Antarctica Travel Restrictions: What You Need to Know Now

woman in black sits inside inflatable skiff with views of white Antarctica landscape and ocean filled with icebergs

Cruises are operating and we’re looking ahead to a busy Antarctica 2024-2025 season . Select Antarctica cruise lines still require vaccination and testing, but there are no current Argentina entry requirements or Chile entry requirements. Read on to learn about Antarctica now.

IN THIS POST – Antarctica Travel Restrictions: Antarctica Now Argentina Travel Restrictions Chile Travel Restrictions Chile & Argentina Now Current Cruise COVID Requirements Cancelled Antarctica Cruises Pre-Trip Advice More Antarctica Travel Resources

Important Note: If you are an AdventureSmith booked client, please contact your Adventure Specialist for the most up-to-date and detailed inf o . If you want to book a cruise to Antarctica, please contact us . If you simply want advice, please use the comments section below. This post on Antarctica travel restrictions was last updated on 1/9/2024 and is subject to change without notice.

antarctica travel restrictions covid 19

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Keep on top of Antarctica travel updates .

Antarctica Now

Is Antarctica restricted? No, the Antarctica travel ban was lifted, Antarctica is open and  Antarctic cruising  is happening normally. However, travelers should always be prepared for changes. Availability can be tighter with consolidated or altered departures. Port countries may implement new restrictions if needed. And some ship operators and scientific bases have maintained their Antarctica travel restrictions.

We recommend all travelers consider Travel insurance . See our  Antarctica travel guide  for advice on the  best travel insurance for Antarctica . Note that supplemental medical evacuation insurance is required on most Antarctica cruises .

Because most travelers to Antarctica get there through Chile and Argentina, we focus on these entry points in the following sections. Learn more about  how to get to Antarctica .

Argentina Travel Restrictions

Effective September 14, 2022 Argentina travel restrictions have all been removed. COVID testing, a health declaration form and travel insurance are no longer required. For most travelers a valid passport is all that is required to enter Argentina. However, Argentina entry requirements have changed frequently in the past due to epidemiological circumstances. Travelers should check for Argentina travel restrictions before arriving. For more details visit the US State Department or the  US Embassy in Argentina .

Chile Travel Restrictions

Effective May 10, 2023 all Chile COVID travel restrictions have been lifted. COVID testing and travel insurance is no longer required, but our experts highly recommend traveling with health insurance that has coverage for SARS CoV 2 (COVID-19). For more details visit the  U.S. State Department  or  Chile Travel .

Chile & Argentina Now

Travelers transiting through Argentina or Chile should be mindful of a few COVID protocols upon arrival and while traveling. Masks are required inside medical facilities. Observe signage regarding physical distancing. Keep two meter distance from others. Inter-city/state travel restrictions may reappear, requiring local permits to enter or transit. In Argentina, a nationwide curfew may be reinstated per a change in the epidemiological situation.

A female traveler in sunglasses and a blue jacket leans against the railing of a ship in Antarctica with the calm ocean and white-capped mountains behind her

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Current Cruise COVID Requirements

Most  Antarctica cruise lines  no longer have COVID requirements, meaning most options are cruises that don’t require a vaccine. However, that can always change and AdventureSmith travelers will be kept informed. Here are current policies for the operators we work with (subject to change without notice):

  • G Adventures requires all guests to show proof of primary COVID vaccination series.
  • Intrepid Travel requires all guests to show proof of primary COVID vaccination series plus an additional booster dose.

Cancelled Antarctica Cruises

In recent seasons, some operators were forced to leave travelers with their Antarctica cruise cancelled. Other operators had to consolidate ships and departures. However, with more experience operating Antarctica cruises post-pandemic, operators are now delivering more dependable departures. If you find yourself with an Antarctica cruise cancelled, then we recommend working with your cruise line or booking agency to reschedule your cruise or request a refund, based on the options presented by your cruise operator. If you have had your Antarctica cruise cancelled and you are seeking to book a new cruise with true experts,  contact us .

Advice Before You Leave Home

For two weeks prior to your departure, and during travel to your destination, we recommend you follow common sense protocols regarding masking and social distancing to avoid contact with COVID-19. Take reasonable measures to reduce the risk of exposure and follow all CDC guidelines. Even for trips and where a COVID-19 test is not required, we recommend you test 72 hours prior to departure and do not travel if you test positive.

Wear masks in airports and aboard airplanes. Be careful in bars, restaurants and other crowded places that are higher risk. Arriving for your trip healthy will provide peace of mind and help you to enjoy your trip.  

MORE ANTARCTICA RESOURCES : Antarctica Travel Guide Antarctica Cruises Luxury Antarctica Cruises Falkland Islands & South Georgia Cruises Cruises with Flights to Antarctica Best Time to Visit Antarctica Antarctica Cruise Cost How to Get to Antarctica Things to Do in Antarctica Places in Antarctica Antarctica Ships Best Antarctica Cruise Lines Antarctica Cruise Deals Antarctica Cruise Reviews

If you have questions about Antarctica travel restrictions or are looking for advice, please use the comments below. We will answer your questions to make this Antarctica COVID travel update even better. If you are interested in booking a trip to Antarctica , please contact us . Thanks.

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What are the restrictions for Antarctica when you get there? Can you explore freely?

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Hi James, Antarctica expedition cruises will visit designated landing sites where guests can disembark for shore excursions. Visitors may explore freely but are required to stay within designated areas and within certain boundaries and/or marked trails. Numerous guides and expedition leaders are with you ashore providing information about the wildlife, geology and history of the area while also ensuring travelers are following the guidelines and restrictions that protect wildlife, environment, and safety of visitors.

Your cruise may offer group activities like snowshoeing or kayaking, where you are expected to stay close within your group and follow the instructions of your guides.

Let our experts prepare you for Antarctica, one phone call is more productive than hours of internet research. Please contact us directly if we can help you plan an incredible trip.

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Are there any non smoking cruises? Cheers

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Thanks for your question Cindy. Most Antarctica cruise ships do allow smoking but it is very restricted and typically only permitted on one deck at the stern (back end) of the ship. This way smoke goes out to sea and doesn’t bother guests. It is forbidden to either throw cigarette butts overboard or smoke on shore in Antarctica. We hope this helps you enjoy a smoke-free expedition. If you are interested in booking please contact us .

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Hurtigruten also still require vaccination.

It would be really helpful if you could list those cruise lines who DONT require it. Thank you.

Thanks for your feedback, Angie. We have chosen to list only the Antarctica cruise lines that are among our curated selection of small Antarctica expedition cruises . Since the vast majority have dropped requirements, we have found it easier to list the few operators who still have requirements in effect.

Our specialists are the most well-versed on these vetted options, and keep our traveling clients individually in the loop on them. We would urge you to ask your booking agent or operator for specifics regarding your trip.

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I just need to comment on this website and on an excellently written article. You have by far the best and most detailed info available. You might just become my new travel agent. Well done!

Glad to hear you’re finding our resources useful! Find more Antarctica cruise & travel guides or contact us to hone in on your ideal Antarctica cruise .

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What about SilverSea Silver Endeavor cruise? What is their policy?

Hello, at this time Silversea requires all crew and guests aged 12 years and older to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Travelers are not required to test prior to boarding.

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Can you show proof of Covid antibodies instead of getting a booster?

Hi Teri, thanks for your question. Argentina currently has no entry requirements and an individual operator will not accept proof of antibodies in lieu of a booster shot.

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Hi. I heard tourists can no longer take photos while kneeling, siting or laying on their stomach. Also no tripods, monopods etc. Have you heard of these new regulations? Thank you.

Hi Chris – great question. Yes, IAATO has made updates to their Biosecurity Procedures for the 2022-2023 Antarctica cruise season to include the following: “No sitting, kneeling, or lying down on the ground or snow, or leaving any equipment on the ground or snow, close to animal activity or fecal matter (e.g., within a minimum of 10m of nests or breeding adults, wildlife transit pathways, haul out sites).”

These additional protocols are in response to Avian Influenza and are mandatory for all IAATO Operators and their staff operating in Antarctica. They are also likely to evolve as more information and guidance regarding (HPAI) H5N1 becomes available. You can learn more about the new protocols and read the press release here. IAATO 2022-23 Biosecurity Protocols Regarding Avian Influenza .

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We hear of strict vaccine requirements for passengers but there’s no transparency about vaccine status of the entire crew.

Hi Mary, All of the operators and ships we partner with require the crew to be fully vaccinated and tested prior to boarding. Please see the Antarctica Cruise Vaccination & Testing Requirements above where we specifically detail the vaccination policy that our polar partners have for their crews. AdventureSmith provides peace of mind because we have personally vetted, and hand selected each partner operator and are clear when sharing their policies. If you are interested in booking an Antarctica trip , please contact us.

Hi there, I have a COVID-related question… Are there PCR testing facilities in Ushuaia for foreign visitors needing a negative test result before returning home? If so, are these clinics likely to be open over the Christmas weekend of December 24 & 25 for testing?

Hello. At this time there are no COVID-19 testing options at the Ushuaia airport (USH). There is a clinic in Ushuaia that can provide testing. Find contact info and hours on their Facebook page .

