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Antarctica - Exercise normal security precautions
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Antarctica. Exercise normal security precautions.
Safety and security
Safety and security
There are no telephone or other communication services in Antarctica. Satellite telephone and postal facilities exist only at established research stations. It would be very difficult to obtain outside assistance in the event of an emergency.
Research stations and scientific expeditions are fully dedicated to scientific research and, with rare exceptions, have no capacity to provide support of any kind to tourists or casual travellers. Independent travellers must be fully self-sufficient from the time that they leave the departure country until their return.
Other than a privately run base on the interior ice that caters to mountaineering-type expeditions, there are no tourist facilities on land. Various tourism companies can arrange excursions to the continent. The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) publishes a list of its members, which is available at:
Any travel that is not part of an international scientific expedition or organized through a recognized tour operator is strongly discouraged because of its potential harmful impact on the environment and the lack of emergency facilities.
A Canadian passport may be required for travel through the country or countries that you transit en route to and from Antarctica. Please refer to the separate Travel Advice for those countries.
You may need a visa for the country or countries you transit as you travel en route to and from Antarctica. Please refer to the separate Travel Advice for those countries for information on visa requirements.
Travellers on Canadian expeditions, Canadian vessels and those operating Canadian aircraft need a permit to be in the Antarctic, except when granted permission from another party to the Madrid Protocol or in the case of an emergency. There is no fee associated with processing a permit to travel to the Antarctic.
Detailed information about permit applications and application forms are available from Environment Canada's Environment Canada’s Protecting the Antarctic website.
Head, Marine Pollution and Shipping
Environmental Protection Operations Directorate
Place Vincent Massey
351 St. Joseph Boulevard, 17th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0H3
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
- Measles: Global Update - July 28, 2016 00:00 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Antarctica. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Insects and Illness
In some areas in Antarctica, certain insects may carry and spread diseases.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with all animals as certain infections can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
There are no organized or stand-by search and rescue or emergency evacuation facilities in Antarctica. Costs for search and rescue (or for the evacuation of private parties) will generally be charged to the party.
Ensure that you have equipment and clothing that meet Antarctic standards.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
The Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty on Environmental Protection (Madrid Protocol), adopted in 1991 by the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties, designates Antarctica as a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science. Several areas have ecological, scientific, historical or other value and are afforded special protection. It is forbidden to bring any non-native species into Antarctica. This includes poultry, pet dogs, pet cats and household plants. It is also prohibited to take or harmfully interfere with Antarctic wildlife except in accordance with a permit issued by a national authority.
The Madrid Protocol came into force in 1998 and was ratified by 30 countries. Under the Madrid Protocol, parties are required to regulate the activities of expeditions organized in or proceeding from their territory to the Antarctic, as well as the activities of their vessels, aircraft and Antarctic stations.
Canada ratified the Madrid Protocol in December 2003, and developed the Antarctic Environmental Protection Act and its supporting regulation to implement the Protocol in Canada. In so doing, the Canadian government oversees the activities of its citizens in the Antarctic, and provides the means to address potential future environmental risks in the Antarctic.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Antarctica is the coldest, driest, highest (on average) and windiest continent, with 99 percent of its area covered by a permanent ice sheet. Weather conditions are severe and can vary.
There is no centralized number to reach emergency services. Research and carry contact information for local police and medical facilities.
There is no resident Canadian government office in Antarctica. Canadians visiting Antarctica for longer than three months should advise Global Affairs Canada in Ottawa of their travel plans prior to leaving. For emergency assistance, contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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