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South georgia and south sandwich islands
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Latest travel advice for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands including safety and security, entry requirements, local laws and customs, travel warnings and health

2017-01-23T12:20:11.003+00:00: Latest update: this advice has been reviewed and re-issued without amendment

South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands is a British Overseas Territory. There is no formal British diplomatic representation. The Office of the Commissioner of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands based in Stanley, Falkland Islands deals with all requests for consular assistance.

You must apply in advance of your visit for permission to land on the Islands. Your travel organiser will normally do this on your behalf. See Entry Requirements

Consider travelling with a company affiliated to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, whose members sign up to a code of practice on operational and environmental safety and whose vessels often have access to more of the Islands.

There are risks posed by the harsh climatic conditions in this isolated sub-Antarctic Territory. See Local travel

There is a low threat from terrorism. See Terrorism

There are no medical or search and rescue facilities. You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Safety and security

Crime

There is no recorded crime in the Territory. The Islands have no indigenous population and the only residents are employees of the government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands, the British Antarctic Survey and the South Georgia Heritage Trust.

Weather

The climate on the Islands is changeable and unpredictable with severe storms throughout the year. Weather conditions may affect your plans. Frequent westerly storms and the lack of sheltered anchorages may make landing on the Islands very difficult.

You should make sure you have clothing and equipment suitable for the climatic conditions and are trained and competent in the use of any specialist equipment. The sun can be very strong across the Territory and you should take appropriate steps to protect yourself.

In winter the South Sandwich Islands may be surrounded by pack ice.

Local travel

There are no air links to South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands. You can only travel to the Islands by sea. There are no scheduled services other than those provided by cruise ships, yachts or expedition companies. There are no road links on any of the Islands.

The conditions and terrain of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands are harsh. The interior is not fully mapped and nearby waters are not always accurately or completely charted.

Consular representation

South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands is a British Overseas Territory and as such there is no formal British consular representation. In an emergency, the Government Officer can provide basic assistance but he/she and the Commissioner’s Office in Stanley, Falkland Islands, can’t issue replacement passports.

Operators of cruise vessels

Operators of cruise vessels must have fully adequate insurance arrangements to cover liability. Permission for visits by cruise vessels is granted on this basis.

Unexploded ordnance

Unexploded ordnance may be found on the Islands. If you come across any unexploded ordnance, don’t touch it. Notify its position and physical appearance to the Government Officer at King Edward Point.

Terrorism

There is a low threat from terrorism, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those visited by foreigners.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

Local laws

South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands is a British Overseas Territory. The Territory has its own laws and is administered by a Commissioner, based in Stanley in the Falkland Islands. The Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands maintains a continuous presence at King Edward Point on South Georgia.

Biosecurity

There are a number of biosecurity measures in place to protect the fragile ecosystem of the Islands from invasive species. You should follow the government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands’ biosecurity protocols while on the Islands. Failure to do so could result in prosecution.

Prohibited areas

On South Georgia access is prohibited to all historic buildings at the former whaling stations of Prince Olav Harbour, Leith Harbour, Stromness and Husvik. This is due to the buildings being in a dangerous state of disrepair or because of the asbestos content. Wind-blown debris including asbestos dust presents a significant health risk at all times. You are prohibited from entering or approaching within 200 metres of the former whaling stations, unless directed otherwise by the Commissioner’s Office or the Government Officer at King Edward Point.

Entry requirements

Visa requirements

South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands has restricted access and visitor permits are required. The Commissioner of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands, based in Stanley, Falkland Islands regulates all access to the Territory. Visas aren’t required, but you must apply to the Commissioner for permission to land on the Islands before you travel regardless of your nationality or mode of transport. If you’re travelling on a cruise ship or yacht the vessel operator will normally submit your visit application and handle the administration of your visit on your behalf.

On arrival in South Georgia, you must report to the Government Officer at King Edward Point, Cumberland Bay East.

Masters of vessels and visit permit holders must report to the Government Officer at King Edward Point on arrival in South Georgia.

Passport validity

You must hold a valid passport to enter South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands. Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry.

Visitor fee

From July 2014 there will be a landing fee of £120 per person for up to 72 hours. For visits of longer than 72 hours the fee will be £120 per person, with an additional charge of £20 per day up to a maximum of £200. The maximum landing fee of £200 will be valid for 1 month from the start of the visit with further fees payable if the stay extends beyond this period.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

There are no search and rescue or other emergency services on the Islands. The Falkland Islands and South America have the nearest medical facilities and are approximately 3 to 5 days sail away respectively. There’s no independent transport between South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands and the Falkland Islands or South America.

You should consider the on-board medical facilities of the vessel you intend to travel on and talk to cruise operators or organisers as appropriate, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.

Money

You can buy stamps from the Post Office and gifts from the museum shop on South Georgia. Both accept pounds sterling, Euros, US dollars and VISA and MasterCard credit cards. American Express isn’t accepted. There are no banking facilities on the Islands.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

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