Some of the expedition ships operating in Antarctica can offer COVID-19 testing aboard the ship prior to disembarkation. Availability and pricing varies by ship so check with your Antarctica travel operator. Another good option is to test in Buenos Aires before returning to the US. Rapid antigen testing centers are available in Argentina’s Ezeiza (EZE) and Aeroparque (AEP) airports. Results in 30 minutes are handy for departing travelers.

We hope this helps and have an amazing trip to Ushuaia!

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For citizens of countries that are not exempt from an Argentinian Visa, but residing in USA, is there provision in place to get a visiting visa or an ETA?

Hi Robin, Thank you for reaching out. Without knowing your country of citizenship it is difficult to offer specific advice. However, it is our understanding that Argentina will be issuing visas for international travelers that require them beginning on November 1, 2021. To learn if a visa is required visit Argentina Migrations’ official page or your countries’ consulate. In the United States, visa services can answer detailed questions and expedite applications for visas to Argentina. Please note that the information on this page is purely informational and intended to help cruise guests prepare for Antarctica cruises . Good luck with your visa application and please keep us posted if you learn that visas are not available for your country.

Learn More About Antarctica From Our Expert Crew

Eager to learn more about what it is like to travel in Antarctica? Let our firsthand experience be your guide. Learn about the seasons, cost, places, activities and more. Want to do more research? Read our other COVID resources to get an even more full picture.

Contact Us - Antarctica Travel Restrictions: What You Need to Know Now

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Covid outbreak at Antarctic research station forces temporary travel ban

An aerial view of McMurdo Station in Antarctica.

A Covid outbreak at an American scientific research station in Antarctica has forced U.S. officials to temporarily halt all travel to the remote outpost.

The National Science Foundation, which operates McMurdo Station on the southern tip of Antarctica’s Ross Island, announced new measures over the weekend to help control the outbreak, which was first reported by NBC News on Friday .

“Consistent with the U.S. National Science Foundation’s commitment to balance research and operational needs while containing the spread of Covid cases in Antarctica, NSF is implementing a pause on all travel to the continent for the next two weeks, effective immediately, while we reassess the situation,” agency officials said in a statement released Saturday .

The temporary ban does not include essential travel for health and safety reasons, according to the agency. There is also a medical clinic located at the station to provide health care to its residents.

The agency confirmed that 10% of the research station’s population have tested positive for Covid during this recent outbreak. There are 885 people currently living and working at McMurdo Station.

The agency said it “highly recommends” KN-95 masks be worn at all times and will provide them to residents.

Though the station operates year-round, many scientists typically travel to McMurdo in November for field research during Antarctica’s summer season. It’s not yet clear what, if any, impact the outbreak could have on research and operations at the outpost.

Though most of the stricter Covid protocols from the past two years — including quarantines, charter flights and multiple PCR tests — have been relaxed, visitors to McMurdo must receive a bivalent booster shot and those who are at high risk for Covid are screened out.

antarctica travel restrictions covid 19

Denise Chow is a reporter for NBC News Science focused on general science and climate change.

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Travel to Antarctica during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

antarctica travel restrictions covid 19

If you’re planning to travel to Antarctica, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Antarctica reported its first cases of Covid-19 in late December 2020. While scientists who observed strict quarantine rules sailed to the continent from the UK in November 2020, tourism remains severely restricted, with many cruise companies canceling their operations for the brief summer season.

What’s on offer

A remote icy wilderness at the end of the world, trips to Antarctica have grown in popularity in recent years, with travelers sailing across the Drake Passage from South America to catch a glimpse of sprawling penguin colonies, breaching whales and rare seabirds.

Because Antarctica is a scientific preserve, special teams have been able to restart research work on the continent from the end of 2020. While tourism isn’t banned, the fact that most visitors can only arrive via ship means it’s almost impossible to go right now, as many cruises are not running at this time.

What are the restrictions?

Antarctica’s unique position as an internationally administered region means that it isn’t subject to Covid restrictions. However, because tourists access the continent from Chile and Argentina, they are subject to the entry rules of those countries. Travel to Argentina is off limits to all but nationals and permanent residents, who must present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure.

Chile has been open to tourists from all countries since December 8; however, all travelers must have proof of a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before departure, complete a health form and have travel insurance to cover the cost of Covid-related health care up to $30,000.

However, all major cruise companies have canceled operations for the 2020/21 season. Cruise ships remain a concern when it comes to Covid transmission, meaning sailings are not likely to take place until the next summer season in the Southern Hemisphere, in late 2021.

In January, Adventures by Disney announced it will launch round trip cruises to Antarctica later this year, with the first scheduled to depart in December.

What’s the Covid-19 situation?

The first cases of Covid on Antarctica were reported on December 22, with 36 researchers and military personnel testing positive at a Chilean research base. Only a small number of full scientific expeditions to Antarctica have gone ahead since the pandemic began. On January 8, a Spanish research ship headed to the continent from Spain was diverted after a coronavirus outbreak on board. A research ship from New Zealand began a six-week voyage to the white continent on January 8, while a team of scientists from the Australian Antarctic Program embarked on a two-month voyage to Antarctica on January 28 after spending weeks in quarantine.

What can visitors expect?

Any ships that do make it to Antarctica will find the waters far quieter than usual. If you’re on a ship that allows disembarkation, expect there to be strict protocols about handling equipment and protective gear.

Useful links

Chilean Government entry affidavit

Argentina’s official Covid-19 guidance

Our latest coverage

In December 2020, Antarctica became the final continent to be reached by the Covid-19 pandemic , when 36 people tested positive on a Chilean research base. Before that, CNN Travel had reported on what it’s like to live on the continent virus-free , despite the pandemic. Looking to the future? Here, experts tell us their favorite ways of experiencing Antarctica .

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Ask LP: how can I travel to Antarctica?

Tom Hall

Oct 7, 2020 • 3 min read

A group of penguins standing on an icy beach, ship in the water in the background, Antarctica

Antarctica's tourist season starts in November © DreamPictures / Getty Images

The far south of the world may have escaped the pandemic that’s locked down life elsewhere, but that doesn’t mean this summer season is smooth sailing. Antarctica has no cases of COVID-19  – partly due to efforts to keep it that way, and partly reflecting the restrictions placed on other countries. This impacts scientists who make up the temporary residents of the continent and also threatens the Antarctic tourist season, which generally runs from November to March or April.

In a normal year, travelers would converge on Ushuaia (Argentina), Punta Arenas (Chile), and, less frequently, ports in New Zealand and Australia to embark on the long journey south. The shortest route – across the swells and choppy waters of the Drake Passage from South America – takes two to three days to reach the Antarctic Peninsula . Air options like DAP’s overnight trips to King George Island in the South Shetland Islands ($6500 per person from Punta Arenas, Chile) usually gives another way to reach the far south from South America for a more limited time. Services are currently suspended.

A small boat loaded with people in yellow coats pulls up alongside a large blue-white iceberg

There are two big obstacles to getting to Antarctica this year. One is the lack of cruises – most operators have cancelled their schedules for the remainder of the this year and early next year. If cruises can happen at all this season it will be towards the end of the usual period of operation. Hurtigruten has cancelled Antarctica departures until January 2021, but hopes to resume operations then. 

The other is the inaccessibility of gateway destinations. At the time of writing there’s no way into Chile , Argentina , New Zealand and Australia for foreign tourists. All these countries have closed their borders to non-nationals since March, and Argentina has recently paused plans to allow international flights back into the country until at least October 11. In all likelihood, this will be longer. Sub-Antarctic destinations have their own entry restrictions. The Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) are only accessible for essential travel with reduced air links. In order to reach Antarctica, any departing travelers heading south would need to transit Argentina (or one of the other jumping-off countries) and transfer directly to their cruise ship. As you’d expect there’s no confirmed plan for this at present. 

The Milky Way over Antarctica, with millions of stars in the dark sky above a white snowy landscape

Adding all this up, 2020–21 may be a better time to save for a future Antarctic odyssey. However knock-on demand for 2021–22 is likely to be strong, as capacity is always limited and there is an Antarctic solar eclipse in November next year. That said, specialist travel companies are also keen to encourage booking, and deals for next year are available through experts like Discover the World .

One way for ice-cap enthusiasts to get their fix from Australia is to take a seat on one of the  scenic overflights of the continent run by Antarctica Flights . These 12 hour journeys – using a 787 Dreamliner for the first time – depart from various Australian airports from November to March. They don’t touch down and therefore count as a domestic charter flight. Currently there is not a requirement to wear a mask on these flights.

You might also like:

Is it sustainable to visit Antarctica?    How to pack for a trip to Antarctica    The eternal lure of icebergs: fulfilling a life-long dream of visiting Antarctica   

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COVID-19: travel health notice for all travellers

Antarctica travel advice

Latest updates: The Health section was updated - travel health information (Public Health Agency of Canada)

Last updated: May 6, 2024 10:24 ET

On this page

Safety and security, entry and exit requirements, laws and culture, natural disasters and climate, antarctica - exercise a high degree of caution.

Exercise a high degree of caution in Antarctica due to the adverse and unpredictable weather conditions, as well as the lack of infrastructure and emergency services.

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Weather conditions

Antarctica is subject to extreme and unpredictable weather conditions. It is cold, dry and windy, with 99% of the continent covered by a permanent ice sheet.

These conditions put you at risk of frostbite and sun overexposure, which can result in dehydration and eye damage.

Ensure that you have equipment and clothing that meet Antarctic standards.

Communications

There are no public phone or other public communication services in Antarctica. In case of an emergency, you may have difficulties in obtaining outside assistance.

