Participant Guide
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  2023-2024 USAP Participant Guide

   Updated September 29, 2023

Cover of USAP Participant Guide
The USAP Participant Guide.

You may download the complete version of the Participant Guide below, or select individual sections and chapters using the following links.

Complete Participant Guide Link to PDF file

Title Page Link to PDF file
Map of Antarctica Link to PDF file
U.S. National Science Foundation Letter Link to PDF file
Some Antarctic Basics Link to PDF file
USAP Transportation Map Link to PDF file
Table of Contents Link to PDF file

A person signals to a plane preparing for take off
U.S. Navy pilot LCDR Gus Shinn starts up
the Que Sera Sera before taking off for the South Pole
from the Naval Air Facility McMurdo on 31 October 1956.
Antarctic Exploration and the Antarctic Treaty
United States Antarctic Program (USAP)
The Antarctic Treaty and U.S. Antarctic Policy
USAP Structure
U.S. National Science Foundation
Support Contractors
Department of Defense
Department of Homeland Security
Department of the Interior
Department of State
International Cooperation
Science Proposals and Grants
Antarctic Data Repositories
USAP Stations and Ships
McMurdo Station
Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station
Palmer Station
Research Vessels
Facility Administration
Two penguins stand on rocks in Antarctica
Adélie penguins at Cape Royds, Ross Island.
Program Requirements
Background Investigation
Medical and Dental Examinations
Privacy Act Compliance
Deployment Paperwork
Travel Arrangements
Travel Expenses
Passports, Visas, and Permits
Visas and Permits
Visas for Non-U.S. Citizens
Customs and Your Equipment
Personal Matters
Power of Attorney
Notary Services
Absentee Ballot
Personal Finances
Income Tax
USAP participants carry their bags to South Pole Station
USAP participants carry their bags to the
elevated station after arriving at the South Pole.
Baggage Allowances
Commercial Carriers
Flights from Christchurch to McMurdo Station
Research Vessels and Palmer Station
Grantee and Technical Event Excess Baggage
Mailing Excess Baggage
Personal Prescription Medications
What to Pack
What Not to Pack
Baggage Organization
Storage Availability
In New Zealand
In Chile
A white glacier turns into an orange brine in the water below
Blood Falls is a unique feature where iron-rich brine
from the substrate is released at the terminus
of the Taylor Glacier. Any work within the protected area
of Blood Falls requires an ACA permit.
Environmental Impact Assessment
Antarctic Conservation Act
Highlights of the ACA
ACA Waste Management
Permits and Reporting
Import-Export Regulations
Controlled Drugs, New Organisms, Genetically Modified Organisms
Importing Samples into New Zealand
Shipping Samples Through New Zealand
Radioactive Materials
Science Cargo
Transport Methods for Science Support Cargo
Retrograde (Return) Science Cargo
A U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft lands near McMurdo Station.
A U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft lands near McMurdo Station.
Travel Advice
Customs and Mail Warning
Stay in Contact
Be Patient
Currency Exchange
Electrical Compatibility
Pre-Deployment Personal Vacations
Post-Deployment Personal Vacations
Travel Through New Zealand
ECW Clothing Issue
Travel to McMurdo Station
Travel Within Antarctica
Air Transport
Aircraft Travel Rules and Guidelines
Return to New Zealand
Travel Through Chile
ECW Clothing Issue
Travel to Palmer Station
Return to Chile
An aerial view of Observation Hill and McMurdo Station below it
McMurdo Station is the largest station in Antarctica
and the southernmost point to which a ship can sail.
This photo faces south, with sea ice in front of the station,
Observation Hill to the left (with White Island behind it),
Minna Bluff and Black Island in the distance to the right,
and the McMurdo Ice Shelf in between.
Work Requirement
Fire Safety
Diving Safety
Field Safety Training
     Antarctic Field Safety Courses
Personal Conduct
Alcohol and Drugs
U.S. Criminal Jurisdiction
Waste, Energy, and Water
Postal Services
Station-Specific Information
McMurdo Station
Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station
Palmer Station
Research Vessels