Use anchor watches while onboard and, when going ashore, take shelter and emergency supplies in case you cannot return to the yacht. Please do not take anything from bases or emergency huts, except in a life-threatening emergency. Many of the ice fields and glaciers are crevassed and dangerous to cross without the correct skills and equipment. Icebergs and ice cliffs can collapse with no warning, swamping vessels. Keep a respectful distance.

Operational Guidelines

Read the recommended guidelines adopted by IAATO members as best practice for yacht operations south of 60°S. They are intended to provide an informative – but not comprehensive – overview of industry best practice.

See what you need to prepare.

Government Authorization

All Antarctica-bound yacht expeditions must be authorized by the operator’s own country or the vessel’s flag state. The authorization process is a good way to prepare for Antarctica, and heavy fines can result from non-authorized visits. If you are traveling on a charter yacht, ask to see your skipper’s Antarctic authorization. Note that requirements are different, depending on the national authority, and some countries may require you to submit your application several months before the intended date of your voyage.

Note: An Argentine or Chilean exit permit or zarpe by itself is not a suitable authorization to visit Antarctica.

Find your relevant government authority contact

Vessel Directory

Among IAATO yacht operators, there are specialized yachts available for charter as a whole or with individual berths, and other companies which provide consultancy services specializing in assisting private yacht visits to Antarctica. Find IAATO-registered yachts in our Vessel Directory.

See Vessel Directory