Research stations can house satellite telephones and postal facilities. However, they are fully dedicated to scientific research and, with rare exceptions, have no capacity to provide support of any kind to tourists or casual travellers.

If you plan to visit Antarctica as an independent traveller, ensure to be self-sufficient from the time that you leave the departure country until your return.

There are no tourist facilities on land, except a privately run base on the interior ice that caters to mountaineering-type expeditions

Travelling to Antarctica may have a potential harmful impact on the environment. As a result, you should avoid any travel that is not part of an international scientific expedition or organized through a tour operator. Various tourism companies can arrange excursions to the continent.

International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators

Antarctica is governed through an international treaty system and is not owned by any one nation.

Passport and visas

You may need a Canadian passport and/or a visa for the countries you transit as you travel en route to and from Antarctica.

Refer to the separate Travel advice and advisories for those countries.

Expedition permits

All Canadian travellers require a permit to visit Antarctica. Expedition tour operators will usually make necessary arrangements to obtain it on your behalf. Confirm this information with your tour operator before travelling.

Should you need to apply for a permit yourself, you must submit your request to the Antarctic Environmental Program at Environment Canada.

Apply for a permit - Environment Canada

Children and travel

Learn more about travelling with children .

Relevant Travel Health Notices

  • Global Measles Notice - 13 March, 2024
  • COVID-19 and International Travel - 13 March, 2024

This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.

Routine vaccines

Be sure that your  routine vaccinations , as per your province or territory , are up-to-date before travelling, regardless of your destination.

Some of these vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.

Pre-travel vaccines and medications

You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary. 

Yellow fever   is a disease caused by a flavivirus from 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.

  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.

Country Entry Requirement*

  • This territory has not stated its yellow fever vaccination certificate requirements.

Recommendation

  • Vaccination is not recommended.

About Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada * 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.

  Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus.  Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.

 The best way to protect yourself from seasonal influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated every year. Get the flu shot at least 2 weeks before travelling.  

 The flu occurs worldwide. 

  •  In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs from November to   April.
  •  In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs between April and   October.
  •  In the tropics, there is flu activity year round. 

The flu vaccine available in one hemisphere may only offer partial protection against the flu in the other hemisphere.

The flu virus spreads from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Clean your hands often and wear a mask if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.

Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.

Safe food and water precautions

Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.

  • Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
  • Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
  • Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs. 

Insect bite prevention

Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:

  • Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
  • Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
  • Minimize exposure to insects
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed

To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.

Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.

Animal precautions

Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.

Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.

Person-to-person infections

Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette , which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:

  •   washing your hands often
  • avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
  • avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) , HIV , and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.  

Medical services and facilities

There are no search and rescue or emergency evacuation facilities in Antarctica. In case of emergency, you will be responsible for the costs of your search, rescue and evacuation.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Travel health and safety

You must abide by local laws.

Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad .

The Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty on Environmental Protection—the Madrid Protocol—designates Antarctica as a natural reserve with established protected areas. Not owned by any one country, Antarctica is the site of environmental preservation efforts and scientific research.

Canada has implemented the Madrid Protocol into Canadian law with the Antarctic Environmental Protection Act. In doing so, the Canadian government now regulates the activities of its citizens in the Antarctic.

The Antarctic Environmental Protection Act prohibits Canadians and Canadian vessels, where applicable, from undertaking the following activities, except where a permit has been granted:

  • activities related to mineral resources other than for scientific purposes
  • interference with wildlife indigenous to the Antarctic
  • introduction of animal or plant species that are not indigenous to the Antarctic
  • any activity related to waste disposal
  • any activity in a specially protected area

The weather in Antarctica is extreme. From March to September, temperatures can drop to -60C near sea level, and even lower in the interior. At the peak of winter, the continent receives little to no sunlight. Organized tours don’t operate during this period.

During mid-summer, from December to January, temperatures are around -2C to 4C. On the Antarctic Peninsula, temperatures can reach the low double-digits. There is sunlight up to 24 hours per day, depending on the location.

Blizzards are rare. However, in coastal areas, katabatic winds regularly reach speeds of 100 km/h. Gusts of up to 160 km/h are not uncommon.

Local services

There is no centralized number to reach emergency services.

Consular assistance

There is no Canadian government office in Antarctica. Canadians visiting Antarctica should advise Global Affairs Canada in Ottawa of their travel plans prior to leaving.

For emergency consular assistance, contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

Useful links

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.

The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.

If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.

Learn more about consular services .

Risk Levels

  take normal security precautions.

Take similar precautions to those you would take in Canada.

  Exercise a high degree of caution

There are certain safety and security concerns or the situation could change quickly. Be very cautious at all times, monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities.

IMPORTANT: The two levels below are official Government of Canada Travel Advisories and are issued when the safety and security of Canadians travelling or living in the country or region may be at risk.

  Avoid non-essential travel

Your safety and security could be at risk. You should think about your need to travel to this country, territory or region based on family or business requirements, knowledge of or familiarity with the region, and other factors. If you are already there, think about whether you really need to be there. If you do not need to be there, you should think about leaving.

  Avoid all travel

You should not travel to this country, territory or region. Your personal safety and security are at great risk. If you are already there, you should think about leaving if it is safe to do so.

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Travel to Antarctica during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

antarctica travel restrictions covid 19

If you’re planning to travel to Antarctica, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Antarctica reported its first cases of Covid-19 in late December 2020. While scientists who observed strict quarantine rules sailed to the continent from the UK in November 2020, tourism remains severely restricted, with many cruise companies canceling their operations for the brief summer season.

What’s on offer

A remote icy wilderness at the end of the world, trips to Antarctica have grown in popularity in recent years, with travelers sailing across the Drake Passage from South America to catch a glimpse of sprawling penguin colonies, breaching whales and rare seabirds.

Because Antarctica is a scientific preserve, special teams have been able to restart research work on the continent from the end of 2020. While tourism isn’t banned, the fact that most visitors can only arrive via ship means it’s almost impossible to go right now, as many cruises are not running at this time.

What are the restrictions?

Antarctica’s unique position as an internationally administered region means that it isn’t subject to Covid restrictions. However, because tourists access the continent from Chile and Argentina, they are subject to the entry rules of those countries.

Fully vaccinated travelers have been permitted to enter the country since November 1. They must submit a negative PCR test taken no earlier than 72 hours before travel on arrival, as well as a negative antigen test seven days after entering.

Meanwhile, entry to Chile is currently open to fully vaccinated international travelers, as well as nationals. Visitors are required to fill in a Travelers Affidavit and submit a negative PCR test three days before their arrival. All travelers must apply for a Chilean “Pase de Movilidad” (Mobility pass) on the Chilean government’s MeVacuno website i n order to enter the country and take a second PCR test on arrival. Those with a Mobility pass must quarantine for five days, while those without one will be subject to a seven-day quarantine. From November 1, travelers are permitted to leave isolation once they’ve received their negative result (provided it’s negative).

Visitors must also have travel insurance to cover the cost of Covid-related health care up to $30,000.

While all major cruise companies canceled operations for the 2020/21 season, Antarctica’s 2021/2022 summer season has gone ahead.

What’s the Covid-19 situation?

The first cases of Covid on Antarctica were reported on December 22, with 36 researchers and military personnel testing positive at a Chilean research base. Only a small number of full scientific expeditions to Antarctica have gone ahead since the pandemic began.

On January 8, a Spanish research ship headed to the continent from Spain was diverted after a coronavirus outbreak on board.

In March, 49 people stationed at a Chilean base in Antarctica received the Covid-19 vaccine as part of the South American country’s immunization program, and over 50 more were administered with their first dose in the following weeks.

In October, several boxes of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine were flown into the Antarctic in order to vaccinate 23 staff members at the British Rothera research station.

What can visitors expect?

Any ships that do make it to Antarctica will find the waters far quieter than usual. If you’re on a ship that allows disembarkation, expect there to be strict protocols about handling equipment and protective gear.

Useful links

Chilean Government entry affidavit

Argentina’s official Covid-19 guidance

Our latest coverage

CNN Travel answers some commonly asked questions about Antarctica , and looks at what the future may hold for the world’s least understood continent. Back in May, the world’s largest iceberg calved from Antarctica , while in February, an iceberg bigger than New York City broke off near a UK base in the continent. In December 2020, Antarctica became the final continent to be reached by the Covid-19 pandemic , when 36 people tested positive on a Chilean research base. Before that, CNN Travel had reported on what it’s like to live on the continent virus-free , despite the pandemic.

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Joe Minihane, Tamara Hardingham-Gill and Julia Buckley contributed to this report

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COVID-19 and the AAP: Information for expeditioners

Expeditioners will be required to adopt a robust COVID-19 self-protection approach prior to departure, to support and deliver the 2023–24 Australian Antarctic Program (AAP).

Predeparture expeditioner risk mitigations

It is a requirement that all 2023–24 AAP participants (including expeditioners, ship/aircrew and external contractors), have had a COVID-19 booster or documented COVID-19 infection within 6 months (3 months preferred) of deployment, to be approved to travel south, unless medically exempt by the AAD Chief Medical Officer or AAD HOD/GM Ops. This requirement is an AAD Antarctic Service Medical requirement stipulated and assessed by the AAD Polar Medicine Unit.

