This information was updated on 12/29/2021. Please note that Antarctica travel restrictions are subject to change without notice.

If you are planning travel to Antarctica, here is what you need to know about Antarctica travel restrictions and COVID-19 in Antarctica. Cruises are scheduled and operating now for the Antarctica 2021-2022 season. There are requirements concerning gateway cities including Argentina travel restrictions and Chile travel restrictions. There are also vaccination and testing requirements from Antarctica travel operators. Below we outline the current situation with Antarctica travel restrictions and offer our advice for travelers booked on or considering Antarctica this season.

Female traveler wearing a black jacket holds camera and sits inside a zodiac boat cruising through floating Antarctica icebergs.
Photo by: Adventure Specialist Andrew Browning

IN THIS POST – Antarctica Travel Restrictions:
Can You Travel to Antarctica?
COVID In Antarctica
Antarctica Travel Restrictions
Argentina Travel Restrictions
Chile Travel Restrictions
Cruise Vaccination & Testing Requirements
Travel Insurance & Flex Booking Policies
Cancelled Antarctica Cruises
Antarctica Cruise COVID Protocols
CDC Travel Guidelines
Can You Travel To Antarctica During COVID?
More Resources

Important Note: If you are an AdventureSmith booked client and you have a question please contact your Adventure Specialist for the most up-to-date and detailed information on Antarctica travel requirements. If you interested in booking a cruise to Antarctica please contact us. If you are seeking free advice please use the comments at the bottom of this post to ask a question.

Can You Travel to Antarctica?

Yes, Antarctica is open for travel. The Antarctica travel ban has been lifted and Antarctica cruises are operating. If you are wondering if you can travel to Antarctica right now, the answer is yes. Or begin planning now for next season.

Some operators have consolidated departures aboard fewer ships. Others have altered embarkation ports or cruise dates. So, there are many changes for booked or interested passengers. But the good news is that the Antarctica travel ban is over and cruises are operating in Antarctica.

All cruises from November 2020-March 2021, were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So Antarctica had not see cruise passengers since March 2020 until ships started sailing again in November 2021.

COVID in Antarctica

Due to its remote location and small population of researchers, Antarctica was the last continent affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The first cases were reported at the Chilean research base in December 2020. As of this writing there are no active or suspected cases of COVID in Antarctica. Antarctica travel restrictions are in place to prevent COVID from entering.

Entry requirements icon: A clipboard, pencil and check boxes on a piece of paper.

Antarctica Travel Restrictions

Antarctica itself does not have any COVID travel restrictions or entry requirements. Nor is there an Antarctica travel ban or any South Pole travel restrictions. However, since tours access the region from Argentina and Chile, travelers must abide by the restrictions of those countries. Because most travelers to Antarctica get there through Chile and Argentina, we focus on these entry points in this post. Learn more about how to get to Antarctica.

Argentina Travel Restrictions

Argentina COVID travel restrictions are being eased. The country has announced that beginning November 1, 2021 Argentina is open to fully vaccinated travelers. Argentina travel restrictions and entry requirements are as follows as of November 1, 2021:

  • All travelers to Argentina must complete the an electronic “Health declaration form” no more than 48 hours prior to travel. There are some confusing questions for Antarctica cruise passengers, view our tutorial for help completing this form.
  • Proof of COVID-19 full vaccination. Original vaccination card is required, copies are not accepted. Learn what qualifies as fully vaccinated.
  • Negative PCR test result from a test taken no more than 72 hours prior to your departing flight to Argentina (not arrival in Argentina). Learn how to get a COVID test in the USA before you travel.
    • As an alternative it is possible to take an antigen test upon arrival. This option is not adequate for Antarctica travelers because antigen tests will not satisfy Antarctic cruise testing requirements.
  • All travelers to Argentina must have medical travel insurance with comprehensive coverage for coronavirus, including hospitalization and the costs of self-isolation if required.
  • All travelers age 6 and over, regardless of vaccination status will have to undergo a COVID 19 test on the third to fifth day after arrival. During this time individuals should not attend mass events and/or social activities in closed environments. Antarctica cruise operators will take care of this requirement on board the ship.