International participants with differing primary and booster vaccine access and regimes will be reviewed by the Polar Medicine Unit on a case by case basis.

It is also recommended that you are up to date with an annual Influenza vaccine booster.

Please send official documentary evidence of your current COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations to [email protected].

Enhanced prevention measures

The incubation period of the current COVID-19 Omicron variant (the time it takes from exposure to symptoms) is currently 2–8 days, with an average of approximately 4 days. The period of infectiousness of the current Omicron variant is up to 8–10 days.

The AAD Polar Medicine Unit recommends that to ensure the best chance of your deployment with the AAP, that you protect yourselves by following enhanced COVID-19 safe behaviours prior to your departure.

We also recommend COVID-19 safe behaviours throughout your onboarding and predeparture training period to prevent impact on your own health, your colleagues’ health and your predeparture training requirements.

COVID-19 symptoms

Please perform a Daily Health Check prior to attending work. If you have any symptoms, you must stay home, advise your work supervisor and the Polar Medicine Unit Hotline on 03 6232 3293 , who can provide further guidance.

There are numerous other respiratory viruses circulating in our community, transmission of any of these viruses can impact other expeditioners and the Australian Antarctic Program in this critical operational period.

Mandatory COVID-19 PCR testing

In order to minimise the chance of transmission of COVID-19 into Antarctica and the Sub-Antarctic, mandatory COVID-19 PCR testing will be performed 2 days prior to departure for all AAP participants. COVID-19 PCR testing will also be performed on day 2 and 5 post-departure on ships only.

For AAP Participants:

  • You will be required to be in Tasmania at least 3 days prior to your departure south, to conduct at minimum, the day 2 prior to departure COVID-19 PCR testing.

The AAD Polar Medicine Unit (PMU) will coordinate COVID-19 PCR screening during the immediate pre-departure periods.

This will be undertaken without cost, usually with referral to Sonic Health Plus providers – you will be contacted to be advised of testing logistics

Management of COVID-19 positive cases

All COVID-19 positive cases are required follow current State and Territory Public Health Orders and reporting requirements. They must inform the Polar Medicine unit on +61 3 6232 3293 and also their supervisor, who, if required, will complete and submit the AAD COVID-19 Notification form.

All suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases must remain at home when unwell with infectious symptoms. Once asymptomatic, if required to return to work, they must wear a N95 mask, perform increased hand hygiene, and minimise their contact hours to prevent transmission to others, for the 10-day period after symptom onset or diagnosis (whichever is former).

Medical fitness review for approval to travel south

COVID-19 and other respiratory infections affect individuals to varying degrees with both acute complications and prolonged symptoms (i.e. Long COVID). As with any intercurrent illness or injury, COVID-19 suspected and positive cases will require PMU medical review and assessment to ensure that they remain Medically Fit for deployment for the 2023–24 AAP Season and approved for travel South.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact your AAD station or ship doctor via usual contacts or PMU Hotline +61 (0)3 6232 3293 or [email protected]

AAP COVID-19 vaccination requirement update – September 2023

In light of the recent September ATAGI recommendations, we want to clarify the impact of these guidelines on the AAP COVID-19 Plan for 2023–24 and its associated vaccination requirements.

The new ATAGI recommendations relate to a second COVID-19 booster in 2023.

Although we are guided by Public Health recommendations, the AAP COVID-19 policy is based on Occupational Health recommendations, operational requirements and risk mitigation strategies – as a consequence overall there is no change to the AAP COVID-19 Safety and Outbreak Management plan .

As the new ATAGI recommendations may cause potential challenges in accessing COVID-19 vaccinations due to eligibility or misinterpretation of the guidelines, the Polar Medicine Unit (PMU) will on request provide:

  • Letter of Support for Vaccination Providers describing the AAP Vaccination Requirements
  • COVID-19 vaccination clinic for AAP participants, if unable to obtain them elsewhere – we will provide further advice once these are available
  • Review of individual cases who have already received a COVID-19 booster or contracted COVID-19 in 2023 but outside of the 6-month prior to deployment window.

Please email the Polar Medicine Unit – [email protected] if you have any questions, require a vaccination support letter or vaccination, are seeking a medical exemption or request to have your case reviewed.

antarctica travel restrictions covid 19

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Antarctica is still free of COVID-19. Can it stay that way?

This undated handout photo provided by Antarctica New Zealand shows Sarah Williamson, chief executive of Antarctica New Zealand. Antarctica remains the only continent without COVID-19 and now in Sept. 2020, as nearly 1,000 scientists and others who wintered over on the ice are seeing the sun for the first time in months, a global effort wants to make sure incoming colleagues don't bring the virus with them. (Antarctica New Zealand via AP)

This undated handout photo provided by Antarctica New Zealand shows Sarah Williamson, chief executive of Antarctica New Zealand. Antarctica remains the only continent without COVID-19 and now in Sept. 2020, as nearly 1,000 scientists and others who wintered over on the ice are seeing the sun for the first time in months, a global effort wants to make sure incoming colleagues don’t bring the virus with them. (Antarctica New Zealand via AP)

In this handout photo provided by British Antarctic Survey, field guides Sarah Crowsley, left, and Sam Hunt, right, pose for a photo after digging out the caboose, a container used for accommodation that can be moved by a tractor, at Adelaide island, in Antarctica on Friday, June 19, 2020. Antarctica remains the only continent without COVID-19 and now in Sept. 2020, as nearly 1,000 scientists and others who wintered over on the ice are seeing the sun for the first time in months, a global effort wants to make sure incoming colleagues don’t bring the virus with them. (Robert Taylor/British Antarctic Survey via AP)

In this handout photo provided by British Antarctic Survey, field guide Sasha Doyle, left, and meteorological observer Jack Farr, right, sit in an igloo in Trident area, Adelaide island, in Antarctica in October 2019. Antarctica remains the only continent without COVID-19 and now in Sept. 2020, as nearly 1,000 scientists and others who wintered over on the ice are seeing the sun for the first time in months, a global effort wants to make sure incoming colleagues don’t bring the virus with them. (Robert Taylor/British Antarctic Survey via AP)

In this handout photo provided by British Antarctic Survey, field guide Andy Hood is seen at the Brunt ice shelf in Antarctica in January 2020. Antarctica remains the only continent without COVID-19 and now in Sept. 2020, as nearly 1,000 scientists and others who wintered over on the ice are seeing the sun for the first time in months, a global effort wants to make sure incoming colleagues don’t bring the virus with them. (Robert Taylor/British Antarctic Survey via AP)

In this handout photo provided by British Antarctic Survey, a pyramid tent is seen in Trident area, Adelaide island, Antarctica in March 2020. Antarctica remains the only continent without COVID-19 and now in Sept. 2020, as nearly 1,000 scientists and others who wintered over on the ice are seeing the sun for the first time in months, a global effort wants to make sure incoming colleagues don’t bring the virus with them. (Robert Taylor/British Antarctic Survey via AP)

In this handout photo provided by British Antarctic Survey, the James Clark Ross research vessel departs at the start of the winter season in Antarctica in May 2020. Antarctica remains the only continent without COVID-19 and now in Sept. 2020, as nearly 1,000 scientists and others who wintered over on the ice are seeing the sun for the first time in months, a global effort wants to make sure incoming colleagues don’t bring the virus with them. (Robert Taylor/British Antarctic Survey via AP)

In this handout photo provided by British Antarctic Survey, carpenter Tom Lambert and Engineer Andy Stevenson-Jones climb ice at Hangar Cove, Rothera research station, in Antarctica on Friday, May 22, 2020. Antarctica remains the only continent without COVID-19 and now in Sept. 2020, as nearly 1,000 scientists and others who wintered over on the ice are seeing the sun for the first time in months, a global effort wants to make sure incoming colleagues don’t bring the virus with them. (Robert Taylor/British Antarctic Survey via AP)

In this handout photo provided by British Antarctic Survey, mechanic Tom Hammond climbs out of an ice crevasse at Adelaide island, Antarctica on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Antarctica remains the only continent without COVID-19 and now in Sept. 2020, as nearly 1,000 scientists and others who wintered over on the ice are seeing the sun for the first time in months, a global effort wants to make sure incoming colleagues don’t bring the virus with them. (Robert Taylor/British Antarctic Survey via AP)

In this handout photo provided by British Antarctic Survey, Rothera research station, in Antarctica, is seen in April 2019. Antarctica remains the only continent without COVID-19 and now in Sept. 2020, as nearly 1,000 scientists and others who wintered over on the ice are seeing the sun for the first time in months, a global effort wants to make sure incoming colleagues don’t bring the virus with them. (Robert Taylor/British Antarctic Survey via AP)

In this handout photo provided by Antarctica New Zealand, Rory O’Connor, winter leader at Antarctica’s Scott Base is seen on the ice near McMurdo base in Antarctica on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. Antarctica remains the only continent without COVID-19 and now in Sept. 2020, as nearly 1,000 scientists and others who wintered over on the ice are seeing the sun for the first time in months, a global effort wants to make sure incoming colleagues don’t bring the virus with them. (Antarctica New Zealand via AP)

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — At this very moment a vast world exists that’s free of the coronavirus, where people can mingle without masks and watch the pandemic unfold from thousands of miles away.

That world is Antarctica, the only continent without COVID-19. Now, as nearly 1,000 scientists and others who wintered over on the ice are seeing the sun for the first time in weeks or months, a global effort wants to make sure incoming colleagues don’t bring the virus with them.

From the U.K.'s Rothera Research Station off the Antarctic peninsula that curls toward the tip of South America, field guide Rob Taylor described what it’s like in “our safe little bubble.”

In pre-coronavirus days, long-term isolation, self-reliance and psychological strain were the norm for Antarctic teams while the rest of the world saw their life as fascinatingly extreme.

How times have changed.

“In general, the freedoms afforded to us are more extensive than those in the U.K. at the height of lockdown,” said Taylor, who arrived in October and has missed the pandemic entirely. “We can ski, socialize normally, run, use the gym, all within reason.”

Like teams across Antarctica, including at the South Pole, Taylor and his 26 colleagues must be proficient in all sorts of tasks in a remote, communal environment with little room for error. They take turns cooking, make weather observations and “do a lot of sewing,” he said.

Good internet connections mean they’ve watched closely as the pandemic circled the rest of the planet. Until this year, conversations with incoming colleagues focused on preparing the newcomers. Now the advice goes both ways.

“I’m sure there’s a lot they can tell us that will help us adapt to the new way of things,” Taylor said. “We haven’t had any practice at social distancing yet!”

At New Zealand’s Scott Base, rounds of mini-golf and a filmmaking competition with other Antarctic bases have been highlights of the Southern Hemisphere’s winter, which ended for the Scott team when they spotted the sun last Friday. It had been away since April.

“I think there’s a little bit of dissociation,” Rory O’Connor, a doctor and the team’s winter leader, said of watching the pandemic from afar. “You acknowledge it cerebrally, but I don’t think we have fully factored in the emotional turmoil it must be causing.”

His family in the U.K. still wouldn’t trade places with him. “They can’t understand why I came down here,” he joked. “Months of darkness. Stuck inside with a small group of people. Where’s the joy in that?”

O’Connor said they will be able to test for the virus once colleagues start arriving as soon as Monday, weeks late because a huge storm dumped 20-feet (6-meter) snowdrifts. Any virus case will spark a “red response level,” he said, with activities stripped down to providing heating, water, power and food.

While COVID-19 has rattled some diplomatic ties, the 30 countries that make up the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs teamed up early to keep the virus out. Officials cited unique teamwork among the United States, China, Russia and others.

As a frightened world was locking down in March, the Antarctic programs agreed the pandemic could become a major disaster. With the world’s strongest winds and coldest temperatures, the continent roughly the size of the United States and Mexico is already dangerous for workers at 40 year-round bases.

“A highly infectious novel virus with significant mortality and morbidity in the extreme and austere environment of Antarctica with limited sophistication of medical care and public health responses is High Risk with potential catastrophic consequences,” according to a COMNAP document seen by The Associated Press.

Since Antarctica can only be reached through a few air gateways or via ship, “the attempt to prevent the virus from reaching the continent should be undertaken IMMEDIATELY,” it said.

No more contact with tourists, COMNAP warned. “No cruise ships should be disembarking.” And for Antarctic teams located near each other, “mutual visits and social events between stations/facilities should be ceased.”

Antarctic workers have long been trained in hand-washing and “sneeze etiquette,” but COMNAP slipped in that reminder, adding, “Don’t touch your face.”

In those hurried weeks of final flights, the U.S. “thankfully” augmented medical and other supplies for winter and beyond, said Stephanie Short, head of logistics for the U.S. Antarctic program.

“We re-planned an entire research season in a matter of weeks, facing the highest level of uncertainty I’ve seen in my 25-year government career,” she said.

Antarctic bases soon slipped into months of isolation known as winter. Now, with the glimmer of spring, the next big test has begun.

Everyone is sending fewer people to the ice for the summer, COMNAP executive secretary Michelle Finnemore said.

In the gateway city of Christchurch, New Zealand, Operation Deep Freeze is preparing to airlift some 120 people to the largest U.S. station, McMurdo. To limit contact between Antarctic workers and flight crew, the plane contains a separate toilet mounted on a pallet.

The Americans’ bubble began before leaving the U.S. in early August and continues until they reach the ice. They’ve been isolated in hotel rooms well beyond New Zealand’s 14-day quarantine. Bad weather has delayed their departure for weeks. It’s now planned for Monday.

“We’re trying to do a really good job keeping up their spirits,” said Anthony German, the U.S. Antarctic program’s chief liaison there.

The U.S. is sending a third of its usual summer staff. Research will be affected, though investment in robotics and instrumentation that can transmit data from the field will help greatly, said Alexandra Isern, head of Antarctic sciences for the U.S. program with the National Science Foundation.

The COVID-19 disruptions are causing some sadness, she said. “In some cases, we’re going to have to have contingents digging instruments out of the snow to make sure we can still find it.”

Like other countries, New Zealand will prioritize long-term data sets, some begun in the 1950s, which measure climate, ozone levels, seismic activity and more, said Sarah Williamson, chief executive of Antarctica New Zealand. It’s sending 100 people to the ice instead of 350, she said.

Some programs are deferring Antarctic operations to next year or even 2022, said Nish Devanunthan, South Africa’s director of Antarctic support.

“I think the biggest concern for every country is to be the one that is fingered for bringing the virus,” he said. “Everyone is safeguarding against that.”

Precautions extend to the gateway cities — Cape Town, Christchurch, Hobart in Australia, Punta Arenas in Chile and Ushuaia in Argentina. Each has quarantine and testing protocols for workers boarding planes or ships heading south.

Antarctica always has its challenges, Devanunthan said, but when it comes to COVID-19 and the international community as a whole, “I would say this is on the top of the list.”

A few weeks ago at McMurdo Station, workers carried out a drill to simulate what the rest of the world knows too well: mask-wearing and social distancing. “It will be difficult not to run up and hug friends” once they arrive, station manager Erin Heard said.

He and the others will start wearing masks two days before the newcomers fly in, he said, “to help us get muscle memory.” For the masks, the team plundered McMurdo’s craft room, stocked with fabric, and found designs online.

As colleagues arrive, Heard will leave Antarctica. He once might have planned to thaw out on a beach. Now he’s weighing the new normal.

“Do I ask a friend to pick me up? I don’t know if I’m comfortable doing that,” he said as he imagined stepping off the plane. “It will be super weird, to be honest, to be coming from what feels like another planet.”

Perry reported from Wellington, New Zealand.

Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

antarctica travel restrictions covid 19

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Antarctica cruises are more popular than ever. Experts say they need more regulations

Cruises to Antarctica, already popular, have grown dramatically in recent years. Scientists and advocacy groups say tighter regulation is needed to minimize the impact on wildlife and the environment.

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Security Alert May 17, 2024

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Travel Advisory January 19, 2023

Antarctica - level 2: exercise increased caution.

Reissued with updates to health information.

  • Exercise increased caution in Antarctica due to environmental hazards posed by extreme and unpredictable weather  and limited emergency services.
  • The U.S. government is unable to provide consular services to U.S. citizens in the Antarctic Region. The closest U.S Embassies/Consulate s are in Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, and South Africa.  U.S. government resources in the Antarctic Region are committed to the U.S. Antarctic Program, per longstanding U.S. policy . 

Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Antarctica.

If you travel to Antarctica:

  • Obtain comprehensive travel, medical, and medical evacuation insurance; see our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
  • Travel with a professional guide or organization such as those that are a member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, or, if organizing a private expedition, be self-sufficient.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program ( STEP ) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations.  Review the Traveler’s Checklist .
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter .
  • Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before planning any international travel.
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.
  • Contact the Department of State’s Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs for information at [email protected] .

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Quick Facts

Required by transit countries

May be required by transit countries.

None for Antarctica. May be required by transit countries.

Embassies and Consulates

The United States does not maintain an embassy or consulate in Antarctica. If you are in need of U.S. consular services while in Antarctica, contact the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country next on your itinerary or nearest to you for assistance. Links to the embassies and consulates most commonly called upon to provide services are below:

  • U.S. Embassy Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • U.S. Consulate General Melbourne, Australia
  • U.S. Consulate General Perth, Australia
  • U.S. Consulate General Sydney, Australia
  • U.S. Embassy Santiago, Chile
  • U.S. Consulate General Auckland, New Zealand          

24/7 Emergency Contact at the Department of State: From within the United States: 1-888-407-4747 From outside the United States: 1-202-501-4444

Destination Description

Learn about the U.S. relationship to countries around the world.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

  • Any expedition to the Antarctic Region could have an impact on the environment and its ecosystems.  To manage those risks and impacts, the Antarctic Treaty and the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty establish certain obligations on the Treaty Parties with regard to expeditions to the Antarctic Treaty area.
  • The Treaty obliges each Party to give advance notification of all expeditions to and within Antarctica, on the part of its ships, aircraft, or nationals, and all expeditions to Antarctica organized in or proceeding from its territory.
  • U.S. tourists who have booked passage to Antarctica on a commercial cruise regulated by an Antarctic Treaty Party, such as those that are a member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators ( IAATO.org ), normally would be covered by the vessel operator’s and/or tour company’s advance notification. Always check with your tour operator about advance notification coverage.
  • Any U.S. nationals organizing a private expedition to Antarctica in the United States, or proceeding to Antarctica from the United States,  should initiate the process by notifying the Department of State at least three months prior to the intended travel to the Antarctic Treaty area.  Contact the Department of State’s Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs for additional information at [email protected] .
  • Visit the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators website for more information on visitor guidelines.