Beginning November 29, 2021 Argentina implemented additional requirements for any traveler who has been on the African continent or “affected areas” 14 days prior to arrival into Argentina. Requirements for these travelers:

  • Must be fully vaccinated.
  • Negative PCR test 72 hours prior to arrival.
  • Negative Antigen test upon arrival.
  • Mandatory 10 day isolation with negative PCR test required to exit isolation.
  • Land border crossings between Argentina and Chile are currently closed.

For more details visit the US Embassy in Argentina and the Argentina Ministry of Health.

Argentina COVID Protocols

In addition to the Argentina travel restrictions, expect the following COVID protocols upon arrival and while traveling:  

  • Masks are mandatory nationwide in public spaces including restaurants, hotels, public transportation and passenger vehicles.
  • Observe signage regarding physical distancing. Keep one meter distance from others. 
  • A nationwide curfew has been lifted but cities and departments are on high alert and may be subject to curfew depending on the epidemiological situation.
  • Restrictions on intercity or interstate travel have been lifted. Individual provinces may require additional local permits to enter or transit.

COVID In Argentina

According to Google, as of September 20, 2021, Argentina has a fully vaccinated rate of 44.5% and 64.6% of the population has received at least one dose. (For comparison, the U.S.A. has a fully vaccinated rate of 58.2% and 71.0% of the population has received at least one dose). For more details visit the U.S. State Department Argentina Travel Advisory or Argentina Travel

Chile Travel Restrictions

Chile COVID travel restrictions are being eased. The country has announced that beginning November 1, 2021 Chile is open to fully vaccinated travelers. Chile travel restrictions and entry requirements are as follows as of November 1, 2021:

  • Obtain a Mobility Pass issued by the Chilean Ministry of Health. The pass can be requested at www.mevacuno.gob.cl and requires proof of full vaccination. The process takes 2-4 weeks on average, and the Mobility Pass has a validity of 45 days. Delays are normally associated with incomplete applications or inconsistent information provided. The mobility pass application is a bit confusing, view our tutorial to help complete it. The mobility pass application now available in 15 languages.
  • Proof of Covid-19 full vaccination. Proof of vaccination must be uploaded to the mobility pass application and presented upon arrival. Learn what qualifies as fully vaccinated.
  • Negative PCR test result from a test taken within 72 hours prior to your departing flight to Chile (not arrival in Chile). Learn how to get a COVID test in the USA before you travel.
  • Travel insurance to cover any medical expenses related to COVID-19 with a minimum coverage of $30,000 USD for health benefits.
  • Travelers must complete a “Travelers’ Affidavit” form available at https://www.c19.cl/llegada-internacional.html. This form must be completed no more than 48 hours before boarding your flight to Chile. The Chile travelers’ affidavit includes an affidavit, contact and health information, travel history etc. Travelers must upload negative PCR results (taken within 72 hours), medical travel insurance certificate and proof of vaccination. Timing the completion of this form, with your negative PCR test will be tricky and may require you complete the form while en route to Chile. 
  • Travelers will need to provide copies of the Mobility Pass, the travelers affidavit, the negative PCR test, proof of vaccination and the insurance coverage to the airline prior to boarding the flight to Chile. They will also need to show those documents to the Chilean authorities upon arrival in Chile.
  • On Arrival in Chile, travelers must take another COVID-19 PCR test. The test costs $40 and must be paid by credit card. Travelers may continue to their final destination withing Chile while awaiting results. Provided that the test result is negative, travelers will be welcome to proceed and enjoy a visit to Chile and Antarctica. Travelers who test positive are subject to quarantine at their own expense.
  • Beginning on November 30, 2021 Chile is not accepting travelers who, over the 14 days prior to entry, have been in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique.
  • Land border crossings between Chile and Argentina are currently closed.

For more details visit the U.S. State Department Chile Travel Advisory or the Chile Borders Plan or Chile Travel Requirements for entering Chile. This Q&A from Fedetur Chile is helpful (in Spanish)

Chile COVID Protocols

In addition to the Chile travel restrictions, expect the following COVID protocols upon arrival and while traveling: 

  • Face masks are required on public and private transportation, enclosed areas and common areas including restaurants and hotels. on all public transportation. 
  • Observe signage regarding physical distancing. Keep one meter distance from others. 
  • A curfew is currently not in place.
  • Restrictions on intercity or interstate travel have been lifted. Individual provinces may require additional local permits to enter or transit.