Find information on dual nationality , prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

Safety and Security

Environmental Hazards:

  • The greatest threats to travelers to the Antarctic Region are environmental hazards posed by the severe elements and changeable weather.
  • Among the more common threats are frostbite, dehydration, eye damage from reflected glare, overexposure to the sun, and maritime accidents.
  • Additionally, emergency response capabilities including search and rescue are restricted due to limited availability, long distances, and environmental hazards.

See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage .

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas .

Once in a country, we can:

  • Help you find appropriate medical care
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • Provide general information regarding the victim’s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion
  • Provide a list of local attorneys
  • Provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • Replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.

Tourism:  No formal tourism industry infrastructure is in place on any level. Tourists are considered to be participating in activities at their own risk. Emergency response and subsequent appropriate medical treatment is not available in Antarctica. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage .

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: Some Treaty Parties, including those that claim territory in Antarctica, may seek to apply their laws to persons in Antarctica. Furthermore, some laws remain applicable to certain persons in Antarctica and may subject them to prosecution in the U.S.  For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained in transit to/from Antarctica, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately.  See our webpage for further information.

The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctica Treaty designates Antarctica as a natural reserve.  Additionally, the Antarctic Conservation Act , which protects native mammals, birds, plants, and their ecosystems, applies to all U.S. citizens and expeditions that originate from the United States.

  • Several areas are afforded special protections as they have been designated as having ecological, scientific, historical, or other significance.
  • It is forbidden to bring any non-native species into Antarctica. This includes live poultry, pet dogs and cats, and household plants or seeds.
  • It is prohibited to take or harmfully interfere with Antarctica wildlife except in accordance with a permit issued by a national authority.

Antarctica has no public hospitals, pharmacies, or doctor’s offices.  Although cruise ships and land-based expeditions should have the capacity to treat minor ailments, medical emergencies often require evacuation to a country with modern medical facilities, which could require travel over a significant distance.  There is no guarantee that transportation would be available or that weather conditions would allow for transportation, even in an emergency.

  • Search and rescue resources in Antarctica are extremely limited.   Cost of search and rescue efforts are borne by the person/s in need of the assistance.  Travelers should obtain comprehensive travel, medical, and medical evacuation insurance prior to departure; see our webpage for more information on overseas insurance coverage .
  • There are no public utilities, such as phone or Internet service providers, in the Region.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas.  Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments.  Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.

Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

  • World Health Organization
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Adventure Travel .

Travel and Transportation

There is no direct air service from the United States to Antarctica.  Flights to and over Antarctica are operated from a number of countries to include Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, and others.  If you are traveling to Antarctica, please check our country information page for the country from which you are departing to get more on aviation safety standards in that country.  Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page .

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Antarctica should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts .  Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website , and the NGA broadcast warnings .  Due to maritime incidents, tourists have suffered severe injuries and/or death in the Antarctic Region and when traveling between South America and the Antarctica and in the Antarctic area. 

For additional travel information

researcher in Antarctica

A person sits near a colony of gentoo penguins, Pygoscelis papua , next to an old research shed.

Antarctica is the last continent without COVID-19. Scientists want to keep it that way.

Studying Antarctica is critical to combating climate change, but most scientists can’t travel to the continent this upcoming season.

The busy summer season in Antarctica begins in October and runs through February, when thousands of scientists from dozens of countries usually pack into the continent’s remote research stations. Forty permanent bases dot the desolate landscape, a number that nearly doubles when summer-only facilities resume operations. This year, however, getting to this icy scientific realm comes with a serious concern: Antarctica is the only continent without a single reported case of COVID-19.

Medical care at the research stations is limited, and dorm-like living makes it easy for disease to spread even in the best of years. During a pandemic, reducing the number of scientists on the continent will mitigate the risk of an outbreak, but it also disrupts urgent research.

Scientists working on Antarctica scan the stars with telescopes , search for fundamental particles , and study some of the most remarkable animals in the world . The remote continent is also crucial to understanding changes across our entire planet. Climate scientists study ancient air bubbles trapped in the ice to understand Earth’s history, and they monitor the melting ice sheet and warming Southern Ocean to forecast the planet’s possible future.

But most of these scientists will have to do this work away from the continent this season, relying on remote sensors and the large volumes of data and samples collected in previous years.

“It is gut-wrenching,” says Nancy Bertler, director of the Antarctic Science Platform in New Zealand. “We only have a few years left to make some very significant changes to avoid the worst of climate change consequences, and we can’t afford to wait a year.”

Keeping COVID-19 off the ice

The Antarctic environment is so extreme that Dirk Welsford, chief scientist at the Australian Antarctic Program, compares it to outer space, and with good reason. The International Space Station orbits 220 miles above Earth, while the most remote base on Antarctica— France and Italy’s Concordia research facility —is about 350 miles from its nearest neighbor and over 600 miles from the closest source of supplies on the coast.

For Hungry Minds

Most Antarctic bases are located on the vast coastline rather than inland like Concordia, but even these are difficult to reach. Scientists travel via planes and ships that are delayed by extreme weather so often, the United States Antarctic Program has a section of its participant guide titled “Be Patient.”

This year, patience alone won’t be enough. “For all nations working in Antarctica, it is the main goal to keep the virus off the ice,” says Christine Wesche, logistics coordinator at Germany’s Antarctic program. But exactly how to accomplish that goal remains in flux, as programs navigate many moving parts.

The Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP) and its 30 members are coordinating a major reduction in personnel. All of the programs will cut their teams by varying degrees—Australia and Germany by 50 percent and New Zealand by 66 percent, for example. The United States hasn’t shared their adjusted team size, but recent press releases say the number of people they can safely deploy is “limited.”

By reducing team sizes, the programs can better ensure a strict quarantine and testing regime, since tests can be costly and it takes time to get results. Limiting the number of workers at the stations also helps ensure that, if the virus does make it through say, due to a faulty test, fewer people are exposed.

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A handful of waypoint cities in the Southern Hemisphere are crucial to reaching Antarctica. The German team usually flies through Cape Town, South Africa, a country that has reported more than half a million coronavirus cases. Uncertainty around international flights through the hotspot means the German team may have to travel on their supply vessel Polarstern .

The United States will still fly through Christchurch, New Zealand, where they regularly complete pre-departure training and are outfitted with cold weather gear before continuing to McMurdo and Scott Base with the New Zealand team. The two countries are working on a quarantine and testing strategy to keep COVID-19 out of Christchurch when the U.S. passes through.

Once the teams arrive in Antarctica, life will look much as it did pre-pandemic. Programs may test new arrivals or require them to socially distance, but they won’t maintain these practices through months of communal living. Everyone on the continent will be presumed virus-free unless they exhibit symptoms, in which case they will be isolated, tested, and if positive, medevacked off the continent. A COVID outbreak would be even more dangerous in the winter season, when harsh polar storms render medevac flights nearly impossible to perform safely.

Keeping the stations running

Antarctic programs expect some degree of disruption every year from storms, sea ice, and mechanical issues in remote places, but they’ve never canceled projects on this scale before. Most international collaborations, new experiments, and fieldwork such as tagging penguins and collecting samples have been paused. However, program managers say they can’t cancel their seasons entirely.

Antarctica is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent on Earth. Polar explorer Sir Douglas Mawson called Antarctica an “accursed country,” while Robert Falcon Scott, the second man to reach the South Pole, famously wrote, "Great God! This is an awful place.” One hundred years after their expeditions, very little has changed.

Station buildings, therefore, need human intervention to keep water and sewage plants running and to prevent hazards such as fuel leaks and fires. Maintenance is scheduled during the milder weather of the austral summer, which is the only time outposts can be resupplied for the winter. Leaving the bases empty—or worse, being forced to evacuate them—would be more complicated than a regular season.

With a few exceptions for tentative projects, including Australia’s marine science voyage to study krill in the waters of East Antarctica, the national Antarctic programs are limiting their work to essential operational activities and keeping their long-term data collections running.

At New Zealand’s Scott Base, the oldest collections date back to when the facility was established in 1957. These datasets from weather stations, ecological surveys, and moorings in the water help scientists track the variability of the Antarctic climate. Science can be a slow game of incremental changes, and these measurements from more than 60 years ago allow researchers to see longer-term trends in the data.

“Some of these records have never been disrupted,” Bertler says, “so we don’t want to be the generation that does.”

Next season

This year will be a trial run to test the Antarctic programs’ preventative measures. If they can keep their teams isolated, healthy, and safe this season, they can scale up to larger expeditions with more scientists next year—even if COVID-19 remains a threat.

“I think we’ll hopefully be in a different place by the time next season rolls around,” says Sarah Williamson, CEO of Antarctica New Zealand. “We’ll build and aim for a full season with as much science undertaking as we can, and then be prepared to change our plans just like we have this year.”

As critical as Antarctic climate research is to the health of the planet, the health of the scientists and staff comes first, Wesche adds. “My main goal is to send the people in healthy and get them back healthy.”

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Sign in Antarctica pointing to Scott Base, Williams Field and McMurdo Station

Antarctica’s biggest Covid outbreak yet puts US station McMurdo on pause

10% of personnel infected with authorities stopping inward travel just as peak research season begins

Antarctica’s largest-yet outbreak of Covid-19 has left 10% of personnel in its largest station infected and the US pausing all inward travel.

Infections have swept through US-run McMurdo station, the largest base in Antarctica. The National Science Foundation said it had recorded 98 positive tests since the beginning of October from a total population of 993.

The foundation was “moving to lower the density of the population to reduce the possibility of transmission” and had implemented a pause on all travel to the continent for the next two weeks to “reassess the situation”.

The outbreak comes as stations are gearing up for their maximum-capacity summer field season, where many scientists fly in to conduct two to three months of research. For a number of bases, this year marked the first full season of Antarctic research after two years of Covid-19 disruption. It is not yet clear what effect the pause on travel will have on research projects.

The Covid outbreak is not Antarctica’s first but appears to be the largest. In December 2020 the first cases were detected , with 36 people testing positive at Chile’s base. A year later an outbreak infected 11 of the 30 people in Belgian research station Princess Elisabeth, and in January 2022 there were 24 cases detected in an outbreak at Argentina’s Esperenza base.

Of the 64 active cases, “most have mild symptoms and are isolating in their rooms”, the NSF said. In an effort to contain the breakout and stop it spreading further, the NSF will be requiring residents to spend five days in isolation before transiting to the south pole or deep field, and recommending KN-95 masks be worn at all times.

Those testing positive will be required to isolate for five days, then mask an additional five days, and can return to work after two negative tests.

In March, as the world locked down in response to Covid’s rapid spread, the Antarctic programs agreed the pandemic could become a major disaster. With the world’s strongest winds and coldest temperatures, the continent roughly the size of the United States and Mexico is already dangerous for workers at its 40 year-round bases.

According to a document by the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs seen by the Associated Press: “A highly infectious novel virus with significant mortality and morbidity in the extreme and austere environment of Antarctica with limited sophistication of medical care and public health responses is high risk with potential catastrophic consequences.”

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COVID-19 travel advice

A coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine can prevent you from getting COVID-19 or from becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19. But even if you're vaccinated, it's still a good idea to take precautions to protect yourself and others while traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you've had all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including boosters, you're less likely to become seriously ill or spread COVID-19. You can then travel more safely within the U.S. and internationally. But international travel can still increase your risk of getting new COVID-19 variants.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you should avoid travel until you've had all recommended COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses.

Before you travel

As you think about making travel plans, consider these questions:

  • Have you been vaccinated against COVID-19? If you haven't, get vaccinated. If the vaccine requires two doses, wait two weeks after getting your second vaccine dose to travel. If the vaccine requires one dose, wait two weeks after getting the vaccine to travel. It takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination.
  • Have you had any booster doses? Having all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including boosters, increases your protection from serious illness.
  • Are you at increased risk for severe illness? Anyone can get COVID-19. But older adults and people of any age with certain medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Do you live with someone who's at increased risk for severe illness? If you get infected while traveling, you can spread the COVID-19 virus to the people you live with when you return, even if you don't have symptoms.
  • Does your home or destination have requirements or restrictions for travelers? Even if you've had all recommended vaccine doses, you must follow local, state and federal testing and travel rules.

Check local requirements, restrictions and situations

Some state, local and territorial governments have requirements, such as requiring people to wear masks, get tested, be vaccinated or stay isolated for a period of time after arrival. Before you go, check for requirements at your destination and anywhere you might stop along the way.

Keep in mind these can change often and quickly depending on local conditions. It's also important to understand that the COVID-19 situation, such as the level of spread and presence of variants, varies in each country. Check back for updates as your trip gets closer.

Travel and testing

For vaccinated people.

If you have been fully vaccinated, the CDC states that you don't need to get tested before or after your trip within the U.S. or stay home (quarantine) after you return.

If you're planning to travel internationally outside the U.S., the CDC states you don't need to get tested before your trip unless it's required at your destination. Before arriving to the U.S., you need a negative test within the last day before your arrival or a record of recovery from COVID-19 in the last three months.

After you arrive in the U.S., the CDC recommends getting tested with a viral test 3 to 5 days after your trip. If you're traveling to the U.S. and you aren't a citizen, you need to be fully vaccinated and have proof of vaccination.

You don't need to quarantine when you arrive in the U.S. But check for any symptoms. Stay at home if you develop symptoms.

For unvaccinated people

Testing before and after travel can lower the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. If you haven't been vaccinated, the CDC recommends getting a viral test within three days before your trip. Delay travel if you're waiting for test results. Keep a copy of your results with you when you travel.

Repeat the test 3 to 5 days after your trip. Stay home for five days after travel.

If at any point you test positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, stay home. Stay at home and away from others if you develop symptoms. Follow public health recommendations.

Stay safe when you travel

In the U.S., you must wear a face mask on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation. The mask must fit snugly and cover both your mouth and nose.

Follow these steps to protect yourself and others when you travel:

  • Get vaccinated.
  • Keep distance between yourself and others (within about 6 feet, or 2 meters) when you're in indoor public spaces if you're not fully vaccinated. This is especially important if you have a higher risk of serious illness.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick or has symptoms.
  • Avoid crowds and indoor places that have poor air flow (ventilation).
  • Don't touch frequently touched surfaces, such as handrails, elevator buttons and kiosks. If you must touch these surfaces, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands afterward.
  • Wear a face mask in indoor public spaces. The CDC recommends wearing the most protective mask possible that you'll wear regularly and that fits. If you are in an area with a high number of new COVID-19 cases, wear a mask in indoor public places and outdoors in crowded areas or when you're in close contact with people who aren't vaccinated.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water aren't available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub your hands together until they feel dry.
  • Don't eat or drink on public transportation. That way you can keep your mask on the whole time.

Because of the high air flow and air filter efficiency on airplanes, most viruses such as the COVID-19 virus don't spread easily on flights. Wearing masks on planes has likely helped lower the risk of getting the COVID-19 virus on flights too.

However, air travel involves spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people. Getting vaccinated and wearing a mask when traveling can help protect you from COVID-19 while traveling.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has increased cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and equipment, including bins, at screening checkpoints. TSA has also made changes to the screening process:

  • Travelers must wear masks during screening. However, TSA employees may ask travelers to adjust masks for identification purposes.
  • Travelers should keep a distance of 6 feet apart from other travelers when possible.
  • Instead of handing boarding passes to TSA officers, travelers should place passes (paper or electronic) directly on the scanner and then hold them up for inspection.
  • Each traveler may have one container of hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces (about 350 milliliters) in a carry-on bag. These containers will need to be taken out for screening.
  • Personal items such as keys, wallets and phones should be placed in carry-on bags instead of bins. This reduces the handling of these items during screening.
  • Food items should be carried in a plastic bag and placed in a bin for screening. Separating food from carry-on bags lessens the likelihood that screeners will need to open bags for inspection.

Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds directly before and after going through screening.

Public transportation

If you travel by bus or train and you aren't vaccinated, be aware that sitting or standing within 6 feet (2 meters) of others for a long period can put you at higher risk of getting or spreading COVID-19. Follow the precautions described above for protecting yourself during travel.

Even if you fly, you may need transportation once you arrive at your destination. You can search car rental options and their cleaning policies on the internet. If you plan to stay at a hotel, check into shuttle service availability.

If you'll be using public transportation and you aren't vaccinated, continue physical distancing and wearing a mask after reaching your destination.

Hotels and other lodging

The hotel industry knows that travelers are concerned about COVID-19 and safety. Check any major hotel's website for information about how it's protecting guests and staff. Some best practices include:

  • Enhanced cleaning procedures
  • Physical distancing recommendations indoors for people who aren't vaccinated
  • Mask-wearing and regular hand-washing by staff
  • Mask-wearing indoors for guests in public places in areas that have high cases of COVID-19
  • Vaccine recommendations for staff
  • Isolation and testing guidelines for staff who've been exposed to COVID-19
  • Contactless payment
  • Set of rules in case a guest becomes ill, such as closing the room for cleaning and disinfecting
  • Indoor air quality measures, such as regular system and air filter maintenance, and suggestions to add air cleaners that can filter viruses and bacteria from the air

Vacation rentals, too, are enhancing their cleaning procedures. They're committed to following public health guidelines, such as using masks and gloves when cleaning, and building in a waiting period between guests.

Make a packing list

When it's time to pack for your trip, grab any medications you may need on your trip and these essential safe-travel supplies:

  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol)
  • Disinfectant wipes (at least 70% alcohol)
  • Thermometer

Considerations for people at increased risk

Anyone can get very ill from the virus that causes COVID-19. But older adults and people of any age with certain medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness. This may include people with cancer, serious heart problems and a weakened immune system. Getting the recommended COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses can help lower your risk of being severely ill from COVID-19.

Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. If you're unvaccinated, staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. If you must travel and aren't vaccinated, talk with your health care provider and ask about any additional precautions you may need to take.

Coronavirus related restrictions for travel into the EU

Webpages in this section are no longer being updated. The content may be out-of-date and should be consulted for past reference only.

Following the adoption of Council Recommendation (EU) 2022/2548 of 13 December 2022, no restrictions should be imposed on travels into the EU from another country. 

What if the epidemiological situation worsens?

In case of severe worsening of the epidemiological situation in EU or non-EU countries, Member States should decide in a coordinated manner to reintroduce appropriate requirements for travellers prior to their departure.  

What happens if a new variant is detected?