COVID In Chile

According to Google, as of September 20, 2021, Chile has achieved a fully vaccinated rate of 74.1% and 78.0% of the population has received at least one dose (For comparison the U.S.A. has a fully vaccinated rate of 58.2% and 71.0% of the population has received at least one dose).

U.S. Entry Requirements by Air

Currently, all travelers entering the United States by air (regardless of vaccination status or citizenship) must meet testing requirements put out by the CDC. AdventureSmith Explorations can assist our travelers with arranging for this testing. Our Adventure Specialists stay up to date so that we may provide the latest information. Read our United States Entry Requirements primer for the latest.

Many other countries, including Canada and the European Union, also have COVID entry testing requirements. Be sure to understand the requirements for your destination so you have the proper testing completed before departing Chile or Argentina.

COVID Tests For Use When Departing Argentina

Rapid antigen testing centers are available in Argentina’s Ezeiza (EZE) and Aeroparque (AEP) airports. Results in 30 minutes make this a handy option for departing travelers.

Antarctica Cruise Operator Vaccination & Testing Requirements

Virtually all the best Antarctica cruise lines have announced vaccination requirements for guests and crew. With the constantly changing nature of the ongoing pandemic, there are likely to be additional changes to vaccination and testing requirements.

The Antarctica experts at AdventureSmith Explorations strive to keep our clients well informed of the testing and vaccination requirements associated with their particular adventure. For general information, consult our guide to How to Get a COVID Test for Travel. What follows are individual operator policies at the time of writing (these are subject to change without notice):

Quark Expeditions requires all guests and crew to show proof of vaccination. In addition, they require a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of boarding. Finally, they have implemented onboard rapid PCR testing with results available within 60 minutes, to ensure all guests test negative for COVID-19 before boarding ships.

Ponant requires all passengers and crew members over 16 years old to be vaccinated before the cruise. Guests and crew will also need to show proof of a negative PCR test carried out within 72 hours of boarding the ship. This applies to all expeditions in Antarctica.

Aurora Expeditions requires all embarking crew, expedition team and guests be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to embarking any of the company’s cruises. Expeditioners must also undertake a COVID-19 test 72 hours before embarkation and present proof of a negative result. On the day of embarkation, all expeditioners will be required to undergo another COVID-19 test, as well as additional health screening. For the 2021-2022 Antarctica season, Aurora Expeditions has moved some embarkations and operations from the Port of Ushuaia, Argentina, to the Port of Punta Arenas, Chile.

Lindblad Expeditions currently requires a negative result for a PCR test taken 3-5 days prior to embarkation, and proof of vaccination for all guests 12 years of age and older. In addition, travelers will be subject to a negative test result prior to embarkation. 

Polar Latitudes requires that all passengers, staff and crew receive the prescribed number of doses of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by each traveler’s national health authority, prior to boarding. This requirement includes children under the age of 16. Passengers are required to be tested 3 to 7 days prior to joining the cruise and submit negative test results no later than 2 days prior. The company will test all passengers prior to embarkation and then once more onboard several days after embarkation. They may also conduct random testing during the course of the voyage.

Antarctica21 requires all passengers and crew members to be vaccinated before the cruise; exceptions can be considered for children and young adults up to 17 years old who do not have access to COVID-19 vaccines and are in good health. The day before embarkation, all guests are required to undergo a medical check, complete an antigen test (with negative results) and fill out an affidavit; all administered by the cruise operator. A face mask may be required on flights to and from Antarctica.

Poseidon Expeditions requires all passengers to either present proof of a valid COVID vaccination certificate (prior to departure and upon boarding) OR provide evidence of a successful COVID-19 antibody test (SARS-CoV-2 IgG/IgM) showing sufficient antibody results, not older than two months prior to embarkation. Both groups (regardless of age) must also provide results of a negative PCR test administered within 72 hours of embarkation. The cruise operator will provide a mandatory PCR test the day prior to embarkation, and a temperature screening prior to boarding. Crew must be fully vaccinated and will undergo pre-boarding health checks and screenings, and regular testing.