An urgent, temporary restriction on all travel into the EU from a third country or region can be adopted by Member States

where a variant of concern or interest is detected 

if the epidemiological situation in that country has rapidly deteriorated 

This emergency brake applies to non-EU nationals who have stayed in that non-EU country or region at any time during the 14 days before departure towards the EU. 

Such a restriction should expire after 21 days unless Member States decide to shorten it or extend it for an additional period. If the emergency brake is triggered, EU countries should discuss possible coordinated measures in the Council, in cooperation with the European Commission. 

Restrictions on travel to the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic

As a first response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the EU, a coordinated temporary restriction of non-essential travel to the EU applied from 17 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. In June 2020, following a proposal from the Commission, the Council adopted a recommendation on temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU and the possible lifting of such restrictions. This recommendation was updated several times and eventually replaced in December 2022 by Council Recommendation (EU) 2022/Council Recommendation (EU) 2022/2548 .  

During the period where travel restrictions to the EU were in place, some exemptions were put in place to ensure free movement of citizens, goods and services – with full respect of health and safety measures. 

The following categories of people were exempt from the temporary travel restriction to the EU+ area from third countries

  • EU citizens and nationals of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, as well as their respective family members 
  • third-country nationals who are long-term residents under the Long-term Residence Directive, or deriving their right to reside from other EU Directives or national law, or who hold national long-term visas, as well as their respective family members 

The temporary travel restrictions did also not apply to people with an essential function or need, including 

  • healthcare professionals, health researchers, and elderly care professionals
  • frontier workers 
  • seasonal workers in agriculture 
  • transport personnel 
  • diplomats, staff of international organisations and people invited by international organisations whose physical presence is required for the well-functioning of these organisations, military personnel and humanitarian aid workers and civil protection personnel in the exercise of their functions 
  • passengers in transit 
  • passengers travelling for imperative family reasons 
  • seafarers 
  • persons in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons 
  • third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of study 
  • highly qualified third-country workers if their employment is necessary from an economic perspective and the work cannot be postponed or performed abroad.

Disclaimer. The page was last updated in September 2023

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  • Port Health
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  • Travel Restrictions to Prevent the Spread of Contagious Disease
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  • Airline Guidance
  • Maritime Guidance
  • Definitions of Signs, Symptoms, and Conditions of Ill Travelers

At a glance

  • Two federal public health tools are available to manage travelers who are known or suspected to have a serious contagious disease: the Do Not Board list and the Public Health Lookout.
  • The Do Not Board list prevents travelers with risk of spreading a contagious disease from boarding an airplane.
  • The Public Health Lookout prompts Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to notify public health authorities about the traveler so they can assess the need for follow-up or treatment.

Customs and Border Protection Officer works with two CDC Quarantine Public Health Officers to assess a sick traveler

Do Not Board List

Diseases are just a flight away. To protect the public's health, CDC partners with the Department of Homeland Security to prevent the spread of serious contagious diseases during commercial air travel. In June 2007, the two agencies established the Do Not Board list. It prevents travelers known or suspected to have a contagious disease that poses a threat to the public's health from boarding commercial airplanes. The Do Not Board list prevents a person from obtaining a boarding pass for any flight into, out of, or within the United States.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) enforces this list. Under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (49 U.S.C. 114), TSA may take actions necessary to reduce the risk of threats to aviation and transportation security. This includes denying boarding to travelers CDC identifies as having or likely having a contagious disease that poses a public health threat to other passengers or crew.

Travelers on the Do Not Board list (a public health list) action are not part of the No Fly List . Federal law enforcement agencies use the No Fly List for their own purposes.

Public Health Lookout

Travelers placed on the Do Not Board list are also issued a Public Health Lookout . When a person who has been issued a Public Health lookout tries to enter the United States at any port of entry (seaport, airport, or land border), CBP is alerted to notify public health officials. When this happens, health officials review the person's infectious disease status to ensure appropriate isolation, if indicated, and other public health management, including helping the person get treatment if needed. Having a Public Health Lookout attached to a person's name does not necessarily prevent travel or deny a person entry into the United States.

Why Both Tools are Needed

The Do Not Board and Public Health Lookout lists are two different but complementary tools for reducing the risk of spread of contagious diseases during travel. TSA administers the Do Not Board list, which prevents people known or suspected to have a contagious disease from flying commercially. CBP manages the Public Health Lookout that helps identify these people if they attempt to enter the United States by air, land or sea. Since the processes began in 2007, both tools have been used primarily for people with infectious tuberculosis. Preventing people with contagious diseases from traveling also helps to connect them to care or continued medical treatment, as needed.

Placing people on federal public health travel restrictions

These tools can be used for anyone known or suspected to have a contagious disease that poses a threat to the public's health if they meet certain criteria as listed below.

Local and state public health officials and officials of other federal agencies (such as the Department of State) or foreign governments can request CDC's assistance if a person known or suspected to have a contagious disease that poses a public health threat intends to travel. CDC helps ensure these people do not travel while at risk of spreading disease.

The criteria for adding people to the Do Not Board and Public Health Lookout are:

  • Person is not aware of diagnosis or not following public health recommendations, or
  • Person is likely to travel on a commercial flight involving the United States or travel internationally by any means; or
  • Travel restriction is needed to respond to an outbreak of a serious contagious disease or to help enforce a public health order .

A person must meet the first criterion plus one of the three sub-criteria before these tools can be used.

These tools have been used for people with suspected or confirmed infectious tuberculosis (TB), including multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB), and for measles in a small number of cases. During 2020-2022, CDC used these authorities to restrict travel of people with COVID-19 and close contacts who were recommended to quarantine. These authorities were also used for mpox in 2022. Travel restrictions have also been used for other suspected or confirmed contagious diseases that pose a public health threat during travel, including viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola.

Removing the Restrictions

Once public health authorities confirm a person is no longer at risk of spreading disease, the restrictions are removed. This is typically done within 24 hours. CDC also reviews the records of everyone whose travel is restricted for public health purposes every two weeks to determine eligibility for removal.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)
  • Division of Global Migration Health (DGMH)

CDC works with partners to protect the health of people exposed to a contagious disease during travel and their communities from contagious diseases that are just a flight away.

For Everyone

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Protecting yourself from COVID-19

How to help protect yourself and your community from COVID-19 infection.

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COVID-19 update – 16 May 2024

COVID-19 has increased to moderate levels.

Read the latest  data from NSW Health .

Continue to protect other people. Please stay home if you have any cold or flu symptoms. Wear a mask if you need to leave home.

Steps to keep yourself safe

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Stay home if you have cold or flu symptoms. Wear a mask if you need to leave home.

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You may be required to wear a mask in high risk settings.  

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Stay up to date with your recommended COVID-19 vaccinations .

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Don't visit people who are at higher risk if you have COVID-19 or symptoms.

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Talk with your doctor now if you're at higher risk . You may need a PCR test and be eligible for antivirals.

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Gather outdoors or in well-ventilated  indoor spaces.

Guidance on protecting other people

Advice for parents of children in childcare and schools.

Find out what COVID-safe measures are in place at NSW early childhood education centres and schools.

Visiting people in high-risk settings

If you're visiting someone in aged care or disability care, find out what you can do to keep them safe.

Advice for workers

Guidance for workers affected by COVID-19.

Advice for people at higher risk of severe illness

Find the full list of people who are considered at higher risk .

People over 70

People with disability, pregnant women and new parents, aboriginal communities, easy read and translated resources, easy read information on covid-19, in-language and translated covid-19 support, contact us and find translation help.

  • Service NSW – information and advice for NSW residents and businesses. Phone  13 77 88
  • Healthdirect – government-funded 24-hour health advice. Phone 1800 022 222
  • Disability Gateway – information for people with disability. Phone 1800 643 787
  • Mental health support, services and programs
  • Service NSW Savings Finder – find rebates and vouchers relevant to you
  • Business Concierge – tailored advice from Business Connect advisors. Phone 13 77 88
  • Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) – free service provided by the Australian Government. Phone 13 14 50

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    All eligible travelers should be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. Please see Your COVID-19 Vaccination for more information. Other travel vaccines should be considered according to what countries you travel through on your way to Antarctica. Visit your doctor (ideally, 4-6 weeks) before your trip to get vaccines or medicines you may need.

  4. Antarctica Travel Advisory

    Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter. Read the Department of State's COVID-19 page before planning any international travel. Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel. Contact the Department of State's Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs for information at [email protected].

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    The COVID-19 pandemic in Antarctica is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 ( COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 ( SARS-CoV-2 ). Due to its remoteness and sparse population, Antarctica was the last continent to have confirmed cases of COVID-19 and was one of the last regions of the world ...

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    COVID-19. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air. It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling.

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    1 of 10 | . This undated handout photo provided by Antarctica New Zealand shows Sarah Williamson, chief executive of Antarctica New Zealand. Antarctica remains the only continent without COVID-19 and now in Sept. 2020, as nearly 1,000 scientists and others who wintered over on the ice are seeing the sun for the first time in months, a global effort wants to make sure incoming colleagues don ...

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    For tourism, the extremely negative global consequences of lockdowns, travel restrictions, ... (entitled "The impact of COVID-19 on Antarctica"), for keeping us organized, and for the contributions to a very early draft of the manuscript. We are grateful to C. Waluda (BAS) for exploring the CCAMLR fishing reports and B. Ager (BAS library ...

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  25. Protecting yourself from COVID-19

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