Oceanwide Expeditions requires that all crew, and passengers be fully vaccinated prior to embarkation and present a certificate of negative COVID-19 PCR test carried out by a recognized test center no more than 5 days before boarding. Passengers boarding directly after arrival into Argentina can still use the mandatory PCR test used for their international flight, as long as it is not older than 5 days. Upon boarding the ship, luggage will be sanitized and guests will undergo temperature screening and protocols that involve the use of face masks and physical distancing. On board, face masks will be required in public areas, especially when distancing is difficult, and thermal cameras will automate temperature screening.

Travel Insurance & COVID in Antarctica

Emergency medical evacuation insurance is typically required or included on most Antarctica cruises. Many travel insurance policies can provide coverage for trip cancellation if you or a traveling companion test positive for Coronavirus. We always recommend travelers to Antarctica purchase travel insurance, especially in today’s travel environment. See our Antarctica travel guide for advice on the best travel insurance for Antarctica.

Cancelled Antarctica Cruises

Some cruise operators have already cancelled their season. Others have consolidated ships and departures. As such, some travelers have found their Antarctica cruise cancelled. We recommend working with your cruise line or booking agency to reschedule your cruise or request a refund, based on the options presented by cruise operators. If you have had your Antarctica cruise cancelled and you are seeking to book a new cruise, contact us. There is limited availability this season on select ships and departures. 

Antarctica Cruise COVID Protocols: What to Expect

Travelers booked on or considering an upcoming cruise can expect things to be quieter than usual with fewer boats. As we’ve seen with the return of Galapagos cruises and Alaska cruises, wildlife sightings are exceptional after the temporary closures caused by the pandemic. 

Cruise operators are updating their procedures and protocols to protect travelers and locals. While these protocols continue to evolve, there are several things you can expect on an Antarctica cruise during COVID:

  • Vaccination requirements for Antarctica cruises
  • Pre-boarding mandatory health questionnaires
  • Additional COVID-19 tests (either rapid antigen or PCR) immediately prior to boarding
  • Chile and Argentina will continue to require proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test to enter
  • Adherence to local mask mandates and social distancing in Chile and Argentina
  • Strict COVID-19 management protocols (prevention & mitigation). See IAATO COVID-19 recommendations.
  • Possible reduced or eliminated visits to Antarctica research stations
  • Testing requirements for return to the United States. View United States entry requirements.

CDC Travel Guidelines

The CDC recommends that travelers take these steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. While these guidelines are written for U.S. citizens, the advice applies to any international traveler. For more information visit Travel During COVID-19.

  • If you are eligible, get fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Wait 2 weeks after getting your second vaccine dose to travel—it takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination.
  • Get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before you travel. Keep a copy of your test results with you during travel in case you are asked for them. Do NOT travel if you test positive.
  • Check travel restrictions before you go
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when in public settings. Masks are required on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • Avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about two arm lengths) from anyone who did not travel with you. It’s important to do this everywhere—both indoors and outdoors.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol)
  • Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Do NOT travel if you were exposed to COVID-19, you are sick or you test positive for COVID-19. Learn when it is safe for you to travel. Don’t travel with someone who is sick.
An Antarctica traveler in a red parka holds a camera to take a photo of a small solo black penguin standing on the snow in front of them.
Photo by: Adventure Specialist Andrew Browning

Can You Travel to Antarctica During Covid?

Yes, you can travel to Antarctica during COVID, now or next season. The Antarctica cruise season is operating.

Antarctica is a remote wilderness location where it is easy to socially distance and exposure is minimal. Furthermore, many operators are creating a safe travel bubble with charter flights, private transfers and self-contained ships. Antarctica travel restrictions, vaccine requirements, extensive testing and rigorous protocols are intended to create a safe travel corridor for Antarctica travelers.

We encourage Antarctic travelers currently booked to remain patient. We are constantly in touch with our clients, conveying the latest information and updates regarding Antarctica travel restrictions and entry requirements. If you are interested in booking Antarctica, do so with confidence and flexible booking policies. Be sure to protect your investment with travel insurance. It could be the best time ever to travel to Antarctica.

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
Can You Visit 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.